Wednesday, 11 September 2019

6 TALENTED ARTISTS IN TRINIDAD CUBA


Whilst exploring the colourful cobbled streets of Trinidad’s UNESCO historical centre you will find an explosion of craft and art shops featuring inexpensive and attractive reproduced paintings and prints. These good quality prints are ideal as Cuban souvenirs and gifts; however, Trinidad is home to many extremely talented artists creating original and high-quality artwork and it can be a challenge finding their galleries. Here is a selection of art galleries, in Trinidad declared a World Craft City in 2018, you should make an effort to visit while you are in Trinidad, Cuba:



1.       RAMSES MARRERO CONCEPCIÓN GALLERY


Ramses Marrero Concepción influenced by Impressionism is an Abstract Lyrical artist creating explosive pieces of art with the use of vivid colours. His artwork includes paintings of ocean landscapes, portraits and expressions. His recent project has been a bit controversial as he has traversed into new ground by highlighting the beauty of the female genitals in his work. His work has captured the interest of many on Instagram.


Gallery: Piro Guinart 360, between Juan Manuel Marquez & Fernando Hernández Echerri, Trinidad, Cuba.



Cuban Artists
Ramses Marrero Concepción






2.       YUNIESKY FERNÁNDEZ FRIAS GALLERY


Yuniesky Fernández Frias’ passion for fishing is extremely evident in his artwork. His time on the open water is a time for reflection, to scrutinise on everyday ironies and transmit what he learns from the sea through his paintings. Yuniesky produces original and symbolic pieces of art, conveying messages from the times that we live in onto salvaged pieces of wood from old fishing boats. Yuniesky displays and works from his peaceful gallery which he opened around 2 years ago in Trinidad; he has been painting for around 16 years.


Gallery: Fernando Hernández Echerri 60, between Piro Guinart & Ciro Redondo, Trinidad, Cuba.

 
Cuban Artists
Yuniesky Fernández Frias





3.       GATO NEGRO OPEN STUDIO


Gato Negro Open Studio is all about breaking barriers within the world of art and culture in Trinidad, Cuba. The studio which opened in May 2018 provides an incredible space for local talented artists to showcase their original artwork. It also aims to offer regular art experiences by holding musical concerts, interactive exhibitions, theatrical performances as well as creating a space which encourages cultural exchanges with local artists. The studio features the artwork of Miguel Angel Valdivia Ramos, Yasiel Elizagaray & Edras Francis.


Gallery: Calle Simón Bulevar (Desengaño) 356, Trinidad, Cuba.



Cuban Artists
Gato Negro Open Studio





4.       YASIEL ELIZAGARAY GALLERY



Deep and intense compositions; Yasiel Elizagaray’s work has a way of reaching out and penetrating you, leaving you mesmerized and wanting to stare at it for hours.  Yasiel himself questions his style, but it is an eclectic mix of styles. Depending on his state of mind, he throws in elements of his time in the theatre, of when he began painting landscapes, there are touches of Fauvism, some would say that his work is raw or grotesque however, the style he feels he relates to more when he is creating his work is Expressionism.


Gallery: Alameda 210, between Cristo & Amargura, Trinidad, Cuba.

 
Cuban Artists
Yasiel Elizagaray





5.       YUDIT VIDAL FAIFE CUBAN ART STUDIO


Yudit Vidal Faife, one of Trinidad’s highly acclaimed artists, opened her gallery in Trinidad in 2010. Her motivation comes from dreams and stories that materialise all around her; from everyday life, personal life experiences, as well as personal anguishes. Trinidad is brimming with history and tradition, this reflects in Yudit’s artwork, which is strikingly linked to local legends, to the spirits and the ghosts, the slaves and the owners of the magnificent 18th century houses found all around Trinidad today, which she believes are kept alive and protected because of the spirituality locked up inside them.


Gallery: Calle Simón Bolevar (Desengaño) 294, Trinidad, Cuba.

Cuban Artists
Yudit Vidal Faife







6.       LÁZARO NIEBLA GALLERY



Lázaro Niebla, a photographer and an artist, has a keen eye for detail, a talent for capturing heartfelt expressions of people on the street and recreating their portraits on beautiful pieces of antique recycled wood. He predominately captures images of older people, as their expressions are so full of life, and the detail of their expressions are captured beautifully on wood. Extraordinary and fabulous pieces of art.


