Wander: Cuba with Tinabeth Piña

My friend and co-worker Tinabeth Pina (who also happens to look like a movie star) started the coolest travel blog called Tinabeth Travels.  The blog includes great travel deals and tips. You'll love her one-minute videos!  She recently travelled to Cuba and it just so happens I will be going there next Spring with my students for a Global Journalism program. So, I made her answer a few questions to help me plan for next Spring's itinerary! 


Your Cuba itinerary.  How long did you stay?  What cities in Cuba did you visit?

I was in Cuba for one week in the Santo Suarez area of Havana.  We visited several areas in Havana -- Havana Vieja, Vedado, Miramar, Cerro, Marianao, Playas del Este -- Its like going to Brooklyn, Queens , Bronx and Staten Island when you visit New York City!
Describe your trip in three sentences?

Intoxicating, educational & deeee-lightful
 What surprised you most about Cuba?
You'd think that its this communist country with several locations being off limits. I found everyone and everything to be open to explore! People are super friendly!
You stayed in what is called a Casa Particular? Is that like a Cuban B&B?

It's exactly like a bed breakfast and I booked it on Air B&B before I left for the trip! Some serve breakfast and some do not. Mine did for a extra fee of $5 per person per day. Plus my place also had a cab driver that took us wherever we wanted to go each morning. I just had to flag a cab down at the end of the day to take us back "home". We paid separately each time for the cab and 2 days in a row we hired him for the day!
If you could go back for one day in Cuba, what would be a perfect day?

Waking up in an old mansion with antique furniture to set the stage, having a delicious Cuban breakfast with fresh juice and taking a teal colored 1955 Chevy convertible to Old Havana where I get dropped off to wander around, people watch and explore some streets & buildings that I didn't have the opportunity to check out on my last trip. I'll start to get hungry and will want some churros and a chocolate milkshake at the Museo del Chocolate. That same convertible picks me up and takes me to the Miramar seaside area since I didn't have a chance to really explore it the last time I was there. I have a delicious seafood late lunch or early dinner at a swank paladar. I head back to the mansion, take a siesta and then wake up to head back out to Vedado to dance the night away..one mojito at a time!
 Favorite restaurant?
A 3 way tie between El Chanchullero, Perla Negra & El Chile Habanero
Must-see tourists spots?

 Rum factory , Cigar Factory, Tropicana, Hemingway's Room at the Ambos Mundos Hotel, Canon blast..there are so many -- that if you an only see maybe 3 or 4 - you'll want to return to see more!
Best place to take photos?

 Around every corner!  I'm not exaggerating!
Best place to feel like a local?

In a "casa" away from touristy Old Havana -- so you can just wander around and interact with the locals. you are after all staying and living in their neighborhood!
Don’t bother (if there is a don’t bother.)

Bringing American issued credit cards - they don't accept them there!

Check out Tinabeth's website: Tinabeth Travels for more videos and other travel tip!