Cuba, officially the Republic of Cuba, is a country comprising the island of Cuba as well as Isla de la Juventud and several minor archipelagos. Cuba is located in the northern Caribbean where the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean meet.
Founded in 1514 by Diego Velaquez, Trinidad was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1988. During the 17th and 18th centuries, the city was a wealthy slave-trading centre and hub of sugar production and its wealthy landowners and merchants erected fine homes and mansions. The cobblestone streets lined with pastel coloured houses have barely changed since the colonial era; Trinidad feels like an attraction that time has passed by. Unlike most cities in Cuba, Trinidad sits on a hill and is cooled by near-constant breezes.
Varadero is one of Cuba’s most famous beach destinations, and home to one of the best beaches in the Caribbean. It stretches along the Peninsula de Hicacos, which juts into the sea off the north coast where a drawbridge connects it to the mainland. More than 50 hotels line this popular palm-fringed strip, and its magnificent white-sand beaches draw visitors from around the world. Highlights include Parque Natural Punta Hicacos, a nature reserve with a pretty beach, and the two caves, Cueva de Ambrosio and Cueva de Musulmanes.
A cradle of Cuban culture, Camaguey-the “City of Tinajones”-lies in the heart of cattle country and was laid out with irregular streets designed as a convoluted maze to thwart pirates. The historic centre is full of well-preserved colonial plazas and cobbled streets featuring antique churches and convents, and by colourful 17th- and 18th-century domestic buildings featuring red-tile roofs, lathe-turned wooden window grills, and spacious interior courtyards adorned with the city’s trademark oversized jars called tinajones.
Another of Cuba’s idyllic beach destinations and one of its most isolated, Cayo Coco starred in Hemingway’s novels, Islands in the Stream and The Old Man and the Sea, along with nearby Cayo Guillermo. As part of the Jardines del Rey, the combined archipelago of Sabana-Camaguey, Cayo Coco is connected to the mainland by a bridge, though most visitors arrive by air.
A Cuban sandwich is a popular lunch item that grew out of the once-open flow of cigar workers between Cuba and Florida in the late 1800s and has since spread to other Cuban American communities.
The sandwich is built on a base of lightly buttered Cuban bread and contains sliced roast pork, thinly sliced Serrano ham, Swiss cheese, dill pickles, and yellow mustard. In Tampa, Genoa salami is traditionally layered in with the other meats, probably due to influence of Italian immigrants who lived side-by-side with Cubans and Spaniards in Ybor City. Tomatoes and lettuce are available additions in many restaurants, but these are considered by traditionalists as an unacceptable Americanization of the sandwich.