Ever wanted to adventure to Cuba and you are asking yourself how can I go visit Cuba?

Well, I am here to share with you it is not as difficult as you think. Unbeknownst to what you are thinking, you don't actually have to go travel to Mexico and than hop on another flight just to arrive in Cuba. It is easy as flying to Fort Lauderdale, Florida and hopping a flight to Habana, Cuba or your closest airport that flys to Cuba. My favorite and preferred airline of course is Jetblue, but any airline that is flying flights to Cuba can work too.  An important tip though, might I add, just be sure to type in Havana, as spelling it with a 'b,' may get you into some Spanish trouble. All jokes aside, traveling to Cuba is quite easy, you just need to have a goal in mind. 

My goal is to always enjoy myself while checking off the box of 'supporting the Cuban people.' So, now you are asking yourself, what does that mean? 

Well, to calm your curious nerves, Cuba has an arrangement with the United States and you must buy a travel visa when you arrive at the airport on the departing flight that is flying to Cuba.  In my case the flight going to Cuba, was by way of Fort Lauderdale airport. Upon checking into your airline, you must pay $50.00 USD to buy a visa to Cuba. (as of February 2020).

Tourism is what Cubans are thriving off of, and it is important to know that. Unfortunately, due to the lack of support from the current US government aficianados, you must bring cash and pay in all cash when visiting Cuba. There is no use of any sort of credit cards or 'plastic,' while visiting as an American (as of February 2020) when this article was posted. 

So, what I have done this time and the previous visit to Cuba, was take out Canadian dollars or Euros. In my case I reverted to the Canadian dollar and that fared well as I had extra from the last visit so I used that again this visit. You can certainly use American dollars, but keep in mind, when you go to change the money at a machine or in person at a bank, you are 'not' supporting the cuban people, so what I suggest is to find a local, or phone a friend (me) and I am happy to connect you with someone in Cuba who will be happy to exchange your monies 1:1.

With all the mumbo jumbo aside, let's talk the real deal of Cuba and the amazing things to see and do in the country. 

For starters, if you are reading this, thanks for finding my site and feel free to send me a message or join and subscribe to my 'blog.'  Cuba is a place that I hold near and dear as I absolutely love to see the sites there and the Cuban people are always happy despite the communist regime that continues to rule their country and lives. They know what they are faced with, but continue to live life with the utmost happiness. 

Now let's get to the nitty gritty on how to see Cuba in a quick three day trip. For starters, just book the flight, do it already. Then ensure you have your passport, and go take out a chunk of money from the bank (okay maybe not a chunk, but enough to last you for three to four days. Keep in mind you will need money for food, board, taxis (there is no uber) and anything else you think you little heart may desire while being there. 

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Since I had been to Cuba before I had already done a whirlwhind tour with my dear friend Yari, who showed me the ins and outs of the city. We visited Havana vieja, (Old town Havana), the Malecón, Hotel Nacional de Cuba (National Hotel of Cuba), and so much more. There are so many amazing areas and monuments to see throughout the city, and you can see them just by passing by, but make sure you do that in an old historical car. You can even hop in a taxi which is most likely a restored car and use that as your ride around the city. Just be warned though, knowing Spanish is really a huge benefit in Cuba as the drivers rely on your tourist dollars, so they are most likely going to charge you double ($10) for a trip around the city, whereas if you know a local you may only pay half that rate. This is where knowing someone abroad and being able to phone a friend really pays for itself.

So, now you have spent time in the city, what else can you do in a whirlwind of three days? You can adventure out to Viñales which is the region about two and a half hours outside of Havana. This is where the tobacco farms and fields are and you can do an amazing tour of the countryside.  Many locals and homes in Viñales are now offering overnight stays as they know the value of the amount of visitors coming, and again remember you are there to support the Cuban people, so why not spend a night in the country.

In addition to the amazing town of Viñales, one must not forget that it is important to know Cuba is on the coast, so what better way to adventure out and spend a day at one of the most beautiful beaches south of Florida. The beaches in Cuba have been recognizes as National Geographics best beaches in the world. Even during the end of January the weather was warm enough to catch a nice tan, but don't forget your sunscreen or you could end up going home like a crispy chicken from the local Restaurant.

Cuba is closer to the equator and this is why it is important to protect your skin, even just out and about around the town. The beach that you will want to venture out to, is known as Verdadero (as seen in the photo.)  The water is clear and calm and you can enjoy a peaceful day beachside. Learning about what the locals eat is important too, so try and find yourself a local spot to eat at, when you see other locals, you know you are paying for a spot that is supporting a local Restaurant. 

