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Cuba Uncensored: Why You Should Go and What You Should Do

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Cuba is a fantastic place with vibrant people, great food, excellent music, and the most beautiful waters.
The culture and people reminded me that life is actually very simple. We, as Americans like to complicate it.
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Here is some of Cuba through my ojos (eyes):

This view right here is from the rooftop of my Airbnb. The neighborhood is called Vedado and it’s Havana’s University/Business district. The area is easily accessible to other areas of the city and it’s safe and quiet.
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FOOD
Note: Don’t drink the water. And rum = ron in Cuba. (Ron y Coca Cola, por favor) Do be sure to add the “Cola” after saying “Coca”.
A typical breakfast looked like this: Fresh papaya, mango, pineapple accompanied by jamon y huevos.
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A Cuban, in it’s truest form. Represent with flag toothpick.
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Paladars (owner run restaurants) offer down home, authentic cooking. Some are fancy. Either way, it’s these places where you’ll get your best meals. Dona Eutemia is a prime example of one located in Old Havana. It was the best dinner we had. (Holy moly the rice & beans!) Reservations are absolutely necessary, but you can do this via email before you leave.
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Be sure to order a frozen mojito…

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The checks are handwritten at Dona Eutemia and they get pretty creative with their check presenters. That subtotal right there fed 4 gals many cocktails, appetizers, and entrees. And it was our most expensive meal. Equivalent to $66.50 USD. #mindblown

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This place, Cafe Fortuna, is rad. Another paladar. Quirky interior furnishings, friendly staff, and stiff drinks. Oh! And the food is fantastic. Simple bites, but wonderfully done. Keep it simple, folks. It was easily another favorite. Ron y coca cola here. Mmm.
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Another steal of a meal for 4 people!
Cafe Fortuna Receipt
ENTERTAINMENT / THINGS TO SEE + DO
For the love of cars! The cars are so well kept, but the exhaust situation is awful. This yellow gem was in the parking lot of the Hotel Nacional where we ended up for patio beverages one afternoon. This would also be a good spot to pay hourly for wifi. If you’re into that kind of thing while on vacation. (Note: AT&T does not offer a plan for Cuba, so it’s expensive if you do use your data.)
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To follow in the steps of Hemingway, head to La Bodeguita Del Medio. This is where the legend would sip on his mojitos. Sign your name on the wall.
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Visit Museo de Hemingway to tour his home, his boat, and his pet cemetery. This is his library and desk. Over 9,000 books in this home! It’s evident he hated to read.
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El Floridita (corner of Obispo) is a very touristy bar but, it’s still cool to see. Go for daiquiris and 7yr rum mojitos. The yummiest plantain chips here, too.
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Check out Hemingway’s bust and pictures of him with Fidel. And for all you smokers out there, you can score a pack for a whopping $2.
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Obispo Street in Old Havana. Full of bars/restaurants/live music. All. Day. And like NOLA, feel free to roam the streets with your booze.
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Visit Hotel Nacional de Cuba and head to their back patio overlooking the water. Check out the interiors of the property – the fixtures, the tile, the furnishings, the staff uniforms. Top notch. Peacocks roam the property too. I loved this day.
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Google Cabaret Tropicana. Super cool show to see, but a little spendy. The most expensive thing you’ll do your entire visit. Built in 1939, this place is a world-known cabaret and club in Havana.
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If you do decide to go, no need to upgrade your table. Great views all around.
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Fabrique de Arte is on every “to do” list, but I was unable to make it work. You should go though and tell me all about it. So, here is a picture of a beautiful ornate floor instead.
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BEACHES
Santa Maria del Mar is only about a half hour from Havana and it is beautiful! Order fresh fish/shrimp/coconut dranks and get served on the beach all day. This is what dreams are made of, well besides the unexpected banana hammocks.
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This is what you can eat and drink on the beach during the day.
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Varadero is about 2.5 hours away from Havana. Even more gorgeous of a beach. White fine sand and the bluest, clearest waters. No servers on the beach here, but we survived with the golf carts serving us fresh pineapples full of 7 yr ron.
Varadero Beach
 
TO TAKE:
CASH MONEY ONLY. You can convert your cash at a local hotel. You CANNOT use any credit cards.
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TO STAY:
Airbnb (so you’re not in a hotel surrounded by tourists).
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Book in the states BEFORE you arrive.
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Definitely be sure to spend a couple nights (at least) in Old Havana.
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The architecture and local art is amazing and you’re in the thick of it all if you stay in Old Havana.
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GETTING AROUND:
Hiring a driver is your best bet and now I have a contact! See me if you go.
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This is one of the most memorable trips for me to date. It’s a special place, it’s easy to get to and it’s friendly to your wallet!

Time to brush up on your Spanish, amigos!

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