Hola from Cuba, Señoritas! What a great place, aaaa! Love it here! You should definitely put it on your bucket list with an ‘urgent’ tag on. Here are my 10 observations from visiting Havana, Vinales (where the famous cigars are made) and Varadero (the beach!).





1. IT’S GONNA CHANGE FAST – With the US embassy that just opened three months ago and the Delta airline opening new direct flights from New York, Chicago and Atlanta next month – Cuba will change very quickly. Not to say it is now completely undiscovered and free of tourists. It’s just still off the beaten path destination for most European and American peeps. McDonalds opening is just a question of time, so I suggest we add Cuba to the ‘before they disappear from the planet’ locations, because Cuba the way it is, will not last very long.



2. YOU WILL BE DISCONNECTED – Cuba is probably one of the most isolated and disconnected countries in the world so arrange your life ahead accordingly. The only wifi you will find will be in hotels or parks, but to use it you have to have a special card. To buy the card, you will need to show your passport and it can cost you anywhere from $2 when you buy it from the telecommunication company (and stand in an hour long line) or you can get it from your hotel for $6 – another example how different the prices are throughout town.



3. YOU WILL GET RIPPED OFF – not being negative, just honest. I have been traveling with my fancy camera for years now (plus I have blue eyes and blonde hair and look like a non-local in most countries in the world) so I’m used to being asked for money or people trying to rip me off every now and then. It’s okay, that sth beauty of traveling.
However, in my travel history, I have never had so many people trying to rip me off a few dollars pretty much at every opportunity like I had in Cuba, at least a few times a day. There was a taxi driver saying it’s gonna take 10 pesos to get home (which was already a rip off since the ride was worth no more than 3 pesos) and then telling me once we got there it’s actually 10 pesos per person so 20 pesos total. A waiter told me there is a special 15% tax on this particular street (!) so my 15 pesos all inclusive lunch turned out to be $25. In every instance they got very upset when I would point out in my pretty fluent Spanish I’ve been in Cuba for a week now and I know there is no special tax or that you don’t pay for a taxi per person.



4. IT’S NOT THAT CHEAP – on top of that, it’s not very cheap. When I booked my $15 airbnb room in Viñales while still in America, I expected Cuba to be the cheapest destination out on the planet, but it turned not that cheap at all. Dinner can cost you $60-$70 in a nice but not amazing restaurant, a bottle of water in a tourist area was even up to $3 – more expensive than in America.




5. CASH ONLY – I have not been to a single restaurant in Cuba that would accept cards, not to mention American credit cards simply don’t work in Cuba. It’s been a while for me since I had to plan my expenses days ahead to make sure I have enough money for the next few days because exchanging money is not easy either. Unless you stay in a fancy hotel, you have to wait for at least an hour to exchange money (they will need your passport and check the serial number of every single bill you will want to exchange to make sure it’s real. The entire process takes forever).



6. BEST DRINKS EVER – While Cuban food got a little boring after a while (most restaurants have very basic menu of 2-3 kinds of meat with rice and beans and no veggies, pizzas and a ham & cheese sandwich) – cocktails in Cuba are fantastic. The most delicious mojitos, perfect piña coladas and according to Hemingway – the best daiquiri in the world in la Floridita bar. I mean it!



7. IMPOSSIBLE TO GET BREAKFAST BEFORE 9a or EVEN COFFEE. I was staying in a casa particular – homestay through airbnb so we had to arrange our own breakfast but couldn’t find a single place to get coffee in the morning. Oh boy, did I miss Starbucks. Cubans wouldn’t believe me that in America my coffee shop opens at 4:30a. The only breakfast place I saw opened at 9a.



8. CLASSIC CARS – While classic cars are not the only ones on the streets of Havana, you can rent a convertible 56 Chevy per hour for $40 and see the city from the most Cuban perspective. I ended up renting a classic car to see the rest of the island which is way nicer than just driving a normal taxi.



9. GET OUTSIDE THE CITY – while Havana might be among the most vibrant and interesting city I have ever been to (definitely among the most Instagrammable ones), It is outside of Havana that you will find beautiful, unsploit nature and super friendly people. Ride a horse around Viñales while smoking a cigar and enjoy the fact no one will make you sign a liability contract beforehand 😉 Also – Veradero beach is stunning!!!



