Traveling to Cuba is definitely in a category of it’s own. I want to make sure to explain a little bit about the differences of traveling to Cuba versus other places in the world. I was able to spend a day in Cuba the year prior, before the cruise ship tourism was shut down. So I felt I had an idea of Cuba, but being able to spend a week, and get to see different parts of the country l have a better picture as in terms of living in Cuba and what it means being an American tourist.
I will admit as I age I do get a bit more picky as I travel. I am not one to backpack across Europe and crash on peoples sofas. I will take the time and do the research to find a special place to stay, and one can expect certain standards. Cuba, all of that is thrown out the window. It is a third world country with communism. Essentially, all businesses, restaurants and hotels are ran by the Cuban Government so there is a limited selection when it comes to accommodations. And remember, I was traveling with an MLB player, from Cuba, who would know where to stay and could stay anywhere.
There are so many unique things to share about Cuban accommodations and no elequent way to explain, so here goes:
-nothing has been updated for the most part in a really long time, so it is old.-having a crab, or lizard, or bugs in your room or walls wasn’t uncommon in the 5 star resort
-don’t expect American favorite drinks like Coke or Pepsi. We would find coca-cola occasionally and be thrilled and buy them out.
-Same with beer, you drink their beer
-Not sure things have been dusted in a really long time either, a lot of places
-hot water is not always common to have in hotels
-it is NOT an unlimited supply of toilet paper in a resort. It is rationed per day and at the end of the night, you better hope to not get an upset stomach in the lobby of a resort or you may have to pull your pants up to check all stalls just to have to scream for your friends who found me two squares. Literally two squares were given to them by the resort. (Later on I discovered I had ecoli, so let’s just say I needed more than two squares 😖)
-WiFi is not remotely like it is in the states. Just plan to detatch
For the next time I travel to Cuba, I will pack and do things a bit differently. I now realize how in desperate need the Cuban people are of things. ALL things. Clothing is a luxury and we had some bus mates have some donations of clothes and two women got into a fight over an extra shirt when they were handing them out. They physically came to blows. So I would pack for the most part clothes that I could leave and donate. Especially as a plus size, I don’t know where bigger women get there clothes there. 🤷♀️. I would also probably take a couple beach towels that I can use as bath towels (and wash cloths if you use) and then plan to leave them also.
I have a packing list that I will also attach here for you to be able to download. I recommend printing and laminating to stick in the closet. I truly need to go over this list. If I don’t, I am not joking when I say I have gotten somewhere and left my entire stack of pants in the closet and had no pants. (And shopping when you are my size is not easy in a lot of places) The list varies per country and each time I travel I modify if discover something else. When you aren’t home, sometimes you want things to make you feel more at home and more comfortable with the new environment. You will hear me say often, “All problems can be solved.” That does not apply to when you are in Cuba. Cuba is a different beast. Tampons, candy, coke, toilet paper....those are unknowns and not yet discovered.
Be prepared that a really nice hotel in Cuba would be the comparable in the room comparison (lobby’s can look nice) to a super 8 in the states. And those may be a bit more clean. 🙃. If you go into it knowing you need to pack all your toiletries if you plan to do your hair because those things are not provided, and the rooms will not be like rooms in the US, you’ll be fine. I will pack this next trip that I am only coming home with my things I can’t live without and the rest will leave to donate.
Both times I was in Cuba was in November and it was HOT! Sundresses/rompers/shorts are totally fine, and a sweat shirt/sweater for beach time in evenings. I would say flip flops are totally fine, but one night we decided we were going to go to a club in Cuba. So it is a group of us and I ask Yasiel, “are there any shoe or dress requirements?” He quickly made fun of me and said “No! This is Cuba!” As we arrive, we realize the wait/stall tactic wasn’t because there was a line, but because some of our group was not in the dress code and we weren’t allowed in. Let me start by saying, we were eventually let in, and taken very good care of, but...I did make fun of Yasiel that if he can’t get into a club in Cuba who the heck can? He did correct me, “Topeka, we got in...”
Know when booking accommodations in Cuba if doing a hotel, to expect different standards and you are going to Cuba to experience the culture and the people. Couple times you might have to remind yourself of that. 😋
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