Monday, 15 December 2014

SAN JUAN DE LOS REMEDIOS PART II

REMEDIOS TO CAYO SANTA MARIA

No rest for the wicked, bright and early Saturday morning after a lovely and filling breakfast, prepared by Jose Manuel’s wife, we set off for Cayo Santa Maria.  This time a green Chevrolet came to collect us and take us on our journey to Cayo Santo Maria.  

Transport Cuba
Travelling to Cayo Santa Maria
Cuba transport
Our Cuban Taxi to Cayo Santa Maria

Our first stop was Caibarien, only 7 km from Remedios, the gateway onto Cayo Santa Maria.  At the check- point, we had to pay an entrance fee, as well as show our passports or ID cards.  A 50 KM drive from the check-point to the start of Cayo Santo Maria, we drove on an impressive manmade road above the ocean with magnificent views across the ocean.  

Our local driver, drove us past the all-inclusive hotels, none of which we could access without either staying as a guest in the hotel or paying for a day pass, all the time explaining to us where everything was.  He took us to 2 different pueblos; Pueblo Las Dunas and Pueblo La Estrella, offering craft stalls, artesania, restaurants, bars and shops. We browsed and took pictures and then head to Playa Salinas, where he dropped us off to enjoy the afternoon on the beach.  

Cayo Santa Maria
Pueblo Las Dunas - Cayo Santa Maria
Cayo Santa Maria
Pueblo Las Dunas - Cayo Santa Maria

Cayo Santa Maria
Pueblo La Estrella - Cayo Santa Maria

Cayo Santa Maria
Pueblo La Estrella - Cayo Santa Maria

Playa Salinas on Cayo Santo Maria is a beautiful and desolate beach with crystal clear water.  From where we were dropped off it was a short walk to the Hotel Villa Las Brujas.  After strolling down the beach, we made ourselves comfortable on a couple of beach chairs, and enjoyed the warm and pristine ocean waters.  Later when we got a bit hungry, we checked out the menu at the hotel restaurant, where we were informed that we could in fact enter the restaurant and order lunch.  

Our original idea was to pay around 15 CUC each for a day pass to use the facilities of one of the all-inclusive hotels on Cayo Santo Maria, but it was our diver that gave us the tip to hang out on Playa Salinas instead.  In the end we paid around 5 CUC each for our lunch at the hotel restaurant as opposed to 15 CUC plus each at an all-inclusive hotel.  When we were ready to leave we called our driver and he came and collected us at the hotel car park and took us back to Remedios.

Even though I had been to Cayo Santa Maria before, it was the first time for my family and they were pleased that they got to experience a little of their amazing country and get a glimpse of how the other half live!

ARE YOU INTERESTED IN TAKING PART IN OUR CULTURAL PROGRAMS IN CUBA?

We offer Spanish lessons, Salsa classes, Painting workshops, Music lessons (guitar, Cuban percussion instruments i.e. bongos, clave etc), Pottery workshops in Trinidad, Havana, Remedios and Santiago de Cuba.  

WOULD YOU LIKE TO VISIT REMEDIOS?

We can organise for you to stay with Jose Manuel in his casa in Remedios, where you can receive the same warm and welcoming treatment.  

Remedios Cuba
Home cooked Cuban meal - Remedios

WOULD YOU LIKE TO VISIT REMEDIOS FROM TRINIDAD?

If you want to stay in Trinidad first, the family in Trinidad can organise a weekend trip to Remedios for you.  From Trinidad there is a bus service to Remedios leaving twice a day or you can hire a driver to take you like we did.

WOULD YOU LIKE SPANISH LESSONS IN REMEDIOS?

If you want to experience another side of Cuba and feel like spending at least 1 week or more in Remedios, we can organise Casa and Spanish language programs in Remedios.

HOW TO CONTACT EXPERIENCE THE REAL CUBA

For more information about any of our cultural programs, contact us at experiencetherealcuba@gmail.com.


