Jasmijn Engering, Fashion Editor at I Love Fashion News. She writes about fashion, beauty and trends but always dreaming about far away places and magical travel destinations. Her journey to Cuba.
"My trip to Cuba began quite random. The plan was to visit Greenland and Iceland, but in November this is quite a challenge. But, since I had only 10 days off we literally typed into Google "Country to visit in 10 days". First thing that came up was Cuba."
"Arriving in Cuba is like using a time machine. It feels like you've stepped into the fifties. Cuba is stuck in time and the first thing you notice is all the old colorful cars. Like you are in an episode of Mad Man only with less glamorous clothes.""Cuba is really easy to explore by yourself. The government owns a lot and most money ends into their pockets so if you want to support the locals best thing to do is organize your own trip. We only slept in Casa Privata with is basically an empty room family's rent to travelers. Most of the rooms have their own bathrooms, but you are staying with a family. A really great experience as you get a look inside the lives of Cubans. A good idea is also to eat with the family as menu's in restaurants offer a lot of food, but never actually have anything they describe on the menu. While eating with the family we had lobster, fish, chicken, fruits, shakes, eggs and of course rice and beans."
"My trip to Cuba was a true adventure, but you can make Cuba as adventures as you want it to be. There are plenty of luxury hotels in big city's like Havana or resorts you can stay at. We cause to see Cuba the way Cubans do but still got to relax at the beach from time to time."
"We started in Havana and decided forehand that we also wanted to see Vinjales and Trinidad. We planned on traveling by car but it turned out something went wrong with the reservations and there was no car available in whole of Havana. Believe me, we tried out 7 rental places and even went home with a guy who told us he had an illegal car for rent. Following this man to his home turned out to be a bad idea. We had eight days to see 3 cities."
"As there was no car left I traveled by bus. Which is perfect. It's cheap, easy and air-conditioned (maybe a bit to much airco, but still). If you want to explore the island by car I would advice you to make sure you have reservations since there are not enough cars on the island and rental cars are mostly booked. It also has no use to ask when there will be cars available as the answer often will be "maybe tomorrow". There seams to be no system in when, where or how the cars are to be retuned.""From Vinjales back to Havana we traveled by the community taxi. A normal taxi only you share it with a couple of other people. This is probably the cheapest way to travel only not the most comfortable way as the roads in Cuba are full of holes and very poorly maintained. Sometimes, they just stop existing.."
"I went to Cuba in the beginning of November. This is a perfect time to travel, especially when you backpack. The weather was amazing, always sunny and a perfect 30 degrees at night it didn't even cool down that much.""The people are super friendly. They must be, because you are literally staying in their home. But, nonetheless they are very helpful. As I didn't speak any Spanish and the Cubans don't speak any English, seriously not one word, this resulted in some very interesting situations. But, they always tried to make themselves understandable and tried to make our experience of Cuba the most they could offer.""On the other side. The Cubans don't make a lot of money. For example doctors earn from 10 to 15 CUC per month which is about 10 to 15 dollars. Money is a strange system overall, for Cubans the prices are in pesos and then there is money for tourists which is the CUC. A stay at a Casa Privata, with meals and everything, can cost about 25 CUC for 2 people. Cheap for us, a lot of money for them."
"Also if you are a girl traveling to Cuba, expect every man, and I mean every man to whistle, make comments, or blow kisses at you. This is not meant disrespectful but it's their culture. You will be called princess and beautiful girl 24/7. Nice bonus if you need a self esteem boost:-).""Cuba is boycotted by America this influences the normal day life of the Cubans. Cars are up and running since the fifties and falling apart. I've sat in a taxi where the driver put two wires together to get the car started and the car was completely stripped from the inside. There are no supermarkets and if there are small markets you won't find anything there except rum, rice and some weird cookies trying to resemble oreo's. Don't think you will be able to find tampons anywhere, not gonna happen. Same goes for Coca Cola, they don't have it. Tukola is the Cuban drink. People have small books with coupons which allows them to buy the essentials rice, chicken, eggs. Not in the supermarket but from small shops that often is nothing more than a window. Everything they're not able to buy with their coupons they have to get somewhere else with the money they earn."
"I would definitely recommend Cuba! It's fantastically weird. Everything you see, do and experience will be new and you just can't imagine the life the Cubans lead. Then there is also plenty of rum drinking and salsa dancing and not a lot can beat that."