Havana travel tips you must know before you go!

In 2009, I spent three months studying Spanish at the University of Havana. Ever since I have been going back as much as I posibly can. I have been back six times and I am truly in love with the city. No matter how poor or technologically behind of a city it is I just love it. This guide is for those who want to backpack or get a feel of the authentic Havana. It really depends on what type of vacation you want. Do you want to go to an all inclusive and just party or chill the week away? If so then go to Varadero, Cuba and maybe make a day trip or two to Havana just to see the city.

 

But this post is for those who are hunting for an adventure. For those who want to live somewhat like a local and get to know the Cuban culture and lifestyle. Also for those who can live without Internet connection. If you need data or WiFi just stay away from Cuba as a whole.

Internet connection is limited in Cuba, luckily in Havana there are various parks that one can connect to WiFi. When I was studying there in 2009 there was nothing so I am very grateful for this new form of communication that is available. You simply buy a ECTESA internet card from a vendor in the park for 2 CUC and it gives you a hour of WiFi connection.

Be sure to know it is safe in Cuba! Penalties for disobeying the law in Cuba are very strict therefore they wont mess with tourists.

The money:

Cuba has two kinds of currency, one is CUC, Cuban convertibles dollars, they are usually at par with the euro and the other is Peso Nacional, which are national pesos. 24 Peso Nacional = 1 CUC. Most things will be in CUC but some street side food and restaurants will charge in Peso Nacional.

For example one Ice cream can be 10 peso nacional which is like 50 cents. Cuban people are very honest so if you do give them 10 CUC they will probably give you tons of change in CUC and Peso but it’s good to know. And you can always ask, nacional? Or CUC ?

Street food will be in Peso Nacional so if you want any make sure you learn how to convert.

  1. Get to Havana! If you land in Varadero find a local taxi and negotiate with him to take you to Havana. Havana is about an hour and half away and the maximum I would spend on a cab is 80 CUC.

Where to Stay:

Once you get to Havana you can find a room to rent very easily. I know it sounds scary not to have accommodations but trust me you will not be left in the streets of Havana, you will find a room you can rent.

So basically pick a community you like and want to spend a few nights in. I would recommend looking for a room in either Old Havana because it has picture perfect colonial buildings or vedado because it is the near the Hospital and University and is always filled with tourists and students.

I like to stay in Vedado near the University mostly because I get a nostalgic feeling when I look at the university and I can walk down to the Malecon. I like to stay near calle J y 24 because it is beside a hospital and there are cafes open 24/7 for doctors that work night shifts. You wont ever feel like you cant get water or snacks in Vedado.

In Vedado you can also choose to find a place near the Malecon, which is always nice. You can go along the Malecon and enjoy the sound of waves at any given time. Malecon is a road along the sea wall that has an amazing atmosphere; you can witness families, couples and people enjoying the scenery. There is a constant flow of street buskers selling various snacks or coming by with a mini band to play music for change.

 

 

Once you have decided which community you want, go there and search for this sign.

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Once you have found this sign knock on the door and ask if they have a room if not keep it moving and you will be successful. Cuban people are very friendly and will help you find a place. Even if they do not have room they will probably refer to their friend or a near by neighbour who may have a room for rent. If you need to plan ahead you can find rooms for rent online with various websites like my casa particular ,I have never used a website but I imagine it should work fine. I like going in person because its honestly more fun.

Now that you have a room secured and you know where you are going to stay, you can go on adventures.

Things to do:

For daily activities you can go discover Old Havana, which is rich with museums and historical sites and has an amazing art market. It is just fun to get lost in Old Havana.

Go to the beach I prefer Playa Santa Maria. I enjoy Playa Santa Maria because it’s about 15 minutes away from Old Havana and there is a little store there for drinks and refreshments. There are also a few beach side restaurants that have some of the best Cuban street food I have ever had! I would recommend getting fried chicken and rice or a lobster dish if you want to spend a little.

Transportation

You can either get around by cab or bus or machina. Machina is a Cuban form of transportation if you do not know Spanish I’d suggest staying away from machinas. Machina’s are old school American cars that are used like a bus form of transportation. They go along the main roads and they stop in main hubs and certain areas. It’s kind of difficult to get around with a machina unless you know where you’re going.

I usually take a machina from Vedado on main roads like Linea or calle 23 to old Havana. I yell in the passing by machina Habana vijea (old Havana) or Parce central (central park) and if he stops I get in. it only costs 10 pesos which is 50 cents.

It is a very cheap way around but you have to learn routes and some minimal Spanish. From Parce central you can find a cab or arrange to pay something like 10$ to take the tour bus used for tourists to go to the beach. There are various hotels surrounding Parce Central and you can sign up for the buses to the beach there. Or else a cab may cost anywhere from 20-30$ to the beach, Playa Santa Maria.