Cayo Santa Maria
Playa Salinas - Cayo Santa Maria

Cayo Santa Maria
Playa Salinas - Cayo Santa Maria

Cayo Santa Maria
Hotel Villa Las Brujas - Cayo Santa Maria



Sunday, 23 November 2014

SAN JUAN DE LOS REMEDIOS PART I

TRINIDAD TO REMEDIOS

A blue Chevrolet arrived at the Casa in Trinidad to collect us for our journey to San Juan De Los Remedios.  It was a Friday afternoon, the 5 of us piled into the classic Cuban car excited about our weekend trip away from Trinidad.  The shiny blue Chevrolet took us on our journey from the province of Santi Spiritus to Villa Clara, leaving behind the Sierra Escambray Mountains, a view which always makes me feel happy, like a sign, letting me know that I am home.  

We headed past the Valle de los Ingenios and the Manaca-Iznaga Tower.  After cruising through the town of Santi Spiritus we joined the national motorway for a short distance before turning off towards Placetas.  The countryside from the motorway to Remedios was luscious, colourful with simple houses and huge banana trees in the gardens; in the distance you could catch a glimpse of the ocean.

Surprisingly the journey from Trinidad to Remedios only took around 2.5 hours. Looking back now, I couldn’t believe that it had once taken me all day to drive from Trinidad to Caibarien; a mere 7 km from Remedios.  On that occasion, my friend and I had hired a car so we decided to drive across the Sierra Escambray mountains, enjoying the breath taking views along the way, as well as stop off at Santa Clara; to visit the Che Guevara Mausoleum and the Tren Blindado.


Trinidad
Sierra Escambray Viewpoint Cuba
Things to do in Santa Clara
Tren Blindado Santa Clara Cuba

Things to do in Santa Clara
Che Guevara Monument Santa Clara Cuba
As we arrived into Remedios, we all curiously took a look around our new environment, instantly making comparisons between Trinidad and Remedios inside our minds. Gustavo had arranged for us to stay at the Balcony Hostal in Remedios.  Jose Manuel welcomed us into his casa, like long lost family.  Gustavo and Jose Manuel, over the years building their friendship over the phone, sending tourists from one casa to another, had become instant long term friends.  Today was the day that they finally met for the first time in person.

SAN JUAN DE LOS REMEDIES – THE CRADLE OF PARRANDAS

We climbed the steep steps to the Casa, Jose Manuel keen to show us around and make us feel at home.  All looking forward to see the true colours of Remedios, we set out on a mini walking tour, it felt good to stretch our legs and be in the company of Jose Manual. 

Our enthusiastic and willing guide, Jose Manuel shared with us his wealth of knowledge of Remedios and the province of Villa Clara.  He walked us to a hidden museum slightly out of town, he showed us around the small town of Remedios and introduced us to his family and friends.  

Remedios may seem like a small and tranquil town, but it is the only town in Cuba to have 2 cathedrals in the main plaza.  In the evening the square comes to life, it’s the place to be for all the locals and is surrounded by grand buildings all destined to be renovated and turned into hotels, bringing new life into this friendly and relaxed town. Culturally it has lots to offer, on Saturday night a local Trova band from Remedios played in the main square where a local crowd gathered to enjoy the melodic music.

Remedios is also famous for its cultural events hosted around the year:
  • 1-7th March – Cultural week
  • 24th June – Festival of San Juan
  • August – carnival
  • 24th December - The Parrandas
Part II to follow soon – our trip to Cayo Santo Maria….


Cuban Classic Car
Trinidad to Remedios in a Blue Chevrolet
Villa Joel Museum Remedios
Museum in Remedios

San Juan de los Remedios
Remedios

San Juan de los Remedios
Remedios

Villa Clara Cuba
Casa Remedios

San Juan de los Remedios
Museum Remedios

San Juan de los Remedios
Musuem Remedios

San Juan de los Remedios
Museum Zoo - Remedios

Villa Clara Cuba
Remedios

Sunday, 5 October 2014

6 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT CUBA AND MEDICAL INSURANCE

I would never consider travelling to Cuba without travel insurance.  I always travel to Cuba with a positive attitude; I never expect to make use of my travel insurance in Cuba, but at the same time I never travel to Cuba without it.  This may be obvious to me and maybe to some of you out there, but just in case you haven’t given it a second thought or you are wondering whether it is necessary or not, consider the following points before getting on the plane to Cuba:

1. CUBAN AUTHORITIES REQUIRE PROOF OF MEDICAL INSURANCE

Cuban authorities require proof of medical insurance to gain entry to Cuba. This has been a requirement set by the Cuban authorities since 1st May 2010.  Therefore, ensure you keep a copy of a valid travel insurance policy confirming your medical cover in your possession on arrival at the airport in Cuba. 

