Havana Club: Why the world loves Cuba right now
Cuba has long been on our list of must-see destinations. For us, it was kind of like the forbidden fruit – the fact that it was difficult and expensive to get to only made us want to go more! Cuba was like a colourful, cultural mystery that had to be seen to be believed.
Waking up in Havana is the ultimate time warp. It’s like you actually just stepped back into a more colourful version of the 1950’s. This is something we heard all the time when researching for our trip, but nothing could have truly prepared us for just how much of a time capsule it really is! We’re not just talking about the cars either, everything down to the furniture, food and decor. It’s a total head spin in the coolest way.
In this post we bring you a small edit of shots from our time exploring Old Havana and Playas Del Este – a beach strip east of Havana town.
NB: What you can’t tell from these pics was that our trip to Cuba was a rocky one. Culturally rich and incredible history YES but easy travel destination NO. Unfortunately for us, our usual style of unprepared travelling came undone here. So in order to help others do it better than we did, we have compiled a list of where we went wrong at the end of the post. Your welcome 🙂
What NOT to do on your trip to Cuba……
1. Do not expect to have WIFI or cell service
Seems obvious right? And also a technology detox sounds kind of great right? Wrong. You would be surprised just how much you need it when things go wrong with flights, hotels or banks (more on that in number 3). Occasionally you might find wifi cards – $10 USD for 5 mins but it rarely works.
2. Do not leave accommodation to the last minute
We found ourselves there in high time and accommodation is very scarce. Hotels are really expensive for what they are. Cuban Casa’s (local home stays) are the way to go as you get the full local experience but the best ones are booked out WAY in advance and the bad ones are BAD. However given lack of wifi for Cubans, it can be really hard to get in contact with them and secure a booking. There is a lot of third party companies who take a commission but it still can take days to find out if you have secured a booking or not. When we tried to use a couple of these companies we waited days to find out, only for it to be booked out.
I have heard that things are different there now that the US embargoes have been relaxed. At the time of our trip, AIR BNB was unfortunately only available to US Citizens (go figure) but we have since heard it’s now available to everyone so this might be a great option!
3. Do not leave your home country without a Cuban Tourist Visa and cash for your whole stay
There is no such thing as paying on card in Cuba, even the hotels are cash only. Mastercard also doesn’t work in Cuba at all so only Visa will work at the ATM’s. When we were there, anything from America didn’t work either so US bank cards and even bank apps or calls to American numbers were all blocked. Western Union is only for those with a Cuban passport.
You need to buy a Tourist Visa for Cuba before you board the plane. Different airports and nationalities have different processes but make sure you check it out before your leave for the airport and allow enough time.