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A horsecart near Cajobado, Cuba. photo by Matthew Kadey.

Read More GoNOMAD Stories About Cuba

Bicycling Cuba: Bluebird Skies and Welcoming Homestays

Just a few tire rotations from the arid town of Cajobado along the island’s eastern most fringes, the road takes a sudden turn north and we’re almost immediately forced to gear down.

Save for the occasional ’55 Cadillac and galloping horse with carriage in tow, Tabi and I are left alone to tackle the steep switchbacks one laborious pedal stroke at a time.

Wending through and cresting the Sierra del Purial mountain range on its way to once isolated Baracoa on the north coast, the last bit of pavement of the La Farola road was laid down in the sixties and is widely considered the first great engineering feat of the Cuban revolutionary government.

Surrounded by a world that has come alive with resplendent views of lushly overgrown hills that hold some of the richest biodiversity in the Antilles, it's clear this lauded road is taking us deep into a landscape on steroids. READ MORE

 

Visiting Hemingway's Haunts in Havana

I had heard rumors of Hemingway's ghost appearing from time to time around Paris, Key West, and even Oak Park, Illinois. For a long time I had the notion of being the first writer to record the great man's specter in Cuba—a kingly phantom on the ramparts of El Morro castle. As the drawbridge of diplomacy creaked down and I was at last granted permission to travel to the workers' paradise, I made a pilgrimage to the island haunts of my literary idol.

Bikes on a street in Havana. Photo by Al Dieste.
Bikes on a street in Havana. Photo by Al Dieste.

Perhaps there, walking the same cobblestones, gazing at the same sunsets, falling through the same holes in the sidewalk as the master, I would find, to quote Hamlet's father, a "spirit, doomed for a certain term to walk the night."

Hemingway fell in love with Cuba when he first went there during a 1932 fishing trip with his buddy Joe Russell, owner of Sloppy Joe's Bar in Key West, Florida. From Russell's cabin cruiser Hemingway caught nineteen marlin and three sailfish and was, well, hooked. READ MORE

Cuba by the Numbers: Living large on $50 a day

Having just returned from four weeks in Cuba, three of which were spent in Havana, I would like to share with GoNOMAD readers the wonderful opportunity to enjoy and discover a rich and diverse culture, at less-than-Motel 6 prices!

One can spend less in Cuba, if the old college-hippie-backpacker-sleep-on-the-floor days appeal to your sense of nostalgia. One can certainly spend a lot more, if the days of decadent-Mafia-Tropicana-drinking-gambling-sin-and-sun-days appeal to your bulging wallet.

However, $50 a day in Havana can provide a very comfortable vacation, in a style which will not only appeal to your needs for American creature comforts, but also allow you to get a taste of the true Cuba of today. READ MORE

Biking in Carefree, Car-free Cuba

When there's good public transportation, pleasant walking conditions and "bicicleta" friendly streets, cars are unnecessary and bothersome. My wife and I looked forward to a car-free, carefree Cuban experience. Though our short vacation seemed to preclude cycling, two wheeling remained very appealing.

After the Soviet Union collapsed leaving Cuba without an oil source, Castro proclaimed the "era of the bicycle!" Fidel obsessively insisted bicycles would solve most of Cuba's energy, pollution and health problems.

Bike ownership rose tenfold. Within three years 65% of Cubans became cyclists. General health improved. Traffic congestion was reduced. Oil consumption dramatically dropped.

Cyclists are encouraged to visit Cuba. Cuban companies offer customized educational or eco bicycling tours into a variety of intriguing island areas. Their ads declare: "...So much to see, learn and do, these fully supported tours are always educational!"   READ MORE

Cigar lady in Havana. David Rich photo.
Cigar lady in Havana. David Rich photo.

Cuba: Lost in Time, Lost in Space

Cuba is a cock-eyed collage of colorful people, a constant adventure partly explained by an untimely historical accident befalling Fidel Castro on July 26, 1953, a botched first attempt at revolution.

Fidel’s fearless assault failed because of no street signs. Fidel’s driver, leading 119 rebels, took a wrong turn and ended up at the local police
station. Bad move, with 64 captured, tortured, and executed.

But Fidel learned his lesson, dismantling every street sign in every city in Cuba. Thus no one without local knowledge, especially tourists, can find their way in any Cuban city.

I learned to constantly ask directions, which means rudimentary Spanish is a big help. But there’ve been no further revolutions. Think Bay of Pigs, which admittedly suffered complications in addition to a lack of street signs. READ MORE

 

Read more GoNOMAD stories about Cuba:

No Waves In Cuba: Sweetness and Blood

Cayo Largo del Sur, Cuba: In Search of Piratical Adventure

Cuba: The Forbidden Country

The Valley of Vinales:Cuba's Hidden Shangri-La

Pollo Asado at El Aljibe, Havana. Photo by Nicholas Gilman.
Pollo Asado at El Aljibe, Havana. Photo by Nicholas Gilman.



Visiting an Ancient Village of the Taino, Cuba's Original Inhabitants

Traveler's Tales Cuba: Bring on the Cubans

Cuba Hotel Reviews: What People Are Saying about Staying in Cuba

Varadero, Cuba Hotel Reviews

An American Housewife in Cuba: A Tale of Hardship and Beauty

Smoking Spirit: Sharing a Women's Espiritu Practice in Cuba

Artist's Profile: Making Art and Missing Mom in Cuba




Havana Dining: Eating Cuban Food at the Source


Destination mini guide to Little Havana in Miami


Cuba

Getting a shoeshine in Trinidad, Cuba. Photo by Matthew Kadey. Click on photo to return
The steam train that travels from Trinidad de Cuba to a sugar plantation. photos by Dorothy Conlon
A horsecart near Cajobado, Cuba. Photo by Matthew Kadey. Click on photo to return
Plowing with oxen. Photos by Anonymous. Cuba: Lost in Time, Lost in Space
GoNOMAD Book Excerpt: Travelers' Tales Cuba: Bring on the Cubans! A musical and erotic night
Artist Profile: Making Art and Missing Mom in Cuba By Vladimir Diaz Gamez My
Working on his fastball in Trinidad, Cuba. Photo by Matthew Kadey. Click on photo
Music is everywhere in Cuba. photos by R.H. Ridge. Havana, Cuba: Politics Before Breakfast By H. R
The lush Vinales Valley in Cuba, bordered by rock outcroppings called Mogotes. photos by Marc
Read More GoNOMAD Stories About Cuba Bicycling Cuba: Bluebird Skies and Welcoming
GoNOMAD DESTINATION MINI GUIDE Cuba: The Forbidden Country
Car Free, Carefree Cuba Pedals and Strolls in Rumba-Land By Rick Millikan When there's good
A Cuba: Ask for Directions ItAs tough enough for one lost man to ask for directionsA
A Cuban favorite, dominoes Bicycling Cuba: Bluebird Skies and Welcoming Homestays
A No Waves In Cuba: Sweetness and Blood by Michael Scott Moore By Helena Wahlstrom

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