2. YOU WILL HAVE TO PRESENT A COPY OF YOUR MEDICAL INSURANCE WHEN YOU CHECK-IN ONTO YOUR FLIGHT TO CUBA

As comprehensive travel insurance with medical insurance cover is a requirement in Cuba you may be asked to present a copy of your travel insurance when checking onto your flight to Cuba.  

Whilst I have never been asked by an airline to present a copy of my travel insurance when travelling to Cuba, it caught me by surprise to learn that it can actually happen.  

In August 2014, Experience The Real Cuba organized a personalized itinerary of Casas, Spanish and Salsa lessons in Havana and Trinidad.  The customer planned for a family member to meet them in Havana.  When our customer went to meet their family member at the airport, they never arrived.  We discovered that this person was refused entry onto the flight because they did not have travel insurance. The flight was from Taipei via Hong Kong and Paris.

One of my contacts in Havana did some research and we found out that if an airline travelling to Cuba allows passengers to board the plane without comprehensive travel insurance or medical insurance cover, the airline will be fined by Cuban authorities.  

So in order to avoid ruining your holiday to Cuba, make sure you have comprehensive travel insurance with medical insurance cover and that you can present the required documents if asked to by your airline.

3. YOU WILL HAVE TO PRESENT A COPY OF YOUR MEDICAL INSURANCE ON ARRIVAL INTO CUBA

Ensure you keep a copy of your travel insurance policy easily to hand with your travel documents and passport when travelling to Cuba. If you arrive in Cuba without any proof of medical insurance cover you will be required to purchase medical insurance at the airport in Cuba.  

I have travelled to Cuba many times since this regulation has come into place.  I have travelled to Cuba from the UK, from Central and South America, yet I have never been asked to show my travel insurance documents at the airport when travelling to Cuba. Nevertheless, I always keep a copy of my travel insurance policy in my hand luggage; it is easily accessible just in case immigration wants to inspect it when I arrive into Cuba.  

4. YOU CAN BUY A TRAVEL INSURANCE POLICY AT THE AIRPORT IN CUBA

If you manage to arrive to Cuba without any medical insurance cover and the Cuban authorities discover you cannot provide proof of medical insurance, you will be required to purchase medical insurance at the airport in Cuba.  

The Cuban authorities will sell you a medical insurance policy from Asistur. Check out Asistur travel policy, for more information about the details of the medical insurance policy sold by Asistur.

5. BUY TRAVEL INSURANCE BEFORE COMING TO CUBA

Hence, since as all tourists coming to Cuba MUST have medical insurance cover, I would recommend anyone coming to Cuba to purchase comprehensive travel insurance from their home country before coming to Cuba.  Whilst most travel insurance policies include medical coverage, read the small print and make sure it covers all overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation for the full duration of your stay in Cuba.  Remember to read the small print in your policy and make sure it covers everything you are planning to do.

6. ENSURE CUBA IS COVERED IN YOUR TRAVEL INSURANCE POLICY

What travel insurance do I need for Cuba? Not all travel insurance companies include Cuba in their policies so when you are looking for travel insurance to Cuba, read the small print and ensure that Cuba is not excluded from its list of covered destinations.  

SHARE YOUR CUBAN TRAVEL EXPERIENCE

Have you had any travel issues going to Cuba?  Please share your story……..


Medical Cover Cuba
Immigration Havana Airport

Medical Cover Cuba
Havana Airport

Medical Cover Cuba
Immigration Havana Airport

Medical Cover Cuba
Jose Marti International Airport

Medical Cover Cuba
Buy Travel Insurance Cuba




Sunday, 20 July 2014

BOOKING DANCE LESSONS IN HAVANA, CUBA

DO YOU WANT TO LEARN TO DANCE IN HAVANA?

Experience the Real Cuba have recently teamed up with Yoanka at SalsAmiga All Star and are excited to share the news!  Together we can now organise professional and fun dance lessons in Havana, Cuba. Yoanka and I are both determined to welcome you and offer unforgetable holiday experiences in Cuba.  