Lastly, one of my favorite things to do is visit local art markets when traveling abroad. Two years ago I found this great art market near the main part of town (near the Hotel Nacional) and it happened to be the same art market that I found this time. I ironically was staying near the US Embassy and it is short walk up the main road (name to be filled in later), for art and small artifacts made in Cuba. As you can see here artist, Andres was very proud to stand with the paintings that I bought and show off his artistic talents, just one of so many artists throughout this colorful city. 

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A long weekend  trek to San Antonio, Texas for Memorial day I also took the opportunity  and made detour to Austin, Texas.

As I have so many friends that have moved there and talked so highly of the city I figured why not check it out. As many would have it, eating out when you must only stick with gluten and dairy free options, can be quite daunting and frustrating. My friend and I made our way through a bit of Memorial day traffic, I googled gluten free restaurants. To my dismay and surprise I came upon a few options on yelp and starteding doing my research,  but when I read gluten free calamari on the menu I knew I knew we had to make a stop to eat. 


Upon arriving into Austin, we made a stop at a few local shops and then detoured to  the Wilder Wood Restaurant & BAr, at 1300, E 7th Street, Austin, Texas 78702.  Upon arrival we noticed very few cars in the parking lot, which may have had something to do with the fact everyone was probably in their backyards cooking and grilling for the holiday weekend.  This made it a nice place to try on a holiday weekend as the hustle and bustle of ordinary Restaurants wasn't there until a few hours after we sat down.  The server and man running the house happened to be named Austin just like the city  and he was great in explaining the menu and letting us know the entire menu was 100% dedicated gluten free.  This is heaven for someone who knows they cannot and should not eat gluten.


What did this mean for me? This meant I could actually have gluten free calamari that was surprisingly cooked in rice oil instead of canola oil, too, say what???? It is all too common when dining out, that restaurants use cheap oils, like that of canola or vegetable oil. Many don't realize nor need to ask what their food is being cooked in, but canola oil is no longer a heathy oil, and truly never was, but so many fail to realize this. So many Americans look to the American heart association for what is best in regards to what oils to use, but sadly so a lot of this information is outdated and unclear. 

This leads me to talk about healthy omegas in oils and that most restaurants are not using healthy oils when cooking even the most healthy foods, be it vegetables or grass fed animal meat. It was so gratifying to know that not only could I go to a restaurant that was using rice oil, but I could also eat just about anything I wanted on the menu, including the calamari that I was so excited about.  Rice oil is not the ideal oil to use, but it sure is better than canola oil or soybean oil, as both are commonly gmo (genetically modified oils). However, rice oil takes the cake in this case, but it would be nice if restaurants started to adopt the policy of using more EVOO (extra virgin olive oil), grapeseed oil or even avocado oil. 

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My original plan was gluten free fried chicken, but upon arrival, it was explained that the batter was actually was mixed with buttermilk, so I wasn't able to have the chicken. By all means if you live in or around Austin or visit the city, do go have some gluten free fried chicken on my behalf. Now, if like me you are lactose intolerant, then just go for the calamari.  Either way having confort food was so gratifying and a real treat.  I also ordered buffalo wings off the menu and these were not only gluten free, but dairy free as well.  Lastly, for dessert I ordered a dessert that was similar to a whoopie pie crossing a hostess cake. It was truly delightful and a treat to be able to order just about anything off the menu.  You must go visit Wild(er) Wood restaurant when you head into Austin your next visit.



Have you considered heading out on a solo adventure, but you are afraid, intimidated or full of anxiety?

Well, I am here to tell you that you aren't alone on your feelings of being afraid and overwhlemed.  From one solo female traveler to another I want you to know you are capable and can do this, despite some feelings holding you back.  As I am part of an online networking group I have come to realize that traveling as a solo female is not something everyone can do.  My love for international travel started when I went to study abroad in London in 2011 , just four days after September 11, 2001.  My mother at the time didn't want her 20 year old daughter leaving to a foreign country, especially when the United States was under demise.  I knew studying and living abroad would change the way I looked at the word and it did exactly that.

I owe my love for travel and especially solo female travel to my time living and studying in London in 2001.  Since then I have worked and lived in Spain and in Germany and it has molded me into the individual that I am now. Independent, strong, determined and open to see so much more of the world.