Posted in My Travels

CUBA 2019- Varadero Beach, our last full day

Hey Everyone,

Ok, well, after all this time, I am finally typing out our last full day on the island of Cuba!  After this is our departure back home.  😦


We woke up to beautiful bright skies on our first morning in Varadero. Our only plan for the day was to hang out at the beach then buy souvenirs! Finally one day of not running around.

We went down to breakfast to eat at 9AM. They had a table set up for us under a canopy out back attached to a garage. The garage was set up as a kitchen and the windows facing our table housed aquariums with fish swimming.  On this day we were greeted by another woman, Ana, who works with Iris managing the house. She was in charge of cooking us breakfast.

The breakfast of this casa was served in courses just like the previous casa. We started off with coffee, hot milk and juice. JUICE.  This casa offered orange juice.  Also, I asked for an extra-large bottle of water (to take to the beach).  The best part of a casa particular is that the people running the breakfasts would cook everything from scratch.  It was pretty amazing.  We were served hot homemade savory mini muffins sprinkled with sesame to start. They were really good! But Ana also put out a dish of mayonnaise with queso fresco, we were not sure why.  Then we were served fruit; there was a fully cored pineapple, which was just ok, and a platter of local fruit, which was not so good.  Even at this location, hours away from Havana, the local fruits tasted strange.  We followed this with an order of eggs and toast.  Following the eggs was a buckwheat pancake drizzled with local honey.  The girls really enjoyed that.  Then came a plate of bananas covered in chocolate with sprinkles special for the kids.  It all ended with individual jello molded in different shapes.  You can’t make it out in the photo below, but the adults dish of jello had a flower shape on it, but our girls had Minnie Mouse!  Is this not an insane amount of food?

After this two and a half hour breakfast, we got into our swimsuits as quick as possible and made a mad dash for the beach.   The beach, again, did not disappoint.

We got to the beach right before noon to find the ocean much smoother, and the waves coming to surf at a normal pace.  The water was even more crystal clear than yesterday, didn’t think that could be possible.  Once we found a spot, we were greeted by a very young man dressed in an official lifeguard scuba suit.  He introduced himself as Martinez.  He was a jack of all trades hired to guard the beach during peak hours, and, on the side for extra money, he offered rental umbrellas to beachgoers and run for drinks.

Then a cute group of girls set up camp under an umbrella they rented from Martinez at the edge of the beach, but sat directly on the sand right next to us. No towels, just a bluetooth speaker. There was a whole beach around us, but they set up five feet away.   Almost right away Martinez walked over with a drink delivery for the girls.  We were impressed, not about the girls, but Martinez’s drink caddy!  He was able to deliver glasses on the beach!

The girls started playing Spanish pop songs and fluttered around us taking selfies.  I offered to take a group shot of them.  They were so happy, and already tipsy somehow!  They started to get personal real fast after that picture.  They understood I spoke English, so they just started spewing information at me.  Within a few seconds I learned that they were two sisters with a best friend hanging in Varadero for a day trip to the beach. They were on vacation from Mexico, though one of the girls recently moved to Texas to marry.  They jumped right into asking me how old I was, what state I lived in, who I was with, why I was in Cuba, how long I was married, and what I did for a job.  It was like they were on speed with how fast these questions came out.  I am pretty stoked though, they thought I was 33yo..jussayin I am 42! 🙂

I still may have it.. whatever it is… eh whatevz.

Then around 2PM after sweating in the sunshine, I got antsy for a drink. My husband did too.  He offered to run for drinks since the guy was busy, which was awesome. He surprised me with huge mojitos for us and sodas for our girls. They didn’t come in glass cups, but they were pretty frickin’ amazing nonetheless.  The rum in Cuba is truly special.  After we had our drinks, which went down waYYyy too easily, we got in the water for a little fun with the kids.  While in the water we could see humongous fish swimming by, super cool!  The vistas of the water in the distance felt like they could go on forever.  The crystal clear aqua-colored water was dreamy.  After a few minutes, I decided it was time to get back to the towels, I felt the mojito catching up.

My husband then came back to the towels, and the girls near us were now pretty drunk.  Martinez dropped off another round of drinks, and headed over to us, clearly making eye signals like these women were a handful.  We talked to him for about twenty minutes about the job, as his friend left the girls behind him.  He told us how he took his job hyper seriously, and how he had a family to take care of.  The girls were behind him calling him over again.  Before he left he asked us if we wanted another drink, which we said yes to!  We ordered another round of mojitos and virgin pina coladas for our girls, and he happily ran to go get them.

