Saturday, July 23, 2016

Cuba, Andalusia & Lisbon

From Stockholm, Seattle & Snowdonia late last year to three Spanish, or should I say Iberian, destinations this year, taking into account my first visit to Portugal.

That trip was actually to attend NOS Alive festival in Lisbon - headlined this year by Radiohead, Pixies and Arcade Fire - which I reviewed for Huffington Post.

The other two were week-long holidays in proper sunburn-inducing temperatures. It hit 40 degrees in Seville when we visited last month, with the temperatures thankfully cooling slightly in Cadiz on the southern coast.

Either way I found both cities to be very welcoming and laid-back and housing some impressive historical sites, including Seville's Alcázar and Plaza de España, and Cadiz's epic cathedral.

Seville's AlcázarPlaza de España, Seville

Cadiz Cathedral

I have to say I more enjoyed my time in these Andalusian cities than I did in Barcelona - less sprawling and a lot more chilled in atmosphere. My experience can be summed up by two animal-themed incidents that occurred in both cities, which I wrote about on my other personal blog (link).

Can also recommend probably the best restaurant I've visited in Spain - Cadiz's Taberna El Tio de la Tiza, serving fantastic portions of fresh local fish in a concealed square (my Tripadvisor review).

Cuba, on the other hand, was a completely different kettle of fish.

Like many Westerners have recently been doing we wanted to visit now before the country becomes too Americanised, relations with the US having recently thawed.

While its crumbling colonial architecture and 1950s cars made Havana very atmospheric, and everything was pretty cheap even with the weak pound, it also presented many frustrating obstacles too, from the often lax approach to service to making it as difficult as possible for you to get online - don't bother is the lesson we learned.

However the photo opportunities were endless, which is a boon if you've a quality camera and a good eye for composition. Some of my better snaps, including one that's probably my favourite taken in the last five years:

Havana man (c) Kris Griffiths

Like Andalusia I'm glad that I finally visited and experienced the place, but unlike Andalusia I won't be heading back in a hurry.

If I ever do, though, I'd like to find that bloke in the straw hat and thank him for letting me take his picture.

Full Cuba gallery, incl shots from Mexico City stopover, here.

All photos in this post (c) Kris Griffiths

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