Unless you have been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard about how the happy married couple,Beyonce & JAY-Z, AKA Hip Hop royalty, traveled to Cuba for their anniversary trip earlier this year.
MY GOD! Call the police! Treason!
We’re kidding. We love Cuba and have even been there! Personally, we think the whole political scandal is unfortunate and kind of ridiculous. The country is gorgeous and has so much to offer in terms of sight-seeing and giving you a view at another way of life. In addition, the people there were genuinely nice and proud of their country.
That is a lot more than we can say about other “non-communist” countries.
Politics aside, we recommend following Beyonce and Jay-Z’s footsteps and heading down to this little sliver of paradise. However, we can’t promise you’ll look as chic as Beyonce did.
Here’s a little guide on how the enviable duo got down there, what they did, and how you could have your own dream trip to Cuba!
As with any country, you have to convert your money. In Cuba, residents and visitors are given different money. Tourists, specifially, are given only CUC$ (Cuban Convertible Pesos) for their cash to spend as they please. That being said, the process is a little tricky for Americans due to the US embargo. You can’t use your credit card, but you can take your US Dollars. However, we warn you… it’s gonna cost you!
Beyonce & Jay Z: We’re not sure how the crazy in love couple handled their money situation, but we can assume they were not too concerned about not having enough. After all, they’re royalty. More likely then not, the couple took over their USD$ and converted them into CUC$.
You: While that eazy breazy method will do for Beyonce, let’s be real, you are not Beyonce. We recommend that you convert your budgeted money into Euros before you leave on your trip. If you do not do this, the conversion rate – in addition to the high taxes and penalties that Cubans have put on US Dollars – will have you losing money. By converting to Euros and then exchanging to Cuban Convertible Pesos, you will be getting more value per buck.
B & J: You know homegirl was jetting off in a private jet. Royalty does not need to fly with the common folk.
You: You know that there is no way you could even dream of flying private (for now at least). Obviously you cannot purchase direct or even connecting flights to Cuba from the US. The only way you can reach your destination is by flying to a nearby country and purchasing a flight out at their airport. Our country of choice? Mexico. Flights to Mexico are easy, cheap, and the people at the airports are so used to helping tourists out with this. Don’t worry, you won’t be told on! And to prove it they make a point to not stamp your passport!
B & J: Beyonce and JAY-Z would most likely be seen at the world renowned Hotel Nacional de Cuba (the same one Frank Sinatra stayed at). This luxe hotel is complete with pool, hot tubs, in-room jacuzzis, breakfast buffets, and some of the nicest rooms you will probably ever see. Cost : $250/night
You: That’s nice and all, but you came to Cuba to adventure, right? All those luxuries and amenities are not necessary. For a really cheap stay, we recommend Casa Antigua. Yes, it directly translates to “old house” but it’s basically a steal. Located in Vedado, near El Hotel Nacional, the neighborhood is nice and the bed & breakfast offers a kitchen, laundry room, computer room, and scenic views. The price? Cost: $25/night
B & J: As with the real world, you know the duo is taking cabs everywhere! However, we know how much those can add up! (New Yorkers, can I hear an amen?)
You: You’re a savvy traveler, which is why we want you to maneuver around Cuba the smartest way possible. Even though the yellow cabs of Cuba get very pricey, we are gonna let you in on a secret. If you look for an American 1950’s style classic car, you will also be able to hitch a ride and for much cheaper! These “communal” taxis are not supposed to accept tourists but the drivers will almost never refuse you. If you are looking for a change of pace or a leisurely stroll, we also recommend the “bicitaxi” (as seen above) found mostly around Old Havana.
Touristing and touring about Old Havana is highly recommended and, luckily, fairly inexpensive! Tours, food, trinkets, and the like are sure to not cost you much. Be sure to take full advantage of this and visited as many historical locations and sites as possible. Examples such as La Floridita – Ernest Hemingway’s hotel of choice, the Governmental Palace, and various Museums and Cathedrals should be anyone’s first pit stop. However, how you and the pair spend the end of your day might vary!
B&J: Everyone knows COHIBA ROBUSTO, the iconic cigars, are from Cuba. After all, Cuban cigars are said to be the best of the best. We are sure at least JAY-Z stocked up on some of these original and spent a pretty penny for it!
You: Ah, we tourists are much more low-key when it comes to vices. Spend the end of your busy day at the Plaza de la Catedral with a mojito in hand. Cuba is home of the mojito, too! And, perhaps best of all, the drink won’t set you back a few hundred dollars!
5. Beach Excursion
B&J: What is a vacation to a hot climate without the beach right? Beyonce and JAY-Z were sure to book a room at one of the lavish hotels scattered along the beautiful, white-sand Varadero shore. Cost: $150/ night approx.
You: Our suggestion would be to take one of the commonly offered day trips to Varadero. This will not only save you tons but, we actually think you should spend more time cruising about the other regions as opposed to lying on the beach. The country has so much to offer you won’t want to sit still anyways! Cost: $50/day trip