:: Cuba :: Havana + ViΓ±ales ::

Cuba.  It's like stepping back in time.  Remember when there were no mobile phones.  If someone said they would meet you at a destination, they would be there.  Well this is what Cuba still is.   People up the street, talking to each other.  Like really talking.  High-fiving each other, handshakes between friends. Sitting at outdoor dusty bars drinking $1 beers.  Girls chatting on pay phones.  

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Then there are the 1950s cars, the chevies, the jazz, the dancing. 

There is only a few ways into Cuba, we flew from Mexico into Havana.  On arriving I couldn't help but notice the female airport staff uniforms.  Fish net stockings.  How cool is that!  

As soon as I found a cab and we were on our way to our Casa in the Old Town, we started seeing all the 1950s cars.  

It's incredible to see hundreds of them just driving around by older people as well as young guys.  I couldn't help but wonder whether these young guys realised that what they were driving were so sort after elsewhere in the world.  Often we'd be sitting at traffic lights and these gorgeous young men with dark hair and blue eyes would be hanging out of their big chunky chevies looking around the place like total dudes with not a care in the world.

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As you will know Cuba is also well known for its cigars and its rum.  What Cuba isn't known for is its food... so don't go there expecting amazing food.  

Pork fried rice, burgers and paninis are very popular.  

If you are willing to pay a little more of course, you be able to enjoy a delicious crayfish/lobster at a restaurant but otherwise the food is pretty simple. 

 Our Casa accommodation included breakfast which always included beautiful seasonal fruit.  

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After a couple of days in Havana, we caught a bus to ViΓ±ales.  A beautiful small town in the Pinar del RΓ­o province of Cuba.  Everywhere you look you will see colourful homes, dusty streets, horse drawn carts and farmers.  

Our Casa in ViΓ±ales had a rooftop terrace and we would spend out evenings on the roof watching the amazing sunsets and sipping straight white rum.

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ViΓ±ales is where you will find the tobacco fields amongst the most stunning lushness of green rolling hills and mountain ranges.  Its spectacular.  We decided to do a tour through the tobacco fields via horse back... not sure what I was thinking there as I sure as hell didn't have the correct clothing... denim short cut-offs and horse back riding does not make comfortable touring!  The insides of my thighs were getting pitched by the stirrups the entire journey!  My horse was called Mojito and Grant's (very cheeky horse) was called Margarita.  For some reason Margarita wanted to eat anything and everything..especially things she knew she couldn't have, like the tobacco leaves straight from the crops!  

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After riding though some magnificent valleys and tracks, we came to the farmers tobacco drying sheds and a farmer offered us a rum and explained the cigar making process and rolled a few cigars for us.  Grant made some purchases and off we went on Mojito and Margarita..

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The following day we did a day trip out to a secluded island called Lavisa.  I knew we were doing some travelling and hanging on a beach for the day so I decided to lend a book from the Casa and managed to read the entire book!  Making that 4 novels this holiday.  Incredible for me!

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After 3 nights away we bused back to Havanan for our final three days in Cuba.  

Boy the weather got hot in the big city!  Next stop, Jamaica!

:: Mexico City + Playa del Carmen ::

I have just returned from holidays!  First stop was LA for a quick one night stopover.  I stayed in West Hollywood and did the touristy things of Hollywood Boulevard, trip around Beverley Hills and fitted in a quick shop at H&M.  

Next stop was Mexico City... wow.  So many people!  I haven't lived in London for 5 years (I live in Sydney) and one thing I noticed on this holiday was the amount of people!  I really came to realise this when we arrived in NYC.. but more about that later!  Mexico City... I stayed in Roma which is near Condesa. This part of town is quoted as being an artsy, bohemian residential neighborhood with great cafes and restaurants.  Perfect.  This is exactly what it was like.  Beautiful tree lined streets, coffee shops, friendly people and we felt really safe walking around day and night.  

We stayed in a lovely Air Bnb and our host was Eduardo who was so helpful.  I absolutely loved it.  On my shopping list for Mexico City was some beautiful stripy mexican blankets which I found, and my boyfriend found some tiny handpainted skull ornaments.  At the markets there were often fruit stalls and it wasn't until my last day in Mexico City that I got to try some of the fruit.  I had chopped up mango, watermelon, lime juice, sprinkled with chilli power and salt...all in a little bag.  Incredible!  I just wish I had of tried it on my first day in Mexico so that I could have eaten more!

After 3 days we left Mexico City for the east coast, Playa del Carmen.  Beautiful.  The colour of the ocean is breathtaking.  Fifth Avenue shopping... I cannot tell you how many times I walked up that street.  

But my most favourite place was a bar and restaurant called Almirante Pech.  Think outdoor setting, reclaimed and recycled furniture, vintage and floral plates table settings,  and hanging lights made from old power line glass insulators - the reason why I noticed these is because my Mum loves them and has one of her own at home.  The cocktails, wine and food was also amazing at Almirante!  If you go to Playa, please go!  I totally recommend.  Great place for people watching too as the bar is outdoors so you can watch the world go by... in style with a cocktail in hand.

Our accommodation in Playa was the highlight of my trip.  We booked a two story cabana which I found on Air Bnb.  The cabana had the bedroom upstairs with a big balcony.  Downstairs was another room and also the best bathroom I have ever been in.  It was outdoors (but totally private).  The shower water came down a piece of hollow bamboo.  The basin was hand painted and the entire experience was absolutely divine.  If I could create this bathroom in my dream home, I would be the happiest girl in the world :)  

Our hosts at the cabana (Shalala) were Omar and Guillaume.  Guillaume was so welcoming and gave us some great suggestions of what to do around the place.  We did a day trip out to the Cenotes, which is a swimming hole inside a cave.  It was phenomenal.  From there we went on to see the Mayan ancient ruins of Chicken Itza.  

My other favourite place to eat and sip cocktails was next door to our Cabana, called La Cueva del Chango.  Unique outdoor setting, loads of greenery, great vibe, amazing food and cocktails and amazing service!  The bar is on Calle 38 Norte, between Fifth Avenue and the sea.  They make superb pina coladas with their own twist.

My Cuba, Jamaica and NYC downloads will be coming soon xx

PS:  Mexico is also great for buying silver jewellery.  Love!

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