Aug 22, 2017

What to expect in Cuba


We asked Paige Kirk about her recent trip to Cuba with Scenic.

What type of traveller would most enjoy a journey to Cuba?

If you’re looking for a truly unique destination, then look no further!

Following the recent death of Cuba’s President Fidel Castro and with the US recently announcing a plan to relax its trade restriction, a trip to Cuba is on a lot of bucket lists.

Things are certainly changing rapidly and as the country hasn’t completely opened, it’s the ideal place for adventure seekers, history buffs and inquisitive individuals.

Which Scenic Freechoice activities did you choose and what were the highlights?

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The included options with Scenic were to take a horse and carriage ride to visit a rum museum or to follow in the footsteps of Havana’s adopted son Hemingway. Tricky choice however I wanted to get up close and personal to experience the hustle and bustle of the streets in Havana. Our visit to the Havana Club Museum of Rum was a genuine taste of Cuban culture, taking us back through the origins of its most famous beverage. From freshly cut stalks of sugar cane to a reconstitution of a distillery and ageing cellars, we learnt so much about the rum-making process.

What should guests pack?

Pack your patience! Although Cuba has a lot to offer, at times it can be a little challenging and overwhelming but just go with the flow and appreciate its authentic nature. I was also very surprised to learn that the selection of basic personal items was limited and is generally of fairy low quality in local Cuban stores so it’s worth carrying around some toiletries, pens, toys and books to give out as locals do appreciate these valuable small gifts instead of money.

What was the food like?

I’m a real foodie so I had high expectations of Cuban cuisine and I was impressed! It’s not spicy like Mexican food but rice and beans are a staple in traditional cooking. Amazingly, lobster is also quite popular and more often than not, listed the menu in most restaurants. Havana has quite a sophisticated range of dining venues these days and most are beautifully-restored colonial buildings. My dining highlight was an exquisite meal at the magnificent San Cristóbal Paladar, where Obama also dined in 2017.

Did Cuba meet your expectations?

Above and beyond! I have travelled quite extensively throughout South East Asia and I felt remarkably safe in Cuba. The people were curious yet helpful and had a zest for life like I’ve never seen before.

What did you love most about your time in Cuba?

In many ways, it’s like stepping back into the bygone days. Passing an eclectic mix of restored buildings and fragile colourful colonial charm, cruising through the streets of Havana in the backseat of a 1956 Chevy convertible qualifies as one of those incredible travel moments.