Hello! Tell us a little bit about you and where you traveled to?
Traveling is a fantastic experience that transforms you, enlightens you, opens horizons, and stays with you forever. We are two sisters Julia and Miro from Ukraine now living in Poland. We live to travel and it is our passion to share our stories and experience. For that reason, we have a travel podcast and we also provide travel planner services to make your traveling even better.
Three years ago, we embarked on an unforgettable journey to Cuba. As we stepped off the plane and into the bustling streets of Havana, we were immediately struck by the country's vibrant culture and rich history. Over the course of our trip, we were both charmed and challenged by the many unique experiences that Cuba had to offer. From navigating the complexities of the local currency to discovering hidden gems off the beaten path, our trip was full of surprises and unexpected twists.
How great was the trip?
Traveling to Cuba can be an incredibly beautiful and exciting experience. The island nation boasts stunning beaches, colorful architecture, and a rich culture that's evident in its music, art, and cuisine. However, it's important to note that Cuba is also a country facing significant challenges. The lack of resources and the impact of economic sanctions can be seen in the daily lives of its people. It can be challenging to witness the poverty and the deficit of products and goods that many Cubans face. And it is exactly how we had this contrasting experience of visiting Cuba.
The challenges began the moment we stepped out of the airport in Havana because to get to the city center you can only get a cab. Preparing for our journey we read somewhere that it is possible to take a train from a nearby station, so we only needed a taxi to get there. The driver look suspiciously at us when we explained where we needed to go. He explained that there was no train, but we insisted. So he took us to the train station and we realized that it didn't work, there were no trains, and we asked him to take us to Havana. After that moment we realized that as a tourist you have to go the Cuban way - follow the traditional touristic rules and ways.
We were welcomed in a house we rented for our stay in Havana by the friendliest and the most pleasant couple we could imagine and it definitely added to our experience. It was the first moment when we realized that despite the challenges and difficulties of life people face in Cuba, they stay welcoming, open-minded, and very friendly. Traveling to many countries, we can tell that in Cuba, there's a spirit of hospitality and warmth that's impossible to resist.
What did you do while you were there?
Our trip was sectioned because we wanted to explore and see as much as we can. Although we spent only 5 days in Cuba we managed to stroll the vibrant streets of Havana, we spent hours soaking up the sun on the beach in Varadero and enjoyed a horseback ride in Vinales Valley. This journey was a fantastic combination of everything the traveler's soul needs - a city, beaches, and lush green valleys.
As we walked through the streets of Havana, we were immediately struck by the energy and rhythm of the city. Everywhere we looked, people were dancing, whether it was in the middle of the street, in a local club, or just in their own homes. The music was infectious, and it seemed like everyone was moving to the beat. It definitely felt like our time in Havana had a rhythmic soundtrack.
One of the most memorable moments of our trip was stumbling upon a group of locals dancing in a small plaza. We couldn't help but join in, and soon we were all moving together in a spontaneous celebration of life and music. It was a moment that captured the essence of Cuban culture - the joy of living in the moment, and the importance of community and connection.
How did you learn and prepare for this trip?
Preparation for the trip to Cuba is not easy if you are doing ti yourself. Many people go to travel agencies and buy tours to Varadero, where you get a room in a hotel with a pool and beach access. But this is not really the authentic Cuban experience. You can truly dive into the atmosphere, vibe, and culture if you do it on your own, at your comfortable pace.
Our decision to visit Cuba was made possible by our trip to Mexico as we wanted to visit Cuba so much for quite a while and since we were that close we monitored the flights. It is not a problem to get a ticket and fly to Cuba, just check if you need a visa to get into the country and also check the import restrictions, that you don't bring anything forbidden.
More hustle was finding accommodation, as Cuba is not available on booking.com, and it is difficult to look for hotels, so we decided to rent an apartment on Airbnb, especially after we realized that this way we support locals and small businesses that help them male at least some additional money to survive the poverty and low wage.
Where and what did you eat?
Food was another challenging aspect as what you can get in supermarkets is very limited. The evening we arrived we only could buy Pepsi and Cuban rum, so that was our dinner. Food in cafes and restaurants was also not that great due to deficits and limitations. There were restaurants where it was possible to get pizza, salads, sandwiches, and other dishes, but the taste and the ingredients had not been that diverse.
When it comes to food in Cuba, we discussed it with many people who've been to this charming country and all of them admitted to being hungry during their time there.
Despite the fact that we bought cookies, some Brazilian biscuits, and coconut cookies from Vietnam that we found in the shop in Havana, we were also hungry almost all the time, weirdly enough we wanted bread, we really missed it during this journey. In general, we lost about 4 kilos each during those 5 days in Cuba but we had a great time regardless.
So if you are a foodie who travels for delicious culinary experiences, Cuba is not the one.
How much did it cost?
We didn't spend much on this trip but the local peculiarities required extra spending. For example, the internet, wifi, or mobile internet were not widely available in Cuba and it was necessary to buy a scratch card with a code to connect in a park or to buy drinks in a hotel lobby to get 1-hour access to the Internet.
Also, transportation is costly in Cuba because you only can use taxis to travel between cities, as people with suitcases are not allowed on the bus. So if you want to go to another part of the country, you have to be without a suitcase. The great part of this is that it is possible to take collectivo - a taxi where 4 passengers can go in the same direction and share the price.
To eat well, travel around, try local specialties, get access to the Internet, and buy souvenirs it is better to have 120-200 euros/dollars per day.
Would you go back and do it again?
We would love to go back to Cuba as it has stolen our hearts. The vibrancy, the vibe, and the friendliness of locals are everything we want to get on a journey. And even though we hadn't had enough food and were hungry, transportation is a hustle, poverty is saddening - we still want to go back someday to feel that vibe unlike anything else we've experienced.
Advice for people planning to do something similar?
As a traveler to Cuba, it's important to approach the experience with an open mind and a willingness to learn about the country's complex history and current challenges. By doing so, you can gain a deeper understanding of the Cuban people and their way of life. While it may be difficult at times, witnessing firsthand how people cope with adversity can be a humbling and eye-opening experience that can shape your perspective on the world.
We would say it is an experience you have to be ready for, but you will never forget the never ending party and the smile on the faces of people in Cuba.
Any other experiences or businesses you wish to mention that made your trip better or more comfortable?
Struggle planning your trip, looking for assistance with flights, accommodation, or activities? Need help putting together an itinerary, so you can enjoy the journey stress and hustle-free? Check out our website or contact us via Instagram and we will change the way you travel by organizing your perfect journey.
For more stories, tips, and destination inspiration, listen to our podcast
Where can we go to connect with you?
Have a travel story you want to share?
Hey readers, thanks for reading about this great trip. We interview travelers from all over the world creating a community to collect travel tips and inspiration.
What did you think? Please subscribe for notifications and leave a comment below.
Have a story you want to share? Send me an email.
Catch you next time. Happy travels!