Viva La (Havana) Cuba

Travel Dates: August 31-September 5, 2017

 

Want to talk about a blast to the past? Cuba was exactly that. No, I was not born or alive in the 50’s but I’ve seen the movies, and this was just like the movies! Cuba was exactly what I expected and not what I expected at the same time….I’ll explain further.

For starters, we went to Cuba for 5 1/2 days, which we could have potentially stretched to a week but that’s it. We stayed in Centro Habana, in an Airbnb which was perfect and costs us $80 a piece for the entire trip! (link here, because I give them 5 stars and highly recommend (Airbnb) We were walking distance from Havana Vieja (old Havana) and most touristy locations you’d want to see while in Havana, while still being able to get the authentic living experience. Our Airbnb host also helped us to find tours and catch taxis so we could really maximize our time while there.

 

You may be asking, “who is this WE?” I shared my journey to Cuba with my two good friends and business partners (see REZOpictured below.

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Havana Vieja (Pictured Left to Right: Kenny, Kalyn, Fuad REZO Founders)

                    

While in Havana we did fun things such as salsa lessons, organized through our Airbnb, went to a salsa nightclub, did a convertible car tour through Havana (we went to a really cool Afro-Cuban art museum), went to La Playa de Santa Maria (Santa Maria Beach), and the Havana Square.

 

 

My absolute favorite day (besides the beach, because the beach was absolutely beautiful) was our day trip to Vinales booked through the Telegrafo Hotel in Old Havana ($67 CUCS for day tour including travel, meal and activities) . In Vinales we visited  a rum factory and tasted rum, Pinar Del Rio, the old caves, Mural De la Prehistoria and a tobacco farm where we were able to roll our own cigars and bring some authentic Cuban cigars back for great prices.

 

A good friend of mine visited Cuba a few months prior to my trip and she had an itinerary that she went off of for her trip, which I adapted for use on my trip. This allowed us to have an organized list of what we planned to do, by day, in the event we were asked and provided us with an easy way to track what we wanted to do and still had left.

We did leave Havana one day for our Vinales trip, but I’d highly recommend visiting both Trinidad and Vaderdo, two other famous locations in Cuba with great sites and beautiful beaches.

 

After every place we visited, I wrote down on a pad the name and rated it on a scale of 1-5 to bring back to you all to help plan out your trips!

  • Floridita-Old Havana (5 stars)
    • Best known for their daiquiris and being the oldest standing restaurant in Cuba, it was a must visit. They had the absolute best daiquiris you’ve ever taste, endless flavors and live music. The daiquiris cost about 6 CUCS, so more expensive than most places we ate at.

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  • Mu Gusto-Central Havana (3 stars)
    • One thing we noticed is that the Cuban people have a much slower way of life than us here in the US, so it typically took us a long time to get our food, but Mu Gusto topped the cake. They had very good pizza and amazing ice cream/alcoholic milk shakes and the average cost was 3 CUCs. If we would have gotten our food sooner, they would have gotten another star!

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  • La Pina de Plata- Old Havana (4 1/2 stars)
    • We loved this place so much that we ate there 3 times. The food was awesome (especially the pizza and pollo de pina dish), the sangria was top notch and it was all extremely affordable. I’m talking 2 CUCs for a big glass of sangria.
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  • Nao Bar- Old Havana (5 stars)
    • Excellent food, the best drinks, great service….but a little pricey. Regardless of the price, I definitely say GO! don’t go to Havana and not visit Nao, the views were amazing, live band was great and again, food impeccable.

 

  • Hotel Ambos Mundos-Old Havana (2 stars)
    • This was the first place we went, the views were amazing, breath taking, but the food was lackluster and drinks were average at best.
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Ambos Mundos

 

Must Remembers:

  1. Major US cards will not work while in Cuba.
    • Please take enough money to cover your trip (I took about $600) and convert to either Euros or Canadian dollars and then convert to Cuba CUCs once in Cuba. The rule of thumb of $100 dollars a day is easy to follow.
  2. Cellular Service will not work
    • Some may be lucky, but erring on the side of caution, go in with the mindset that your phone will not work. Wifi is also not easy to connect to, but there are Wifi Parks that are easily accessible. A wifi card cost us between 1-3 CUCs for an hour of internet service.
  3. In Cuba, they speak Spanish
    • For a lot of travelers coming from the US we are so spoiled that most people in other countries know more than one language, their native and usually English. Some people in Cuba did understand a bit of English after asking, “Tu hables ingles?” but I would suggest you take a Spanish dictionary and try to learn a few words/phrases such as, “Como se dece… in espanol?” (How do you say…in Spanish) It’s both challenging and rewarding to try to emerge yourself fully in the culture.
  4. You will need a Cuban visa, so give yourself ample time at the airport. 3 hours is good.

Overall, I LOVED Cuba, I  recommend Cuba and definitely plan to go back. It was super affordable to visit, $330 between round trip flight and Airbnb +$50 for Cuban Visa and $600 spending money.

 

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