looking for recommendations. we are going for 1 week leaving on wednesday morning. 3 days in havana & 4 in varadero. did anyabody travel to Trinidad and the Valley de los Ingenios? is it worth while? thanks
Trinidad is worth the visit yes. Vastly differently architecturally and culturally from Havana. It has retained the old colonial feel with multi-coloured flat shanty looking shacks plied on top of one another. We stayed in a casa owned by Bury and Mila. Can't recommend it highly enough. The meals Bury whips up are legendary among guests smart enough to stay here. Served up on the rooftop terrace as the sun goes down. Doesn't get any more romantic.. You can meander through the winding streets, rent bikes to peddle round and outta town to the nearby white sandy beach. Rest up in the open air amphitheatre styles settings to wiggle your ankles to local salsa bands in the evening. A more toned down experience than Havana.
From here you can also rent a car at a fairly reasonably rate to Santa Clara, university town, home to Che Guevara (and his grave) and most impressively the scene of the launch of Revolution where the rebels converged to blow up the train that kicked it all off. The scene has been magically preserved as is. It was impossible not to be blown away by it (sorry). The landscape inbetween is nothing short of majestic, oddly deserted save for slow-moving farmers on bikes and horseback. Gives you the long-lens view.
Best equip yourself with the most recent up-to-date copy of the Lonely Planet Guide for Cuba. Detailed info and itineraries to dip into at will. A trusty one-stop shop.
cheers hestia! ill look it up now!
If you need to take time away from anywhere, take it away from Varadero. It's basically a strip of massive all-inclusive hotels quite close to each other on a crowded beach. The food in our 3 star was questionable so I'd recommend that you stay in the best place you can afford there. There are no Casa's in Varadero and even fewer Cubans. The "fun team" did the YMCA around the pool as entertainment in the evening and I think that says it all.
Another vote for Trinidad. It's absolutely gorgeous and one of the highlights of our stay. We also stayed in a Casa with a roof terrace but it's lovely to stay in the old town, when the day is ending and the bigger crowds have gone home - it's just lovely to properly see the place. Activities included what Hestia just mentioned but we also took a hair-raising horse-ride up to a waterfall on decrepit, mangy horses! I rediscovered my religion, repeating the Hail Mary all the way as the horse practically tip-toed along a small path with a sheer drop. It was more fun than it sounds