WHY SHOULD I TAKE DANCE LESSONS WITH YOU?

Yoanka has been running the dance school for 5 years and has built up a team of professional dance instructors.  If you take lessons with us it will allow you the opportunity to interact with magnificent dancers as well as arm you with the necessary knowledge to experience and enjoy the best of Havana's nightlife.   

WHERE ARE YOU BASED?

The dance school is in the heart of Vedado, Havana, Cuba where professional instructors and experienced dancers teach you in a friendly and relaxed environment.

WHAT TYPE OF DANCE LESSONS DO YOU OFFER?

We can organise a variety of Cuban dance classes; Salsa, Son, Rumba, Folklore Chachacha, Rueda de Casino etc.

DO I NEED TO KNOW HOW TO DANCE?

Whether this is your first time dancing Cuban style or not it really doesn't matter.  We offer lessons to beginners, intermediate and advanced dancers.  If you are a beginner, you will learn the necessary dance skills, which will help you develop a natural dance style and improve your confidence.  Whereas, intermediate and advanced dance students will be able to improve their dance knowledge, rhythm or footwork.

HOW LONG ARE THE DANCE LESSONS?

The dance lessons are minimum 90 minutes or maximum 120 minutes.  You can choose to take a personalized dance lesson, a private dance lesson or in a group with qualified and professional instructors and experienced dancers.  

WHEN IS THE DANCE SCHOOL OPEN?

The dance school is open and offers dance lessons in Cuba seven days a week. 

HOW CAN I BOOK DANCE LESSONS?

If you are interested in taking dance lessons in Cuba, please contact Rena at experiencetherealcuba@gmail.com for more information / reservations.

CHECK OUT THIS VIDEO



Salsa Lessons
Dance Lessons - Havana Cuba

Havana Cuba
Rueda de Casino

Cuban Folklore
Folklore Dance Lesson - Havana, Cuba

Friday, 4 July 2014

CAN I TRANSIT IN LAX STRAIGHT OUT OF CUBA?

Damien Leis from Australia contacted Experience The Real Cuba in May 2014 looking for travel advice to Cuba.  He wanted to fly from San Juan, Santo Domingo to Cuba and then onto Los Angeles and wanted to know if he could reliably transit in LAX straight out of Cuba.  I contacted Damien after his trip to Cuba to find out about his Cuban travel adventure.

WHAT MADE YOU CONTACT EXPERIENCE THE REAL CUBA?  

I found the information on the Experience The Real Cuba blog to be real and down to earth, great quality. This type of information is very difficult to find anywhere else on the web, even the large sites like Tripadvisor and Lonely Planet. Dealings with ETRC were very personal and the support and response times to queries were excellent. All this is very important for travellers from Australia who generally feel that Cuba is a mystical place and therefore take extra precaution.

WHAT KIND OF INTERNET SEARCHES DID YOU DO?

The normal Google and Bing searches. I enquired with travel agents in Australia who offered zero information on Cuba.

WHAT WAS THE BEST FLIGHT IN / OUT OF CUBA?

We decided to fly via the Bahamas (Turks & Caicos Air to Nassau, Bahama Air to Havana), this gave us an opportunity to see that part of the world as well!

Booking flights online into Havana is a little tricky, there are a lot of smoke and mirrors. It takes some effort to get the best deal without going around the world. I also got caught out by the 72hr booking window with Cubana Air.

WERE YOU ABLE TO GET A CUBAN TOURIST CARD FROM THE AIRPORT IN NASSAU?  

Obtaining the Cuban tourist card was easy in the end. We flew Bahamair from Nassau to Havana, we paid/obtained the Cuban tourist card at the check-in counter at the same time as receiving our boarding pass (about USD$16 each or similar), it was a mere formality.

DID YOU GET A CUBAN STAMP IN YOUR PASSPORT?

Yes, they stamped the passports of all three of us on arrival in Cuba! I was expecting (hoping) that they would not stamp my passport. I read that not stamping passports in Cuba was normal and they only stamped if you asked for it.

WHAT WAS YOUR CONCERN ABOUT HAVING A CUBAN STAMP IN YOUR PASSPORT?

