Discovering—The Vintage Charm of Cuba

Discovering—The Vintage Charm of Cuba

Recently, Cuba has become popular around the world and is experiencing an influx of tourists from the international community with a total of 3,524,779 in 2015. As Cuba and the U.S. formed warmer relations, the number of Japanese tourist reservations increased to almost 14,000 last year, doubling from the previous year, with no signs of slowing down. Canadians made up the majority of tourist flocking to Cuba, topping at 1,300,092 in 2015. Cuba has become a hot spot for tourist wanting to indulge in the beauty and life of Cuba due to the overall good weather, world famous Cuban cigars, rum, and the vintage charm of the capital.

One significant area that is attracting the most tourists is the capital of Cuba, Havana. Havana is described as a city trapped in time, where faded glamour meets colonial-era reconstruction beautifully adorned with magnificent colored houses. The easygoing attitude towards life embraces everyone who steps into the Cuban capital. In addition, trips to the near ocean support a balanced and overall good mood. Moreover, Havana is deeply entrenched in culture. The Old Havana, core of the original city of Havana, is acknowledged as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Catedral de San Cristóbal, once described by novelist Alejo Carpentier as “music set in stone”, is astonishing and exudes the feeling of Italian architecture.

The easygoing attitude towards life embraces everyone who steps into the Cuban capital.

Another area of significance in Havana is the Havana-Club Rum Museum. The museum is located in an ancient three story colonial residence, which was built in the 17th century.

Due to its historical values, the UNESCO declared it as a Cultural Patrimony of Havana in 1982. The museum employs professional guides that show and explain to visitors, in several languages, all the steps involved in the original manufacturing of Cuban rum. At the end of the tour, a free rum tasting awaits the visitors.

Vintage taxi, La Habana, Cuba. / Credits: Jorge Royan.
Vintage taxi, La Habana, Cuba. / Credits: Jorge Royan.

The taste of Cuba is definitely represented by Cuban Rum, but also by the original Cuban cigars, known as Habanos. The tobacco industry is a countrywide industry and is crucial to Cuba’s economy, since it is Cuba’s third largest export. Boasting over five centuries of tradition in cigar manufacturing, the Pinar del Rio province is the most important region for tobacco production. The province is located at the very western part of the island and contains the Vuelta Abajo region, which is the main region of tobacco for Habanos, and the only region that grows all varieties of tobacco leaves.

Some experts consider Cuban tobacco as the world’s best tobacco, which is directly related to the few select farms that are judged good enough to grow the tobacco for Habanos.

Pinar del Rio is not just recognized as an important growing area for tobacco, it is also known as Cuba Natural Cathedral, because of its exceptional natural beauty. The territory boasts natural features both on land and underwater, such as the Guanahacabibes Peninsula biosphere reserve. Divers have access to international diving centers located on several of the beautiful beaches.

Viñales Valley is distinguishable by its geologic complexity with rocks from the Jurassic period.

The Viñales Valley, also found in the province of Pinar del Rio, is a cultural landscape inscribed onto the World Heritage List in 1999. With its particularly diverse flora, consisting of 17 endemic plant species and attractive hills known as hummocks. The Viñales Valley is revered as a landscape of unique rock formations. Viñales Valley is distinguishable by its geologic complexity with rocks from the Jurassic period, and caves that make up the largest cavern system in Cuba. Visitors typically explore the 45-kilometer St. Thomas cave. Moreover, Viñales Valley hosts the Mural of Prehistory, one of the largest frescos on the planet, harmoniously embedded into the Cuban landscape. The majestic 120-meter work of art is drawn on rocks from the Jurassic period in Vinales National Park. It was created by painter and scientist Leovigildo González in 1959. The fresco portrays the biogeologic past of the region and human figures, which represent the aborigines, interacting with large mammals such as the megalocnus rodens, an extinct giant bear.

Rolling cigars, Viñales, Cuba. / Credits: Bryan Ledgard.
Rolling cigars, Viñales, Cuba. / Credits: Bryan Ledgard.

Indeed Cuba is most popular for its delicious Rum and the charming capital Havana, but tourists who come to Cuba experience much more. They find peace on one of the several beaches and embrace astonishing nature in The Viñales Valley. There is a great deal more to experience in Cuba. Previous tourists continue to return and new tourists arrive everyday to experience all that Cuba has to offer.

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