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Cuba

Coco Cabs in Havana

7 Local Things to See and Do on the Streets of Havana

By | Caribbeans, Cuba, OUR TRAVELS | No Comments
Meandering down the streets near El Capitale.

1 | Look for the balconies. It’s easy to walk through Havana and be completely transfixed on what’s in front of you: intriguing alleyways and vintage cars cranking pass kids playing soccer. It’s there so much to take in. But look up and you’ll peeks of life above ground-level: women hang-drying laundry, old men sticking their heads out for huffs of cigars, and grandmothers cooking up what I imagine to be amazing pots of arroz con pollo.

Look up. Balconies with people above us.

Looking at me, looking at her.

Paintings line the streets of Habana Vieja.

2 | Find art, art and more art. From paintings on the streets of Habana Vieja, to political graffiti stenciled on old buildings, to modern galleries, Havana has an amazing art scene.

Anthony getting fan drawings.

“The Hulk,” Anthony was by far the local favorite among old ladies and enthusiatic girls. This was a fan portrait he got from an artist on our first day.

Cuban hero revolutionary leaders Julio Antonio Mella, Camilo Cienfuegos and Che Guevara painted on a wall in Havana, Cuba

A wall tagged with the faces of Cuban revolutionary leaders: Julio Antonio Mella, Camilo Cienfuegos and Che Guevara. Politics are a huge part of everyday Cuban life and conversation.

One of my favorite places to people-watch in Havana, the Paseo del Prado ( or just Prado) during sunset.

3 | Take a stroll though Paseo del Prado. Back in the day, the Prado was one of the wealthiest streets in Havana. The Capitolio and Parque Central are on one end of it, and during sunset, these buildings are picture-perfect.

Paseo del Prado leads to old-school luxury hotels and the Parque Central.

Pose provided by “Mama Sita” Maria.

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4| Try a meal at a very local restaurant. Places like these are government-owned, cheap, and meant for workers. The menu is a fantastic “eff-you” to foreigners (aka they do not cater to tourists, which I love.) There were only 2 things on the menu: chicken or pork. #keepingitreal

Architecture in Havana

5 | Check out the architecture. Since the days of Christopher Columbus, Cuba has been the center of invading cultures, and political and social movements. Havana’s facades are an assortment of all these influences. This building in particular is a one of my favorite examples of Moorish/ Arab influence. #artnerd.

"La Artista" Nina, catching birds on the corner of Cuba Street... in Cuba.

6 | Find “Cuba” in Cuba. Everytime I walk pass Cuba Street, the foreigner in me can’t help but take a picture of it.  Pictured: “La Artista” Nina.

Coco Cabs in Havana

7 | Pose with a coco cab. They’re meant for tourists, but seriously, can you resist? They’re probably one of the cutest forms of transportation I’ve ever seen.

 

Who went to Cuba, May 2016

By | Cuba, OUR TRAVELS, Trip | No Comments

Yesterday we came back from our second Map&Move trip to Cuba.

12 strangers trekking through one of the most socially and politically interesting places of our time. We made it through jelly fish stings, language barriers, no wifi, and at the end… no cash. Always up for a challenge #‎whenincuba. Here’s a look at our travel fam!

Map&Move Cuba Crew- Brooke

Brooke P.

Photography Nut, Italian at Heart, Tequila Lover. Dream Job as a Kid: News Anchor Woman. Fav Quote: “Who, if not us. When, if not now.” Nickname: Coco Mo

Map&Move Cuba Crew- Nariman

Nariman C.

Engineer, Citizen of the world (I don’t understand the usefullness of borders), and Sports lover. Dream Job as a Kid: Engineer. Fav Quote: “Deep in the sea are riches beyond compare. But if you seek safety, it is on the shore.”- Sa’adi, Persian Poet Nickname: NaughtyMan

 

Map&Move Cuba Crew- Danny

Danny K.

Experience-Seeker, Whiskey and Bourbon Lover, Dance Machine (but only have 1 move… the shooting guns). Dream Job as a Kid:  Garbage Man (I know, huge aspirations!). But then around the age of 12 I realized I wanted to be a entrepreneur like my dad.Fav Quote: “Live as if you were living a second time, and as though you had acted wrongly the first time.” – Viktor E. Frankl Nickname: Brie-Easy

Map&Move Cuba Crew- Peter

Peter Y.

Temperance-maker, Vain-glory Seeker, Engineer. Dream Job as a Kid: Artist or engineer. Fav Quote: “Home is where the heart, so wherever I go, I’m home.” Nickname: Jarvis

Map&Move Cuba Crew- Julia

Julia G.

