Sunday, May 10, 2015

Cuba Diary - Havana and some last Tips

So here it is, my last Cuba post, loaded with lots of Havana pics and some final tips for you! If you ever decide to travel to Cuba and not stay in an expensive hotel, you should consider some of these things...

  • Don't expect to get anywhere with your English. I was very thankful to speak Spanish fluently, all Cubans were talking to me in their own language. Except for the one time I spoke English with a Canadian tourist, I only talked Spanish for three weeks. I recommend you to travel with at least one Spanish speaking person! English didn't help much and negotiating with the Cubans is much easier in their own language, it can actually help you get a cheaper vacation ;-)
  • Wifi is a foreign word on Cuba! My blogger identity was extremely challenged during our three week stay, in fact, I wasn't even a blogger at that time. In Cuba's capital Havana we only found two Wifi spots in luxury hotels, but the only time we tried to connect to the internet it didn't work very well and was also quite expensive. I lived 21 days without social media and whatsapp, so no contact to my family and friends - a totally new and interesting experience for me! It was actually not as tough as some of you might think, it was a relief not to check the phone every minute, not to hear from anybody and just concentrate on the "real life"... the wonderful vacation with my boyfriend.
  • There are two different official currencies on Cuba, the Cuban convertible peso (CUC, also referred to as the "dollar") and the Cuban peso (CUP, also called moneda nacional)! We tried to pay as much as we could with the national currency (CUP, pesos) because it was way cheaper, that's the money most Cubans pay with. Only tourist buses, sights or restaurants have to be paid in CUC, which is very similar to the euro and therefore more expensive (almost the same prices as in Europe).
  • Havana stands still, also regarding information and service! There were days I got really mad and was a little overwhelmed with the bad organization of the tourism service. If you book an all inclusive trip, you're totally fine. But if you don't plan ahead, it's quite difficult to find transportation, cheap housing or service in general. We always depended on help from the locals, which was actually very interesting and enriching.
  • I recommend you to download the app City Maps 2Go Pro. You gotta pay for maps in hotels and the app provides you with a gps system and an overview of all the cities you're interested in. The app saved us a lot of time looking for specific sights and we could also track our daily walks and bus tours.
  • Don't forget to pack sanitizer, all kinds of cosmetics and all the medicine you need, plus mosquito spray! Cuban pharmacies and drug stores are definitely not what you expect them to be like!
  • Don't expect running hot water in Cuba. Means, don't expect any luxury when traveling as an adventurer. Cuban houses don't offer all the things you know from home, and sometimes you just gotta take a cold shower ;-) 
  • Come well organized, because you can't ask the internet for help once on Cuba, haha! Don't bring too much luggage, most of the streets are pretty bad and my boyfriend surely hated me a little for taking so much stuff that we needed a suitcase... sorry, babe! 
  • Travel with a man! Not just to avoid whistling and turning heads on the street, but because water bottles are just really heavy on the back all day, haha.
  • Wear some old sneakers or other comfy shoes that you don't care about much. Especially in Havana your feet will get pretty dirty ;-)
  • Safety tips - always keep your money with you, keep your phone and camera close. We left our passports in our rooms, where they were always safe, but took copies with us.
  • Take some napkins, plastic forks and knives, and some salt and pepper. No joke, it would have made me very happy if someone had told me before. I was craving some salt and pepper after eating plain tomatoes, lettuce and cucumbers without any spices or dressings for three weeks!

As you can see, there are some things you should consider when traveling to Cuba. But I'm pretty sure my photos showed you that it's definitely worth a visit! Now that I'm back in Germany, heading to Mallorca soon, it seems so unreal that my daily life started with just one piece of bread, and some pineapple and guayaba fruit, that I couldn't drink milk or eat a yummy pizza whenever I wanted, that I survived two food poisonings and a cold without any medicine, and that our days only consisted of sightseeing and going on adventures at the beach. Well, these are the kind of stories I'm gonna tell my kids later! All about our chaotic, adventurous and marvelous trip to Cuba!

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