Cuba has a long list of must-see attractions and experiences. If you want to take a step back in time while experiencing the vibrance of modern Cuban culture, the historic Plaza de la Catedral would be a great place to start.
I remember on a windy evening in Havana I waved down one of Havana’s many informal, unlabeled taxis and was surprised to find a man sitting in the shotgun seat. I asked the driver, Carlos, about his extra passenger. Pablo turned to introduce himself. As we drove, Carlos and Pablo explained to me that they were friends and business partners. By day, Carlos was a family physician and Pablo was a vet. But Carlos had a car, so they spent their evenings taking turns driving it as taxi to make some extra cash in CUC.
Every time I reach for my phone, a Cuban flag stares back at me. But it’s not just the red, white and blue that captures my attention, but the memory it evokes - a steamy morning overlooking the Havana streets from a palatial balcony, old time Chevys and locals crossing hurriedly along.
At cafes and takeout windows throughout the island, coffee and conversation flow together like longtime amigos. In private homes, every host, however humble, offers the beverage. Seldom drunk in seclusion, coffee forms the cornerstone of Cuba’s social interactions. The flavor of Cuban hospitality is coffee.
The face of Ernesto “Che” Guevara, born in northern Argentina in 1928 and killed in Bolivia in 1967, is plastered on government buildings and billboards across Cuba. Tourist markets are awash with Che t-shirts, paintings, and replicas of the Argentine’s token beret with the single star across the front. A giant Che likeness, depicting his shoulder-length hair under the famous beret, overlooks Cuba’s iconic Revolution Square in Havana from the side of the Interior Ministry building.
In the small Trinidad, located in central Cuba, pretty museums are the norm. Known as Cuba’s Museum City, colonial architecture looms on every cobblestone street. Lucky me, I realized, as I first set my eyes on the antiques of Trinidad. A well-preserved living testament of the sugar trade opulence of two centuries ago, Trinidad is laden with heirlooms like no other city.