VARADERO, CUBA: Seven hours from Havana to Varadero, this destination city defining Cuba’s Caribbean magic, were definitely worth it.
A city of contradictions and balance, Varadero will surprise you with every step you take. It’s so calm, yet loud! There, you’ll find the sound of the ocean and one of the most vibrant party scenes you’ll ever witness.
Varadero, an old/modern village is a hub for look-alike houses, colorful details, and guess what? You’ll even find gender equality on the house’s walls. Most of the houses include the names of both the man and woman living in them, designed specifically to go along with the house’s colors and put outside.
There is not one incident to shed light upon from the sunshine city. It’s a bouquet of experiences, and here are some:
Caribbean magic awaits you in Varadero. A vast free entrance sandy beach, with lifeguards, spread in many corners of it, and some of the life goodies to enjoy. A fish plate with some rice and black beans or a grilled lobster will fill your tummies before heading to the beach which is already calling you.
The calm sound of waves, moving to and from the seashore seduces beach-goers to head right in the water. At water’s edge are little children playing with the sand. Sara was one such friendly child, endeavoring to make a sand heart. She invited 27-year old Karla Marloc to help her build her sand sculpture.
Marloc, 27-years-old, had already enjoyed the magic of the Caribbean sea in her home country Mexico. “It’s not so different from Tulum (beach in Mexico), but the water was so warm and clean,” she tells Annahar.
For her, the best part of Varadero, besides the beach, were the people “that make you feel at home as if you are one of them.”
“I’m surprised why I haven’t visited Cuba earlier,” she says.
BAZAR, LET’S BARGAIN
Who doesn’t love bargaining in a bazaar? If you’re a fan of souvenirs, handmade details, and enjoy some shopping fun in your travels, Varadero Bazaar is your destination. You’ll get whatever you desire, for quite a price that’s near to the one in your mind, which is not bad at all.
Cuban women dancing salsa in miniature statues, cigar boxes, wooden domino boxes, cup holders with “Cuba” engraved on them, upcycled key chains from soda cans, lighters to remind one of a vibrant country, crochet dresses, and more, fill the Bazaar’s stands.
Hero of the long-ago revolution, Che Guevara is everywhere in Varadero, even on leather seats or mats. Guevara leather bags and slippers are a huge trend in the beach city too.
Mesmerizing stands decorate the Bazaar. Paintings from floor to ceiling fill one of its corners. There stands Hector, a young man in his twenties, selling his brother and father’s paintings.
“My brother is so talented,” he says, adding “check out this oil painting featuring La Bodeguita del Medio”, which he explains as one of the oldest bars in Havana, famous for the celebrities visiting it since it opened in 1942. Pablo Neruda was one of the many intellectuals who spent time in the cafe.
Other oil paintings feature old vintage cars, the beautiful Vinales Valley, and other conceptual drawings, colorful at times, and turning into more grayish tones at others.
If Havana was Cuba’s party hub, then Varadero is the party itself. Almost in every “Calle” (street in Spanish), you could find a nightclub in this city. With Canada dominating the tourist market in Cuba, as one witnesses there, and according to shop owners, Varadero seems to have been enjoying a large share of these northern visitors.
La Bamba is one of Varadero’s biggest nightclubs. For only 2 cuc, 2 Peso (equivalent to 2$), you will enter the nightclub, and get to watch many of the best singers and dancers live on stage.
Cocktail prices are not very expensive too, and the Cubans really know how to make good ones! Bartenders would be very happy to help you around and prepare your favorite drink. I think theirs is the Cuba Libre. Try asking for one and watch their smiles filling all their face.
A unique thing in most of Varadero’s party places is the non-smoking areas, which secure non-smokers’ enjoyment in a large venue, and at the same time, leave the smokers in another capacious space, away from anyone getting annoyed from their cigarettes. Live and let live.
COCO TAXI, PINA COLADA
A taxi that’s the shape on a pineapple? Indeed, that is not only found in cartoons! ‘
It’s filling Varadero, mostly at daytime. You just spot a yellow ball (coconut), with three wheels roaming around the city.
Both men and women drive it, and passengers enjoy a driving adventure seeing throughout Varadero.
Another thing spreading sunshine in the city with its yellow color is the delicious drink Pina Colada, prepared inside of a huge pineapple. In most of the streets, Pina Colada sellers scream its name, calling customers to enjoy some refreshing fresh drink inside the warm sun.
Once you go to Varadero, remember to check out the Caribbean, Bazaar, experience the nightlife, and check out The Beatles rock pub.
“From Cuba with love” is a series of travel events experienced by the writer in her latest travel trip to Cuba. To contact the writer through email: [email protected]
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