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Cuba

Puerto Rico
Aug 19, 2016
Cincinnati
Jul 18, 2017

Want to travel back in time? Cuba is the perfect place to witness the 1950’s! From old Classic Chevy’s to the lack of internet connection and access to social media it is a complete lapse in time! Everything about the Cuban experience was wonderful and the food and coffee….. DELICIOUS…..

Transportation

NO DATA….NO GPS….TAXIS!!! The bus system in Cuba was impossible, the train, unreliable, so taxis are your best option! You have Old School drop top taxis, coco taxis, and regular vehicle taxis! There are plenty to choose from. Getting from the Havana Airport to your AirBnB or hotel is 25-30 CUC. Traveling from Havana to Old Havana cost us around 25 CUC just in a regular taxi separate from the tours. In some areas like Varadero, Cuba there were a lot of horse and buggies that offered rides for discounted prices. Make sure you check around to ask about pricing so they don’t get over on you! If you’re close enough to your destination then we recommend you walk! Its free and allows for some good exercise, by foot sight-seeing, and interaction with the Cuban people! But of course our favorite method of transportation was the Classic Pink 1952 Chevy Drop Top! We simply couldn’t pass it up! If you can, find a driver you like and stick with them! It makes your trip much more fun!

Lodging

The best way to get the Cuban experience is to AirBnB or stay in a hostel. The first time around in Havana, we were well taken care of at our Airbnb by our two house ladies, Marisol and Milagros, it made our experience REAL. They helped us with taxis, information, booking tours, and speaking to other locals for us. We had a beautiful view of the Malecon and ocean. The second time, we stayed in Havana Vieja at Casa de Enzo with our hosts Raul. Walking distance from the center of old Havana and walking distance to Calle Ovispo.  In in the city of Veradero, we stayed with Arturo and Yuma at their Airbnb/Hostel. They were a 15min walk from the ocean and a neighborhood away from restaurants, a coffee shop, and all the locals. Lastly our fellow travellers, Pay it forward. Take gifts for your hosts they are always grateful for anything and everything, soap, toothpaste, deodorant, toilet paper, any toiletries are expensive there so they make the perfect gifts!!

Meals

Let’s talk Alcohol. When in Rome do what the Romans do… I think that’s how it goes anyway! Stick to rum, Cuba has the most amazing rum ever! Havana Club is the signature rum in Cuba. Rum and Coke is called a “Cuba Libre”/ Rum and pineapple juice is called a “Havana Special”. SHOTS FYI a lot of people don’t know what that is we learned the hard way!  Some may but shots are cheaper than mixed drinks. Try Presidente beer it’s pretty great!

Most AirBnB’s or hostels in Cuba will offer a 5 CUC breakfast option that comes with coffee, fruit and eggs. If you ask they may even offer dinner for 10 CUC. Take the option! It’s affordable and YUMMY! Cuba is big on 2 things Seafood and Pork, regardless of whatever you decide to eat CUBANS SEASON A RAINBOW ONTO YOUR FOOD!

Havana travellers, Calle Obispo is next door to Old Havana, and it is full of restaurants with live music! We suggest “pre-gaming” here, drink and dance away! Then make your way to Buena Vista Social Club, they offer a live salsa show and dinner. The hosts are completely interactive with the audience; get there early because you have to register by 9PM for a table. The price is a little costly for Cuba but we paid $40 for a meal and 2 drinks each. If you take the trip to the City of Viñales be sure to stop at Restaurante La Rosa coming right out of your tour. So much food, they offer a chicken-fish-pork and family portion sides. Try the fish and yellow rice YUM! Lastly, for our Varadero stayers try El Mojito restaurant. If you stay at the same AirBNB you get a 40% discount and the restaurant is literally 2 houses down from you. “Cerdo Asada” meaning grilled pork is recommended. Great food and one of the higher quality restaurants visited.

Entertainment

Of course the best part about Cuba is the sightseeing and history. In order to see it all we recommend taking a sightseeing tour. This will run you about 150 CUC for 3 hours of touring. Havana has several nightlife options that we really enjoyed. Of course the infamous Malecon is a great spot for our laid back chill travellers and Fantasy Nightclub for our more upscale partiers. Dress to impress! Fantasy is an underground nightclub, free cover, and diverse club music. Tables are $150 and have to be reserved ahead of time. No pictures or videos are allowed inside. Check out Calle Obispo it’s a street full of bars, restaurants, and music.

