My husband and I craved some sun and sand for our honeymoon. We wanted to go on an adventure together, to come back with an awesome experience and not go on a “standard" honeymoon. We were able to settle on Cuba.
Having just been married in Italy, there was a direct flight from Milan that we could take advantage of (the rest of the world has been happily traveling to Cuba for years, only the US has an ongoing embargo). My husband is an American citizen and I have my green card, so we traveled under one of twelve “general license" categories available from the U.S. Treasury OFAC. All the paperwork was self-documented and we made sure to align our program and itinerary with the license requirements.
When we travel, we like to take some extended time and really get to feel at home somewhere. We stayed in "Casa Particulares", essentially Airbnbs, throughout our travels from Havana (“La Habana”) to Trinidad. In Cuba, we were able to find fantastic accommodations at bargain rates. Where else can you stay in colonial mansions and wake up next door to people that are selling fresh tea and eggs in their front yard!
Forget about using your phone and easy access to information in Cuba, because there is a very limited internet connection, available in only the largest western hotel or in a public square. It’s back to the days of traveling with a good travel guide and taking the advice of those you meet along the way. Start walking and exploring to really get an understanding of where you want to go. Remember that everything runs on "island time", places open late and are closed at random hours and days...be flexible and have an alternate plan ready. The food is pretty good but the mojito and cuba libre are the most divine (and very cheap ;))
In La Habana, it was literally like taking a step back in time. Lots of really amazing culture, an interesting mix of colonialism, late-50’s US and Soviet-era communism that is hard to describe. Cubans are only now getting access to things we take for granted. You could a ride around in a restored 1950's classic car or a junky Soviet era Lada where the doors don't close and seat belts don't exist. Take a walk through downtown and you are surrounded by music everywhere, people mambo dancing in the alleyways, colorful houses, and being able to stop for a cafe cortado (espresso and splash of milk) on every corner. It was powerful to see music and dance running in the blood of Cubans...make sure to give in to the temptation and move with them too :)
Then we visited Trinidad, a small town, with an explosion of color and characteristic houses that will steal your heart.
We had a crazy driver taking us from La Habana to Trinidad. He picked us up in his beat-up Mercedes and we affectionately called him “Toretto”...because he was literally driving through these small streets like we were in the Fast and Furious. He was racing other drivers and kind of looked like Vin Diesel too. It was fun ride and we felt very lucky to arrive there in one piece.
If you think you're going to need something, bring it with you. It can be very challenging to find something you need or a particular brand that you recognize. I needed some "personal items" and it was a challenging effort to find what I needed. In the end, we were able to find a western hotel with a pharmacy that only allowed non-locals to make purchases.
Our time, energy and money are all finite, so we prioritize where we put and how we spend those resources. We don’t have a television and don’t have a car :) Travel and experiences are fundamental for us and that’s how we’re able to go on some many adventures to awesome places.
I found photography as a long lost calling. I am always inspired by the beauty of the great outdoors. I love being surrounded by nature. I am ethereal in my photographic style. I want to create a connection with you. I see your soul and person. I travel around the world for my work. I live in the magical city of San Francisco. I was born and raised in Italy. I miss my home and family but love the life I have. See more of my work here.
Every photographer has their own unique style. Some like to blend in and shoot in a more photojournalistic way. And others prefer to choreograph every image. But most land somewhere smack in the middle.