My concern was that my return flight was via LAX whereby I needed to clear U.S. customs and re-check all baggage. However, even with a Cuban stamp in my passport there were no dramas (we flew Puerto Vallarta Mexico direct to LAX).

I met a New Zealand lady in Cuba who was on her way to a conference in Florida, I understand that she was going via the Bahamas to avoid any U.S. immigration issues. I think it only gets complicated if you wish to fly direct into the U.S. from Cuba, as they treat you as a U.S. citizen and therefore need a special purpose permit to go to Cuba. Its only 'charter flights' flying direct between U.S. and Cuba and they wouldn't let you on without the required permits in any case. I was coming from the US Virgin islands and the best way I found to get to Cuba (without a permit) was via Bahamas or Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic).

DID YOU DRIVE AROUND CUBA?

No, however I would not hesitate to drive in Cuba in the future (it doesn't seem that complicated). We ended up using a driver that was arranged by the Casa ($25pp and $15 for our 3yo son) to travel from Havana to Trinidad and then Trinidad to Varadero.

HOW DID YOU GET FROM VARADERO TO HAVANA?

In Varadero we were tempted to try the Viazul bus and actually arrived at the Viazul bus terminal with plenty of time. We were approached by a taxi driver who asked how much we were willing to pay to get back to Havana, he then approached a group of other drivers who took the fare (40 CUC), which turned out to be a lot more convenient given that we were travelling with the baby and luggage.

HOW WAS YOUR CUBAN EXPERIENCE?

I believe that Cuba ticks all the boxes. We always felt safe in Cuba, the people were warm, architecture, history, cleanliness and value for money makes a total experience. We travelled to the US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Bahamas, Cuba and Mexico (west coast) and Cuba was my highlight. Havana is King.

Thanks to Damien for sharing his Cuban travel experience.

As for me, I have been to Cuba at least 15 times and my passport has never been stamped. I was therefore very surprised to learn that Damien and his family's passports were stamped; which is why I wanted to share this information on the Experience The Real Cuba blog.  

I am interested to hear from other travellers coming from Cuba:
  • Did you get a stamp in your passport?  
  • Did you transit in the U.S.? 
  • Did you have any problems transiting in the U.S. with a Cuban stamp in your passport?  
Please feel free to share your travel experience with us so other travellers can benefit from your Cuban experience.



Driving in Cuba
Plaza de Armas, Havana Vieja
Cuban Cars, Havana
Plaza Vieja, Havana, Cuba

Sunday, 8 June 2014

SPANISH & PAINTING IN TRINIDAD CUBA

By Martina Wohlers, Spanish & Painting student, Trinidad, April 2014 

I decided to travel to Cuba some time in November and started my research on the internet. I knew I wanted to take Spanish lessons, ideally one on one. So, I started looking and very soon found the site “Experience the Real Cuba”. They offered the type of Spanish lessons I was looking for, a home stay and to top it off, painting lessons. 

I loved the idea of getting painting lessons from one of Cubans artists. I wrote an email to them and promptly received a super nice reply that convinced me to stick with that company. When the travel date got closer I received very detailed and personal emails from Rena, who virtually took me by the hand on my first trip to Cuba. Travelling as a single woman is not always easy, but Rena organized my stay in Havana as well. 

I knew, when I left Germany that things would be amazing. And they were! I loved the Casa in Havana, even though it was just one night. Misleydis and Gustavo’s Casa in Trinidad made me feel at home right away. It is a spacious Casa with two terraces to hang out at. They welcomed me into their family, spoke Spanish to me and were very patient with my slow answers. They served a yummy breakfast with fresh fruits and juices. Dinner was always different and superb as well. 

Each morning I walked the short distance to my Spanish class. Juani is a very experienced and lovely teacher. My head spun every day after three hours of intensive Spanish, but I learned a lot and slowly started understanding the people on the street of Trinidad. Later in the day I had my painting class with a young artist. He helped me with painting a painting that I had carried around in my head for years. I was so grateful and happy, when I saw the result. 

All in all I can highly recommend travelling with Experience the Real Cuba, because I felt welcome in all places, got to know the beautiful people of Cuba and I know this was not my last trip.
Painting lessons in Cuba
Painting Workshop - Trinidad, Cuba

Painting Lessons in Cuba
Martina & Rances - Painting in Cuba


Sunday, 18 May 2014

GOING TO CONCERTS IN CUBA

How do you find out about concerts in Cuba?

