Welcome to Cuba!
Cuba is an amazing island, rich of history, culture, amazing landscapes and corners.
Cuba2Day is the place where tips and news about the island are shared. If you are traveling to Cuba for tourism or for business, here you’ll find resources and informations that will help you during your stay is this amazing island.
Since the relationship between Cuba and the USA are finally changing, 3 millions americans are expected to explore the island and taste the authenticity the latest 60 years have left untouched.
Cuba2Day aims to be a guide to whom are looking for places to stay, where to eat and for transportation. But you’ll also find what you need to start a safe and pleasant trip to Cuba. Every place has it owns peculiarity and Cuba has its own.
Are you ready to jump on board of an Almendron, the famous Cubans old cars, and explore l’Havana and this amazing island?
Fasten your seatbelt, you are taking off! 🙂
Need a reservation?
We can help you find a place to stay or you can book an amazing classic old car that can pick you up from the airport or stay with you for a city tour
Things to know before you leave
If it’s your first time to Cuba I have prepared for you some blog posts you might find interesting before start your journey:
- How to fly from USA to Cuba
- A list of useful things to bring with you for your travel to Cuba
- How and where you can book apartments using AirBnB and get my discount
- Internet connection in Cuba
- What to eat in Cuba and what you can expect
- How to get from the airport to Havana and how you can book a beautiful car before you leave
- How to book an apartment in Havana
- 5 places you must see in Havana
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Who we are
Hola! My name is Stefano, I’m Italian and I’m a worldwide traveller. My love for Cuba has begun 5 years ago, when I met the Cuban girl who is today my wife, Mariela.
Mariela is an actress and model. We often travel together all over the world. Especially to Cuba! 😉
Together, we would love to show you the beauties of this island and discover places and experiences to make your travel to Cuba unforgettable.
Below is a picture of us at the beach in Playa del Este in Havana 🙂
I travelled to Cuba several times, primarily to Havana, and I always lived the Country as a local, not as a tourist. I often give tips and suggestion to my friends and I thought that now it’s time to share this knowledge online.
Furthermore Mariela is Cuban so, who better than her could give you the best tips? 🙂
In Cuba2Day you’ll find several information about this incredible island with tips on places we’ve personally visited.
A little of History
The history of Cuba started with the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus in 1492. Before this revolutionary event the island was populated by the Taíno and Ciboney. They reached a considerable number of 350,000 people by the end of the 15th century.
The Taíno and Ciboney were part of a cultural group commonly called the Arawak, who inhabited parts of northeastern South America prior to the arrival of Europeans. When Columbus arrived for the first time in Cuba, he observed the Taíno dwellings, describing them as “looking like tents in a camp. All were of palm branches, beautifully constructed”
Unfortunately this was the beginning of the end of Taino’s civilization.
Bartolomé de las Casas, historian and clergyman, observed a number of massacres initiated by the invaders. One of those was the massacre near Camagüey of the inhabitants of Caonao. According to his account, some three thousand villagers had traveled to Manzanillo to greet the Spanish with loaves, fishes and other foodstuffs, and were “without provocation, butchered”.
The survivors were forced into reservations such as the one in Guanabacoa, which is today a suburb of Havana. There are descendant Cuban Indian (Taíno) families in several places, mostly in eastern Cuba. The Indian community at Caridad de los Indios, Guantánamo, is one of those.
Below some pictures of the reconstruction of a Taino’s village in Guamà.
The Spanish domination
In 1513, Cuba was incorporated throughout the Spanish Americas and Velázquez became the Governor of Cuba relocating from Baracoa to Santiago de Cuba.
The Spanish were shown by the natives how to nurture tobacco in order to produce cigars. Desperate for labor to toil the new agricultural settlements, the Conquistadors sought slaves from surrounding islands and the continental mainland. This was the beginning of the African slavery in Cuba.
In the 19th century, Cuban sugar plantations became the most important world producer of sugar until the beginning of the Revolution.
Between the 16th and the 18th century, Cuba was the target of buccaneers, pirates and French corsairs seeking Spain’s New World riches. In Fact, the port of l’Havana, was the final destination of all the Spanish treasures before embarking them to Spain.
Below a gold and silver case found in the Port of Havana and El Castillo
The British domination
On June 6th 1762, 4,000 British troops and five warships led by admiral George Keppel, left the port of Portsmouth heading to Cuba. After three months of war the British fleet conquered the city of Havana. This was the beginning of the British domination.
The arrival of the British immediately opened up trade with their North American and Caribbean colonies, causing a rapid transformation of Cuban society. But this period didn’t last for long. After less than a year London forced a series of negotiations with the Spanish over colonial territories.
At that time, l’Havana became the third-largest city in the Americas
War of Independence
After the abolitions of slavery in 1886, several changes took place in the Cuban society. Most wealthy Cubans lost their rural properties, and many of them joined the urban middle class. But the production of sugar increased led by the most powerful plantation owners owning them.
