Cuba has been on my vision board since Christmas, and as soon as Obama made it legal to travel and trade, it was a destination that Americans have been practically running to. Over 1 million Americans are projected to visit this year alone. Trump (not my president) is attempting to ban travel and make it harder for Americans to stay, so get there while you can. Aside from the amazing colors, culture, city landscape, and countryside, the fact that my phone didn’t work topped it all. I was able to actually bask in the glory of Cuba and all it has to offer without being distracted by a phone or social media.
Me and this fabulous group of young ladies pulled this trip together last minute with the help of our amazing tour guide, David. Before we go any further, lets address this whole “black travel is the new thing” idea. Black people have been traveling for a while now, and while it is amazing to see us all hopping on planes, this is nothing new. So stop with the t-shirts and the sayings that we just started doing this, because we didn’t. My first plane ride was in fact at 6 months old. Now back to your regularly scheduled programming lol.
One thing that you need to know when visiting a country where travel just became a “thing” for Americans, is to hire a tour guide. We ate at the best restaurants, toured the hot spots, and immersed ourselves in the Cuban Culture, not the tourist spots. Contact David for your next trip. Info below! Tell him we sent you. More details after the break.
David Tamayo Cedeno (+53 5-349-9098) firstname.lastname@example.org
A Brief History
Cuba is said to be discovered by Christopher Columbus, but we all know that he was really the second person to discover it, amongst other countries. He actually thought it was a continent. After a few historical wars, America began to take interest and temporarily governed Cuba starting in 1899. Cuba got back control of their country in 1902 until Fidel Castro took presidency in 1952. American influence was then banned and what you see to date are cars from the 50’s and a time warp that makes you feel as if you went back 6 decades. That is what makes Cuba more beautiful, the culture is as rich as it’s history and remains untouched!
What I Wore
Follow me on Instagram, scroll to the bottom, to get a glimpse of all my Cuba attire. I wore a lot of color and flowy pieces because Cuba is very hot and humid, it was 88 plus degrees and felt like 100, so casual chic comfort is key. My favorite look is my custom skirt from South Africa that I remixed with a bandeau top and clear heels. Color on color plus loads of prints let me fit in with the locals. I packed one light bag for 5 days and didn’t have to repeat any looks. Pattern clashing and unexpected pairing were my M.O. and theme for this trip.
What We Did
Ernest Hemingway’s House
The popular author loved Cuba just as much as we did and spent his life there. His house was left untouched and has only been entered by the likes of Obama. Since we are not Obama, yet, we gazed through the windows to get an up close and personal look inside!
Of course we had to take a group photo, black girls travel and have been traveling too!
Next we went to Varadero Beach, the most famous beach in Cuba that is about two hours away from Havana. The water and skyline were as clear as day. Most of the resorts on the beach occupy the lounging space, except for one spot where we laid out. David will show you if you book with him.
Just leave me here, please and thanks!
We couldn’t miss the beautiful and historical city of Old Havana. We walked around from courtyard to courtyard and street to street just taking in all it’s glory. Everyone greeted us with “Hola” and “is that Beyonce!” as we stopped to take photos and gaze in amazement.
Fidel Castro was definitely beloved here in Cuba, this look like a scene out of a movie!
Last tour included an all day excursion to Viñales where we learned how to make and smoke authentic Cuban cigars, rode horses through the country side, and took shots of rum while picking coffee beans. This by far was my favorite tour and just look at this lush scenery.
Say hello to my not so little friend, Lucera. She and I bonded as she kept me safe while riding drunk, not advised lol!
Where We Ate
Looking like a painting, this was the background as we at the most delicious octopus and seafood feast. People complain that the food in Cuba isn’t good, however that is false, you just need to know where to go like any other tourist spot. Be sure to ask your hosts and guides for tips on fine dining.
Food Magazine anyone?
Frente Al Mar
Another hidden gem, so hidden I have no idea where we were, was Frente Al Mar. Full of locals, the decor was authentic and the chicken was seasoned to perfection. We enjoyed lots of frozen daiquiris and way too many rice and bean portions.
This chicken was as moist and delicious as it looks!
We stopped at an unsuspecting cafe that included a menu of mouth watering meals for less than $10. The view from above was enough to sit in the rain, we went in the less tourist filled rainy season, and the drinks again were to die for.
Best ceviche that I ever had!
This colorful and charming restaurant is off the side of a random road, with food presentation that can rival a top chef. We received gifts for being tourists, how sweet, and chowed down on the likes of lamb, chicken, and lobster. All for under 20 CUC!
A flower made of plantain and shredded chicken!
Where We Stayed
Iris’s Humble Abode
Like always we rented an Air Bnb from our host Iris. She actually recommended a few of these restaurants to us. Right in the middle of embassies, this safe neighborhood was 10 minutes away from Havana and in walking distance to some amazing night clubs and bars. Iris is actually building a pool now so if you are able to visit during the holiday season, you are in for more of a treat. Book Iris and let her know that we sent you here.
1- This trip cost roughly $1200, cheaper than a plane ticket to Singapore (sometimes you just have to splurge to get there) and an easy quick vacay that gets your more bang for your buck!
2- Transfer your money from USD to Euro to CUC so that you can save more cash. If you don’t you will end up spending an extra .13 cents on every dollar.
3- There are a lot of flies, so just be prepared to swat them with your hands and ignore them. They are not going anywhere.
4- Taxis cost the most money so try to arrange travel with your tour guide, David arranged classic cars, as pictured above.
5- Bring more cash than you think you need, there are no ATM’s or Banks that accept Visa’s or access American cash. We learned the hard way and had to make a trip to Western Union. I would say we spent a total of 750 CUC while we were there, which is really $750 USD, so bring $1000 just in case! The tours were less than 200 CUC per person, we spent the majority of our coins on fine dining!
6 – DO NOT drink the water or get it near your mouth, we all got sick!
7 – Lower your expectations, Cuba is a historical place without the luxuries of America. Go there with an open mind and you are sure to have an amazing time!
Stay tuned for my next adventure and check out exclusive photos that weren’t on the blog on my Instagram.
Photography by Me 🙂