Traveling more often is at the top of my 2017 list of Goals. In my latest quest to see the world, I’ve been anxiously scratching destinations off the list. The beautiful country of Cuba was the highlight of my most recent travel adventure. Like many other countries I’ve visited, Cuba has a very distinct culture and there are a few things you should
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO:
Be sure to have enough money to last the duration of your trip. There isn’t a single place in the entire county that will accept a U.S. debit or credit card. (Trust me I tried, multiple times!) You can however exchange your U.S. dollars for the Cuban Convertible Peso which is a Cook. (CUC) Cooks are only used in Havana. Tip: Convert your U.S. Dollars to Euros before leaving the states. Once you arrive in Havana, covert your Euros to Cooks. (CUC) The exchange rate is cheaper if you do it this way and you will have more money to spend.
It is recommend that you opt for an Air BnB instead of a hotel in the interest of saving money. However, do your research! Make sure your will be in a tourist friendly area, and that you will have access to necessities. Because we were a party of 6 we settled on a 4 bedroom house in Santa Maria which is about 30-40 mins outside of Havana. This is considered the country/outskirts of the city. We chose to lodge in Santa Maria because it was a 5 minute walk to the beach. Our Air BnB host were super nice and very helpful. When I visit again I will definitely lodge in the city of Havana to experience “living” in the city life.
Getting around the city is fairly easy. There is little to no traffic, and lots of beautiful scenery to keep you engaged. Because we lodged outside of the city, we hired a Driver to take us to and from “home” every day for about $60. Spilt between 6 people, this averaged out to about $10 a day for transportation. Cruising in a vintage taxi for only $10 a day, that beats Uber anytime! We also took an hour long tour of Old Havana, Central Havana, and New Havana via a drop top Vintage Taxi. I will share more deets in the next Cuba Recap post.
The country is difficult to navigate if you do not speak the language. There are a few people who speak English in the areas that are heavily populated with tourist, but naturally most natives only speak Spanish. I must admit, the natives are not the most hospitable people. Additionally, some people in Cuba unfortunately are very poor and they will try to hustle you. Make sure you negotiate! You will however, encounter a few sweet souls along the way and you won’t be able to help but take a piece of them with you.
Tip: Don’t be in a hurry to do anything! The culture of Cuba is very slow and easy going. It will take at least 30-40 minutes when ordering at a restaurant and a sense of urgency does not exist. Its actually kind of refreshing to “just be.” Also, many businesses close early. Clubs and bars are open until 3 AM, but you will need to get an early start on your day to experience everything. Most attractions, such as touring the Cigar Factory and visiting museums close a 4PM. On Sunday, these places close at noon.
In doing a bit of research before heading to Cuba, the most common reviews I read revealed that the food was not good. Well, I was pleasantly surprised and I am pleased to report that statement is false. The cuisine was for sure of quality. Fresh Lobster and Shrimp on the beach, accompanied with authentic plantains and a refreshing pina colada became my daily breakfast. Yes, I said breakfast. Can you guess the best part? You get all of that for only12 bucks! There wasn’t one place we dined where I found the food to be subpar and the food is also very cheap. There are places that have higher price points in the areas that are heavily populated with tourist, but most menus are more than reasonable. If you are a person who likes to snack, I suggest you bring them with you. Cuba isn’t a place where you will find chips and cookies in a local convenient store.
When in Cuba you must indulge in a Classic Mojito at Cafe Al Cappuccino Havana! It’s the BEST you’ll ever have in your life! 🍹 El mejor Mojito en Cuba! 🇨🇺
Dining at La Famila is a must. It is more on the fine dining side in terms of price, but the restaurant features rooftop seating and live entertainment. And the food…5 STARS!
Check out a full recap on tomorrow’s post!