He came back with our drinks a few minutes later in glass cups in his cool caddy!  Yes, I am super happy to have glass cups on a beach!  It does make a big difference.  He let us hold on to the caddy to keep all the cups together and out of the sand, which was super nice.

The stylish bubbly girls on the beach all of a sudden turned into belligerent drunk girls. Martinez was called over to them once again to help them get a taxi.  They shouted their goodbyes to me as I made sure they grabbed their things. They walked along to the exit with Martinez ahead. The walk for them up the beach was sad, however. One of the girls just kept falling down.  Face first. In the sand.  And struggled to get up each time.  It sounds funny, but it was just sad.  Martinez shuffled them along into a taxi.  And came over to us to apologize and assure us they should be safe.  I hope they got to Havana all right.

After the women left we basically had the beach to ourselves.  The tides don’t shift much on this beach so we dragged our towels closer to the girls playing in the sand.  My husband started chasing the girls then jumped in the water with them. Then I.. guess what?  I PASSED OUT!  I am not sure how long I fell asleep for but I woke myself up with a snore.  Yes, I did!  🙂  And it felt so good!

We hung out on the beach until the sun was starting coming down. We all started to become hungry and decided it was the right time to go freshen up for dinner.   On our walk back to the house, we saw the most spectacular start to a sunset we had ever seen.  The colors in the sky were neon pink, yellow and blue, just spectacularly glowing.   It lasted so long, as it was still setting when we went out for dinner.

We walked the main street of Varadero for a while trying to decide where we were going to eat.  We had planned to go to two places, both were packed with long waits; one place had a two-hour wait!  Luckily, we had the offline mobile map that had listings of all the restaurants in the area.   We looked up a few spots to check out.  We walked by a lot of restaurants along the boulevard that were not on the map though.  But unluckily, every spot we wanted to check out was booked solid.  So we stopped in to a place we walked by that looked nice, and had seating, La Vicaria.  It ended up being a super fun place and the food was so good!!

We started off with daiquiris and pina coladas, of course.  The restaurant was open air under a thatched cabana. Which made it interesting as while seated we saw chickens and cats walking along the restaurant.  My kids enjoyed that part.  We got fried and grilled chicken platters, a grilled fish plate and a pork tips plate, and, a side of fries because my kids saw them on the menu and freaked out.  It was all really good.  We ended up staying there enjoying our dinner for about two hours or so.  Then we took a nice walk back to our casa particular, but not before buying some rum.. and soap!  The house we were in had this deliciously scented banana soap in the bathrooms that I saw in the pharmacy and had to have!  Can’t wait to use it!

My review of the day.

There really was no profound introspection during this day at the beach.  I had a lot of fun in the sun, while catching the show that was the gaggle of girls on vacation.


Next Cuba post will be our last day– departing Cuba, but first we check out a few sights.

 

Posted in My Travels

CUBA 2019- Viñales

Hello Everyone!

Here we are on our third day in Cuba.  We had made three classic car reservations ahead of our trip.  One was for this day to take us to Viñales.  Viñales is a town, about 2.5 hours from Havana, known for their tobacco farms, and their 51sq mile lush valley that is surrounded by large mountain-like limestone hills, known as mogotes.  These mogotes are huge! They draw a lot of activity from hikers, rock climbers, and cave explorers.


Day 3

We woke up, luckily again, to bright blue skies.  Since it was our last morning in the apartment, we took some time getting ready while enjoying the breezes and sounds from the windows. We had to gear up in long pants as our itinerary for this day had us roughing it!  But first, breakfast.  We planned to head over to Habana Vieja to a restaurant we had read about beforehand and happened to see the morning before.  It was actually right across the street from where we had breakfast. It had a way better display than where we had ended up the morning prior.

We had some time to sit and relax, as our car reservation wasn’t showing up to our apartment until 10AM.  Also, when Mary from our casa particular was going to arrive to collect keys.  We soaked in the last morning on this side of Havana. I’m so glad we decided to go to a different place for breakfast, as I really enjoyed the coffee and the toast. Ha ha

Once we arrived back to our apartment, our car was waiting outside for us, as well as, Mary. The car was a super cool blue 1951 Plymouth hardtop. Which made me giddy! And our driver was waiting along side the car all neatly dressed in his orange button-up shirt and jeans.