Gallery: Calle Real 11, Trinidad, Cuba.

Cuban Artists
Lázaro Niebla Gallery





EXPERIENCE THE REAL CUBA – SUPPORTING CUBAN BUSINESSES



Experience the Real Cuba offers Casas Particulares in Cuba as well as cultural activities and programs in Cuba supporting local Cuban private businesses.



To find out more about Casas in Cuba and our courses and programs (Spanish lessons, Dance lessons, Music lessons, Art & Pottery workshops) check out our website:




Sunday, 31 March 2019

6 MUST DO ATTRACTIONS IN TRINIDAD CUBA


You can see why Trinidad was declared World Craft City in 2018, it is a city rich in tradition, legends, history, culture, architecture and is surrounded by natural beauty; beaches, mountains and valleys. Check out why Trinidad has captured the heart of many travellers and has become a firm favourite of mine and everybody that visits us in Trinidad:





1. TRINIDAD HISTORICAL CENTRE

Trinidad, located on the central south cost of Cuba, is one of the best-preserved colonial cities in the Americas; declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998. It never fails to amaze me, I love walking around its charming colonial cobbled streets and admiring its architectural treasures. When I stroll around Trinidad’s historical centre, I feel like I am walking through a living museum with its beautiful palaces and mansions. It is easy to watch daily life pass you by as this is one of the only historical cities where many locals still live within the old town.  The locals are proud of their heritage and traditions so take the time to sit down in one of its lovely plazas, listen to the gossip on the street and find a local to talk to about the legends of the past. Trinidad’s historical centre is also the place to be at night with its lively bars, excellent live musical performances every night and rich collection of restaurants serving delicious traditional cuisine in beautifully restored casas. 

World Heritage Site Cuba
Plaza Mayor Trinidad Cuba


2. TOPPES DE COLLANTES

When you visit Trinidad, I recommend you set aside at least one day to visit one of the beautiful national parks located in the Toppes de Collantes highlands where nature tourism is really taking off in Cuba. It is an invigorating day out, where you can walk amongst the leafy trees and beautiful landscapes, learn about the local flora and fauna, and even get to dip in one of the refreshingly cool waters of one of the many waterfalls found in the 200 square kilometre Guamuahaya mountain range. There are various options, some walks easier than others: El Cubano, Caburní, Vegas Grandes, Guanayara Park and you can even get to El Nicho from Trinidad. 

Nature Tourism Cuba
Toppes de Collantes Cuba



3. PLAYA ANCÓN

Even though Cuba’s Varadero has been named as the 3rd best beach in the top 10 Traveller’s choice beaches in the World on TripAdvisor, I still love the Caribbean waters on the Playa Ancón peninsula; around 15km from Trinidad town.  It is well worth a visit as it boasts beautiful white sandy beaches with crystal clear blue waters, so calm you can see your foot clearly in the water.  If you have transport; a bike or a car, you can also explore the coast line between La Boca and the beaches of Playa Ancón on the Peninsula. You will find cute small beaches “playitas” along the coast where you can stop and relax, sit under the shade of the handmade canopies “bohios” and even go snorkelling around the rocky shore line. Not all of the playitas have places where you can buy refreshments but at “La Batea” you will find a small restaurant where you can buy refreshments and sometimes even hire snorkelling equipment, you will also find men taking care of the playitas and charging a small fee to look after your car or bike.




4. VALLE DE LOS INGENIOS (SUGAR MILLS VALLEY)

Valle de los Ingenios also declared as a UNESCO World Heritage site is located to the north east of Trinidad city. The fertile lands of this area were of great importance during the sugar “boom” which enabled Trinidad to prosper and grow into the city we see today. The Valle de los Ingenios is of particular architectural and historical importance as it is home to a collection of traditional sugar mills and stately homes. You can visit this area by car or by train. If you visit by train you will get to visit the Manaca-Iznaga estate and majestic tower as well as an old sugar mill factory. If you visit this region by car you can visit Manaca-Iznaga but I also recommend you include a visit to one of the other areas of interest; the sugar mills valley mirador, Guámaro, Palmarito, San Isidro and Guachinango.

