Tuesday 4 November 2014

10 reasons to visit Cuba

Edit: We didn't get shortlisted :( but if you are a friend of Tiva or me then we can get you a 15% discount off the Cuban Adventures tours - just get in contact!


More specifically 10 reasons why my friend Tiva and I should be selected to visit Cuba with Virgin Atlantic and Cuban Adventures. Yes it's a competition and yes I will be expecting you to vote for us!

Help complete our dream! 

I've known Tiva since we were teenagers and probably for about as long as I've known her, she's been wanting to visit Cuba, help complete the dream of a lifetime and give us this opportunity!

We are multicultural, seasoned world travellers. We have both backpacked around the world (separately, 14 years apart!) and been on multiple trips together, but we've never made it to Cuba. I've been blogging about food and travel for years. Tiva is obsessed with history & culture and speaks fluent Spanish (mine is definitely more beginner, but I have done some lessons!)

We are great travel buddies and have been to a dozen countries together over the years. Some of our highlights have included onsen in Japan, a music festival in Spain, skiing in France, mud bathing in Turkey, white water rafting in Fiji, beer drinking in Prague and festa-hunting in Malta.

So why should you vote for us? Well these are the reasons why we want to go to Cuba....

1. Listen to the music!
We discovered Jehro singing about Cuba in a hostel bar in Istanbul.

We also love the music of the Buena Vista Social Club and would love to see the grassroots places where that music originates. 

Old gentlemen in guayaberas playing guitars like they are an extension of their hands, laughing, smoking cigars and telling stories, and perhaps some.....

2. Dancing in the streets of Old Havana

We both love dancing and Cubans are world famous for their salsa moves. We can't wait to learn from the best, on a hot night with live music and free-flowing Cuba Libre! This song by Gloria Estefan always got Tiva dancing in the street and is all about longing for Cuba.

Maybe we could make a Cuban version of this crazy, inspirational and utterly uplifting video:

3. Learn about Cuba's history and culture
Tiva's an archaeologist and fascinated by history and I've got the travel bug, big time – I've just spent the last year travelling the world and blogging all about it. 

We would love to visit some of the oldest colonial sites in the Americas and learn about Cuba's fascinating and turbulent history, from its discovery in the 15th century by Christopher Colombus to its recent relations with the US:

4.  Meeting the locals
We know full well that the best way to get to know a place is to get to know its people, and how better to do that than in a homestay? In the last year I've stayed with families in Laos, Cambodia and Ecuador, and its the best way to learn the culture, eat the food cooked 'homestyle' and learn the language - especially if you're playing with the children!
Cambodian homestay last year
With my Quiteño family in Ecuador this year whilst volunteering with UBECI.

We both go out of our way to welcome visitors to London with open arms through Couchsurfing and AirBnB. I had the homestay experience in Cuba highly recommended from other travellers who have done it - and we won't forget some Western products as little luxuries to thank our hosts :)

5.  Eating Cuban Food!

Both of us are keen cooks. I love to blog about my food adventures (both cooking and eating!) and Tiva especially loves Caribbean food – she always has a bottle Mojo in her fridge and her favourite sandwich in the world is a Medianoche. (By the way, London may be an incredibly diverse and international gourmand's city, but you CANNOT get a decent Medianoche here!) 

We can't wait to sit in the Cuban morning sun sipping cafe con leche and sampling a selection pastelitos de guayaba and freshly picked tropical fruit.

Enticing Cuban dishes

We'll try everything - at least once!

6. Vamos a la Playa!

Let's go to the beach!

Cuba has plenty of beautiful Caribbean beaches to relax on, something that we'd both like to take advantage of, although I have to be careful with my pale English skin,Tiva can get away with it with her Mediterrean olive complexion! 

Sun screen? Check! Hats? Check!

8.  Diving: seeing Cuban sea life from under the water
We're both qualified scuba divers (Tiva to PADI Rescue and me just to PADI Advanced) and we would love to explore the beauty of Cuba's wildlife under water.

Me getting ready to dive in the Red Sea in 2013.

Tiva on a dive during her travels

Yep we are water babies :)

8.  Revelling in Havana's historic architecture

Tiva with her professional experience in archaeology, heritage and conservation is supremely interested in the architecture of Havana - a UNESCO world heritage site. Havana has all styles of architecture - from Baroque & classical to the crumbling faded grandeur of the colonial buildings - something to interest everyone and definitely a place to take atmospheric photos!

9.  Pay our respects to El Che
Iconic shot of the Argentine socialist Che Guevara.

Tiva's got some Argentine ancestry so she's particularly interested in learning more about El Che, the hero of the Cuban Revolution.  Che is an important historical figure for the whole of South America so we want to learn more at the Che Guevara museum and visit his mausoleum.

10. Drinking the rum - Cuba Libre!

Rum is a big part of the Caribbean culture and Cuba is no exception. Rum is made out of the sugar cane molasses - the cane is grown all over the region - so rum is made everywhere!

A selection of the different Cuban rums we want to try!

Not sure about Barcardi's claim, but we want to try the Cuba Libre cocktail and the Havana Club rum :)

I'm a big gin fan so I would be interested to see how rum is made and how different flavours are incorporated into it.

Now you've read it all - vote for us! Stay tuned for details! :)


  1. Yeay, finally booked a trip with Cuban Adventures for November using my discount :), finally I can tick another place off the wishlist!

  2. Cuba is a fantastic place to visit! It has been such a long time since I have been there and it was one of my most memorable holidays! Love the music, people, beaches, food and lifestyle!