Varadero, Cuba has a great nightclub called Casa de la Musica. If you want a table, be sure to get there early, they let the locals into the club first and the tables are first come first serve. BOTTLES WERE ONLY 25 CUC!!!! They offer live salsa music followed by club music with a DJ. But nothing compares to the beach in Varadero. The water… The sand…. OMG!!!! Absolutely breathtaking! We spent most of our time on 15th street. That area of the beach offers different water activities such as parasailing, kayaks, catamarans, and other water sports as available. There is also a restaurant near the beach to buy $2 El President beers and if you smile nice and pretty you may be able to borrow a chair and umbrella from the hotel. Worst case scenario give them $2 and they will let you stay LOL.

If you have enough time left, take a day trip down to Vinales for a horseback riding tour of their snuff fields, see how the coffee and Cuban cigars are made. From Havana the trip will cost you $150 to and from Vinales and it is about a 2 ½ hour drive there. Ask your driver to take you to Cueva del Indio in Vinales before the tour. It’s a cool cave, costs only $5 and the exertion will take you 20 min to walk through the cave and a small boat ride to the other side of the cave. You might even run into some of the Indians that live on the land!!  

Places Visited

  • Airbnb: Casa de Enzo
    • Havana Vieja
    • Host: Raul and Yaima
  • Airbnb: Apartment with nice sea and city view
    • Havana
    • Hosts: Marisol y Milagros
  • Food/Drinks: La lluvia de Oro/Cafeteria
    • Calle Ovispo Havana Vieja
    • Drinks, Live Salsa Music, Older Crowd
  • Food/Drinks: Buena Vista Social Club HAVANA VIEJA
    • Zulueta 660 Apodaca y Gloria, Havana, Cuba
    • Live Salsa Show w/ various singers. Full Meals, Appetizers, and drinks.
  • Entertainment: La Cueva del Indio VIÑALES
  • Vinales, Cuba
    • Small Excursion-Really Cool Cave you walk into with a tiny boat tour at the end showing different shapes the cave has formed You can buy drinks and trinkets on the outside once the tour is over
  • Entertainment: Juan Luis y Luis Tobacco Farm VIÑALES
    • San Juan y Martinez, Cuba
    • Demonstration on how they grow and roll the Tobacco. Horseback tour to see how they make the Coffee (10 min riding time) $10EA Try the Guayavita rum and bring a bottle home! They do not whole sale distribute and only make 5k a year. It’s more of a local rum.
  • Food/Drinks: Restaurante La Rosa
    • Km 32 Carretera a Puerto Esperanza, Rancho San Vicente & Telephone: 48793224
    • Outside, Cute, Clean, and great food.
  • Entertainment: Fantasy Night Club
    • Havana- Near el Malecon
    • No Cover- UPSCALE!! Club Music/Techno. Wavy People from all over the world. Stupid Packed.
  • Entertainment: Mercado Central
    • Santa Lucia, Havana
    • Buy all of your Souvenirs here! Haggle Prices! They will always go lower. Don’t stop at the first shop ask several stores for prices.
  • Food/Drinks: Mirador Bacunayagua
    • Circuito Norte, Puerto Escondido, Cuba
    • Souvenirs & Amazing Piña Coladas in a pineapple but you get to pour however much rum you want. If you arrive early there is a live band. Its a great spot to take pictures!!
  • Food/Drinks: El Campesino
    • on your way to VARADERO
    • Amazing Food in a Shack! Great mountain view outback. They have a brick oven where they cook the food.
  • Airbnb: Hostal Gin Tonic VARADERO
    • Santa Marta, Varadero
    • Host: Arturo and Yuma
  • Food/Drinks: Mojito Restaurant VARADERO
    • Via Rapida # 509-A | Santa Marta, Varadero
    • Great food and one of the higher quality restaurants visited. Offer indoor seating with A/C our outdoor seating.
  • Entertainment: Casa de la Musica VARADERO
    • Entre 42 y 43, Varadero
    • Open until 2am try to get there early! They allow the locals to enter the club first then whatever table are left are First Come First Serve. Attire is Casual/Formal. Live Salsa Music followed by DJ club music.
  • Food/Drinks: Cafeccino VARADERO
    • Block Over across the street from the Airbnb. Small Corner Dessert Store: Espresso, Frappuccino, had a Strawberry Milkshake $2
  • Food/Drinks: Ranchon Bellamar VARADERO
    • Right behind the Hotel Umbrellas off the Varadero beach on 15th St.

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5 Comments

  1. Matthew says:

    Great info, I’m really interested in going.

  2. Travis says:

    I have always wanted to go. Glad I have the inside information now. Do you have any suggestion on cigars? People swear by Cuban cigars even though I am a Dominican cigar fan.

    • Lex and Lo says:

      Hi Travis,

      Our recommendation is to buy the freshest option which can be found down in Vinales at the snuff fields where they roll the cigars in front of you! We don’t actually smoke them but our friends and family sure appreciated them when we returned!

  3. Vanessa Williams says:

    I am looking to go to Cuba this summer!

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