Food:

I always hear people bash Cuban food. But that is because they don’t ever get to experience the authentic Cuban food and they usually stay at some all inclusive. Havana is cool because there are local cafes and restaurants in people’s homes that sell amazing food at cheap prices. For breakfast I always go to some café outside of outside of someone’s house, you can spot them as they are pretty obvious and have people constantly coming in and out. I always get one Cuban coffee for 2 pesos and an egg sandwich for about 30 pesos = 75cents. I ask for un café y un pan con tortia (one coffee and one egg sandwich) and it costs me basically nothing.

 

For dinner or lunch I would recommend going to New Georges they have great traditional meals at reasonable prices in a cool home setting.

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My favorite meal New Georges, rice with black beans and chicken breast with a side of salad. Yum I miss it.

Eat at playa Santa Maria for some fresh seafood or yummy fried chicken. I always get the fried chicken and fried rice.

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Fried Chicken from Playa Santa Maria

 

I like the president café in Vedado for pizza and pasta.

The restaurant across the street from hotel Habana Libre called Resturante Cibo Cafe has some amazing dishes as well.

 

 

For clubbing Fabrica de la arte is a cool club/art gallery with a nice atmosphere. King Bar is also a fun time. Unfortunatly my photos from the nighst I went clubbing are not the greatest quality but it’s always a good time when reggaeton is bumping. Cuban people know how to party so make sure you go out at least one night.

I hope this post helps you plan a trip to Havana, if you need a cheap quick fun adventure you should definity plan a trip. Sometimes on Sunwing’s website you can find cheap flights to cuba from Canada. I have paid $470 for a flight before and I would pay 24 a night for my room adding up too $168 for 7 nights, and I brought about $400 to spend. So you can defintly plan a fun trip under $1000.

 

 

 

 

 

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How to Do Cancun

In May 2017, I went to Cancun Mexico for my first time. Cancun is a great place to party, relax, and see sights. I was surprised to see such a happening downtown catered just to tourists but I thoroughly enjoyed my stay. Here are my tips on how to do Cancun.

Where to stay?

If you go to Cancun I’d recommend staying on the strip, which is on a main boulevard in the hotel zone called blvd Kukulcan. Blvd Kukulcan is the road that is along the beach and leads to the downtown of the city. If you stay at a hotel on this road and you want to venture into the city to go to a club or whatever you can easily go to the road and wave down a bus that will take you there faster and cheaper than any cab. A cab can cost up to 30$ depending on where your hotel is but the bus is just 10 pesos which is like $1.50 and stops when you wave! Which is pretty cool.

What to do?

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Cheesing Through Chichen Itza Photo by: MA

Make sure to check out some Mayan ruins! Chichen Itza is the most popular Mayan ruin as it has made UNESCO’s list of the modern world’s 7th wonders. There are many torus and excursions that you can sign up for.

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Sinking in the hole, Photo by: Tina Amini

Go to a Sinkhole! Cancun is located in the Yucatan peninsula, which is filled with nearly 7000 natural sinkholes that they call cenotes. Some of these cenotes even connect to each other through under ground rivers and there is torus you can sign up for that take you through them. It’s really a breathtaking experience to be able to swim in a sinkhole (cenotes).

I chose a Chichen Itza tour that took us to the cenotes, after swimming we got a nice lunch and then the tour took us to the popular pyramid Chichen Itza. It was honestly one of the best days of my life as I had an awesome experience, I crushed my fear of swimming in dark waters and I got to explore a majestic wonder of the world.

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Swimming with the fishes, Photo by: Tina Amini

Go snorkeling while in Cancun, because the world’s second largest coral reef is located along it’s coast. It’s a national park and a beautiful place to discover. I went on an evening snorkeling tour and I had a good time, I saw some pretty fishes.

Go to Coco Bongo. Coco Bongo is a night club with extravagant shows and performances. It’s kind of like a circus you can get drunk at.

Eat at a fancy Restaurant! At least for one night venture out to a restaurant that looks nice! I went to Restaurante Puerto Madero and it was amazing they treat you like royalty! I had tasty lobster meal that I will never forget.

Overall I really enjoyed Cancun. I am the type of traveler who likes to stay in hostels and discover the real feel of wherever I am, but considering the current situation with cartel wars in Mexico I am happy I decided to stay at a resort. The resort was perfect for Cancun because I felt safe there while I could easily venture into the city. I hope this little entry about my Cancun 2017 trip persuades you to visit the beautiful city! With world wonders, live nightlife, coral reef, good food and amazing beaches you wont be bored!

