Turned My Birthday Into a Lifestyle → Girls Trip To Cuba 2016 with Juana Grant
First and foremost: I would like to express how grateful I am to turn another year older and wiser! Another year of life to travel in abundance — I am a lucky woman. Experiencing different cultures and ways of life keeps me grateful and grounded.
To celebrate my birthday, I wanted to go somewhere off limits — like Cuba. A place Americans were not able to visit for almost 60 years! After a good friend went to Cuba several months ago, I was extremely obsessed with making my way there as well. And now that direct flights opened from NYC to Havana — I was too. Thanks Obama! 🙂
First, let me give you a bit of history of the island then I will tell you all the fun deets!
Cuba is a Caribbean island nation under communist rule. It has sugar-white beaches and is dotted with tobacco fields, which play a part in the production of the country’s legendary cigars. The capital, Havana, is lined with pastel houses, 1950s-era cars and Spanish-colonial architecture in the 16th-century core, Old Havana. Population of 11.27 million. Cuba has two forms of currencies; Cuban peso-used by the locals, Cuban convertible peso-used by tourist)
Taking a trip with 3 of my lady friends → We embarked on an adventure. Upon landing in the Jose Marti Airport in Havana, we were waiting for our bags and experienced a power outage. The black out only lasted 10 mintues-but it was long enough…that was the start of a great trip.
I was lucky enough to book all of my festivities through a travel network called Cuba Travel Network. They were extremely helpful in planning our accommodations including visas, hotel, tours, transportation to and from the airport and of course the best customer service ever! I encourage you check them out if ever interested in traveling to Cuba and tell them I — Juana Grant from What the Doost — sent you ☺
We started our trip with a tour in a classic 1950 car to one of Cuba’s landmarks called El Cristo de La Havana (The Christ of Havana). A larger sculpture representing Jesus of Nazareth on a hilltop, overlooking the bay in Havana Cuba. Sculpted by a Cuban woman named Jilma Madera this was a gift to Castro. Such amazing views! The pictures do not do this sculpture justice!
We then proceeded to Morro Castle. Which was by far thee most amazing castle I have ever seen! This castle was known for guarding the entrance to Cuba.
We then walked through Old Havana and the articheture was by far amazing! It felt like I was walking through the streets of Italy. The people were so welcoming and happy screaming, “Americana, Americana” as my girls and I strolled by.
As Wifi goes → as it’s so accessible here in the US — it was drastically different in Cuba! Wifi is still not yet permitted in residences; there are wifi hotspots in local areas around Havana. As well as certain hotels. But we were able to buy wifi cards that lasted for an hour for 5 pesos. Here in the U.S free wifi is more of a necessity rather than a privilege. So you can image how hectic the girls and I were when we had a chance to post our Cuban experience during our stay.
On our second tour we had the privilege of visiting the Hemingway estate. The novelist Ernest Hemingway was a very influential man in Cuba and was very well respected. Until this day, hundreds of people line up to visit his estate in Cuba and experience the place he spent his final days before he left for Spain and later ended his own life. He was such an influential man and did a lot for the Cuban people.
His property was in fact amazing! There is a map of the property before you go in. Can you imagine? To keep all of Hemingway’s belongings preserved, people are not allowed inside his actual house. However, we were able to look through the windows and see all of his rooms and view his collectibles. He was an interesting man and loved his cats and dogs so much. He even made a pet cemetery for his friends.
I instantly fell in love with his boat named after his mistress Pilar. LoL
My overall Cuba experience was breathtaking and amazing! This country to is so rich in culture and the people were beyond welcoming.
It was indeed a culture shock, however, it made me so appreciative of where I come from. As an American, we take so many things granted like food, water, shelter even the internet. We should always count our blessings and understand that people don’t have it as good as you! Life could be better-but it could always be worse!
Sites to visit:
- Hemingway Tour
- Museo Nacional de Bellas
- El Cristo de La Havana
- La Guardia
- Central Havana
Frequently Asked Questions:
- How do you obtain a visa? I purchased my visa through the travel agent. It was included in the package. You can also purchase your visa from the airline prior to your trip.
- What was the reason for your visit of the 12 categories? Journalistic Activity
- What airline did you use to fly to Cuba? Jet Blue. Direct flight and it was inexpensive too!
- Was there wifi in Cuba? Very limited. You must purchase a wifi card to use wifi in areas/locations that have wifi. Each card allows you 1 hour of wifi.
- Was your trip amazing? By far one of the best countries I’ve been to date!