Sugar Cane Valley Cuba
Torre Manaca Iznaga Cuba


5. TELECOMMUNICATIONS MIRADOR / VIEWPOINT 

If you are feeling active climb up to the telecommunications tower at the top of the hill behind Trinidad’s historical centre and get an amazing view of the valley, the city and the coast. An amazing place to watch the sunset and get lost in time. If you climb the hill during the day, it can be hot so take water and wear a hat. If you go for the sunset, there is no lighting on the way down so remember to take a torch with you.

Trinidad Viewpoint Mirador Cuba
Telecommunications Mirador Trinidad Cuba


6. STAY IN A CASA PARTICULAR

One of the best experiences in Trinidad is to stay at one of our many Casa Particulares where you get to experience a little of every day life in Trinidad. Hosts are super friendly, offer all kinds of tips and local information and can help organise your activities whilst in Trinidad. I love sitting down and chatting to the hosts and finding out about their lives in Cuba and they often want to know about you and your life back at home so it is a great way to share experiences and have a meaningful cultural exchange.

Accommodation Cuba
Casa in Trinidad Cuba


EXPERIENCE THE REAL CUBA – SUPPORTING CUBAN BUSINESSES

Experience the Real Cuba offers Casas Particulares in Cuba as well as cultural activities and programs in Cuba supporting local Cuban private businesses.

To find out more about Casas in Cuba and our courses and programs (Spanish lessons, Dance lessons, Music lessons, Art & Pottery workshops) check out our website:



Wednesday, 17 October 2018

VOLUNTEERING ON A COMMUNITY PROJECT IN CUBA

Finca Tungasuk is an amazing project located 25 km from Havana on the road to Pinar del Rio, a slice of heaven, an inspiration to work alongside Annabelle and her beautiful organic farm in Cuba.

Annabelle arranged for her neighbour, Pedro, to pick me up, as well as Jeanne & Justin from Boston, 2 other volunteers, from our respective Casas in Havana at 7am.

As soon as we arrived, Annabelle welcomed us to her organic farm with some delicious home-made mango & guava yoghurt, made by a local farmer, grated coconut dessert and a cup of Cuban coffee. Before she set us to work in the farm, Annabelle told us all about her journey to Cuba and what led her to changing her life, buying a house in the countryside and starting an organic farm in Cuba.

Annabelle and her husband Alfredo moved to Cuba from Paris in 2013. Annabelle originally from Nicaragua was working as a chef in Paris when her and her Peruvian husband decided to open an organic farm in Cuba and work as a cooperative within the community. Cuba seemed like a natural choice to them as Alfredo’s parents had settled in Cuba in 1997 and it seemed like the perfect place to build their dream.

The initial year was tough, they had to clear the land free of the Cuban weed maribou to prepare the beginnings of their organic farming project. It took a lot of research and determination to learn about organic farming, however they have learnt from their experiences and have shared their knowledge with the local community in Caimitas, Artemisa.

Their hard work has paid off and now they are growing traditional Cuban fruit and vegetables; papaya, sugar cane, corn, mango. They are trying to revive fruits and vegetables indigenous to Cuba, which have been lost over time, as well as growing pak choi, lemon grass and other produce not commonly found and grown in Cuba.

As well as running the organic farm Annabelle and Alfredo now welcome volunteers to their farm looking to experience something different in Cuba. Our voluntary work at the organic farm in Cuba consisted of re-planting tomato, cauliflower and pack choi plants on a fresh plot of land where they will be nurtured without chemicals to grow into delicious organic vegetables. The experience left the 3 of us even more appreciative of the hard work farmers like Annabelle and her family endure when producing healthy, organic, fresh products for us to eat.

After our hard work, we enjoyed a scrumptious lunch with Annabelle’s family before Pedro took us back to Havana, totally grateful for meeting Annabelle and her family, for welcoming us into their world and for having the opportunity to take part in this wonderful Cuban experience.

Experience the Real Cuba offers cultural activities and programs in Cuba supporting local Cuban private businesses, as well as organising accommodation in Casa Particulares.

To find out more about our courses and programs (Spanish lessons, Dance lessons, Music lessons, Art & Pottery workshops) check out our website:

www.experiencetherealcuba.com

Travel Cuba

Travel Cuba

Travel Cuba

Travel Cuba

Travel Cuba

Travel Cuba

Travel Cuba

Travel Cuba

Travel Cuba

Travel Cuba

Monday, 22 January 2018

HOW TO BOOK A CASA PARTICULAR IN CUBA


WHAT IS A CASA PARTICULAR?