10. MUSIC EVERYWHERE – you walk around the streets of old Havana and hear music coming from everywhere late at night, people dancing and singing. It’s so fantastic!



I love Safaris! I went for one in South Africa a few years go and fell in love with the idea of sneak-peaking on wild animals in their natural environment.

I hate zoos – there are so depressing! Because honestly – if you want to see a zebra, get your sexy ass over to where they live, don’t make it live in a cage for the rest of their lives. Okay, rant over – back to Tanzania 🙂






I think it was a year ago when I decided as part of my yearly trip planning to go back to Africa again. I was sitting in front of my MacBook Air in my dining room with Peanut running around after a ball when I typed in to Google ‘best spots for safari in the world’ and ‘Serengeti’ came up. I have heard the name many times before.
As soon as I started looking at the photos I thought to myself ‘Oh my goodness! This looks exactly how I always imagined Africa. I need to go there soon!’.
5 minutes later I also read Serengeti was the inspiration for Lion King. Then, I Google mapped it (yes, it’s embarrassing to admit, but I didn’t know which country Serengeti was in). And THEN I realized it’s right next Kilimanjaro (both are in Tanzania). And I always knew I will climbed Kilimanjaro one day so it made sense to do Serengeti at the same time.



Finally here

Going on a safari is a great idea before climbing Kili, because it helps you get over a jet lag and adjust to the altitude. Ngorongoro Conversational area, which is a part of every Serengeti expedition is actually on a little bit of altitude (around 6000 feet), but it’s enough to help your body adjust later on during your trek.

Back to Serengeti 🙂

Our safari was 4 days. you can do 3, you can do 7, but I wouldn’t go on less than 4 days if it’s your only safari opportunity during your time in Africa (I knew I had another 4 days of safari in Kenya so didn’t want to go for too long)



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Our schedule was as follows:

Day 1: Leave Arusha and visit Lake Manyara National Park.
Day 2: Serengeti
Day 3: Serengeti
Day 4: Ngorongoro Crater and back to Arusha at night.

We chose to camp, which is the most wallet- friendly option, but you can also stay in lodges or fancy hotels. The safari part doesn’t change, just the luxury level of your bed 🙂

A few things you need to know when planning a safari:
– camping is completely out in the wild so you do get wildebeests, elephants and hyenas walk right by your tent. That means that for safety reasons, you really shouldn’t leave your tent. That means that every single night you will wake up dying to go to the bathroom – of course. BUT – the moment when you are lying down in your sleeping bag while listening to a giant buffalo munching on grass right next to your ear at 1am in the morning is priceless:) I was very paranoid he will stumble on one of the rings that keep the tent in place, fall onto me and crash me hihi.



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With Masaai lady

– if you ever get car sick, then safari might not be your thing – Serengeti roads are very bumpy and I often felt like on a rodeo.

– you travel with your guide/driver and your chef. It takes a second to get used to be so catered (especially having your own chef) but really have to have someone taking care of food. It’s Africa and you donjt get a grocery store or Starbucks for days sometimes.

– the nights are cold! Luckily, I had my Big Agnes sleeping bag with me which is rated up to 15 F so I wasn’t cold, but it is definitely chilly so be prepared.

– you eat a lot of popcorn – like A LOT! Your chef serves you popcorn at 5p while you wait for your dinner, but the dinner usually takes forever and before you know it you had 2 pounds of popcorn and are not hungry for dinner anymore. Oh well;)

– cost: 4 day budget version with sleeping in tents is about $1000 a person.

Hope this helps 🙂


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Serengeti means ‘great plain’ in Masaai language.

I’ve been meaning to go to Zion forever – all my foreign
friends have already been and told me it’s one of the best National Parks in the US so finally –
as an excuse to train for Kili and enjoy the last bit of Summer, we spontaneously jumped in
the car and drove 7hrs from Cali to Utah.

Angel’s Landing and the Narrows were the best. Plus, I got
THE best camping spot in the world!


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The problem with working in Hollywood is that sometimes when I show up in a really really beautifully surreal place – I feel like it’s a movie set! Antelope Canyon was so unique it definitely did not feel real! Take a look for yourself!

 

ps. Yes, crowds are there and it sucks! It’s almost impossible to get a picture without other tourists. But – doable 🙂


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