travel

My Travel Diaries: Havana Nights

May 22, 2017

What’s better than Havana by day? Havana by night! Don’t get me wrong, everywhere we went in Havana by day was great, listening to music, drinking fresh coconut water on the street— there’s so much to see and do. But Havana by night is energetic!

Night 1

Most of the planning for this trip we saved for the day, and by night we mostly played it by circumstance. On a whim (like 4 days before we left), we decided to try and get a reservation at San Cristobal Paladar, the restaurant where mom and dad (aka former President Obama and First Lady Michelle) had dinner. Sadly our late planning failed us and we could not get a table. So we asked a very handsome gentleman if he had a recommendation nearby (hey boo🙋🏾), and he suggested Casa Miglis, about 6 blocks away. I’m so glad he did because the food was incredible! We arrived just in time as the heavens opened up (so much so that it rained a bit inside the restaurant) to a quaint restaurant with both open air and air conditioned seating.

It was our first meal in Cuba, and the restaurant couldn’t have been more perfect. There was a live band, the pineapple dacquiris were on point, and the food was superb. A lot of people told me the food in Cuba was bland, but I had some of the best food of my life while in Cuba! Spices come at a heavy tax, so for some establishments it’s hard to come by. But that was not the case for Casa Miglis. I wore a white caftan from one of my favorite sellers on Etsy, Cherry Blossom Dress. If I could live my life in a caftan I would, they are so chic and stylish. She ships quickly and sizes goes from xs-4x. I’m wearing an xl just for a size reference.

caftan, Etsy, Havana, travel

Caftan, Etsy, Havana, travel

In motion!

Casa Miglis, Havana, travel

SHOP THE LOOK: White caftan, Cherry Blossom Dresses// head wrap, Marina Paulina (unavailable)// Born Angeles sandals, Zappos// mini crossbody, Forever21 (sold out)

Night 2

After a day visiting the museums and stopping in for a few mojitos and dancing (yep, your girl was dancing with the band in a little hotel bar!), we headed back to our Airbnb to rest and change for dinner. We were all looking forward to visiting the Fabrica de Arte, a unique space for artists, bands, restaurants and more. To our MAJOR disappointment however, when we arrived it was closed! We were so blown! Our driver and new friend Victor was with us all night and made some alternative suggestions. After a quick stop for dinner, we headed to Casa de la Musica in Miramar, a spot that turned out to have a live band! We grabbed our drinks and were invited to sit in the VIP section with who later turned out to be the lead of the band. What luck!

We had a spot right up front and the band was incredible. I love to dance and we were all having an amazing time. And my night was about to get even more amazing as I was invited to dance on stage with the band! I had stage fright for about 10 seconds, mostly because I’m clumsy and I worried about falling on the way to the stage, but once I got on stage you couldn’t tell me nothin’ honey! I wore the perfect dress for salsa dancing, my Rue107 Wendy dress. It’s short and sassy, and is perfect for twirling, and even better for being turned into a Cuban man sandwich!! I’m SO glad the girls recorded this moment, I have watched it every day ever since I’ve returned to remind me of the amazing time we had. The print of this dress is only available in a few sizes, but there’s an alternative print below. Watch and enjoy!!

SHOP THE LOOK: Wendy dress, Rue107 (sizes xs & 1x here, alternate pattern in all sizes here)

Night 3

We had an amazing day strolling the streets of Old Havana. After resting up and changing into our Saturday night best (needless to say after the night before I was hyped for more dancing!), and headed into town. We made reservations at La Guardia paladar, the same restaurant Bey & Jay dined in when they visited Cuba (no groupies here, but if it was good enough for Bey it damn sure was good enough for us!). The building was a stunning  seven stories, with the restaurant being on the 3rd floor (it’s a walk up and no railings in some places, so be prepared to hold your heels or ditch them all together). Dining was on the first roof of the building and it couldn’t have been a more beautiful evening. Our food was not only delicious, but as someone who appreciates presentation, beautiful. We laughed and we cried and enjoyed a nice leisurely dinner.

