Hanging like Beyonce and Jay-Z in Cuba

As far as I know, there is still a travel embargo in place for US visits to Cuba. Although there seems to be a lot of news around Beyonce and Jay-Z's spontaneous anniversary trip to Havana, Cuba with their moms recently. It got me thinking: 'Hey, I was just there too'. Although, my traveling to Cuba isn't as exciting as Beyonce and Jay-Z, for obvious reasons. The white house denies issuing any special travel Visa's to them. Sooo, how did they get in? I'm guessing they didn't stow away. But in the wake of all this discussion, it has inspired me to share some pics from my recent travels to Havana.

Have you been wondering what it would be like if you were to travel to Havana, like Beyonce and Jay-Z? I'm not quite Beyonce, but allow me to paint a general picture of what you would see...

Quite possibly the most synonymous symbol of Cuba, you can't visit and not take in a local cigar shop. Smoking is everywhere like a national past time. Our tour guide suggested Cohiba as the best brand to purchase, followed by San Cristobal. We took in a quick stop at the Romeo & Julieta cigar shop where it was like a mad house for 20 solid minutes while everyone fought to purchase their cigars. That was a fun experience!

They're stray, they're mangy, and they're everywhere. It's mostly indicative of all of Cuba in general. I have a soft spot in my heart for dogs and the ones in Cuba are no exception. If I lived there I would be poor from spending all my money on dog food. They're all tame and keep to themselves for the most part. Just as we commonly see birds flying by, there are dogs running around Cuba. They love to chill at the all-inclusive resorts too. Guests take good care of them after a return trip from the nightly buffet. By the end of the trip, you too will find it an odd sight to see a dog on a leash, if you do.

Incredible Architecture
Cuba, and Havana specifically, has a mix of rich history and diverse influence which equates to some incredible architecture. It is bittersweet to see in its current state though because a lot of it is run down. Although I understand they are working on restorations, including the National Capital Building which was under construction when we were there.

Probably one of the coolest things we saw on our visit. The hotel where Ernest Hemingway lived! It's beautiful. If you venture into the hotel lobby, in the back there is an entire corner area dedicated to Hemingway and his time there. Continuing along the back wall, you can see an old-fashioned elevator lift in all its glory!

In Havana, there are a lot of children who beg for money. They're persistent. And you feel terrible for them. A Cuban convertible peso is worth multiple times that of their local currency. They're working to help their family. But they seem to be accompanied by an adult nearby. Whether this is their parent or someone they work for, I'm not sure. It's really sad to see. Cuba is a very poor country.

In lieu of giving money, we brought gifts from home for our housekeeper and the people who worked at our resort. Our tour guide mentioned that a lot of the jobs that the locals have isn't enough to pay the bills, so they work two full-time jobs. And having a job on the resort is a big opportunity, but it's hard to get in and you have to speak good English.

We found the people of Cuba extremely nice. The beaches were beautiful! It is a poor country though, so you have to understand that before you expect a 4-star resort to be what you would expect. I have found though that those who have traveled to Cuba before absolutely love it, and return again and again.

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