A Casa Particular in Cuba is like a B&B, guesthouse, or family homestay. 

WHAT FACILITIES DO CASAS IN CUBA OFFER?

Casas in Cuba vary, sometimes rooms are within the Cuban family home and sometimes guest accommodation in a Casa Particular is on a different floor with an independent entrance. Most of the time bedrooms in a Casa Particular come with private en-suite bathrooms. Rooms in a Casa Particular have air-conditioning or fans and the Casas provide towels. Some Casas in Cuba are starting to offer additional facilities for example, hairdryers, mini-bar, tv, safety boxes etc.

Whatever the conditions, Cuban families are friendly, welcoming, and respect your privacy. Staying in a Casa Particular is a great way to experience Cuba but just bear in mind that Cuba has its shortages so water may be scarce, hot water may not be as hot as you are used to or it may take time to heat up, towels may be smaller than you are used to and things run slowly so the key to making the most of your experience in Cuba is to be patient and take things in your stride. 

WHY ARE CUBAN CASAS CALLED HOSTALS?


You will find that some Cuban Casas have named themselves Hostal XXX i.e. Hostal Misleydis & Gustavo. This is another term they use denoting that they have a guest house, B&B, homestay or Casa Particular in Cuba. It is not necessarily a backpacker or budget hostel.

ARE THERE ANY BACKPACKERS OR HOSTELS IN CUBA?


I have stayed in a couple of backpacker type accommodations in Havana, however, there are very few backpacker or hostel type accommodations available in Cuba where tourists on a budget visiting Cuba can share a room with other travelers or backpackers i.e. a shared room for 6 people with bunk beds. 

HOW DO I KNOW IF THE CUBAN CASA IS LEGAL?

Cuban Casas who are legally allowed to rent their homes to foreign visitors or travelers have a blue and white sticker posted on their front door. Anyone that stays at a Cuban Casa must sign the guestbook. Cuban Casa owners then have to report to immigration with your passport details declaring who is staying with them in their Casa Particular.


Casa Cuba


HOW DO I BOOK A CASA IN CUBA?

Experience the Real Cuba works with a network of Casas in Cuba. The Casa Particulares that we work with are friends and contacts that we have made over the years and have been carefully selected for their professionalism and excellent hospitality.

To book one of our many Casas in Cuba and ensure you have an amazing stay in Cuba hit the following link:

https://www.experiencetherealcuba.com/destination/

HOW DO I COMMUNICATE WITH A CUBAN CASA?

Communicating with Casas in Cuba can be difficult. Internet connection in Cuba is a challenge and it is not always easy for Cubans to connect to the WIFI in Cuba every day. 

At Experience the Real Cuba we communicate with the Casas in Cuba on your behalf. We have Co-ordinators located in Cuba who have an excellent relationship with the Casas in Cuba and we aim to get back to Cuban Casa enquiries as fast as we can.

HOW DOES THE CUBA CASA BOOKING WEBSITE WORK?

At Experience the Real Cuba we work in conjunction with the Casas in Cuba to offer the easiest Cuban Casa booking system for both the Casa and the traveler visiting Cuba.


1.       Find a Cuban Casa that you like on the Experiencethe Real Cuba website

2.       Click the “book now” button

3.       I will receive an email with your request

4.       I will communicate with the Casas in Cuba to check availability

5.       I get back to you within 72 hours

6.       If the Casa in Cuba is available we will confirm the Casa reservation

7.       You pay a booking fee in advance to secure the Casa reservation

8.       Once payment is received I will send you confirmation details with the Cuban Casa contact details

9.       Once you arrive at your Casa in Cuba you pay the remaining balance in cash in Cuba (CUC).

EXPERIENCE THE REAL CUBA – YOUTUBE

Check out the videos of some of our Casas in Cuba.


EXPERIENCE THE REAL CUBA – SUPPORTING CUBAN BUSINESSES

Experience the Real Cuba offers Casas Particulares in Cuba as well as cultural activities and programs in Cuba supporting local Cuban private businesses.

