Sooo, “a blur” doesn’t even accurately describe my last couple of months. Life has been ridiculous, but not in a bad way. During the time I’ve been MIA from posting on the blog, I managed to travel three times in less than two months. I’m still exhausted and playing catch up, but I wouldn’t trade these experiences in for the world! Just look forward to my upcoming posts to be very travel bloggish, because you know, 2016 is the year of no chill.
Today, I want to share the last of my three trips first because I remember everything so vividly! Since I don’t celebrate July 4th, it was the perfect 3-day weekend to unlock the mystery of Cuba. No country is more desirable than one that you’re technically not suppose to go to right? Thank goodness President Obama decided it was time to begin the process of lifting that embargo.
What’s Your Initial Impression of Cuba?
Mike, Brian, and I only spent three days in Havana, but I feel like we had a great introduction to the country. It was so interesting to see this city literally stopped in time. Of course, the people aren’t stuck in the 1950’s, but there hasn’t been any new construction of buildings in Havana since 1959. While some buildings have endured some maintenance, there are plenty of others that haven’t. Old American cars were literally everywhere and in excellent condition. It was cool seeing guys of all ages driving these old cars as their personal transportation.
Staying at our AirBNB in the middle of Old Havana gave us the most authentic experience we could ask for in Havana. As we spent our evenings sitting on our balcony with the dopest view or walked around the neighborhood, we had the opportunity to see how our neighbors lived their daily lives. We watched firsthand people cleaning their sidewalks with bleach and water, a block party with only kids dancing to music that went well into the night, and a husband and wife chillin’ on their balcony to take advantage of the cooler evening weather. This beats staying in a hotel any day.
**Get a $30 credit on your 1st stay with AirBNB on me!
I personally wasn’t sure how the locals would react to us, but they loved and appreciated the fact we were there and that we were Black Americans visiting Havana. Everyone was so friendly and willing to go out of their way to help us. Plus, I always felt safe no matter what time of day or night we were out wandering the streets.
HOW WAS THE FOOD?
We lucked up because our AirBNB host’s son Jorge prepared breakfast for us for only $5 CUC per person consisting of Cuban coffee, fresh fruit juice, fruit, eggs, fresh bread, veggies, and ham for our meat loving friend. So we were covered there.
Our meals for the rest of our time were good and bad, depending on where we went. For one thing, Havana has a lot of Government-run restaurants, and they’re obvious because they all offer the same type of food on their menus. I would highly recommend no one ever get the grilled fish filets from these restaurants. They suck. Another government-run restaurant served instant mashed potatoes. Oh, and there’s a Chinese restaurant there called Flor De Loto that’s supposed to be the shit. It’s wack as well.
I did learn that Cuba recently relaxed their business laws, so now there are new private-owned restaurants popping up that are actually really good. The two we dined in were Habana 61 and 5esquinas Trattoria, both vegetarian-friendly and in Old Havana. There’s also a cute ice cream shop in Old Havana called Helad’oro that was a wonderful escape from the summer heat.
Was the music live or what?
Hell yeah! I loved every moment of it!
It seemed like wherever we walked in Havana, live Salsa music filled the streets. We randomly walked into several restaurants/or bars just to sit and listen to the music.
On Sunday at noon, we went to Callejón de Hamel where Cubans and visitors come together a watch Rumba Morena perform the rumba. I LOVED the energy of the music and the dancing. I mean, the dancing continued in the realest heat and humidity for three hours straight. The location was cool as well with its paintings and sculptures, many that were influenced by the Afro-Cuban culture/religion.
On our last night, we went to La Zorra y el Cuervo and listened to a band that had a less traditional sound, but they were also great.
Are there beaches?
After exploring Havana for two days and being damn hot the entire time, we made our way 30 minutes outside of Havana to Playas del Este on our last day (a Monday) to chill out. We ended up at the beaches near or in Tropicoco (I’m not sure which), and it was filled with local families, which I was totally cool with. The water was gorgeous and felt amazing, and there weren’t many people trying to sell you things like other beaches in the Caribbean.
There are several other beaches in Playa del Estes that are great for a day trip away from the city.
Would you go back?
I would love to spend a couple days in Havana to explore other parts of the city we didn’t get to spend a lot of time in. I’d also love to spend a few days exploring the rest of the country, particularly the old city of Trinidad, which I think would be similar in beauty and charm to Antigua, Guatemala (a place I loved!).
Are you planning on visiting Cuba now that travel restrictions are being lifted? Lemme know!