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A taxi picks up passengers outside of the Hotel Nacional, Havana, Cuba. From Wikipedia: The Hotel Nacional de Cuba is a historic luxury hotel located on the Malecón in the middle of Vedado, Havana, Cuba. It stands on Taganana hill a few metres from the sea, and offers a view of Havana Harbour, the seawall and the city.

Discovering Cuba

During November 2015, I traveled with my family to discover Cuba. We explored Havana, and then got out of the city to travel to the southern coast and around a variety of towns, farm villages, beaches, mountains, and monuments. Here’s how it went…

Itinerary

Our itinerary took us through Havana, Trinidad, Las Terrazas, Remedios, Santa Clara, and Viñales. It was great seeing a wide range of places within Cuba, especially since we had a little more than a week to do it. The full daily log is below.

Getting in to and around Cuba

To get to Cuba, we flew Xtra Airways, a charter airline, from Miami, Florida direct to Havana, Cuba. The flight was great, and very straightforward. For visas, we each got a slightly different visa – my visa listed me as a reporter, since I was taking photos to write this story.

To travel around Cuba, we took a variety of Taxis within Havana, and then hired a private driver and van for the out of town sections. Since we were a group of 5 with limited time, it was very very convenient to have a dedicated, local driver to get us around. Had I done it with a single partner and had more time, it would have been fun to do it backpacker style with public transportation etc. But for our group and time constraints, the way in which we did it was great.

Photo Gear

While in cuba, I shot with four cameras. The Apple iPhone 6S, Sony RX100m3, GoPro Hero4 Silver, and Lytro Illum. All four were interesting cameras to shoot with, and allowed me to be flexible in both capturing the shot I wanted, and in being mobile and unencumbered most of the time. For more on the innovative Lytro Illum Lightfield Camera, click over to my full review. Although all four cameras are great for their own purpose, by far my favorite is the Sony RX100m3. It’s small and lightweight, is relatively easy to use for its size, and takes absolutely amazing photos. I love the flexibility of being able to shoot from waist level, as well as the bounce flash trick, and smooth video.

Photos

Here’s Cuba through my lens….

Cuba Diary

We did LOTS in Cuba. Here’s a quick daily log of our activities – far from complete, but a good overview:

Day 1 – 2016-11-24

  • woke up at 3am to get to airport early for xtra airways flight Miami > Havana
  • taxi, easy, cuc30 airport to airbnb- airbnb checkin and late breakfast – omelettes and fresh guava juice and strong coffee
  • walked around looking for bank and internet cards
  • met up with dads friends from ingrnius
  • went to grand hotel havana for views, cambio.
  • lunch at paladar – shredded pork
  • passed ice cream park
  • nap at airbnb
  • got evening snack at next door bakery
  • jason and jill arrived
  • family dinner at paladar cafe laurent
  • early sleep

Day 2

  • breakfast at bnb
  • explore hotel nacional
  • sent postcards to mihi and wukate
  • walked across the center of town through callejon de hamel
  • walked through chinatown
  • walked into floridita restaurant
  • walked through obispo walking street
  • got lunch at ivan chef justo
  • walked around old havana some more, discovered central csthedral square
  • hired driver in old red car and went up hill to castle
  • saw worlds longest cigar
  • checked out nuclear missiles
  • cruised down to to jazz club
  • got confused by multiple buena vista social clubs
  • taxi’d back to airbnb
  • walked to sarao’s nightclub, then to dinner at 11th floor block building paladar
  • walked back to sarao and saw mana-like band
  • sleep

Day 3

  • woke up late had breakfast
  • chatted with travel agent ti work out plans
  • got taxi to jaimanitas
  • bought gifts at art area
  • had lunch next to canal – sushi with cuban rice
  • taxi to the beach along miramar near copacabana
  • taxi to beach hotel
  • taxi to revolution plaza
  • walked to rosenberg memorial and performing arts center
  • found santeria worship dance and danced with them
  • walked to ice cream park
  • checked email at cuba libre hotel
  • had an amazing dinner at paladar la quardia
  • taxi to fabrica de artes
  • sleep

Day 4

  • woke up early to have breakfast at airbnb
  • met eric our driver
  • stopped at airport
  • hit the road for Vinñales
  • stopped for lunch at Las terrazas
  • walked around las terrazas, found flamingos, found coffee plantation
  • had wifi session at las terrazas cafe
  • got back on road for viñales
  • arrived in vibales at family home
  • stopped at overlook hotel in vinales
  • went in cave hike and boat ride
  • stopped at tobacco farm and discovered cinnamon tree, fighting cocks, etc
  • went to homestay – jason and i stayed on roof
  • had dinner at family house – great chx and lobster
  • walked around town and saw live music at cafe
  • went to bed early
  • sketch showerhead

Day 5

  • woke up early for home cooked breakfast
  • took morning stroll with jason
  • drove to house owners farm
  • saw farm with corn tobacco chickens pigs goats water pump
  • hit road for cien fuegos
  • stopped in At a few gas stations for gas and food
  • arrived in cien fuegos and walked around for an hour
  • saw pier, art galleries, town square, grocery store
  • drove to palace at punta gorda
  • got on road for trinidad
  • arrived at dennis homestay in trinidad
  • walked around town and found restaurant el medico

Day 6

  • woke up for home cooked breakfast in back porch
  • cruised out to exclusive beach resort for relaxing afternoon on beach
  • walked to end of beach for fresh fisherman lunch
  • drove to la boca beach at end of river to explore
  • returned to Trinidad
  • walked around town with dennis and learned about history if trinidad
  • grabbed dinner at la botija and listened to snazzy jazz band

Day 7

  • got in van and started drive to santa clara
  • stopped at che monument
  • drove to santa clara
  • went to beach on cay las brujas
  • drove to remedios and walked around town – first place with internet and also a pretty hotel
  • had a nice dinner at the casa particular
  • “the help”
  • slept late, woke up at 8 and walked to coffee mans house

Shots from the Lytro Illum

Throughout the trip, I shot a series of lightfield photos with the Lytro Illum Camera. I was testing and reviewing it on behalf of Lytro, and had a great time learning about lightfield photography. If you’re interested in more about the Lytro, check out the full review: Shooting Lightfield Photos in Cuba with the Lytro Illum.

View the full Lytro Lightfield Cuba Gallery

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