In May, the Bellevue Chamber led a group of Bellevue business people, along with a handful of other travelers, to Cuba. It must be immediately said that if you ever get the chance to visit Cuba do not pass it up! Cuba is a devastatingly beautiful island country with a romantic mystique to match. Whether in Havana or Camaguey or anywhere in between, the natural and architectural beauty of Cuba is on display in astounding diversity. It’s almost mythical, honestly.
We landed in Camaguey, travelled to Cienfuegos, Trinidad, and finished our trip in Havana.
Camaguey (prounounced CAMA-way – at least that’s how this American pronounces it!) is a city in Cuba that serves as the capital of Camaguey Province. Of course it’s beautiful, unique, and seemingly full of life. We travelled outside of Camaguey to King Ranch one day and spent time at a family pottery-making business, too. We ate great food (must eat the pork!), enjoyed great music, great people, and at least a few mojitos. Cienfuegos is wonderful, too (and the home of Yasiel Puig!). The city’s cobblestone streets and gathering places made strolling around uniquely serene. We took in cultural attractions, sampled all the wares Cienfuegos had to offer and, of course, enjoyed the food and drink! Trinidad is a gem. There is no other way to put it. A UNESCO world heritage site with incredible scenery, Trinidad offers amazing views, labyrinth walkable streets, and an “I’m in a different world” sense of reality. It’s beyond gorgeous. Finally, Havana. Oh, Havana. Exceptionally mystical. My hotel room looked down at the Gulf of Mexico beyond the Malecon and Meyer Lansky’s Rivieria which, in terms of historical relevance, is a symbol of the reasons behind Fidel Castro’s revolution. We ate, we strolled, we laughed, we played. We went to a show at the Buena Vista Social Club, visited Ernest Hemingway’s place outside the city, and visited Museo de la Revolucion.
The first thing people ask when they find out I’ve been to Cuba: “what about the cars?” The old American cars are ubiquitous, in Havana especially. We were chauffeured on a couple occasions in cars I never thought I’d sit down in. I’m not a car guy, but sitting shotgun in an original 1948 Bel-Air while driving along the Malecon talking to the driver in broken-Spanish is ten minutes I’ll never forget. A new television show on Discovery, “Cuban Chrome,” does a good job of depicting the reality of old cars and the old car market in Cuba.
If you have questions about Cuba, call your friends at the Chamber! We had a blast, you will too!