....Keys, Keys, Keys.
Yes, I know what you're thinking, "Four posts on one trip? Sheesh, is it that serious?!" BUT you seeee, I started writing and kinda got carried away. And then realized there were still bits of information I wanted to put out there - Some major key points so to speak. Ha!
So this is mostly just an FYI post.
If you're going to Cuba or just purely interested in Cuba, this ones for youuu!
Ok, The Key tips.
1). Don't expect spicy, flavorful food. (Ignore the fact that it might look peppery, like my platter here. It's photoshop. Jk. But really, local cuban food is typically on the more plain side, especially when compared to other Caribbean countries.
The mojitos on the other hand are pretty zesty! So that sort of makes up for it?
Cute dinner options, however, are Vistamar (seafood restaurant with amazing terrace views), La guarida (charming ambience, they require reservations) and San Cristóbal (Obama and Queen Bey dined there during their Havana visit - Snazzy).
Ah for lunch, there's a quaint pizza spot we loved near our casa at the intersection of Cuartes and La Habana streets in Old Havana. The owners were just fantastic!
2). There are two currencies used in Havana. The Cuban peso (CUP) for locals and the Cuban convertible peso (CUC) mostly for foreigners. Generally speaking, the locals pay significantly less than foreigners for the same product.
3). Make friends with locals - this personalized touch makes for a more exciting and authentic Cuban experience. Plus! If you successfully accomplish this, you might be able to save a few bucks here and there considering #2.
4). Check out Museo Revolucion and the Cuban art wing of the Museum of Fine Arts to get schooled in Cuban History.
5). Spend some time people watching on Paseo del Prado, the pedestrian promenade that stretches from the ocean to the Capitol. Strolling down La Malecon (by the water) would also be a good option. They are both great ways to see "Cuban culture."
6). As you roam the streets, wander into courtyards for their breath taking architecture (...and for the live bands, and random conversations and more mojitos).
I'd suggest the courtyards at Hotel Marqués de Prado Ameno, Hotel Conde de Villanueva, Hotel Valencia, Hotel Florida and Hotel Telegrafo to name a few. There really are so many to see, each with something different to offer.
7). Casa de la musica (Havana's music house/ lounge) is good on almost every night.
8). Definitely plan well. But also leave room to veer from that plan. Spontaneous occurrences are inevitable. Embrace them because they can easily make the best memories!
9). Relax! There is a lot to see and do, but try to take some moments to just chill. If you have access to a pool, take advantage of it! I mean, you're on vacation after all.
*Printable version of these tips here.
Special Thanks To:
(I can be so dramatic, but they really deserve it!)
Brian – The Hip Hop fanatic that introduced us to other locals and kept us so entertained as he constantly "freestyled" in Spanglish.
Juan – The dark chocolate Afro-Cubano who didn’t speak a word of English, but somehow managed to be a fantastic tour guide and got us discounts using the local currency.
Yusuf-Mikael– The Cuban-Canadian Muslim (such a rare combination) who knew the ins and outs of Havana streets including the history.
Lorenzo – The dance instructor who tried to get us to replicate scenes from the "Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights" movie. Lol no comment.
Our trip would not have been the same without their cheerful energy and direction!
Any questions or comments about my trip? I'd love to hear from you! Simply Like, Comment, Share or all the above :D