Adventure-Seeker, Counselor, Rock Climber Dream Job as a Kid: Private Investigator Fav Quote: When you travel you find yourself.” Nickname: Goldie

Map&Move Cuba Crew- Kevin

Kevin D.

Napper, Current MBA Student, Former Army Captain. Dream Job as a Kid: Gas Station Owner. Fav Quote: “I checked the actuarial tables, and the lowest death rate is among six-year-olds. So I decided to eat like a six-year-old.” – Warren Buffett. Nickname: El Capitan

Maria S.

Travel Addict, Whisky Devotee, Jack-of-all-Trades. Dream Job as a Kid: Architect (like Frank Gehry). Fav Quote: “Be brave. Take risks. Nothing can substitute experience.” – Paulo Coelho Nickname: Mama Sita

Map&Move Cuba Crew- Nina

Nina K.

Art Buff, Wine Aficionado, Sail Boat Enthusiast. Dream Job as a Kid: Pediatrician, Veterinarian or Ballerina. Fav Quote: “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” – Marcel Proust Nickname: La Artista

Map&Move Cuba Crew- Anthony

Anthony K.

Weightlifter, Scotch Lover, Detroit Techno Listener. Dream Job as a Kid: Commissioned Naval Officer (in the footsteps of my family). Fav Quote: “Pain is weakness leaving the body.” Nickname: The Hulk

Map&Move Cuba Crew- Jean

Jean L.

Dream Job as a Kid: Cartoonist. Fav Quote: “You live but once; you might as well be amusing.” – Coco Chanel Nickname: Filter Free

Map&Move Cuba Crew- Alicia

Alicia M.

Artist, Hiker, Pierogi Lover. Dream Job as a Kid: Artist Nickname: Sleepy

Jenn

Jenn L.

Dessert Junkie, Story-Teller, Sun Worshiper. Dream Job as a Kid: Teacher, Fashion Designer, or pizza shop owner (so I’d never be hungry). Fav Quote: “The best protection any woman can have… is courage.” – Elizabeth Cady Stanton Nickname: Bubbles

How We Made it to Havana, Cuba

By | Caribbeans, Cuba, North America, OUR TRAVELS, Trip | No Comments

With the recent political talks with Cuba, it seemed appropriate to kick 2016 off with a Map&Move trip that tested a few boundaries.

Current headlines like “CheapAir.com Now Selling Direct Flights to Cuba”, make it sound like Americans can just jet off to the island and daintily sip Cuba Libres on the beach. While it’s nice to imagine that you can just erase 50 years of political weirdness in a few months, ya can’t. In reality the official rules posted by OFAC haven’t changed much. You still need 1 of 12 reasons to visit (legally from the US anyway) and the most common one (obviously) points to a pricy tour.

Old Montreal Tour

So naturally, a Map&Move trip had to test out a few things. First would be the prep work. After mind-numbing hours of calls with the embassy, airlines and complicated websites, everything (mostly) worked out in the last hour. 

Amy found a toy in the window. Excited. Enroute to Havana, Cuba, we had a 4 hour layover in Montreal.

As with any worthwhile trip, a good crew is a must, and the group that signed up for this trip promised to be a fun and eclectic one. Being the only US citizens, Amy and I left from NYC, Jorge and Michel from Mexico City, and Karmin and Philo later from Montreal.

Enroute to Havana, Cuba, we had a 4 hour layover in Montreal.

Amy and I headed out from NYC at midnight. After a 10 hour bus ride, we arrived at Montreal at 5am. We had 4 hours to explore the city before our flight to Havana. Unluckily for us, we arrived right at the start of a blizzard. Our toes frozen into little baby carrot stumps by the time we boarded our flight.

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Four hours later… touchdown. We landed at Jose Marti International Airport and found ourselves in a parallel universe.

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After dropping our bags off at our accommodations for the night, we took off to explore Vedado, the business and urban district of Havana and found ourselves at the entrance of an old warehouse-turned art space.

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Any misconceptions of Havana being one giant homogenous city “stuck in the 50’s” were abruptly and deliciously squished (just as I hoped) by the contemporary art scene. Giant projections framed the entrance of an outdoor patio.

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One of the bars in the warehouse.

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One of my favorite pieces from the contemporary art, modern jewelry and furniture smattered around the space.

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Wood etching.

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Alcoves and room connected outdoor spaces for dranks and la música under the stars. Ahh, we made it.