Havana Ooh Na-Na

Take a trip back in time to experience the magical essence of a city of old glamour meets beautiful buildings in desperate need of restoration. I can see why Camila left half of her heart in Havana. The 1950’s American cars the owners are so proud to show off are colorful and kept in pristine condition, the people are friendly and not only want to know about you but also show you what their culture is about.  The live music and pure energy in the locals dancing makes even the shy join in.

What I learned from visiting Cuba is that it is not like any other country I have visited and requires proper planning.  Here are some tips.

  • Bring Cash
    • Cards do not work in Cuba so you need cash.  I would recommend bringing Euros or Canadian dollars so you do not have to pay the extra 10% tax.  Many sites recommended $50-$70 per person per day however if you plan to buy cigars I would bring closer to $100-$125.  Cuba is cheep but you don’t want to run out. Make sure you exchange it for CUC as Cuba also has a local currency with little value.
  • Stay in a casa particular and only book 1 night
    • Casa Particulars are family run rooms and you can book them last minute.
  • Only eat at paladars
    • Government run ones have pretty bad food
  • Get a Visa
    • You need a Visa however if you claim your reason is “support of the Cuban people” and you stay at Casa Particulars that counts.
  • Bring cash and extra toys, clothes, etc.
    • You will come in contact with maids, servers, locals etc. that would love anything you can donate to them.
  • Bring spices
    • Especially tabasco and Chili flakes.  The food is pretty bland and the spices will come in handy. I promise.
  • Book an old car
    • It is definitely a tourist thing to do but totally worth it.  You can see all the sites but also have fun riding in an American car from the 1950’s and hang with a local.
  • Take a day trip to a tobacco farm
    • Cuba is one of the best places in the World for tobacco growing and it really is a cool process. You can also get some amazing cigars.
  • Pack light
    • It is hot and casual so you just need shorts or dresses and you also want room to bring Rum back.
  • Forget the internet
    • You can use it in hotels if you buy a card.  It is only $1 per hour but is not reliable and a waste of time.
  • Don’t be afraid
    • I felt extremely safe in Cuba.  They want tourists to come there and spend money so other than the cat calls on the street I didn’t feel like anyone was targeting me.
  • Walk around.
    • The streets, parks and architecture are what make Cuba so unique.
  • Plan your nights out
    • The really good restaurants and cool bars (Fabrique De Artes) take reservations or are not necessary close to each other so it’s good to have an idea of places you want to go.
  • Do a Hemingway tour on your own.
    • There are several bars and restaurants that Hemingway made famous.  They are packed but still cool to see with a lot of energy.  I loved the Mojito bar.

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