Cuba 2016

In 2016 I had the opportunity to visit Cuba a few times. I have a couple of cousins that live in Havana so whenever I find a cheap flight, I go. Here are some of my favorite shots from my trips.

My Mini Doughnut Cravings Take Over :(

I have a crazy obsession with mini doughnuts. Ou just the thought of warm gooey dough covered in sugar and cinnamon makes my mouth drip! In Calgary ( the city I live in) there is not many places where you can go to get some quality warm mini doughnuts. Roosevelt use to have them now they only have them for brunch on weekends. Like come on who can wake up for brunch on a weekend. But thankfully an new spot called Paper St. has opened up. Their menu has a variety of street foods including mini doughnuts 😍!!

While reading the menu I also found a pretty cool little friend chicken appy that I needed to try. Here is a pic of the fried chicken waffle cone, its layered with garlic mash and
maple slaw. Everything I ordered was amazing I will definitely have to go back next time I have a craving.

Vegas was Hype!

I had a blast in Las Vegas last week! The highlight of my trip was when I got to see the DJ Esco show at Drai’s Nightclub. I am a huge fan of Future and I love his Mixtapes that are in created with DJ Esco. I’ve been listening to The last one E.T. on repeat since it came out a few weeks ago.

The best thing about events in Las Vegas is that ladies always get in free. I didn’t have to pay and I got to see someone I really wanted too! I got to see Reverend RUN DMC and Dj Tiesto, I also went to some UFC pool party.. So I would say it was a good trip! I’m gunna to have to go again…

Gucci’s Back!!

First off I would like to thank god for letting Gucci out a little early..

When he was locked up I had really missed him and would listening to Diary of a Trap God every time I’d be craving some new Gucci. But still, I’m shocked at him for creating the song “Back on Road” with Drake.

(it’s a good song, I actually love it but whenever Drake comes on a little part of me is like really Drake… Really now… Do you know what its like to be locked up inside. No? Okay.)

It’s a fact that I have my own controversial opinions about Drake but Gucci usually never dose the mainstream thing. Many rappers that he has worked with in the past have merged into mainstream rap, like Niki Minaj, Waka Flocka and Wiz Khalifa but I never expected Gucci to go that way.

Gucci’s newly released track called “All my Children” is lit! He decided to drop the track Friday June 23, 2016children. It reminds me of classic Gucci. Produced by Drumma Boy, the beat and the repetitive hook remind me of his tracks Stupid and Wasted. I also like the lyrics, and I get the whole father feel.

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All My Children Lyrics:
“Don’t nobody love you like Guwop love you
I had to make a track to say I’m proud of you
Stop that track to tell my children that I’m proud of them
Making rockstars out of trap boys
And if we never talk again, still got your back boy”

Gucci is the father of Trap Music and no one can debate that. Gucci and the group of producers that he has been working with have changed the rap game completely.

GuWop also released a exciting statement promoting his new album Everybody Watching!  It will be released on July, 22! (I can’t wait!!)
Screen Shot 2016-06-27 at 12.02.02 PM(I just hope he does less tracks with mainstream artists like Drake- Who loves to pretend to be some type of gangster even tho we all watched him growing up on Degrassi. He is a good actor tho)

 

Last Minute Vaycay?

A few weeks ago my girl friends got together for a regular girls night. As per usual they started drinking and ended up drunk by the end of the night. While drunk they decided to book hotels and flights to Las Vegas!

I was so shocked like what? where ? when? I was also a little upset because I have been bugging them to go to Mexico or somewhere with a beach. But they bought tickets and reserved hotels that same night, they let me know the day after and asked me to come as well..

I am currently planning and saving for a Euro trip, I am going to be in Europe for a whole month this summer and I can not wait.

But all I could think was, I have never been to Vegas and I don’t want to miss out! I can’t just pick up and travel when I have school in the Fall. I should save for my Euro Trip and my mom will literally flip on me lol.

Or I could just go and say fuck it, I  know it will be a good time!

I tried to book it 3 times before I successfully hit the purchase button instead of the exit one. So now I am ready, I’m ready to go be a cliche, be a basic bitch who looks forward to a Vegas trip.

Hello World!

I created this blog to have a place where I can publish my work as a young journalist. I recently graduated from a journalism program. I graduated into a world where journalists are feared and unable to find jobs. (TBH I don’t want a job! I am continuing my education in the fall so I’m just trying to see the world and have fun.) As a fresh journalist I wanted a place to unleash my creativity and this blog will be my place to do so, sure its not professional and I have no guidance.. but is it really a bad thing to find my own way..?