I've been a terrible blogger. I'm hanging on by a thread when it comes to blogging, but I wanted to make sure to wrap up my Cuba series, and leave you with details on where to eat, where to stay and how to get around.
When you tell people you are going to Cuba, as it relates to the food, you hear 2 things 1) "O the food is going to be so good" 2) "I hear the food is not good there". I would say the truth falls somewhere in the middle. I had some really, REALLY delicious meals b/c I knew where to go (keep reading). I think a lot of people who've had bad experiences are eating at government owned restaurants inside hotels, where apparently spices and seasonings are rationed out and the food is just...bland. Well as an American I stayed away from anything government owned and ate at paladars which are restaurants within family homes. How cool is that? Here are some to note:
- The food was so good and I was so hungry I didn't take a picture but it's a MUST. Arguably, the best meal I had in Havana (Queen Bey has been here!). I could have stayed there all day eating the best black beans I've ever had while listening to live salsa music on the patio. Make sure to stop by and visit the large CHRIST STATUE
which is also in the area.
- This place is super cute and trendy and fun and the menu is eclectic ranging from tacos to ceviche to cornbread and chicken (so good) and delicious daiquiris the size of your head.
- This is probably the most famous restaurant in Havana, made popular by President Obama, Beyonce & Jay Z. Well folks, it was least my favorite meal. The lobster I had was not good (made me sick actually) but the restaurant itself is unique & so beautiful. It's a must for the ambiance, but not for the food. Reservations are also a must and if I could do it over I would have gone during the day to really see how beautiful this place is, and probably only would have had drinks :-/
- If you want to feel like you are on vacation GO HERE. The outdoor seating is literally on the ocean. The waves are crashing right there as you eat and it is quite spectacular, not to mention the food is really good!
HOW TO GET AROUND
Because we really wanted to make sure we were immersing ourselves in the Cuban culture, we had a driver for the duration of the trip and we stayed in a lovely casa particular with a lovely man named Mario and his staff!
(Look at those floors!)
But first let's talk about Julio! Julio was our driver extraordinaire for the trip. If you are traveling with a group he is the way to go! He promotes himself as a driver but he is sooooooooooo much more than that! He's a translator. He's a tour guide. He's a concierge (and knows all the good restaurants), and he can tell you all about Cuban life from the history, to current day. O and did I mention he provieded us with a local phone so we could always reach him? Contact him at email@example.com!
(Julio, in red, translating a convo b/w my dad and one of his Cuban Mason brothers)
WHERE TO STAY
What can I say about Mario and the beautiful Casa Miramar
The photos & reviews on Airbnb are 100% accurate. It's a stunning traditional Cuban, dare I say mansion? That comes with a full staff, managed by one of the gentlest souls I ever met, Mario.
(The front porch)
He was up every morning making us breakfast, and every evening when we returned home, he was sitting on the porch with Rocco (the dog of the house) waiting to greet us. I missed both of them as soon as I got in the car and headed to the airport.
(Fresh squeezed mango juice, fresh fruit, ham, veggie croquettes muffins & more)
(Mom journaling on the side porch)
(Me & Mario!)
And that my friends is Cuba! To my fellow American do yourself a favor and go soon before you know who cuts off travel there!
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