We have to admit, there are some perks to living in South Florida. From the weather to the beautiful beaches, there is a great element of paradise in the daily grind. But with that, comes some downsides such as the city traffic, tourists, and sweltering summers that can feel consuming.
When it comes to weekend travel though, we have a few awesome options that we take advantage of whenever we can.
That’s why Brandon and I started looking even further south when we decided to spend some time with out-of-town friends the weekend after our wedding!
It was March and we had already planned for our big honeymoon to take place at the end of June. So with the spare days left before the regular work week would begin, we jetted to Cuba!
Three big factors came into play so that we could make the most of the time we had in Cuba. It began where it most often does; with:
The booking process varies quite a bit for Cuba as travel restrictions keep changing for U.S. passport holders. Currently, U.S. passport holders cannot travel to Cuba as a tourist.
There are, however, twelve other options to select for authorized travel. You can access the Cuba International Travel Information Site to see which method you identify with. We chose: Support for the Cuban people.
The greatest perk, the flight itself was only an hour long! When you only have a short amount of time to visit a destination, short travel time is so convenient when you can get situated and hit the ground running with time to spare.
If you are already visiting the South Florida area, try including Cuba in your plans. It will allow you to see so much of the beautiful country without spending extensive amounts of time just trying to get there.
Opt For Airbnb Quality Accommodations
It’s true, a five-star experience is great to have in any location. But for our trip, some things were uniquely special about picking a local Airbnb to stay in.
We chose a location outside of the city center. Truthfully, this was a bit accidental as we weren’t completely sure of proximities during the planning process.
But it worked out to be the very best part of the trip! The Airbnb was a decent walk from Plaza de la Revolución which is a huge tourist hub for picture taking or grabbing a classic car ride around the city.
We had a great bathroom with comfortable rooms, a living area, and a balcony to ourselves. The best part, we were probably the only tourists around! We received many strange looks with many probably thinking we were way out of place as we explored our surroundings.
Brandon’s language skills were on point though, and got right down to interacting with so many of the locals! He has some great tips to help you get comfortable with conversational language.
We knew we had hit the jackpot for a truly local experience when we were wandering around the first morning looking for a place for breakfast.
We walked quite a while before finding a woman running a storefront that people were lined up for.
When it was our turn, we tried what seemed like everything on the very short menu. Including the most delicious homemade bread and tomato sandwich–so simple but to die for! (I can still taste that sandwich and how the bread just melted in your mouth!)
The remarkable thing was because it was our first experience away from the tourist areas, we were asked to pay in pesos (what the locals exchange with) not the Cuban Convertible Currency, or CUC.
When we first handed the woman CUC, she chuckled and gave us a great amount of change back. Because the exchange is much higher in CUC, she could have easily pocketed the extra and gone about her day at our silly, tourist expense. But this is one of the many ways that the Cuban people are so gracious and wonderful–she didn’t even hesitate to give us our change.
Needless to say, we were back there every morning consuming multiple tomato sandwiches–that’s right, everyone decided on my sandwich choice after trying the whole menu! I was devastated, however, that on Sunday morning, the day we were flying out, we forgot to consider that it was a Sunday! The lovely woman and her stand were closed–I didn’t even get to say goodbye to her…or the sandwich! She will for sure be seeing me again!
Moral my friends, enjoy every one of the delicious sandwiches you will consume in Cuba–there are so many amazing ones–Oh, and please be sure to stay local if you can! You won’t regret the relaxed, personal side to the experience.
A Small Amount of Excursion Planning Goes a Long Way in Cuba
We are not huge planners when it comes to our trips but when you are on a short weekend timeline, some planning can really maximize your experience.
Since we were traveling with friends, it was also super important to consider what they were interested in seeing so that everyone got something out of the trip.
We all decided to hire a taxi to take us to Casablanca. It was so awesome driving along the countryside before arriving at the Morro-Cabaña Complex where we took in some military exhibits and the Morro Castle which is directly across from the Malecón roadway. It was an awesome way to spend the day!
Since we had an extra day that we usually don’t get on our Weekend Warrior trips, we used the same approach and took in some of Cuba’s most talented artists at La FAC. (Their website is under construction at the moment so we’ve linked you to their FB page.) It is a must as well as the neighboring restaurant El Cocinero. The food and drinks were fantastic as well as being a great place to wait for La FAC to open its doors. Be sure to reserve your table though!
We saved the iconic drive through the city in a classic car for the day we flew home.
We thought it would be a great way to take in the many corners of the city we didn’t get to walk to before heading back, especially since it is an easy drive to the airport.
It turned out to be such a relaxing ending! We took in so many interesting sights, not to mention a few stops for some last-chance authentic mojitos!
You do not have to go crazy with plans in Cuba. There is something for everyone there and so much culture to take in! A small bit of time management will do the trick to maximize a short stay and keep you feeling satisfied.
Our Cuban minimoon with dear friends was such a great travel experience.
Still, we cannot go without referencing Scarface (“Okayyy Frankk!” is ongoing between Brandon and his buddy–seriously has not skipped a beat and it’s awesome!) or our mojito daze.
I hope these tips are helpful if you are planning your way to Cuba or feel like adding it to your list whenever you are down in Florida! (Orrrr if you’re feeling like you want to come say “Hi” to us!…just something to keep in mind!) If you’re thinking it still might be hard for you to maximize your time, we have some great tips for Weekend Warrior Travel for you to check out!
Have you visited Cuba? What were some of your favorites on the island? We would love to hear from you! Leave us a comment below!
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