Affordable Travel Guide to Anguilla

A Spanish Sentiment with an Arts Flourish

Anguilla
If there’s one thing Canadians are snobbish about it’s that they have the dibs on Cuba, and the Americans are still not permitted to visit (by choice of the American government). The latter is missing out on an island nation (the largest in the Caribbean) rich with Latin rhythms, sunny beaches, very affordable vacations, and two distinct personalities: city and resort. Cuba is technically a Communist country, but the atmosphere is more Socialist, a little less strict in its nuances. Situated south of the Florida panhandle and The Bahamas, north of Jamaica, and west of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, Cuba is a fairly central island in the Caribbean, within an easy flight of places like Toronto and Montréal. It is hugely popular with Canadian tourists (bypassing Mexico in popularity), especially those seeking sun and fun in the winter. For travelers craving a luxury vacation, it can be found in Cuba, but for most, it is one of the cheapest vacations you can find in the region of Caribbean resorts. What else, besides inexpensive vacations is Cuba famous for? Among other things: • Cigars! Cuban tobacco producers hand-make the most coveted cigars on the planet. • Latin music. It’s everywhere, in the bars, on the streets, and in the restaurants; you won’t be able to resist breaking into dance. • Spanish Colonial and Spanish Revival architecture, especially in Old Havana. • It’s rich in mineral resources. • It is one of the world’s major sugar can growers, along with other Caribbean islands like Jamaica. • Politically, it is regarded as “the most enduing experiment with Communism in the western hemisphere”. Cuba has a long and mixed history. Columbus landed here in 1492, claiming the island for Spain, and in 1959 after decades of government corruption, there was revolution with Fidel Castro at the reigns, and so it remains with his brother now as president. The revolution changed the face of Cuba in the strictest terms, but those days are behind Cuba, and it is now more relaxed and tolerant, and the people who were driven away (such as artists, poets, writers and homosexuals) have returned either to live or to visit. A trip to Cuba exposes its urban and resort sides. Ideally, spend a few days exploring the history and culture of Havana, and then a few more taking a total time—out on the beach at one of the gorgeous all inclusive resorts at Varadero or Holguin. Cuba is the main island, and the secondary, much smaller one is Isla de la Juventud (a very private spot to poke around and soak up the sun); there are also several archipelagos, many of which are not open to visitors, and are uninhabited. Besides sipping a Cuba Libre (rum, cola and lime juice) beachside, dancing the samba and puffing on a stogie, here’s what to do in Cuba: • Tour Old Havana. In addition to stunning architecture and fabulous food, you’ll discover how many classic cars still drive thee street (the climate is kind to them, so they last decades). • Walk the entire length of the Malecon, a wide esplanade that follows the waterfront in Havana from the old harbor to the neighborhood known as Vedado. Take your camera and a bottle of water; you’ll be walking 8km (roughly 5 miles!) through old world glory. • Visit Morro Castle, an Italian-designed fortress that sits, a sentinel, at the entrance to Havana Bay. • Get into the importance of being Ernest Hemingway with a tour of the novelist’s former home, Finca Vigìa, currently a museum. • Pay your respects to Che. Che Guevara (killed in 1979) and 29 of his fellow revolutionaries are interred at the Che Guevara Monument and Mausoleum. If you opt for a Cuban resort vacation, you’ll find the best location and package deals at the resorts just on the outskirts of Holguin (made famous in the move “Before Night Falls”, starring Javier Bardem), and along the long (20km/12-1/2 mile), narrow peninsula, Varadero. A combined Cuban vacation, part city and part beach resort, will satisfy your need for R&R and ensure you get a pleasant dose of culture on the side. Hola!

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