Furthermore, American capital began flowing into Cuba, mostly into the sugar and tobacco businesses and mining. By 1895, these investments totalled $50 million. Cuba remained politically Spanish, but economically it became increasingly dependent on the United States.
“That rich island (Cuba), is the key to the Gulf of Mexico, is, though in the hands of Spain, a part of the American commercial system…If ever ceasing to be Spanish, Cuba must necessarily become American and not fall under any other European domination”
These were the words of Secretary of State James G. Blaine , he wrote on 1 December 1881 about Cuba.
The Americans understood the incredible economic potential of the island as a key spot in the Caribbean Sea.
In 1894 Jose Martí was elected delegate of the new Partido Revolucionario Cubano (Cuban Revolutionary Party) and all the steps for a revolution were set. On April 1895, the main rebel leaders landed in Cuba.
Martí was killed shortly after his landing at Dos Rioson 19 May 1895, but Máximo Gomez and Antonio Maceo fought on, taking the war to all parts of Oriente.
A statue of Jose Martì in Parque Central in Havana
Jose Martí is yet today the icon of the Cuban culture and the symbol of the Revolution itself. Castro will, later on, celebrate his figure as one of the fiercest Cuban ever.
The rebels struggled to gain the independence and the Americans were watching with interest evolution of the war. America’s expansion desires couldn’t wait any longer.
Batista and the Revolution
After the election in 194o, Fulgencio Batista was elected President of Cuba. The constitution denied Batista the possibility of running consecutively in the 1944 election.
He was re-elected in 1953 after a coup and the previous President,Prío, did nothing to stop it, and was forced to leave the island.
Despite the increasing corruption and Mafia gangs arising, Cuba had an incredible economic boom. The average industrial salary was the world’s eighth-highest in 1958.
“Cuba also had Latin America’s highest per capita consumption rates of meat, vegetables, cereals, automobiles, telephones and radios during this period.”
Also, “Cuba’s health service was remarkably developed. By the late 1950s, it had one of the highest numbers of doctors per capita”
The rise of Castro
In 1952 Fidel Castro was a young and ambition lawyer dreaming a corruption-free e democratic future for his island. On 26 July 1953 he led an attack on the Moncada Barracks near Santiago de Cuba. The attack was a failure and Castro was captured and imprisoned for two years.
After being released, he went into exile in Mexico where he met the Argentine revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara. It was the beginning of a long friendship and of the Revolution.
In fact, in December 1956, Fidel Castro led a group of 82 fighters to Cuba aboard the yacht Granma, landing in the eastern part of the island: the goal was overthrowing Batista.
But Batista’s forces promptly killed, dispersed or captured most of the rebels and Castro escaped into Sierra Maestra. Castro and Guevara began a guerrilla campaign against the Batista government. The Country felt into caos with several anti-Batista protests and riots.
With the military situation becoming untenable and the United States inviting Batista to leave the Country, Castro took over the 1st of January 1959.
Initially the United States recognized Castro’s government but after just six months the relationship began to crack and the United States closed all diplomatic relations with Cuba on 3 January 1961, and imposed a trade embargo on 3 February 1962.
It was the triumph of the Cuban Revolution and the beginning of a long period full of contradictions that continues today.
The Cuba of Castro
After Castro’s triumph several attacks, held by CIA and USA tried to overturn the new Cuban government. The most famous are the Bay of Pigs invasion and the Cuban Missile Crisis . The last one, played among United States and Soviet Union, was also the peak of the Cold War.
Below the Museo Giron (Bay of pigs)
By the 1970s the standard of living in Cuba was “extremely spartan” and discontent was growing. Also unemployment was a big problem and most families lived in poor conditions. Between 1959 and 1993, some 1.2 million Cubans left the island for the United States and between 30,000 and 80,000 Cubans are estimated to have died trying to leave Cuba.
Also suppression and dissent were very strong and it’s estimated that there were about 20,000 dissidents held and tortured under inhuman prison conditions.
During the so called Special Period in the 1980s, over 80% of Cuba’s trade was lost and living conditions declined. During this period the economic relationship with the Soviet Union was paralyzed. In response, the United States tightened up its trade embargo, hoping it would lead to Castro’s downfall.
But Castro opened the country to tourism, entering into several joint ventures with foreign companies for hotel, agricultural and industrial projects. The American dollar started being accepted till October 2004, when the government introduced a new currency: the convertible pesos
Contacts between Cubans and foreign visitors were made legal in 1997. Before they were not. This means that Cubans weren’t allowed to talk with a tourist.
In 2006 Castro withdrew from public life and Raul Castro, the brother, became the leader of Cuba.
A beautiful view of the Old Havana from the Bacardi building
Starting December 2014 the relationship between United States and Cuba started again. President Obama is one of the main promoter of this new course of relationship and every day new steps are moved forward the diplomatic unification.
American companies are ready to return to Cuba and travel and flight corporations have recently announced new routes from USA to Cuba. One of the major benefit of this openness will be of course tourism but also many commercial and trading new relationship.
This could be a tremendous opportunity for the island and its population that suffered hunger and hardship for a long time.