When Maria Paulina designer Ana Lombo reached out to me to ask if she could send me one of her dresses, I was SO hyped. I first saw the Maki dress about 6 months prior and fell in love. And when I got it in person I was even more excited. It’s such a beautiful dress, and so well made. I love the bubble shape, it’s unique and uber sexy. I cannot wait for another opportunity to wear this, it’s such a show stopper!

After dinner we drove around for a while, trying to find a place to go. Most places didn’t get going until midnight, and all places charged a cover which no one really wanted to pay. Oddly enough we ended up at a fashion show and enjoying a few drinks before calling it a night.

Marina Paulina, Havana, African print, travel

Marina Paulina, La Guarida, Havana, African print

La Guarida, Havana, foodie, travel

SHOP THE LOOK: Maki bubble dress, Maria Paulina// Nine West Leisa kitten heel, Zappos

Night 4

Before we knew it, our last night was upon us. We spent the day at the beach, soaking up the sun, and I had a very early wake up call so we didn’t plan for much. We strolled down to the wifi park to reconnect with our lives back home for an hour, then wandered to find an Italian restaurant not far from our house.

I wish I could remember the name of it, I had one of the best meals I’ve ever had in my life there! There wasn’t a soul in the restaurant when we arrived so we weren’t sure what to think. But we were not disappointed. I had a glass of aged rum neat and a lobster tail that was grilled to absolute perfection. It needed nothing on it, and if I could’ve, I would’ve eaten the shell that thing was so delicious! We wandered back to our place, full and content. After a few more laughs (well, more than a few!), I repacked my things and attempted to la down for a few hours before my 4am wakeup call. I wasn’t ready to get up, and I wasn’t ready to go back!

Lobster, foodie, Havana

A few things you should know before you go:

First off, GO! Cuba is incredible, affordable, and beautiful. People to people visas allow you to visit the country in order to learn more about Cuba and her people, and it’s so easy to get one.

If you don’t know Spanish, download a translator. Google translate let me down, there is no offline database for Spanish! Grr. Try Microsoft’s translate app, it’s free and has a ton of languages available offline.

Be prepared for little to no Internet. Cuba only recently got wifi and it’s not everywhere. Hotels have them but some won’t sell you a card unless you’re a guest. Wifi parks are all over the city and it’s a fun way to interact with the community as everyone is on their device. AT&T is roaming there, but those charges quickly pile up so be careful!

Wander the streets. Cuba is safe day or night with very little crime. We stumbled upon some great places during the day and night just by having no plan!

Bring toilet paper. We each brought a roll which turned out to not be necessary, but I also had with me a little travel size toilet paper thanks to my girlfriend Brea. When you’re out and about some places have none or will charge a small fee for two squares of tp. Not complaining and that’s honestly probably all you need, but not always.

Do a little bit of planning before you go. We lucked out with finding lots to do without a plan, but had it not been for Victor, our plan A on Friday night was a bust and even on Saturday night we couldn’t decide where to go after dinner because we didn’t have a plan. Wandering is fun but plot out a few must-have spots to visit.

Staying in Cuba is affordable when staying at Airbnb or Casa Particulars, Cuba’s version of Airbnb. The hotels are government controlled, overpriced and booked out months in advance. Save yourself the $$ and stay in a house, you’ll be immersed in the community and have comfortable quarters.

We’re already planning a return trip before the end is up, and I can’t wait to see more of what Cuba has to offer. Have you been? Leave a comment about your experience in the comments.

Xo,
Dionna

La Guarida, Marina Paulina

 

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4 Comments

  • Reply Rose May 22, 2017 at 3:19 pm

    Sounds like you had an amazing time! Especially being the filling between two hunks of cuban-man bread! lol

    • Reply Dionna May 23, 2017 at 2:44 am

      Hehehe, that was a major highlight, I’ve watched it every day ever since I came back hahaha. But Cuba was amazing, I can’t wait to return! xox

  • Reply TheEsocialite May 22, 2017 at 6:55 pm

    Hehe! Glad you were never without TP…better safe than sorry girl! Loving your tips and recap!
    xo
    B

    • Reply Dionna May 23, 2017 at 2:43 am

      Hehe, thanks to you! xox

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