$116. In the old days of working in my high school part-time job, $116 would have taken me about 15 hours (or 1 week of work) to earn. Back then, I probably would have spent it on new shoes. Who would have known that 8 years later, I’d be spending that same amount on impulsive plane ticket buys? Well, folks, here’s the big reveal: today $116 has me packing my bags for a new and exciting adventure – I’m headed to Cuba with three of my college friends!
I know, right? Isn’t life crazy sometimes? But guys, I am SO EXCITED!! Ever since Cuba has been more accessible to Americans, I’ve been wanting to go. And now, I am finally headed there.
In December, I found a kickass flight deal on JetBlue that had flights for as low as $54 one way from Orlando to Havana. How could I resist? I basically bought my flight immediately for $116 round trip and decided to plan my trip. Following Cuba’s eased relations with the US, I am thrilled at the opportunity to see this once off-limits country with my own eyes. The colorful streets, the lively dancing, and the delicious drinks…who wouldn’t want to check it out?
Of course, since I have a full-time job, I sadly don’t have a ton of time to spend in Cuba. For now I’m just hopping across the gulf to get a taste of this fascinating place for a couple of days. My itinerary? A long, holiday weekend in Cuba, across two different destinations. While in Cuba I’ll be practicing my Spanish, checking out some old cars and houses, and getting an idea for the beauty of this place that for so long was off-limits to me.
You know me – I can’t have a trip without checking out a country’s naturally beautiful scenery, so I’m headed first to Viñales to do some hiking and photography. Then, I’ll be traveling to Havana to take in the colorful cityscape. Since Internet in Cuba is pretty hard to find, I’ll be offline for a couple of days. Don’t worry, I’ve scheduled a few things on my Facebook page for your viewing and reading pleasure while I’m away.
I’m pretty excited to spend a day in a quieter, smaller town. Viñales, situated just a few hours by bus outside of Havana, seemed to be the right choice. While there, I’ll be staying at an Airbnb in a local home. The experience of staying with locals in Cuba was one I was extremely excited about. However, I wasn’t particularly fond of the idea of arriving in Viñales and wandering around trying to find a place to stay in a traditional casa familiar. Airbnb was a wonderful and cost-effective alternative, although I guess I could venture to try the wandering thing next time!
With hundreds of tobacco fields sprawled between towering limestone crags, all of the photos of Viñales look so picturesque. Even though I’ve never smoked one (and probably never will), I’m excited to see and smell these famous cigar fabrication centers for myself. After all, Cuba is quite famous for them, right?
Aside from the tobacco, there’s also a national park, Parque Nacional Viñales, nearby. I’m hoping to take a little bit of time to explore there, since it will be such a nice contrast to the chaos of both Houston and Havana. There are apparently some good hiking spots and caves that are accessible by taxi or tour, so hopefully I’ll get some good photographs for you all to enjoy!
After my short trip to Viñales, I’m headed to the city of Havana, where I’ll be exploring the old city’s colorful alleys and antiquated beauty. I don’t really like to tackle cities with a strict plan, so for now I’ll probably just wander around the streets, photograph things and people, and eat some amazing Cuban food (I’ve tried it in America and it was amazing, so it can only be better in Cuba, right??). Also, if it works out, I would love to go out dancing one night, since Havana is pretty famous for that.
If time permits, I’d also love to check out one of Havana’s nearby beaches. I love the beach and there’s basically nothing I want more than to spend a lazy afternoon there. While sitting at my desk this week I’ve basically been drooling over the thought of sitting at the beach, sipping on a mojito and watching the waves crash before me.
If you’ve ever been to Cuba, I’d love to hear your tips on things I definitely need to do or see while I’m there. Leave a comment or shoot me a Facebook message if you have any. Cuba has been a dream for me and it’s finally about to come true! Can’t wait to report back and tell you about all of my crazy adventures and (not too) dirty dancing stories.