DAY 1

Dec 09 2016

Why Cuba? Ever since Cuban travel restrictions were lightened in late 2015, we had wanted to visit before it becomes another touristy Caribbean island. In mid 2016, the first flights to Cuba were scheduled and the first flights to Havana were scheduled for December. As soon as they went on sale, we bought the first Friday flight to Havana.

Travel to Cuba is still technically illegal from the U.S. However you can still get a Cuban Visitor's Visa if your trip falls into one of twelve categories. We picked Educational/People-To-People exchange which meant we were there to learn about Cuban culture and interact with Cuban people. We didn't have to fill out anything in advance besides a questionnaire from the airline. Cuba is a communist country so healthcare is free to residents. Anyone visiting has to buy a temporary health plan to visit for $50. Most airlines tack this on to the price of the ticket. Our departure to Cuba was from Newark and there was a representative at the gate from the Cuban Consulate selling the visas. We only needed to show our passports and purchase the visa for $25.

Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport

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Newark Liberty International Airport

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José Martí International Airport

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We ended up on the actual third or fourth flight on this route to Havana, the plane had a really fun atmosphere and when we landed, everyone was clapping and cheering

José Martí International Airport

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Havana

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We rented an apartment on Airbnb in Vedado, or "New Havana." A lot of this section was built up during the 1940s and 1950s when Havana was a big tourist destination for Americans.

The hotels in Cuba are all owned and/or run by the government so they are pretty expensive. We also wanted to stay in a less touristy place. The apartment was really nice. The owner rents it for about $150/weekend. In Cuba, a highly paid government worker earns about $40/month so the owners are making a small fortune and have put a lot of money back into their apartment.

At this point we were starving so we started walking around looking for somewhere to eat. We walked and walked and since we were in a mainly residential area, didn't find anything before starving to death so ended up at the Hotel Presidente. We were able to each get a pizza and two or three drinks for about $10 so that was cool. There was a band playing on the veranda as we were leaving so we decided to stay and have a couple more drinks.

DAY 2

Dec 10 2016
The next morning, we were up early for breakfast before our tour.

José Martí International Airport

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Newark Liberty International Airport

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Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport

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