So, ideally... This post would have published sometime in December but the was this entrepreneurial life is set up, it was a challenge! The holiday also feel shortly after and I really needed a break from it all. Anyhoo, on to my Cuba experience!! It was VERY dope to be invited to join an amazing group of women and capture it all. I'll be covering everything from my hotel (which I'll provide you with a special discount, on me! Keep reading) to me running out of American cash to the restaurants we dined at.
Money: The Cuban currency is the peso (CUC) which everyone refers to as "kooks" for short, referring to the CUC abbreviation. For international exchange purposes 1.00 Cuban Convertible Peso = $1.00 USD. Note that there is a 10% penalty charged when exchanging USA dollars cash, so, you will only receive 87 centavos CUC for one USA dollar. Yes, this hurt ya girls pockets!! It may not seem much but when you convert $100 and get $87 back, your feelings get hurt! LOL So bring LOTS of money. You can also exchange money at the US airport before your flight -or- Like we did, you can go to a local bank in Cuba (during normal business hours) to convert.
Now we could start exploring! Welcome to Havana, Cuba. Havana is Cuba’s capital city. Spanish colonial architecture in its 16th-century Old Havana core includes the Castillo de la Real Fuerza, a fort and maritime museum. The National Capitol Building is an iconic 1920s landmark. Also in Old Havana is the baroque Catedral de San Cristóbal and Plaza Vieja, whose buildings reflect the city’s vibrant architectural mix.
Hotel: We stayed at Hotel Paseo 206, a boutique hotel in the heart of Havana! I highly recommend staying here. If you contact them and tell them that Victoria Reese referred you and you'll receive a special discount on your stay. That said, once we arrived we were greeted with margaritas in a quaint library room located in the lobby. It had a mini bar stocked with lots of complimentary liquor and cigars :) We indulged while waiting for our rooms.
BTW, this trip was filled with tons of personalized items compliments of BAUS by Victor Group. Taking an international group trip soon? Contact me for personalized items to make your trip memorable and in style!
Wifi: So wifi is SUPER limited in Cuba. They use wifi how we would use a calling card - Every 30 minutes (or in blocked time increments) you have type in the code on the card to buy more time. So its annoying forreal! Our hotel had complimentary wifi but there were two things that made me feel like a spoiled American - the MOMENT it cut off and they need to load more time from a new card, we felt it and begged them to hurry it back on! Also, it rained for a good two solid days. So that definitely interrupted the already poor internet connection. I was so annoyed!
This is their eating area with a nice view of the city! Every morning, I came down to have my complimentary breakfast and amazing Cuban coffee! It was my nice little quiet time before we headed out to explore each day. Something I learned while there was the minimal amount of resources that Cuba is allotted. Like, they don't get the same out of food that our stores get. So you DON'T waste food there. They kept running out of things and thats why. We tried to have a birthday cake made and the stores didn't have all of the ingredients (and not just that day, they legit weren't allotted all of the basic ingredients that we take for granted and could easily get at a 7-11 in the US).
And these were the beautiful rooms!! Had a balcony with tables and chairs, and all! Peep me and Ashaunna Ayers - The amazing Brand Manager of legends like Mary J Blige and Common. Just Google The Ayars Agency and get your entire life. She's a mentor of mine and she invited me along to capture her birthday trip! Thanks again Ashaunna!!! xoxo Below are pics of the desk where I was able to get a little work done while there. LOVED the rose gold frame that said "Just A Perfect Day" because every single day that I get to live this life, truly is a perfect day. It was a constant reminder to seize the day!
Amazing bathroom! And the tub??? Dream tub.
So we def had to get a little history in! We visited the Museum of Revolution. Which was dope but nothing was in English, so I was just taking in the ambiance LOL Amazing ceilings with gold trim!
After the museum, we took a visit to Callejón de Hamel, a neighborhood project dedicated to Afro- Cuban dance and religious culture. This community project uses recycled materials to reconstruct what was once a marginal neighborhood. The art installations were created by Salvador Gonzáles - a Cuban painter, muralist and sculptor and we had the pleasure of meeting him!
We took a visit La Finca Vigía - Ernest Hemingway’s home in Cuba, where he wrote the book Old Man and the Sea and For Whom the Bell Tolls. The house has been maintained in its original conditions, and how the celebrated author left it in 1960.
After you see the home, you can head over the grab drinks with fresh sugar cane. Sidenote: This is a letter from a random Cuban guy who wanted to salsa dance with me. Apparently, he liked the dance more than I did. Haha!
On the perfect, sunny day we drove 2 hours to Viñales to visit the farms in Pinar del Rio, renowned as having the best tobacco leaves in the world! Las Vegas are the farms dedicated to the cultivation and production of tobacco. Cuba produces cigars of the highest quality and tobacco farmers reflect the pride of being an integral part for the Cuban economy and identity. Here, we have an opportunity to learn the ways in which tobacco is grown, dried, and rolled into cigars.
Welp guys! This is all I have the bandwidth to post - I took tons of pics! If you don't already follow me on Instagram, please do. I posted my best, most colorful Cuban pics there. I'm thinking on creating a video to add to my upcoming Youtube page as well. But we'll see! :) Below are a few tips/resources that can be helpful if you choose to visit Cuba soon. Enjoy!
Everything you need to know BEFORE heading to Cuba:
- Cuban Guides $10 per person per day
- Cuban Driver $5 per person per day
- House Keeping $1 CUC per day*
- Meals $2 CUC per person
- Bell Hops $1 CUC per bag
- Bartender $1CUC per drink
- Taxi Drivers 10% of the fare
- Musicians $1 CUC
- Bathroom Attendants Use your small coins- 10 centavos, 25 centavos, etc.
*I suggest tipping housekeeping on a daily basis, rather than at the end of your stay as they rotate shifts throughout your stay.