We quickly went upstairs to grab our luggage then handed our keys to Mary as she sent us off with hugs and kisses for a great trip.  We filled the trunk with our bags then hopped into the car with our super cute driver in orange, Ernesto. Who spoke very good English and was very polite.  We started off on our trip by heading down the beautiful Malecon!

As Ernesto was zooming down the Malecon, he pointed out the American Embassy along the left.  Just as we were about to talk about it, whammo, we got a flat tire!  This definitely made us worry yet all laugh, because of course at our embassy, right?  But Ernesto was such a great sport about it as he changed out the tire as quickly as he could.  While we were instructed to wait outside the car, we took some time to hang out at the edge of the wall.  We got to gaze upon the beautiful sea lapping and smashing up against the rocks.  I decided to walk down the Malecon towards the embassy for a few shots, too, and just as we were finding the bright spot in the flat tire, the police showed up.  They questioned everyone about the flat tire situation, then went about sitting behind the car to protect Ernesto from the traffic whipping by.  He had to get under the car to change the tire.   VERY DANGEROUS! But he did it! Though he came up from it dirty. 😦

Poor kid.

Once the tire was changed, we stopped nearby to fill it.  After that quick fill up, we were back to the road driving to the Valles de Viñales lookout point.

Driving in Cuba is pretty interesting.  There are a lot of people out, at all times, and they are everywhere.  Driving side roads, main roads, and highways you will find people in groupings waiting for either a personal ride, taxi or bus.  Also, there are horse and buggies carting people or items around. And sometimes, there are animals just grazing along the highway.  It all is fine, but it was a bit shocking to see people on highways in the most remote areas waiting for rides.

 

We spent a lot of time checking out the views of the valley.  What a beautiful sight!   We enjoyed a drink there and shopped the two local pop up shops they had set up along the tree line.  We had spoken to a few other tour drivers that knew Ernesto, learning about the area.  It was a fun stop, and my husband and I asked to come back if we could catch the sunset later on.  Depending on the time.

From the lookout point we headed to a local tobacco farm to learn some cigar rolling and possibly ride horses through the countryside.

The farm we end up visiting is a small family run farm.  We were introduced to our farm guide, Josue; it was just our family on this tour.  After introductions, and his happiness hearing we were Americans, we were led to the tobacco drying space. It’s a one story thatched structure with tobacco leaves drying all around with a table set up at the front showcasing their processes. Right away we were shown how the plant looks (there was a vast field right outside the doors) and how it grew.  The walk through was short and sweet; basically, we learned what parts of the plant are the best to use in cigars.  We were then led to another building where they showed us how the cigars are rolled.

We were walked through the ways they pick the leaves, which were best to go in the middle versus the exterior.  Josue then explained how 90% of the local farm crops are sold to the government leaving the remaining 10% for the farm to sell, to visitors like us.  I found that devastating.  He then proceeded to show us how they bundle the cigars and how to best care for them.  Passing every item around for us to touch and smell.  My gosh. The tobacco smelled of chocolate, leather, and heaven..  like that perfect warm smell we want our men to smell like, know what I mean?  Once we finished that lesson, he pulled out a handsome bundle of cigars, a bottle of locally harvested honey and a bottle of homemade rum, then asks if we would like a smoke!  UHM, YES PLEASE!

Before we were handed a cigar, our guide asked us if we wanted to smoke one like Che Guevara.  Apparently, Che had asthma and filtered his cigars by dipping them in honey!  IS this a true story?  I am not sure, but holy wow was a honey dipped cigar amazing!!

Our guide then proceeds to grab two glasses for me and my husband to try their special rum.  The rum made in this part of Cuba is from guava fruit. It was interesting to try while smoking a honey dipped cigar. Actually, tasted like whiskey to me!  haha

We hung out with our guide for a nice hour. We talked about so many things pertaining to the history of the area, Cuba, and even music! But I think my favorite part was at the end when he asked us about the show Breaking Bad!!  Well, it was best when we told him about Better Call Saul!!  OHMYGOD! His face dropped. How awesome!?

Our day was not over yet!

From being taught cigar rolling we walked over a hill to go on our first family horseback ride!  It was the first time for us riding on a horse; I had gotten on a horse once as a child, I think at a zoo or farm, but that was it.  We were set up with a horse wrangler and went on our way.  From the farm, on horse, we got to cross a highway, oh yes, to trek around the countryside and farmlands.  It was so beautiful and peaceful.  I felt so lucky to be there during this experience.

