#cuba #rawbeauty

Cuba byamandalia.png

Before writing about anything else this year, I wanted to first show you Cuba. It’s 12 hours away from home (something like that, by plane) but believe me when I tell you, worth every second.

One word that I would use to describe it? Raw. Does that make any sense? Untouched – that’s another word for it. It’s a different kind of beauty.  Quite different than, say, New Zealand or the Scottish Highlands. And also, there is this laid-back atmosphere I have yet to come across some place else.

Food 🍴: Best if you’re not too picky because there’s a big chance of  having rice and beans for dinner every single day. Pork is their main dish. But you will always, always, have a hearty portion of rice and black beans with your meal.

Stay  🏠: One way of getting an authentic feel of the place is by staying with the locals. One of my best experiences so far is spending New year’s eve eating and drinking with the whole family. Staying in a Casa Particular instead of  a hotel or resort is something I would definitely recommend.

Drinks 🍸: There is a  limited amount of soft drinks available. As for bottled water, Ciego Montero is the only brand that we came across everywhere we went (restaurants, casas and local stores). Like with everything else, choice is quite limited. For instance, ordering e.g. a local beer at a restaurant and being informed that it’s the last can, was quite a normal occurrence.

But, that shouldn’t be disheartening! Why? Because their cocktails do not disappoint. I am not one to fuss but I can honestly say that so far nothing beats their Piña Coladas. They serve it sans Rum and bring a bottle of Havana Club over so you can add as much as you want.

We lived off Mojitos, Cuba libres and Piña Coladas practically for 10 days. There was one time in Viñales (during happy hour – some places do have it) where we got a cocktail for only 1.50 CUC (equivalent to EUR1.25). Usually the price varies from 3 to 5 CUC; depending from where you’re having it.

Internet 🌐: Well, forget it. For starters, you’re on holiday 😄 and Instagram can wait. But really, Internet is not easily accessible. Forget WiFi access at bars, restaurants or even where you’re staying at. There isn’t any. On the plus side, it was quite refreshing to have actual conversations around the table without anyone staring at his or her phone.

There are a couple of places from where you can buy WiFi cards but you can only have access in certain areas for a limited amount of time. You’ll know when you get there. Flocks of people will be sitting around in a given square, on their phones whilst others trying to sell off WiFi cards.

Now, let the pictures speak for themselves.

Amanda x

Habana

Habana, Cuba

Got to love those cars

Got to love those cars. Viñales, Cuba

The Mural

The Mural

On our way to Vinales

On our way to Viñales, Cuba

Ladas and classic cars

Is this another Lada?

Hand rolled Cigar from farms @ Vinales

Freshly hand-rolled cigars from the farm @ Viñales, Cuba

Looks like the Maltese tile, doesn't it

Looks quite like the Maltese tile, doesn’t it?

Varadero

It was supposed to be sunny. Varadero, Cuba.

Tobacco Farm, Vinales

Tobacco farm in Viñales, Cuba

@House of Rum

House of Rum, Habana, Cuba

Hotel sign in Habana

Hotels in Habana, Cuba

The Flag

Well, that’s the flag.

One of the many stray dogs in Habana

One of the many strays roaming the streets of Habana

Driving around Vinales

The sleeping man, laying down. Can you spot it?

Casa @ Vinales

Casa steps. Viñales, Cuba

La Bodeguita del Medio

La Bodeguita del Medio. Famous for their Mojitos

Fruity Breakfast

Fruity breakfast. It’s that and fried eggs.

Horseback riding

That was the only way we could get to the Tobacco farms! Viñales, Cuba

Cuban coffee

Cuban coffee

Cuban billboard

One of the many billboards. Viñales, Cuba

Couple of blocks away from our Casa, Habana

A couple of blocks away from our Casa. Habana, Cuba

Coffee cups

Coffee cups. Lots of them.

Classic car, Cuba

Your classic car, Cuba

@ Vinales

Mornings @ Viñales, Cuba

Churros, churros, churros!

Churros, churros, CHURROS!

You cannot not have a Cuba Libre

You cannot not have a Cuba Libre

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Never-ending beach @ Varadero, Cuba

 

#amsterdam #overtheedge

It was love at first sight. I got lost in the beauty of the place. And there were a couple of times I  got lost – literally (I have no sense of direction whatsoever, a couple of people can vouch for that).

During our stay, it was mostly cloudy and raining. Some might have even grimaced and frowned at the less-than-ideal-holiday weather. But honestly, it was a breath of fresh air. A break from the hot and humid weather August was kind enough to bestow on us back home.

What can I say about Amsterdam? The locals are nice and helpful, the food is good (albeit a bit expensive), transport is super efficient and I felt relatively safe roaming around the streets, even after dark. I’m a bit paranoid, so that’s saying something. Obviously, this heavily depends on the area. But, I give the overall Amsterdam experience two thumbs up. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. Definitely.

This blog post will be in pictures <scroll below>. I think they will sum it up quite nicely!

Amanda x

On our way! byamandalia

On our way! Essentials at hand.

Finding our way around Amsterdam. byamandalia

Finding our way around Amsterdam #firstday

When the sun comes out at Zaanse Schans. byamandalia

When the sun comes out at Zaanse Schans.

First, lunch! byamandalia

First, lunch! @ Goos

Flowermarket visit. byamandalia

Flowermarket visit.

Random tile at Zaanse Schans. byamandalia

Random tile at Zaanse Schans.

Cheese from Zaanse Schans. byamandalia

Cheese from Zaanse Schans

Lunch break at Vondelpark. byamandalia

Lunch break at Vondelpark.

Over the edge. byamandalia

Over the edge.

A waffle with stroop. byamandalia

A waffle with stroop.

You cannot not drink beer! byamandalia

You cannot not drink beer!

Rainy day in Amsterdam. byamandalia

Rainy day in Amsterdam.

New best friend at Zaanse Schans. byamandalia

New best friend at Zaanse Schans.

Beautiful Vondelapark. byamandalia

Beautiful Vondelapark.

Mouthwatering almond cake. byamandalia

Mouthwatering almond cake.

Coffee at Anne Frank's House. byamandalia

Coffee at Anne Frank’s House.

Breakfast at Greenwoods Keizersgracht. byamandalia

Breakfast at Greenwoods Keizersgracht.

A must have Starbucks picture. byamandalia

A must have Starbucks picture.

#Bellaitalia #Foodie

I’ve been to Bari with my mom & sister-from-another-mister for a couple of days and didn’t want to leave! They had to drag me out of the apartment . I would have stayed for the morning brioche and frothy cappuccino alone! But as they say, all good things come to an end (or until the next good thing comes along). This time, I have decided to tell my story in pictures 🙂

Amanda x

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