Havana, Oh Na Na!
So recently, my girls and I went on our annual girls trip and this year we chose Havana, Cuba. Why did we choose Cuba? For several reasons. 1. Because we, Americans, can travel there...for now. We wanted to make sure we had a chance to experience it, before the guy at the White House, screws it up for us all. 2. To layout, party, and eat. 3. And to take cute pics in our “fashions”. As typical and “untraveled” as that sounds, what we were expecting to do, was quite the opposite of what we actually did. Never did I imagine, I would go to Cuba and fall in love with everything about it.
When we returned from our trip, EVERYONE asked, “How was Cuba?”. I found myself literally lighting up every time I answered it. I shared every experience, every detail, and everything I felt you need to know, about this beautiful place.
BEFORE YOU GO...
Although we can travel to Cuba now. We can’t travel travel. What I mean by that is, we technically can’t travel as tourists. We are required to obtain a Tourist Visa and select a reason for our travel. We chose the option “People to People (Group Travel)”. The visa was easy to get. You can order ahead of time online at https://cubavisaservices.com/product/touristvisa-card/ or purchase it at the airport before you fly out. Keep in mind, it is $85 online and $50 at the airport. Now THIS is the IMPORTANT part. You must fill it out correctly. There can be absolutely NO mistakes! If you make one, you can’t scribble it out. If you mess up in any way, you have to purchase another visa. Yes, you have to pay another $50 for another one. So take your time, write slowly and read.
Although our trip did have a few of the things mentioned above, sprinkled in. Our experience started the moment we got off the plane. The airport is where we met Jose (you’re going to hear me talk about him a lot throughout the post). Jose approached us as we were exchanging our money. He asked, “Do you guys need a taxi?” Little did he know, he was going to be stuck with us for the entire duration of our trip! We piled in his car, while he loaded our luggage, and off we went. Wherever we went, whatever we wanted to do, Jose was there to be our driver! We invited him out with us for lunch and dinner everyday. Whenever we needed him, he was just a call away! I can’t put into words how awesome he was! So if you go to Cuba, find you a Jose. Or hire the real Jose, I have his number!
MONEY, MONEY, MONEY
As of now, Cuba does not accept American cash, debit, or credit cards. So you have to take cash and have it converted to Cuban Converted Currency (CUC). The exchange rate is 1:1. Now when you go to exchange it, please know that if you give them $100 USD, you’re probably only going to get about $95 back, because of fees. Depending on what you want to do, you’re safe taking between $700-$1000 USD.
WHERE TO STAY:
If your traveling in a group with 5 or more people, I would highly suggest looking into getting an Airbnb. Yes, they have really nice hotels but our Airbnb was PERFECT and the price was even better! We had 7 in our group and we all fit comfortably. It looks a little sketchy on the outside, but it’s completely renovated, modern and super nice on the inside. It included housekeeping (everyday) and we took advantage of the continental breakfast option. Two of the sweetest ladies came in and cooked us breakfast (at an additional cost). This is where we stayed https://www.airbnb.com/experiences/72006?source=wl.
GOOD EATS BUT BE CAREFUL...
Havana is full of amazing restaurants, that are discretely positioned in areas you wouldn’t expect! They are literally smack dab in the middle of residential areas! And if you don’t know where you’re, going then you will miss it for sure (that’s why you need you a José)!
What I love the most about the food there, is, everything is ORGANIC! We quickly learned that our bodies are so used to the preservatives and chemicals in our food, that when we ate organic food for 5 days straight, our bodies went into “What in the hell is happening” mode. No joke, we ALL got hit with the runs! It picked us off, one at a time. It got to a point, where we couldn’t go anywhere without visiting the bathroom too. It was dangerous. That lasted all the way until we made it back home. So yes, the food is good but it will clear you out!
Here’s a couple of the restaurants we went to.
Paladar San Cristobal - This Restaurant is the restaurant President Obama ate at, during his visit. They have a whole private room dedicated to him and that’s where they sat us! The food was THE BOMB and they even gifted us with a bottle of Cuban Rum and cigars to enjoy after dinner!! José showed us the correct way to cut and smoke cigars! You must make a reservation in order to dine here.
Send reservation requests to firstname.lastname@example.org
Paladar La Guarida
This restaurant was beautiful and the food was delicious. Beware, you have to take what seemed like 8 flights of stairs to get to it but it was worth it!! Reservations are required for this restaurant, and can be made on their website.
We didn’t really have a true itinerary when we landed in Cuba. We approached this this trip with a “play it by ear” attitude. We had discussed a few activities prior to coming and knew we all definitely wanted to take Salsa Dancing Lessons. So we did and it was A LOT of fun! These lessons weren’t your typical salsa lessons. We started, at what we think, was the instructor’s home in her studio upstairs. Once we were done with lessons, she had arranged transportation for us to head to Club 1830: Casa Fiesta. I LOVED this place!! You can tell that it was a place where all the locals come to just DANCE! I immediately was hypnotized by all of the moves and talent. Every now and then, a nice gentlemen would come along and ask one of us to dance. I danced some salsa (not well) but all I really wanted to do was sit there, watch and take it all in! The sexiness in the rhythm, the movements and the music had me thinking I was an awarding winning salsa dancer. NOT SO MUCH!! I definitely would recommend this experience to anyone. This is where we booked
I can go on and on about our trip, but honestly, that could resemble a novel. Let's just put it like this, GO TO CUBA (while we still can)! You won't regret it!
Here's some of my Cuba "fashions' (as my friend, Nak, likes to call them).
Jumpsuit from: Vici Dolls https://www.vicicollection.com/
T-Shirt from: Boohoo https://us.boohoo.com/
Skirt from: NastyGal https://www.nastygal.com/
Shoes from: Asos https://www.asos.com/
Outfit from: Grass Fields https://www.grass-fields.com