Our horses were funny creatures, however. I think my horse was in the middle of an argument with my husband’s horse, cause she did NOT want to let him pass or anything from the second we got to the riding path.  She would smash her head on his body or cause a scene with him only; if he ignored her she’d start a fight with another horse! So dramatic!!  I spent a lot of time looking around at the scenery while keeping my horse from the others. My husband’s horse and our youngest daughter’s horse were also sort of jerks. haha  They would fight to stay ahead!  Then our oldest daughter’s horse was so calm, hung back of the group trotting along.

It was so much fun to ride my horse! I do have to ask why there is no padding on the saddle? Yeeoowwwzaaahhhh! (It hurts your tush, just be aware).

Our day on the farm was coming to an end.  😦

We said our good byes to everyone then headed to a paladar, a family run restaurant,  that Ernesto suggested.  Along the drive to the paladar, Ernesto got pulled over by the military police!  Haha This poor guy couldn’t win this day with driving.  He ended up being ok, but my gosh, this poor guy! My husband and I decided that minute right in the first photo below, that we would treat him to dinner.  (Which he humbly refused, till I wouldn’t take no for an answer. heehe)

The paladar, El Campesino, was fun and the food was fantastic!  We got seated outdoors, which abutted a family farm; it was a perfect setting after the day we had experienced.  This place offered great cocktails, like, you guessed it, my favorite, Havana style daiquiris!  We each ordered a delicious dish, too. My husband got ropa vieja (shredded beef in sauce).  I got the roasted pork loin, and the girls each got grilled chicken dishes.  Ernesto got the braised chicken, just FYI. It looked pretty great. They offered two types of rice and beans, and they were served family style.  We enjoyed a wonderful meal together while talking about politics and history, it was perfect.  I love having discourse where we can share and learn from one another.  Ernesto is such a great guy!!

We took a drive after dinner back to the Valles de Viñales to see if we could catch a sunset.  Welp, we were not that lucky to catch a sunset, but the views of the valley and mogotes at dusk was beautiful.  It quickly turned dark, so we left Viñales for our new home in Havana, La Rosa Ortega, in a different neighborhood called La Vibora.  This was a two and a half hour drive back, in the dark.

This drive to Havana in the pitch dark was so crazy scary.  Not for Ernesto, he was a cautious driver but everything else.  Remember how I said there were people out everywhere on the drive there? Well, in the dark people are still all out there, too!  You can be driving along a pitch black highway as your lights catch something in the darkness, it’s a group of people waiting under a bridge. Then a hundred feet from them is a racing horse with buggy.  Not lit except by the car’s lights as it approaches.  Then on some small town roads it was like everyone was out socializing in large numbers on the streets, in the dark.

Thank the Lord for car high-beams!!

We got to Rosa Ortega’s late, around 9PM-ish. We were all anxiously waiting to get there to hit the sack. When Ernesto dropped us off we all hugged like long lost family, and I gave him a gift for his wife and daughter. (I had brought items to gift on this trip)  He was such a wonderful guy. When we walked into the gate of our new place, my mouth dropped.  I knew what the house was going to look like, but oh my gosh it was so beautiful! In the dark!  It looked like an Italian Villa in Tuscany with winding bright colored bougainvillea climbing out of its pottery clinging along this huge fence that hid a magical looking mansion.

We were greeted by Jose Carlos, the night shift manager.  He brought us into the reception area, and checked us in with our passports. After check in, Jose Carlos, directed us to the the patio below where there was an outdoor kitchen. We got to meet the grounds German Shepherd, Brenda. She was the sweetest dog, who loved following us around. Jose Carlos walked us through all the aspects of the casa particular as he introduced us to the night staff.   Jose Carlos then asked us sit down for a special welcoming drink (fresh pineapple juice).  It sounds corny, but it was a beautiful way to start this leg of our trip. I started to feel like I was actually on vacation for the first time since landing in Cuba.

We then followed this welcoming reception with putting all of our things in the room and to freshen up.  MY GOSH.  Our room was amazing!  From the second we walked in it was impressive. It was modern and spacious. The artwork was soulful yet playful. The materials all around felt new and clean; it felt like home. The apartment had a full kitchen, dining room, living room, two bedrooms with huge closets, and big bathroom. One of the coolest features, and my favorite, was the large terrarium set up to separate the kitchen from living room. It was about a fifteen foot high glass case that was open at the top to the outside.  It housed orchids along the wall.  So pretty.

After setting up our space, we headed back to the patio for a nightcap.  You guessed it,  daiquiris. 🙂

 

 

My review of the day.

