Boston Globe discovers Cuba as a travel destination for American Travellers
Bella English, a reporter from the Boston Globe in the United States, has recently visited the island nation of Cuba to discover the heart and soul of this communist nation that has been off-limit to U.S travellers for more than 50 years. After President Obama relaxed restrictions for Cuba travel for American residents in 2011, many are taking advantage of these changes in the law and travelling to the island to meet the locals and explore this vibrant country.
The island of Cuba has been off-limits for American travellers since the travel embargo was enforced by the Kennedy administration executive order in 1960.
Since then, despite the close proximity to the Caribbean nation, American residents have been unable to travel to Cuba and Cuba residents were restricted to travel to the United States only on humanitarian reasons.
In 2011, President Obama's administration relaxed the laws on Cuba travel for Americans and now and introducced the "people ro people" scheme, travellers can discover this beautiful island through organised trips that are available form licensed tour operators and travel companies.
One industry that has benefited from these changes to the law is American journalism, and reporters are now able to embark on "cultural exchanges" to the island.
Bella English, a journalist from the Boston Globe, decided to visit Cuba and discover firsthand what the island has to offer before it becomes overrun with American tourists.
English started her journey in Havana, the capital of Cuba, and a hotspot for the renowned American author, Ernest Hemingway. She visited the writer's local haunts, Sloppy Joe's bar and El Floridita, and discovered the beauty of a city that has been divided by two eras: pre and post-1958.
She found city is bustling with nightclubs, lively bars and gourmet restaurants, but the crumbling architecture of its colonial buildings is evident throughout with grand mansions and stately homes that now stand abandoned. Locals still drive cars from the 1950s and take pride in showing off their brightly-coloured Chevy Bel Airs or Pontiac convertibles as they cruise along the city's roads.
Old Havana is an excellent place to get a feel for the city's history with its cobblestone squares, churches, museums, and mansions that are now apartments and hotels.
Speaking about the Cuban capital, English wrote: "Old Havana is best seen on foot, and there are some great pedestrian paseos. I spent the next couple of days walking the city, along Empedrado and Calle Obispo, lined with shops and restaurants, small art galleries, and a crafts market. The staples of a Cuban meal are pork, beans, and rice, but the fish is excellent, the paella heavenly."
While Cuba's cities are a must-see, the island boasts an array of breathtaking natural landscapes such as sandy beaches, virgin cays and thriving nature parks.
Among those Varadero Beach deserves special attention, situated in the province of Matanzas on the Hicacos Peninsula on the north coast of Cuba and Varadero beach has become one of the island's most popular beach resorts. Home to more than 20km of pristine beaches, sparkling turquoise ocean waters, and a collection of all inclusive Cuba hotels and resorts, the area is a hotspot for sun-seekers.
Whether Americas head to the cities or to the coast, Cuba's fascinating culture and heritage is expected to capture the hearts of many travellers who have still yet to visit this remarkable Caribbean island.
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