I have spent months and months in the Caribbean. I worked on cruise ships for many years and sailed nearly every itinerary in the Caribbean. I would look at the map and every week that we sailed around Cuba, I wondered if I would ever get to visit. The United States embargo against Cuba (called el bloqueo “the blockade” in Cuba) began on March 14, 1958. On July 20, 2015, diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States were reestablished and it was time for me to journey to this beautiful island.
For my birthday, I was able to see Havana for the very first time. Cuba is the 94th country that I have visited! I flew from Mexico to Havana and stayed at Aby y Anisley’s which I found on AirBnB. In Cuba, you can stay in a casa particulares or a government approved bed and breakfast. The inside looked exactly like the photos, and my lovely hosts arranged for my airport transfer.
VIDEO: Welcome to Cuba Oct 20 2016!
I had read that there was a 10% commission fee to exchange United States dollars so I brought Mexican pesos with me. At the suggestion of my driver, I did not exchange money at the airport. I wish I had. Actually, I found out I could have exchanged for Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC) in Mexico. Next time I would change my money in Mexico or at the airport, as the line for the cadeca took nearly an hour. I met interesting people in line but it did take longer that I imagined.
After researching online I knew where I wanted to walk in Old Havana and visit the historic squares as well as the Museo de la Revolución. You do not need a guide to walk around and I speak enough Spanish that I felt very comfortable on my own. There was wi-fi at the hotels but only for their guests. I did buy a wi-fi card one night to check in but the card only worked in the square where I bought it. I have heard more internet access is on the way.
I loved hearing music in the street in Cuba, I danced salsa on the Prado near sunset and went to hear live music at El Floridita which is famous for its daiquiri and being the spot where Ernest Hemingway hung out in Havana.
I thought about taking a tour of the city in a classic convertible for sunset but that did not happen on this trip. Next time I will go with a group of friends, this trip was about the diving. I hope you enjoy my videos from my Havana visit. See my next Cuba post for my videos from the incredible diving at the Jardines del Reina Archipelago or Gardens of the Queen.
See my underwater videos from Cuba: