We just got back this week, thought we would share our favourite memories, excursions.
Varadero - we walked the entire main drag, twice, exploring the markets, stores, and the Parque Josone. We found the main large market to be the most expensive and stuck to the smaller markets for souvenir shopping. Our favourite restaurant in Varadero was Albacora. My husband and daughter rented a scooter twice and drove up and down the penisula, they loved it and thought it was worth the price paid.
Matanzas Bellamar caves - we did this trip (on our own, not tour) on a Sunday afternoon, the caves are really interesting, however, it is like a sauna in there, make sure you bring lots of water, and the hike back up (150 stairs) was killer. Afterwords, hang around the park to the back, it is filled with Cubans enjoying their Sunday afternoon, dancing, drinking etc. makes for a really enjoyable afternoon.
Havana- we loved this trip, we did an overnight private tour. We had previously contacted Voy Havana for information to help us out with this trip, he introduced us to his friend Jorge who is a guide. Jorge was an excellent guide and helped us to arrange a private van, including driver (we had been trying to arrange a rental, but this worked out to be a better deal), our accommodations in a Casa Particular even our dining arrangements, which were all excellent choices. The casa particular was in an apartment bldg overlooking the malecon with beautiful view and the couple who ran the place were very very nice people. They felt like family and we only stayed there one night. We spent the first day exploring most of the museums, Capitol Bldg, rum factory etc etc. and we spent the entire second day exploring Old Havana. All I can say is how breathtaking the history is in this City. Our driver was a very nice man, and again he felt like family, we had him for a total of three days driving us around, and he looked after our things that we left in the van. We were travelling with a grumpy teenaged girl and a very grumpy 1 yr old, our driver never complained, he actually pushed around our little one in the stroller sometimes. Our hats off to Jorge also, an excellent guide, as sometimes, we straggled and sometimes our crying grumpy baby would drown out his explanations, he also dealt with this with good humour and after only knowing him for a short time, he felt like family. Travelling with children, another couple and ourselves who like to do tours on our schedule, is why we chose to do a private tour, and if you are with a group of people it does not cost that much more than the group tours.
Colon and surrounding towns - we decided one day to drive out to smaller non tourist areas just to see the countryside. (we had our van and driver for three days) Very interesting day, we tried to find a restaurant to eat lunch at but they were very hard to find. We also needed bathroom break, after drinking cervasas, but again the driver said we did not want to use the gas station. We saw an off duty Transtur bus parked by some houses on the side of the highway so our driver stopped to ask him if he knew where we could find a restaurant, but he did not know, he also asked him if he knew the people in the house and if we could use their bathroom, they said yes. Take note all you people who say that the Cuban people have their hands out for money!!! When we had used their bathroom, my friend wanted to give them a couple of CUCS, they REFUSED to take it!!! A simple gracias was all they wanted.
I could go on and on about our favourite memories, excursion etc. but enough said.