We left Chicago on a chilly gray day and landed in a lush, green country full of life. A border patrol agent checked our passports and took our photos. After feeling a little nervous throughout the whole planning phase, we were glad to receive little pink stamps in our passports saying "Republic de Cuba, 26 Oct 2018, José Martí." (If you love passport stamps as much as I do, you'll be happy to know we got another upon exit.) Some people say Cuba is like another world. It definitely feels like a place frozen in time. It's charming, colonial, and decaying. Still, despite years of uncertain economic circumstances, the people there are full of energy. Everywhere there are neighbors in the streets chatting, bartering, smoking, and playing.
If you've never visited before, some aspects of culture Havana, Cuba will surprise you at first. Here are five challenge you're sure to experience after arrival. 1. Feeling terrified your taxi will run someone over Taxis are the main mode of transportation around Havana and the rest of Cuba as well. We read that the driving was crazy before we arrived, so we were somewhat prepared for that. Drivers used their car horns on a wide range of occasions—equally when they were happy and when they were upset—at other taxi drivers, at pedestrians, and at their friends. If you are out walking in areas like Old Havana (Habana Vieja) where the streets are very narrow and used both as a road and sidewalk, and hear a horn, it's best to move to the side as quickly as possible.
To access the internet in Cuba, you' need to buy a wifi card. They only be used in wifi zones—usually public squares. You can also access wifi in most hotel lobbies (though these should be avoided if you're an American on the "Supporting the Cuban People" visa). You'll know you've found a wifi zone when you see a bunch of people with their heads bowed down toward their smartphones. Everyone—local and tourists alike—must access the internet this way. Locals do not have data plans on their smartphones.
ViaHero planned a 10-day Cuban vacation for my new fiancé and I in November 2018. As a travel blogger, I have always organized my adventures on my own. But, as a US citizen, the more I researched, the more nervous I became about the technicalities—especially the many different visa types and their various requirements.
The casas particulares system in Cuba is actually pretty simple. It's basically an Airbnb, plus homecooked meals (if you choose). You can stay in accommodations where you have a whole apartment to yourself, where you stay in the room of a home with a host family, or where you stay alone in a private room [...]