As an American not permitted to legally visit Cuba until 2016, I envisioned Cuba to be as it is portrayed in the movies and advertisements (i.e.prior to the embargo). Lots of fancy parties, great bands, and fabulous cocktails! While I am sure Havana was once the premier party destination of the the world (or at least North America!), much of that has unfortunately been lost in the last 50 years. Buildings are run down, fancy ingredients are almost impossible to obtain, and many visitors have been forced to stay away for a long time. Despite this, you can still chase Havana’s former glory and visit Hemingway’s old haunts in Havana (just remember that it will not be nearly as glamorous!). A few tour companies offer “Hemingway Tours,” which stop at his favorite spots, but you can visit his favorite bars and taste his favorite drinks on your own by following my itinerary, with a few bonus stops!
STOP 1. EL FLORIDITA.
I loved this pink wall as much as I loved the bar.
Cuba is a super exciting and appealing travel destination to many, especially now that it is very easy to reach from the US! While enticing and topping all of the 2017 travel lists, Cuba is certainly not a pristine Caribbean beach destination. A successful trip to Cuba takes a good bit of planning, an openness to trying new things, and a lot of patience. If you are planning a trip to Cuba, read my posts The Ins And Outs Of Traveling To Cuba From The US and I Finally Made It To Havana, Cuba, and be sure to follow these ten tips!
1. First, bring cash. Second, bring MORE cash (UDS, Euros, or Pounds) than you think that you will need. Neither US credit cards nor US debit cards work in Cuba, and many travelers from other countries have trouble, too. If you do run out of money, you will need to go through Western Union to get money through the US, which will also involve a visit to the US Embassy to pick up your wire… Also, brand-name cigars, while cheaper than elsewhere, are by no means cheap. Plan accordingly.
If you have been following my blog posts or Instagram, you know that I recently traveled to Havana, Cuba! Visiting Cuba was so exciting and really a lifelong travel dream (dramatic, I know)! While everyone except Americans have been able to travel to Cuba for the last 50 years, Americans were just allowed to visit Cuba without crazy government oversight in 2016. Thanks, Obama! When United flights dropped to $250 roundtrip, Dan and I pulled the trigger and purchased our flights to visit Havana, returning right before inauguration day in the US.
Havana, 2017 (not 1950!)
CUBA. The mysterious Caribbean nation that Americans have been forbidden to visit for over half a century. Cuba has long been on my travel bucket list and when President Obama eased travel restrictions on US citizens and direct flights resumed, I immediately booked a long weekend in Havana! And, it was nothing short of magical! Havana is truly stuck in the past. My visit was interesting, thought provoking, and filled with meeting some of the nicest people that I have ever encountered abroad, but that will be the subject of another post. This post is all about how to get you to and back from Cuba legally from the US right now!