We had heard about the Buena Fe concert back in Trinidad, my friend’s daughter had told us about it, she probably heard about it from a friend, who maybe heard about it on the radio.

When I’m in Trinidad, I limit my visits to ETECSA, so I don’t rely on internet sources or online magazines to find out what is happening in Cuba while I am there.  You can download monthly ‘what’s on’ guides from Cuba Absolutely before you go.  These are informative and helpful guides to have on your smart phone or ipod.  But I went to Cuba at the end of February 2014, so unfortunately I was not able to download the March guide before I left.  Anyway, I tend to rely on word of mouth or visit places like Cuba Libro, where you can hang out, drink ice-tea and find out what’s happening in Havana.

Where can you buy concert tickets?

As soon as we arrived we were determined to find out how to get tickets to the Buena Fe concert that night at the Karl Marx Theatre in Havana.  We asked at the casa, we called the Karl Mark Theatre box office, we asked the staff at the local cafeteria…the general consensus was that we could go to the box office on the night and buy our tickets.  However, they did warn us, tickets could already have been sold out; Buena Fe is very popular in Cuba.   In which case we could see if anyone was selling unwanted tickets on the street. 

It’s not something I had thought of…….Would it work?  What time does the ticket office open? Will we find tickets on the street? What time should we get there?  Should we go? We looked at each other for the answers, neither of us had a clue how it worked in Havana, but that didn’t stop us from taking a chance.  This was the first time we had been to Havana together.  She had left the family and kids back home in Trinidad, so we wanted to make the most of our weekend in the city. 

How do you get to the Karl Marx Theatre from Vedado?

We had nothing to lose, we got ready to go, not prepared to walk all the way or pay for a taxi, we headed to Linea, we flagged down an almendron and told the driver where we wanted to get dropped off.  I had given my friend the instructions and got her to do the talking.  Even though people could tell a mile off that neither of us where from Havana, at least with her Cuban accent we were less likely to get ripped off.  It surprised her that I could find my way around the city and knew how to use the shared taxi system in Havana; the almendrones.  She thought it ironic that she was the tourist in her own country, and I was her guide. 
  
Knowing how to use the almendrones took some practice but people are happy to explain to you how they work as it’s no longer illegal for tourists to use them.  The almendrones are cheaper than taxis, they work certain routes, so it’s good to know which routes they work so you can work out which is your best pick up and drop off point.  They may not always take you directly to where you want to go, so be prepared to walk a few blocks.

A couple of the popular routes include: 

Calle 23 to San Lázaro & El Prado (Vedado to Centro Habana)
Linea to Sán Lazaro & El Prado (Vedado to Centro Habana)
Neptuno to Calle L (Centro Habana to Vedado)

How do you know when to get out of an almendron?

If like me, you don’t like to carry a map around with you wherever you go, you can try to mentally remember which streets are just before your drop off point so you can calculate where to get off.  You can sometimes rely on the driver to remember where you want to get off.  I knew we wanted to get off somewhere around Calle 8, so as we got closer to Calle 8, I began to think that the driver had forgotten where we wanted to go so I asked him to stop and he looked at me and said, ‘but didn’t you want to go to 5th avenue and Calle 8?’.  I had forgotten that the route comes off Linea and goes down 5th Avenue after the tunnel!  What did we know?  The Guajira and the Turista, I paid the 20 pesos Cubanos for the 2 of us, thanked the driver and we laughed to ourselves as we walked down the unlit calle to 1st avenue.

Can you buy concert tickets on the street?

Before we had even arrived at the theatre, a young man on the street asked us if we wanted tickets to the show.  Misle taking the lead, began to ask questions, I let her do the talking once again.  He was selling tickets for 25 pesos or 1 CUC.  I thought I had misheard him, the young staff at the cafeteria had told us that we should expect to pay at least 5 CUC.  Misle wanted to know if they were good seats, close to the stage, if they were genuine tickets etc.  He showed them to us but how would we know, neither of us had ever been to the Karl Marx Theatre before.  We had no idea what the tickets looked like, but we had street cred to maintain so we pretended we knew what we were doing.  To be honest they were pretty nondescript……and anyway were there really counterfeit tickets circulating the streets of Havana?  Somehow I didn’t think so.  