To find out more about Casas in Cuba and our courses and programs (Spanish lessons, Dance lessons, Music lessons, Art & Pottery workshops) check out our website:

www.experiencetherealcuba.com

Cuba Casa
Casa Gomez

Cuba Casa
Casa Gomez

Casa Cuba
Casa Destino

Cuba Casa
Casa Destino
Cuba Casa
Casa German 1806

Cuba Casa
Casa German 1806

Casa Cuba
Casa German 1806

Cuba Casa
Casa German 1806
Cuba Casa
Casa Misleydis & Gustavo

Cuba Casa
Casa Misleydis & Gustavo


Sunday, 10 December 2017

CAN I BUY A SIM CARD IN CUBA?

CAN I BUY A SIM CARD IN CUBA?

Yes, you can buy a SIM card for your mobile phone when you are on holiday in Cuba.

WHERE CAN I BUY A SIM CARD IN CUBA?

You can go to any ETECSA office in Cuba to buy a Cuban SIM card.

I went to the ETECSA office located at the bottom of the FOCSA building in Vedado on calle M in Havana. When I arrived at the ETECSA office there were 2 queues. You need to know who is last in the queue so ask for “el ultimo”, this is a general rule in Cuba. The gentleman asked me what for “para que?” as each queue serves a different purpose so I said “para sacar una linea” and he pointed me to the relevant queue. The line-up for the queue was outside in the sun and a security guard inside the ETECSA office waved us in one at a time when there was a sales person available to deal with our enquiry.

I was lucky as I was in the queue for around 5-10 minutes, which is quick for Cuban standards, sometimes you can be in the queue at ETECSA for a lot longer, especially when going to an ETECSA office in the provinces around Cuba, so it is probably best to go to an ETECSA office in Havana.

In general, things in Cuba are not always available when you want them. Sometimes you can be waiting in a queue for 1 hour only to find out that there are no Cuban SIM cards available to buy when you get inside the ETECSA office. One way to avoid this from happening is to speak the security guard inside the ETECSA office and ask if there are any Cuban SIM cards for sale before you join the queue.

DO I NEED IDENTIFICATION TO BUY A CUBAN SIM CARD?

When you go to buy a SIM Card in Cuba, you need to take the following items with you:
  • Passport
  • Cuban Casa address (where you are staying)
  • a mobile phone / handset (the one you want to use when you are in Cuba)
  • money to pay for the SIM card (Cuban Converitible Pesos – CUC)

You should take the mobile phone with you because the sales person wants to insert the chip into the mobile phone to check that is functioning. I prefer taking an old mobile phone with me to Cuba so I can use to communicate with friends and family in Cuba, i.e. to make local calls within Cuba.



HOW DOES THE CUBAN SIM CARD WORK?

There is only one telecommunications company in Cuba; ETECSA, there are no other service providers in Cuba offering mobile phone contracts (November 2017).

You have 2 options, neither options include a mobile phone or handset, so remember to bring a mobile phone with you to use in Cuba:

1. Permanent SIM Card

The permanent Cuban SIM card costs 40 CUC, it comes with 10 CUC credit. Before I leave Cuba if I add credit to my phone the line will remain active for 11 months, so when I return to Cuba I can use the same SIM card and Cuban mobile phone number. If I am away from Cuba for more than 11 months, I can charge the phone online via various online service providers (I tend to use DING or Cuballama) to keep the line activated.

2. Temporary SIM Card

The temporary Cuban SIM Card is 3 CUC per day. This is a good option for people who are on holiday in Cuba for a short time.

WHERE CAN I TOP UP MY CUBAN MOBILE PHONE CREDIT?

There are many private businesses acting as agents for ETECSA in Cuba. They can be working from their Casa or have a small shop. You will see small ETECSA signs posted on doors or windows, or you can ask your Casa host in Cuba to let you know where your nearest agent is so you can add credit to your Cuban SIM card.

SUPPORTING CUBAN BUSINESSES

Experience the Real Cuba offers cultural activities and programs in Cuba supporting local Cuban private businesses, as well as organising accommodation in Casa Particulares.


To find out more about our courses and programs (Spanish lessons, Dance lessons, Musiclessons, Art & Pottery workshops) check out our website:


Cuba
Havana Cuba

Cuba ETECSA
FOCSA Havana



Mobile Phone Cuba
Cuba SIM Card

Trinidad Cuba
ETECSA Trinidad Cuba