Country Number 45…CUBA!

My travels lately have taken me to countries I have already visited in order to explore more and that is fantastic. I had the opportunity to take a trip to Cuba with my mom and 6 of her friends and it is an experience I will never forget! Distant Horizons put together a week long itinerary for us celebrating Havana’s 13th Biennial and created a trip that was in support of the Cuban People.

We were not on a direct flight from SFO and spent the night in Fort Lauderdale at the Dalmar. It just so happened that it was the grand opening party of the hotel so there was live music and food stations all throughout the hotel. While it was entertaining, I was ready to see what Cuba had in store for me.

Our visas were handled by the tour company but when we checked in at the airport, we were told you could buy a visa on that spot for $50.00. The embargo means that when we carry a US passport, we need to be in Cuba for certain reasons that aren’t just travel. This also means that credit cards and debit cards don’t work in Cuba so bring cash (Euros not US Dollars). If you want to get into the country without being “flagged,” you can always fly in from another country. Keep in mind the US cares about our travel to Cuba but Cuba loves when we are there. 

The airport was very easy to navigate through and the money exchange was an automated machine. Since we landed on a Sunday we made sure to exchange our money so we could have CUC’s which is the tourist Cuban Peso. Most places accept Euros and some accept US Dollars but the exchange rate will not be as favorable. 

Our apartment was a penthouse on the 15th floor and had a great view of the city and the ocean. We dropped off our stuff and decided to walk around Old Havana and get a feel for the city. We started walking and realized it was a little further than we wanted to walk in the heat of the day and flagged down a taxi. Mine happened to be a 1956 Chevy!

Once in Old Town we didn’t really have a destination so we just strolled the streets until we decided we were hungry. But let’s be honest, I was excited to have some rum!

I love Rum and I love a good Cuban Rum. For $2 a glass I was one happy camper and I decided to try a few of the rums on the menu. This was the first of many glasses of rum consumed on this trip and it was all delicious!

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We kept walking around and stumbled upon some live music and I had a little dance with this gentleman. The Cuban people are very friendly and love to interact with the tourist. Havana is a very safe city and I never felt in danger during the day or evening. 

Since this trip was planned through a tour company, I really did not do any research. The only thing I really knew to expect was an abundance of old cars on the streets. I was not disappointed and everywhere I looked there was an old car. Some were for hire for hour long rides for $40.00 but there were plenty on the street to photograph!

Our night ended at a cute little outdoor cafe with some live music. Everywhere we walked there were chairs and tables set out on the street with an artist playing. It was absolutely everything I was hoping for. 

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