Happy with ourselves, newly purchased tickets in our hands, I couldn’t quite believe how easy and quick it had been, we headed to the box office to see whether they were selling tickets.  They still had tickets for sale and ours looked like the real thing.  We got into the theatre no problem; we had nothing to worry about.  Admittedly we would have liked to have been closer to the stage, but I was happy to be there with my friend from Trinidad.

And as for the concert…..?

Buena Fe were brilliant, singing about real issues in Cuba, forever reaching out to their audience; they make you feel like they are talking directly to you.  They dedicated the concert to the launch of their new website and to the promotion of internet for all in Cuba. 

Buena Fe at the Karl Marx Theatre - Havana

Misle & I - Buena Fe Concert - Havana


Sunday, 27 April 2014

EATING OUT IN TRINIDAD

Sabor a Mí

In the Plaza de San Francisco de Assis in Trinidad, Cuba, a new restaurant opened at the end of 2013, offering elegant service and delicious food in a peaceful setting with a perfect view of the Museo Nacional de la Lucha Contra Bandidos.

Sabor a Mí, is run by identical twin sisters Lisvet and Liset.  If you run into one of them on the street you will always be in doubt as to which one of their friendly and welcoming faces you are about to greet. 

Lisvet and Liset, both equally charming and partners in everything they do.  They decided to name their restaurant as a tribute to Álvaro Carrillo Alarcón; the Mexican composer and songwriter who wrote the beautiful bolero, ‘Sabor a Mí’.  For them it is a romantic metaphor which represents their love for Trinidad.  They are proud to be part of Trinidad and to be part of the important changes that Trinidad has seen of late.  As they say with a smile on their face, “sabor a Trinidad”, because of its beautiful mountainous landscape, its impressive historical architecture, it’s intriguing history with signs of modernity creeping through and it’s divine beaches.

They have worked hard, they are believers of paying attention to the signs that life brings them and when the opportunity arose to rent out what once was a gallery selling paintings, they took a chance and spent months renovating the place.  They take pride in everything they do, and have carefully created a space which combines the past and the present.  They have decorated using black and white keeping in with their love for elegance and simplicity. It’s important for them that people feel at home in their restaurant and enjoy their superb meals.

The first thing I noticed were the words of the song written on the menu as well as on part of the wall outside in the patio.   I have to admit I wasn’t sure if I knew the song, so Misleydis started to sing it for me; still not sure, I assured her I would look it up on youtube!

We were greeted by smart and professional waiters able to answer all our questions.  I was instantly intrigued by the Mariachi Fish on the menu and decided to take a chance on something new.  It was made with tequila and cayenne pepper and very tasty.  Gustavo and Misleydis also chose fish and they had the Trinidad 1514 and the Trinidad 2014; names chosen in honour of the recent 500th anniversary of Trinidad.  Our meals came with warm bread and balls of butter floating in cold water to keep it fresh and cool, a plate of salad each and cream of pumpkin soup. 

Sabor a Mi Restaurant Trinidad
Mariachi Fish
As part of the 500th anniversary celebrations, Trinidad held El Primero Festival Culineario de Trinidad, the 1st Culinary Festival of Trinidad.  Sabor a Mí won an award for the ‘Trinidad 1514’ dish, an important achievement for them.  Firstly because at the time they had only been open a short amount of time and secondly because it was an important time for everyone being the 500th anniversary of Trinidad.  They intend to continue inventing new dishes and hope to win more awards and recognition in the future.

Sabor a Mí is open from 9.30am – 11.30pm (or until the last person leaves) and has a live Cuban band playing at various times throughout the day.  If you want a taste of something special, a taste of the Trinitarian soul, don’t hesitate to pay a visit to Sabor a Mí. 

Address – Fernándo Hernández Echerri (Cristo) #62 e/ Ciro Redondo (San José) y Piro Guinart (Boca), Trinidad, Cuba.


www.facebook.com/saboramitrinidad

Sabor a Mi Restaurant
Sabor a Mi Restaurant - Trinidad

Sabor a Mi Restaurant Trinidad
Sabor a Mi Restaurant - Trinidad

Lisvet - Sabor a  Mi Restaurant - Trinidad