A Year Told In Pictures of Sunsets

Pictures of Sunsets

As the sun (almost) sets on another year I’m so happy to be sitting here writing these words: “I’ve had an amazing year of travel”. They’re the kind of words that can make people want to push your smug little face into the dirt, but I hope you’ll forgive my boasting because my amazing year of travel came directly off the back of  my worst travel year yet, and as the sun rose on a new year I was terrified that my travel curse would follow me into the New Year. So much so, that when I boarded my first … Read more

How To Go Hiking in Toppes de Collantes, Cuba

Hiking Toppes de Collantes, a nature reserve in the southwest of the Escambray Mountains was never in my original travel itinerary for Cuba. However, for each day that I lingered at the beach in La Boca, staring out at the ominous peaks and troughs of the distant range, I became increasingly drawn to the mountains, until I reached a point of no return and I knew without a doubt that I had to visit Toppes de Collantes. Why visit Toppes de Collantes and the Escambray Mountains After nearly two weeks in Cuba bouncing between cities and beaches, fighting against the … Read more

10 Essential Things To Know Before Visiting Cuba

Cuba is a unlike any other country I’ve visited and it’s safe to say that this out-of-kilter Caribbean island requires a bit more research and planning than your average trip. Having recently completed my second trip, here’s my list of 10 essential things to know about Cuba before you visit covering everything from visas to money to internet access to scams to US visitors. 1. Visas for Cuba I’ve not got the best past record for complying with visa requirements (I very nearly got kicked out of the Philippines before I even got chance to board the plane, and the … Read more

La Boca: One of the Best Beaches in Cuba

Being one of only two foreign faces in the tiny beach town of La Boca in Cuba is one of those travel experiences that will likely endure right down to my dying days. I hadn’t set out on a quest to find one of the best beaches in Cuba, but leaving La Boca I’m confident I’d found one. Why finding the best beaches in Cuba is not as easy as you might think I’ll be honest, I had pretty grim expectations for my time in La Boca, a tiny collection of thrown-together streets in the Sanctus Spiritus Region of Cuba. … Read more

Visiting Disco Ayala in Hotel Las Cuevas, Trinidad, Cuba

As I engaged in my rapid departure from what had become an ugly experience at Varadero’s beach resorts, I was desperate to replace my memories with something novel and exciting. Fortunately, within 24 hours, my wish was to be granted when I found myself at a rave in a cave at Disco Ayala, an exceptionally unique nightclub attached to Hotel Las Cuevas in Trinidad, Cuba. It turned out to be one on my best experiences in Cuba, but I’d be lying if I said it was my first rave in a cave. In fact, I hosted my very own (somewhat … Read more

Varadero Beach Resorts in Cuba: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

“Varadero beach is full of tourists” seems to be the automatic response I get from any independent traveller who I speak to about Cuba. It’s a curious response given most of these self-professed “non-tourist” travellers I meet (otherwise known as backpackers) have never actually visited Varadero beach. They are simply citing a stereotype that has been cited to them by someone who has…probably also never visited Varadero beach. For the record (and to address an ongoing annoyance), here is the Oxford English Disctionary of tourist: “a person who is travelling or visiting a place for pleasure”. Guess what, Mr (or … Read more

The Hershey Train in Cuba: The Slow Way To Varadero

The Hershey Train in Cuba is the epitome of how travel should be. Lazy, unpredictable, social and slow. As someone who crammed herself into London’s commuter trains for the best part of a decade, always watching the clock, multi-tasking the entire journey (sipping coffee, sleeping, standing, emailing and reading all in one shot), travel was a chore. Modern public transport has, at our request, become perfunctory, clinical and uninspiring. Even air transport, which was once the most exhilarating way to travel has, somewhere along the way (ok, more specifically since the events of 9/11), stopped being fun. Line after line, … Read more

The Best Casa Particulares (Homestays) in Cuba

If you could trace the origins of the phrase “Mi Casa es Tu Casa” (translation: my house is your house), I’d put money on the phrase being invented in the casa particulares in Cuba. To many people, particularly those most familiar with staying in hotels when they travel, renting a room in a casa particular in cuba is a strange concept. “What? You stay in the spare bedroom in somebody’s house?! You eat breakfast and often lunch and dinner with them?” “Yes,” is my simple answer. But it’s one that is very quickly followed by a strong reassurance: “And I … Read more