Our third day here, I am reaching towards a feel, as if Havana is trying to open up my eyes to something more than its physical beauty.

Being a tourist, staying on the beaten track, can hold you back from the true potential of a place.  I think today showed what makes this place wonderful.  The people.   From saying goodbye to Mary in Habana Vieja, who warmly sent us on our way. Then meeting Ernesto, being able to watch him have these minor failures on this ride, yet continue with grace and humility.  At the farm, learning about the tobacco and cigars, and rum, was awesome. It really was, but then talking to that same man about music and movies, it was kind of surreal in that setting.  Then after a long day, arriving to the casa particular which was beaming with the welcoming Senor Jose Carlos; who didn’t miss a beat.

I see you, Havana.

 


Next Cuba post will be Day 4–  Touring Havana in a Vintage Convertible
Posted in My Travels

Planning for CUBA

Hello WordPressland!

Out of all the places we have visited, this trip to Cuba is the one generating the most excitement from everyone.  The number one question we have received, after being asked to bring back cigars and rum, is “Is it easy for us (US citizens) to travel there?”.

Not terribly difficult, but, US citizens do have travel restrictions.

Even though President Obama lifted trade restrictions and gave US citizens ease to travel to Cuba in 2014, President Trump enforced some additional rules in 2017.  These laws are enforced by the US not Cuba, and they aren’t difficult rules to follow. BUT they are laws that you have to adhere to if you want to travel with ease and not have your trip come up in five years to haunt you.  (It’s a communist country, after all.)

Here are some of the US laws you will need to adhere to for a successful Cuba trip.

✓ You must acquire a travel visa/tourist card for yourself and anyone traveling with you to enter the country. It is a paper card that must be kept with your passport till you return home.  This can be obtained through your airline as you physically check in for your flight or online.  Prices vary airline to airline.

Our experience through JetBlue: We purchased the visas in person as we checked in for the flight.  It took literally five minutes. As of February 2019, the cost of the visa through JetBlue is $50 per passenger.

✓ This coincides with the twelve acceptable categories to enter Cuba. You just have to declare your reason for your travel when you book your trip and any time someone asks you, which should fall under one of these categories

  • Official business for the US government, foreign government and certain intergovernmental organizations
  • Journalism
  • Professional research
  • Religious activities
  • Public performances
  • Support for the Cuban people (most people will fall under this)
  • Humanitarian projects
  • Activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes
  • Exportation, importation or transmission of information or informational materials
  • Certain export transactions
  • Educational activities and people to people travel

(obtained this list from Viahero.com)

✓ Cuban health insurance.

Our experience through JetBlue. When we booked our tickets we had paid additionally for taxes, fees and other charges that assisted us with this option.  The additional costs were as follows per passenger:

  • Cuban Health Insurance $25.00
  • Passenger Services Airport Tax $25.00
  • US Transportation tax (international) $37.20
  • US Customs User Fee $5.77
  • US Immigration User Fee $7.00
  • US APHIS User Fee $3.96  (Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service)
  • US September 11 Security Fee $5.60
  • US Passenger Facility Charge $4.50

✓ You have to have an actual itinerary to travel to Cuba (roughly 6-8 hours daily of interaction with the Cuban people). We are allowed to go, but no matter what the reason, we have to travel to sort of stimulate their economy by visiting/spending money in privately owned business of culture or agriculture (like a casa particular-family run B&B, paladar- family run restaurant, or farm). We are not able to stay or dine in government/state-run businesses.  You don’t want to anyway, trust me. 

You can find further details on our travel restrictions here on the US Treasury’s website, or, another website we found useful, ViaHero.com. Such comprehensive information on that website.

Other points to know about Cuba…

Cubans love Americans. We found that everyone we talked with were interested to find out we were from America.  Most were even ecstatic to find out we were from Boston, home of the Red Sox!  Cubans LOVE baseball, and try to follow their Cuban players when they make it to the big leagues of America.

Cuban Money:  You cannot use American credit cards or debit cards in Cuba, cash only.  Cuba has a two currency system, Cuban Peso (CUP) and the Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC).  The CUP, is less valuable than the CUC. It is what the locals are paid by their government monthly; it has their government officials faces on them.  The CUC is for tourist use and is printed with their national monuments on them.  The best places to exchange your money are the airport when you land, or major hotels.  All money has a tax to exchange it, but American money (USD) has an additional 10% tax added to the exchange. Which is high.

