Travel Journal: Cuba – Part 1

Because we took off extra days around our wedding, we didn’t have time to go on our full honeymoon immediately after getting married.  Instead, we split our vacation in two: we’ll be going on the big honeymoon in July and went on a minimoon to Cuba after the wedding.  It was a perfect four days, which seemed to be the exact amount of time needed to see Havana.  Sure, we planned a minimoon because we were unable to take so many consecutive days off work, but after having done it, it’s actually something I highly recommend.  Because it was the same time zone and we didn’t rush through the trip, we came back well rested (none of that “I need a vacation from my vacation” feeling).  Also, it gives us time to recoup our energy and finances before going on the main honeymoon – and gives us something fun to look forward to so it’s not an immediate letdown after all the buildup leading to the wedding.

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One reason we picked Cuba is because there are so few opportunities to experience a culture that has been untouched.  It won’t be that way for long now that tourism has opened up so we wanted to get there while it still felt pure.  There is VERY little internet so it was nice to completely disconnect, especially after the craziness of a wedding.

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In case you’re wondering how we spent our time there, here’s a bit from my travel journal:

Day 1 (Wednesday, 4/12/17)

We heard that Airbnb is the way to go because hotels are expensive and not that great.  We found a great deal in the heart of Habana Vieja – a two bed/two bath for about $100/night.  Our host arranged for a taxi to pick us up from the airport and bring us right to the apartment, which was very nice since we had no idea where we were going and there was a bit of a language barrier.  We arrived at the apartment around 1:30 PM, dropped our stuff off, and headed out to exchange money at a nearby bank and explore.


We ran into a small snafu when I had a bad allergic reaction to something and we trekked across the city and back trying to find a pharmacy.  My little medical emergency really cut into our day.  The nerve!  With cortizone cream in hand and feeling better, we walked around a touristy open air market where Albert bought a cigar.  We then took a stroll down the Malecon, a beautiful 5 mile promenade that stretches along the Havana coast.  It was a lovely way to soak it all in.


After our walk, we hit up the Floridita, Hemingway’s favorite place for daquiris (the pineapple was delicious).  At 6 CUCs, the drinks were on the pricier side (by Cuban standards) and it was all tourists, but it was a fun experience.  Live music and a strong drink was a great way to ease into the trip.


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After drinks, we headed back to the Airbnb…but first we made a stop in a cute bookstore with tons of vintage tomes.  I picked up one as a souvenir, not that I can actually read it.


Then we changed clothes and went in search of supper.  We met some locals on the street who nudged us toward a nearby paladar (private restaurant) called La Familia.  Every Cuban person we met was so friendly.  True, some of them were too friendly and had ulterior motives.  These women were definitely trying to scam us, but we were fine humoring them with a free meal and keeping our wits about us before parting ways.  It was definite entertainment for us.  We laughed the whole time and enjoyed some solid ropa vieja, lobster, and chicken.

Note: it seems to be pretty widely known that this place is a scam where locals lure in tourists and get tipped for bringing in patrons (just check Trip Advisor).  We had only been in Cuba for a few hours and had done no prior research so we went like a naive lil couple.  It didn’t take us long for us to figure out what was happening, but we went with it, in part because we didn’t have anything better to do.  The food was definitely overpriced and not nearly the best of our trip, but we chalked it all up to the experience.  Also, at this point there are still only a few legitimately good restaurants in Havana, many of which require reservations in advance so this place was as good as any for a last minute meal on a travel day.

Finally, lured in by live music, we grabbed one more drink at nearby Van Van before heading back to the apartment for bed.  Not bad for a first day!