KashaKollective

Life​

Kasha J.

---- "I spoke more Spanish in those few days than I ever have at one time. I don’t even speak the language. It was challenging and fun at the same time. I could have stayed at least an extra day longer to see more stuff, and certain things were closed on some days.

The architect and old-style city I loved. It was a bit refreshing not have notifications pop up on my phone all day. BUT the moment we hit our layover destination in Tampa in route home she was BACK! "

First, the things I enjoyed…

The cheap flight. I paid $260 roundtrip from BWI. Got on the plane and the chick next to me bought a month earlier than I did and paid under $200. (she got the side eye.)

My apartment was great! I really would have loved to stay in Old Havana for the atmosphere but at the last minute I opted for the cheaper option and rented an apartment on the Malcon. The view was beautiful, and I made sure my rental had a/c.

It was still close to everything, 1 block away from a 24-hour bar with air conditioning and less than 10 minutes’ drive to the city.

Flagging a taxi was super easy. Most times I didn’t have to. They pull over to you.

I liked being away from the rest of the world. I was okay with not having internet easily to access, but I was prepared as well with a few pre-installed offline apps. A few Spanish words and a bit of charades will get you by.

On our way back from Vedado our driver promised us the best Pina Coladas; Who says no to that? We stopped at a gift shop bar on a mountain top in Matanzas which gives an amazing view of the Bacynayagua bridge and the banana plantation in the Vinales Valley. The drinks were great. The bartender handed over the rum to finesse our own blessings. 

Sia-Kara Café, a small cozy bar in Havana. Live singers and crowd participation. It was great! 
Just an FYI
1 I had to constantly remind myself to order my drinks with no ice. In a restaurant, order your water bottled and unopened.

2 Being wearied about making simple conversation with a local and feeling pressured for having to pay for THEIR time, even though they clearly walked up to you!

3 Restaurants don’t have half of the things on the menu. One place I visited only had spaghetti, bread and pizza. Yea. And that was in a tourist area, and during Lunch time. No, I wasn’t in Italy.

4 The amount of work you must do at the airport. Sheesh! I need a vacation from my vacation. With all the paperwork you must fill out. I know its procedure but dammit, I can complain!

5 Lastly, they so not accept USD. I did see a few ATM’s with a Visa logo, but I didn’t check them out and I’m sure the fees will rip you a new one.

​6 I rented an apatment. Even if you don’t stay at a hotel you can still visit its bars and pool area. We had no problems getting in and walking right through the facilities. The Melia (off the Malecon) has a beautiful rooftop bar and pool that is open after dark. It was probably a total of 6 of us there and that included the bartender.

7 Carry enough cash with you to convert over. More is better than not having enough. You do not want to be far with little to no funds to cover your expenses. Remember you can always convert back and though you may get less when converting back to the United States. I converted my money in Florida during my layover. You can also do this in advance with your local bank.

8 If you are traveling with others put your USD together to convert. You are likely to get a better rate and maybe even discounted if you reach a certain minimum. The teller can divide for you how much each is to pay for the transaction fee if any. Also, they can calculate the dollar amount you are to get back in the currency you exchanged it for. If your layover is in Ft Lauderdale the bank is in Terminal 2. The buildings are not connected, FYI. It is suggested to exchange to EUR, then to CUC. You may have to exchange to CUC at the Havana airport.



...other than this, it was great!
I went in the dead of summer. I‘ve been to islands between the months of May and September, plenty but this heat was beating me down… Which bring to number 2.

I didn’t take many photos. So mad at myself but the heat really distracted me. When I tell you, my skin was pouring sweat like a bottled of water was being poured over my face, repeatedly.

I booked a day tour to see another part of the island, Varadero. The drive was nice but for $160, IT WAS NOT WORTH THE MONEY! The driver was great, and he got a really good tip.

He didn’t speak English, but he still tried to communicate with us. It was successful thanks to the Google translator app and his English-speaking boss. It just wasn’t worth it in my opinion. The “tour” is pretty much a drive to Plaza America which is a little tourist shopping center on the beach that consisted of a market, a bar, a few overpriced gift shops and 2 restaurants that only offered 2 things out the entire menu. The beach was beautiful though.
There’s a beach20-30 minute of Vedado and Havana.

The infamous Afro-Cuban cigar smoking lady that sits at the yellow wall. I remember seeing a few people asking about her on Facebook because they hadn’t seen her on their trip and many wondered if she was still alive. Well, I saw her. At least I think I did. I didn’t even bother to confirm. I didn’t even have the momentum to pull out my phone and snap a picture and I was 20 feet away. The heat!
  1. CUBA
  2. Title 2
  3. A ride in the vintage, Cuba
  4. Cuba
  5. Cuba
  6. Cuba