Testimonials: A Firsthand Account of the Splendors of Cuba
See important booking information below regarding travel to Cuba.*
Take whatever preconceived notions you have of Cuba and forget them.
Shortly after landing at Jose Marti International Airport in Havana; I realized that everything I had imagined Cuba to be was far from reality. As we drove through the city for the first time, the differences between Cuba and the rest of the world were immediately apparent. We knew that Havana was a city frozen in time, but perhaps we didn't think through what that really meant. From the old cars in all manner of disrepair to the payphones that dotted every corner, history was alive in Cuba and it danced through the streets alongside people who spoke on cellphones and dressed the same as us.
With Cuba's secluded nature, and the fact that it had only just been opened to U.S. for the first time since the 60's, we knew we would experience something we never had before. Often feeling like explorers, we went into each day with an excitement for the experiences we would have, regardless of whether they were part of the pre-planned itinerary or not.
We visited many historic sites in Havana, including Revolution Square with its impressive Jose Marti memorial and iconic images of Che Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos, the Cathedral of Havana and the University of Havana to learn as much as we could about this country's rich history, culture and education in the all-too-short time we had. After these traditionally educational stops, we visited the parts of the city that focus on the everyday lives of the people. Everything from the Fine Arts Museum to individual artist's studios, from senior dance clubs to a children's circus community project showed us just how much life and passion the Cuban people have. While reveling in this urban electricity you're constantly reminded of the contrast of the country – Havana is surrounded by deep green vegetation that rolls over peaks and valleys, and even finds its way into the city gardens.
To top off the experience, the food was more delicious than could have ever been expected. Huge portions of deliciously flavored meats and seafood greeted us at every lunch and dinner stop. The state-owned restaurants and privately owned paladars each had their own unique feel. The paladars are operated out of old renovated homes and make you feel as if you're part of the family with a delicious home cooked meal and wonderful hosts checking in on you.
I highly recommend everyone visit this beautiful island nation that has long been out of reach for many Americans. If you love art, you should go. If you love architecture, you should go. If you love history, you should go. If you love food, you should go. And especially if you love learning how these incredible strangers who are more like you than you ever knew, you should go. So what are you waiting for?
*COMPLIANCE WITH U.S. LAW: U.S. law prohibits U.S. travelers from traveling to Cuba for tourism. U.S. travelers can only go to Cuba for one of 12 authorized reasons, including family visits and people-to-people educational activities. The 12 categories are listed in the Cuban Assets Control Regulations [CACR] at Section 515.560 (a)(1)-(12) and described in more detail in those identified sections of the CACR, HERE. It is the U.S. traveler’s sole responsibly to understand and comply with existing restrictions under U.S. law. Each U.S. traveler is required under U.S. law to retain records of their travel to Cuba for five years. The U.S. government could ask you to produce those records.
*CUBA TRAVEL CERTIFICATION: Each U.S. traveler must complete a written certification, available HERE, identifying the travel category that authorizes his or her travel to Cuba in order to allow Vacation Express to book that travel. Vacation Express must obtain this certification and retain it for five years, as required under Section 515.572(b) of the CACR. Should you have any questions about the requirements of U.S. law relating to your travel to Cuba, please consult a lawyer.