Here is a travel piece by Alice Handelman (Ladue News, St. Louis). [Many thanks to Peter Jordens for sharing this link.]
At age 15, I learned that Cuba had just gone through a revolution. Fidel Castro, a Cuban revolutionary and politician, had seized control of the island from Fulgencio Batista’s regime and had established a Communist one. A mass exodus of families leaving Cuba then found themselves in my hometown of Miami and in my high school. Since that time, I’ve dreamed of the adventure of visiting Cuba, which I did last December, just shy of the 60th anniversary of Cuba’s revolution.
Cruising on Oceania Cruises’ Sirena for one week, our group of seven traveled a total of 1,667 nautical miles from Miami to Havana, Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba and even via car to Trinidad. [. . .]
We embarked on our shore excursions with private, knowledgeable guides who allowed us to immerse ourselves in the history of what was once the most elusive port in the Caribbean. We gained a deeper understanding of Cuba’s culture along with the challenges of its people as we explored the environment and culture of Cuba at our own pace.
Havana has one of the best natural harbors in the Caribbean and has been both commercially and strategically important for years. Seeing it now, it is difficult to imagine that it ranked as one of the wealthiest and busiest commercial centers in the Western Hemisphere in the early 19th century. [. . .]
We visited Finca Vigía, the home of American expatriate and renowned literary titan Ernest Hemingway, where he spent 21 of his most productive years penning American literature and which housed his books, photographs and animal trophies he brought home from African safaris.
Our second port of call was Cienfuegos, situated on Cuba’s southern coast. Known as the Pearl of the South after its gorgeous bay, it has charming French Colonial architecture, wide streets and colorful façades. The city, founded in 1819 by French settlers, is filled with beautiful parks, theaters, churches and palaces. Its historic center, a World Heritage Site, is the perfect example of the influence the French had on its architecture, where arches, stained glass and ironwork are used.
Our group then journeyed in another classic Chevy to colonial Trinidad. Founded in 1514, Trinidad is known as the museum city of Cuba. Our group soaked up the Spanish colonial architecture while walking through the picturesque cobblestone streets. Trinidad’s majestic location, between the Caribbean coastline and the mountains, offers an abundance of natural attractions. [. . .]
[Photos by Howard and Alice Handelman.]