As regards the location, I was looking for something (1) affordable that (2) had a rich and interesting history, and that was (3) safe. Havana was an obvious answer. Cuba is an affordable destination with flight + hotel + meal packages as low as $100/day year-round, and the local dining and entertainment costs at pennies compared to any Canadian/America/European city. Cuba is known for its low crime rates. (For the time being, I will pass on sharing my thoughts on why this is .) Finally, Havana is a city with a rich history, and its current state reflects it. Although I spent the peak of each day on the beach, I didn't stay on the resort. That would have been a bore to someone like me. [Aside: The weekend prior to departing, I caught a documentary entitled Last Chance to See Castro's Cuba. This gave me a current snapshot of Havana, and what exactly to expect when I walked through the streets.]
As regards the reason why I went solo... Ask any solo traveller why they do it, and the answer will always be because of the freedom. Solo travellers naturally gravitate towards each other. At least, this is my experience. When I meet a new one, I like to ask him/her why he/she does it, and I always get the same answer. No one to please. No one to plan for. You do everything at your own pace. You are neither dragging, nor being dragged along to places.
Finally, as for why I went last-minute, well, let's just say that there were a number of things that I had to celebrate this year, and I decided that it was important that I oblige. Also, I find it generally exhilarating to test my planning skills as a reminder to myself of what I am capable of pulling together on the fly. Between work, school, and family, so much of our lives are planned. I try to squeeze as much spontaneity out of my personal life as possible. I don't advise having no preparation, because that's foolish. However, with proper preparation, I can walk into any city, and, day-by-day, meet people, and do local research to discover and determine the most interesting path to take. It never fails.
Alright, back to my trip. There is a lot to discuss, so I will be breaking it down into smaller topics in the weeks to come:
- Las Terrazas Aparthotel Islazul
- Habana Vieja By Day
- The Search For The Marble, Tobacco, Backstreets, and The Black Market
- Food, Drink, and "Fine" Dining
- The Nightlife: Music, Dancing, Entertainment