It’s a smart idea to exchange your money ahead of time from US Dollars to either Canadian Dollars or Euro before hopping on the airplane.

Not every Cuban hates their government.   We had a few conversations that opened my eyes about how agreeable some Cuban people view their government. Even the younger generation.

WiFi:  There is WiFi in Cuba, it was introduced years ago, but there are not many places to get it for free like there are in the States.  There are three ways to get internet access: buy an ETECSA telecommunication card and stand in a park where they have access portals, in a casa particular or hotel.  You will see a lot of people sitting or standing around the parks in Havana.  It’s the only places you see the locals with their phones in their faces like home.

The internet is spotty and restricted, as it is controlled by the government, so try not to do anything that requires you to rely on its use. And remember they are a communist country and it’s their WiFi.

If you are lucky to have free WiFi at a casa particular or hotel, soak it up! We had it for the first three days of our trip, bought an ETESCA card for the rest of our time but it worked so horribly that we gave up and went off grid.

Which actually worked out great.  I like disconnecting from the interwebs!

Cuban FoodCuban food is typically simple and rustic.  Its food roots are influenced by its Aboriginal, Spanish, African, and Caribbean inhabitants.  At most restaurants you will find Cuban style sandwiches, entrees, drinks and cocktails. Most meals are still affected by the severe poverty that hit Cuba hard, and will consist of a protein like pork (cerdo), chicken (pollo), shrimp (camarones), fish (pescado), or beef (res); served with rice and beans or fried plantains or root vegetables. The rice and beans can be cooked separate or together (aka Moros y Cristianos- which are my personal favorite way to eat them!).

Here is an example of a menu we looked at in Varadero.  You will notice a few things; this particular menu is written in Spanish and English, not always typical. The menu lists two prices (CUC/CUP). And there is a detail telling you what the dishes come with as a side (choice or rice with beans, or traditional rice and beans, and fried vegetable). And next to the menu is a photo of a typical dish (from a dfft restaurant).

IMG_E7959.JPGIMG_9111

We did eat at some pretty modern restaurants that offered nothing typical.  I will share that in the coming posts.

Cuba is safe! A previous misconception that I had of Cuba was that I would have to be in fear for my family’s safety 24/7.  I was wrong.  Walking the streets, day or night, in the city, on the farm or at the beach , we never felt threatened. EVER.  There is a lot of poverty throughout Cuba, especially in Havana, but even with the poverty, the people were wonderfully friendly, had pride and were immensely accommodating. Petty crimes, like pocket theft, do happen. But that happens everywhere across the globe.

FYI-  be aware that the people in the city are trying hard to make money.  This can come across as threatening to some tourists.  They are in a constant state of what I called ‘the hustle’; meaning they will run up to tourists (friendly mannered) to convince them to dine, taxi or buy souvenirs at their or their friends’ places.  If you turn them down politely they walk away.

 

Our Itinerary at a Glance

WHEN:  February 2019; Cuba’s dry season and Winter.
The weather in Cuba’s Winter hovers around 75F-85F! Compared to Boston’s 30F-40F.

HOW LONG:  7 nights; Saturday to Saturday.
JetBlue has direct flights on Saturdays to Cuba from Boston; also, JetBlue has direct flights from most major US airports.

WHERE:  We pulled together a list of what we wanted to do from all of the research (books, the internet, and travel shows). 

  • Take a ride in classic American cars, especially a pink convertible Cadillac!
  • Visit Old Havana, the historic part of the city
  • Check out the local cuisine in a paladar
  • Stay in casa particulars
  • Visit Revolution Square
  • Fusterlandia
  • Bay of Pigs
  • Visit the grand old hotels
  • Shop the markets
  • Drive to Hemingway’s house and/or bar hang out
  • Go to a tobacco farm to learn how to roll cigars..and smoke’em 🙂
  • Visit the Havana Club rum museum, and ..well, drink rum
  • Take a horseback ride in the country
  • Walk/drive the Malecon
  • See the beach

Once we finalized this list, we looked at a map to figure out where to stay on the island.  We chose to stay on the Western side, with hopes to go back to visit the Eastern side.

Day 1– Arrive in Havana

Day 2 – Habana Vieja (city)

Days 3 – Viñales (country)

Day 4 -Havana (city) 

Day 5 -Havana (city) 

Day 6 -Havana to Varadero (beach)

Day 7 – Varadero (beach)

Day 8- Varadero to Havana for departure


Next Cuba post will be an overview of our Day 1 – arrival and going out our first night.