When Billy Joel sang “Oh Havana I’ve been searching for you everywhere,” he was clearly dreaming of the Hotel Santa Isabel. This restored eighteenth century mansion is the Havana of your imagination.
Greenwich, CT (PRWEB) July 11, 2014
For Americans, Cuba occupies an almost mythical place in our national psyche. Forbidden. Romantic. Frozen in time. When a select group of Greenwich residents departed recently for the trip of a life-time with bespoke travel planner Cazenove + Loyd, the most oft asked question was “How on earth are you going to Cuba?”.
According to Kim-Marie Evans, Greenwich Magazine’s travel writer:
The 4-1-1 on Traveling to Cuba
1. Americans can travel to Cuba, however the permit process can be confusing – best to book through an expert agency like Cazenove + Loyd who can make the process painless and legal.
2. Once you have your travel permit you can fly directly from Miami.
3. Some travelers fear that a Cuban passport stamp could cause trouble for future travel – that is a myth.
4. Take Canadian dollars or Euros – the exchange rate for US Dollar is 10%. Not so for other currencies.
5. Your credit cards and debit cards will not work in Cuba – bring cash.
6. Your cell phone won’t work either, but you can buy wireless internet cards in most hotel lobbies.
7. It is illegal to bring home rum and cigars, but not artisan items.
8. Tipping is extremely welcomed. A tip given in advance at a restaurant will improve service tremendously.
Checking in: Where to Find the True Cuban Experience
- Hotel Santa Isabel: When Billy Joel sang “Oh Havana I’ve been searching for you everywhere,” he was clearly dreaming of the Hotel Santa Isabel. This restored eighteenth century mansion is the Havana of your imagination.
- Finca Kenia, also known as La Casana Trinidad: The six hour journey to the postcard perfect village of Trinidad is worth the trip. Though the hotel is in one of the oldest homes in Trinidad, it has a Santa Barbara feel with luxurious bathrooms and excellent air conditioning.
As one of the most culturally rich destinations in the Caribbean, it’s not surprising that the Cuban art scene is world class.
Americans are allowed to spend money on one thing in Cuba: art. And the art is fabulous. With 120 art galleries and forty-six art schools, pinpointing the galleries and artist you want to visit can be daunting. Cazenove + Loyd work with local art curators and can organize private gallery tours.
A Taste of Cuba
Dining in Cuba is a culinary adventure, but sometimes it can be a real adventure as well. Vista Mar is one of the best paladeras in all of Cuba. Paladeras are private home that have opened as restaurants. Originally they were only allowed to seat ten guest, but the dining scene is changing fast (and booming).
Others to consider, include:
- Rio Mar: Very sleek and Miami feeling. If you need a fix that feels more like a “real” restaurant, this is it.
- Chef Ivan Justo: With a kitchen that would make a coat closet look large, this recently opened (and pricey) paladare turns out a menu that would make James Bond proud.
- Nao: Set on a charming side street just opposite the Malecon, this hidden gem with 200-year-old stone walls and exposed beam has an impressive wine list and the ambience to go with it.
- La Guarida: Set on a sketchy block in Centro Havana it seem almost unlikely that the best food in town is to be found up three flights of crumbling stairs.
- Solananda: Enjoy a night awash in the salsa beat of Quarteto Isla, the house band, while dining at the best of the paladares in Trinidad.
Media Availability: Kim-Marie Evans, Greenwich Magazine travel writer, is available to discuss traveling to Cuba.
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