Cuba...a place we were once restricted from getting a visa to visit. Im so glad I went when I did because the the visa ban was only lifted for a short amount of time. In the 3 days that I was there I saw end experienced enough to feel as though Cuba is now one of my favorite countries!
One of the things I was most excited to see was the classic cars. As you probably already know Cuba is well known for the classic 1950s cars still being driven around the small island. Our driver JuanPablo greeted us in a blue classic convertible from the airport and nice 30 minute drive to our Airbnb. We exchanged our currency from USD to Euros and when we got to Cuba we exchanged the currency from Euros to CUC. I later learned while in Cuba that there were 2 currencies. The CUP is used in Old Havana and the CUC is used in New Havana.
Our Airbnb was a short walk to wifi. In order to get wifi you had to walk to designated areas and buy a wifi card. It was $3 CUC for an hours worth of wifi time. You had to sit in a small designated area in order to get the wifi signal. It was very hot so we weren't there for long periods of time when we wanted some internet. We were also a short walk from a street called La Rampa. La Rampa was a long street with restaurants, clubs, bars and filled every night with Cubans looking to have a fun night.
We took the bus on of the days we were there which was .40 and it took us to Old Havana where we took a taxi to Santa Maria Beach. The beach was beautiful! The water was warm and beautiful and it was one of the most memorable times I had while there. I noticed that i didn't get bit once by a mosquito while here compared to when Im in Jamaica and get bit as soon as I step foot on the plane.
Now one of my favorite dishes is a dish called Ropa Vieja. It's basically a Cuban meat stew thats served with white rice! Its delicious! Im not sure if it wasn't the season to have mint leaves but since Cuba is well known for their mojitos we tried ordering one as soon as we got there and all of the places we tried to order one from didn't have any mint leaves to make it. Luckily when we went on the Afro Cuban Tour we were able to have one made for us.
The tour was AMAZING! It was definitely a highlight of the trip. I learned so much about the Afro Cuban population which makes up over 50% of the population. The tour included artwork and background information on the artists. We found a tour guide from a travel group on Facebook and he was very knowledgeable and knew good enough english to guide us.
Overall, I would highly recommend Cuba to anyone!
Dos & Donts of Cuba:
Bring Sun Screen (its soooooo hot)
Take a tour
Negotiate taxi ride costs with the drivers
LEARN important spanish words
Visit the Malecon
Eat at Cabana 61 in Old Habana
Drink the tap water
Let locals win one over on you with restaurant choices
Dont forget to make copies of your passport
Dont take ALL your money with you when your out
Dont forget to bring comfortable walking shoes
Dont forget an umbrella or hat
Dont forget toilet paper because most establishments dont provide it