bound for cuba.
by victoria comment

5/23/16

pastel buildings in cuba. / sfgirlbybay

i’ve been wanting to see cuba up close and personal for ages, and now, thanks to new travel regulations, i’m  excited to tell you my friend joni and i have just booked a trip for thanksgiving week! we booked the trip through a tour company called coast to costa based out of los angeles, and our itinerary looks so great. We’ll be peeking behind the curtain of the long since prohibited island exploring the magical culture of Cuba, and will be spending our time between the capitol of Havana, the well-preserved colorful colonial town of Trinidad and the lush tobacco and farm region of Viñales — we even have a lesson in rolling cuban cigars. i’m so thrilled to be seeing what we have been forbidden to see for the last 60 years, so if you’ve ever been to cuba i’d love to hear your suggestions — the tour has a lot for us to see and do, but offers us free time, too so i’m so excited to capture the faded colors and beauty of cuba with my camera. do tell what I shouldn’t miss!

pastel buildings in alley in cuba. / sfgirlbybay

inspirational travel images of cuba. / sfgirlbybay

ornate white building and orange vintage car in cuba. / sfgirlbybay

pastel building exteriors and blue skies in cuba. / sfgirlbybay

vintage signs in cuba. / sfgirlbybay

mint building exterior and vintage blue car in cuba. / sfgirlbybay

white vintage buick in cuba. / sfgirlbybay

• photos by alessandro giraldi; erich mcvey; photographer Tom Blachford for my modern met.

22 responses to “bound for cuba.”

  1. What an amazing opportunity! I’ve seen some photos from others’ travels to Cuba, and so badly want to go! Will be looking forward to your photos stories too.

  2. That’s wonderful! So good you’re getting to go before Marriott and Hilton move in! Can’t wait to see your pictures!

  3. You will loooove it! I went 15 years ago right when Mr. Bush put in all those restrictions. He cut my trip a bit short. My dream to head back again!! I’ll fill you in on some things…

  4. I LOVED my trip to Cuba back when I was in grad school. My favorite spots were the National Art Schools. I wrote an paper on the restoration efforts. I would love to see how far it’s come since my visit nearly 10 years ago. I also really enjoyed all of the mid-century architecture. It’s out by all the embassies and I can’t quite remember the name of that part of town.

    The Paseo de Marti in Havanan viejo was lined with local artists when I was there. We’d often walk down it to and then stroll down the Malecon. I’d also recommend a Cuba Libre at the Hotel National… it’s where all the big famous people stayed back in the day and has a lovely view of the water.

    We also visited Hemmingway’s house for when he was there. It was pretty cool. Most of our trips revolved around architecture since we were a group of historic preservationists. :)

    I can’t wait to see your photos!!

  5. You will love every minute of it. As a Canadian, it’s always been legal to travel there and I’m glad Americans are finally getting a chance. Trinidad is off the charts cool. I’m so glad you’re going to make it out of Havana. The food is terrible all over the island, but it’s a poor place so what can you do….
    You’ll be so mesmerized by the architecture and cars that you won’t even notice your growling stomach! Just do what the Cubans do, fill up on ice cream :-)

  6. I was in Cuba last month and it was an incredible trip! I would go back tomorrow, I loved it so much. I highly recommend learning some Spanish even if you’ll be with a tour group who can translate for you – you’ll get so much more out of your trip when you can converse with the locals – even just a little Spanish goes a long way. My favorite part was staying with Cuban families in their homes (casa particulares) and talking with them about life in Cuba. Cubans are some of the nicest people I’ve met anywhere in the world, and they love Americans and want to to talk with you. Check out El Callejon de Hamel in Havana – on Sunday afternoons there’s fantastic live Afro-cuban music and dancing in the alley. Take in the sunset from the rooftop bar of La Guarida (which is also an excellent restaurant that requires rezzies) in Havana Centro. In Trinidad, take a street photography class with Julio – great teacher and interesting to talk with about Cuban life – http://www.trinidadphoto.com/ See the casa de musica in Trinidad & take a dance lesson. Wander all over any of the towns you’re visiting and take photos and be sure to go beyond the typical tourist areas to get a glimpse of real Cuban life. You’ll have an amazing time!

    • thank you so much for all these great suggestions, sam! you’re getting me itchy to leave already! i’ve heard how nice everyone is – i need to practice up on my spanish! :)

  7. What kind of Cuba would you like to see? I spend about half my year there, and may be able to give you down-to-earth avenues for a more in-depth travel experience.

  8. I cant wait to visit Cuba myself, I have family over there, and would love to meet them as well as getting to know the country. Have fun, I am sure you are going to get treated very well, they are very kind and full of joy people.

  9. Victoria, How did you pick this travel agent? I have always dreamed of going to Cuba and this trip sounds wonderful!

    • my friend joni who i’m going with is the research expert (on everything!) so she actually heard about it through work and then looked into their Yelp reviews which are very high. the price seems very reasonable too, considering it includes airfare from LAX.

  10. Hej Victoria

    Hello from Denmark.
    Me and my family visited Cuba for 14 days 7 years ago, and we loved it. We stayed in bota Havanna and Vinales, in both places we stayed in ” Casa Particular”. We dont speak any spanish, and they hardly spoke english. But somehow we manage, and it was fantastic. Up in Vinales we rented and old kind of offroader, I can strongly recomend it. Drive around, and go north to the wonderful beaches. You can also just say ” Hi” to the local farmers, and they will show you their tobacco fields. We brougth a lot of used clothes and gave it to people we met on our wayes, they were so greatfull.
    We also went to Varadejo, and that place could have been anywear in the Carribian, I think. We are so glad, that we had experienced the ” real Cuba”
    Fun fact. On the same trip, we also drove around in California for 10 weeks. It was on this trip, that I came acros your blog i SF. I have been reading it ever since.

    Love from Denmark
    Mette

  11. My husband and I went a few years ago on our own from the US for a couple weeks. We stayed part of the time in Havana and rented a car and drove to Trinidad, Cinefuegos and Vinales and stayed in casa particulares, which is the best way to experience the culture. Luckily I speak fluent Spanish, otherwise we would have been completely lost, but more importantly I got to know some wonderful people and got some honest perspective into Cuban life. I will say that this was one of the hardest trips we ever took; the poverty is palpable. That said, I would visit again in a heart beat. I think we see these lovely sepia pictures (esp. in the design world) and have such a romantic view of Cuba, and want to go there and take our own beautiful pics so we can own a little bit of that. I hope you get to experience the real Cuba. I would recommend avoiding hotels (and avoiding tours all together for that matter), stay in casa particulares, and on your free time, move outside of the touristy ‘Old Havana’ and see what real Havana is like. Like Mette mentioned above, we also brought items to donate, mainly tubs of aspirin, bandages, soap, tooth brushes, etc that are hard to come by for the average joe there. I’d also make sure to pack everything you might need, because the shops are BARE – that said, visit the local store, that was an experience on its own for us – literally one toothbrush on an entire bare shelf, supplies are that scarce. Happy travels!

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