The diversity of Argentina

About 4 years ago, I traveled the world for six months. If people asked me which country I liked most, that was a tough question to answer, but I always mentioned Argentina because this is such a diverse country. Argentina is so much more than Buenos Aires; the city of the tango. Especially for nature and wine lovers, Argentina is the place to go. Here are some of my favorite sights.

Ushuaia
El fin del mundo: Ushuaia is the most southern city in the world. A lot of people come here for a trip to Antarctica. The close-by national park Tierra del Fuego, is beautiful. You can walk a various number of routes, and if you’re lucky you can see beavers, a fox, or even a whale.

Perito Moreno
Perito Moreno is probably the most famous glacier of Argentina. You can do several tours here; one at which you will walk on the glacier itself, or you can jump on a boat and sail along Perito Moreno and a few other glaciers. This might be a bit confronting, as the trip also shows the effect of climate change since you can very clearly see how much the ice has melted over the years.

perito-moreno-glacier Argentina
Perito Moreno Glacier

El Chaltén
El Chaltén is a very small and cozy village from where you can hike in the Parque Nacional Los Glaciares. This is one of the few national parks in Patagonia that doesn’t have an entrance fee. In the village, you can rent all the equipment you need for a 2-day (or more) hike; a tent, sleeping bags, a map, etc. There are different routes to take but the most famous one takes you to Mount Fitz Roy. If you sleep at the camping of the national park and head off to the viewpoint early morning, you might be lucky enough to see what is supposed to be an amazing sunrise at the foot of Mount Fitz Roy.

mount-fitz-roy, Argentina
Stunning Mount Fitz Roy

Bariloche
Bariloche is the heart of the lake district of Argentina. Although nature here is quite different from the more southern Patagonia, it is also very beautiful. You can rent a car (of bike if you’re very sporty) to ride along the seven lakes. You can also take the cable car to Cerro Campanario, from which you have a great view over the surroundings. Bariloche is also home to a lot of outdoor activities. You can for example go rafting or canyoning. I can highly recommend the latter, because here you will have the opportunity to descend a waterfall and that is just a great experience.

view-from-cerro-campanario Argentina
View from Cerro Campanario

Mendoza
Mendoza is most famous for its wines. Almost all Argentinian wines come from the Mendoza valley. A very good way to try a variety of wines here is to rent a bike and cycle along different wineries. Almost all of them offer a free tour and tastings for a very reasonable price.

I think all these sights together show what a diverse country Argentina really is. I know that there are many more places to discover here, so I will definitely go back again sometime. What about you? Is visiting Argentina already on your bucket list?

Love,

Dionne

*Dionne is one of our guest bloggers from the Netherlands, currently living in Den Bosch. In everyday life she works as a marketing-communications professional. She loves to travel to distant destinations, but she also enjoys a city trip closer to home.

The Salt Flats in Bolivia, A Must Visit!

Reflections, crystal-white salt, never ending views, ice scraped mountains, wildlife, and this all above 4000 km height.  Combine breath taking colorful lagoons with steamy volcanoes, geysers and warm hot-springs. This popular destination is without doubt an unforgettable and magical journey that you will never forget! Experience the world’s largest salt flats: Salar de Uyuni

Salt Flats

The view from the air is exquisite, you can already see the Salt Flats from here

How to get there:
I traveled from La Paz to Uyuni by plane and I paid 1350 Bolivianos for a return flight (this is around 190 euro). The flight only takes 50 minutes and it departs at 7am with Amazons airlines or at 8am with BOA airlines. The view from the air is exquisite, you can already see the Salt Flats from here.
From the airport you need to take a taxi that will bring you to the center of Uyuni for just 10 Bolivianos (1.40 euro).  You can also take a bus from La Paz to Uyuni, that will only costs you 30 euros for a return ticket and they will drop you in the center of Uyuni.  It takes around 8 or 9 hours one way (depending on the traffic).

SALT FLATS

TIP! Make sure you arrive in the center of Uyuni before 10am, so you will have enough time to arrange your tour. The tour starts around 11am.

Tours
The Salar de Uyuni tours range in length from one to four days. During a one day tour you will experience the salt flats as well as a few other sights in the surrounding area and you’ll do it by jeep. The three or four day tours will take you deeper into the desert where you will see steamy volcanoes, geysers, colorful lakes, warm hot-springs, unique wildlife and a lot more…..I definitely recommend a three or four day trip if you like a little adventure.

Salt Flats

Where To Buy Your Ticket
You can choose to book your ticket in La Paz (or another city), but we’d heard that it’s cheaper and also super easy to fix in Uyuni , so we decided to book it there. When you arrive in the center of Uyuni in the early morning you will find many local agencies who all want to sell a ticket to you. They will attack you and it’s hard to choose. For your info, they all offer the same tours, it’s just the price that diverse from the other. Eventually it’s cheaper to book your ticket in Uyuni. We paid 680 Bolivianos for 3 days, including food, drinks and 2 night’s stay.

TIP! Try to find at least 5 people and start to negotiate (every jeep will take a group of up to 6 people).

The Tour
Day 1: 

  • Arrive at the small village of Colchani where you will have the chance to buy some local souvenirs 
  • The original Salt Hotel 
  • Salar de Uyuni (Uyuni salt flats), where you get enough time to make pictures and see the sunset
  • Uyuni center where you will have dinner and spend the night

dsc_9031

20170315_155405
Mirror mirror on the wall..

20170315_183921
The Sunset at the Salt Flats is something else..

salt-flats
Image by Nancy 

Day 2:

  • Wake up at 7am and leave at 8am
  • Breakfast in a small village on the way to the next stop (Bread with jam and coffee or tea)
  • Exploring the Cementerio de trenes 
  • Valle de Rocas where you get lunch (meat with salad and potatoes
  • Small desert of Chiguana on the south side of Salar de Uyuni where you stop at a lookout to view steamy volcanoes
  • Breathtaking colorful Lagoons: Hedionda, Onda with many flamingos , Lagoon Colorodo National park (protected where you need to pay 15o Bolivianos)
  • Eat and sleep in a hostel. You get a tea and coffee with cookies when you arrive and for dinner we got this nice vegetable soup and spaghetti with a bottle of red wine

TIP! Bring your own wine! Or…. If your wine is finito and you wish for more than you can buy it in the small village where you are staying (around the corner), that sells beers, wines, cookies, chips and more.

Salt Flats
Cementerio de trenes

Salt Flats
Valle de Rocas

20170316_134543

20170316_150204
Lagoon Onda

20170316_171117

20170316_171317
Lagoon Colorodo

Day 3:

  • Wake up at 6am, have breakfast (delicious pancakes for breakfast in the morning with tea and coffee) and leave at 7.30am
  • Visit the Sol de Mañana” geysers while the sun comes up
  • The natural hot-springs. The volcanic activity produces some thermal springs. Best way to get warm again. 
  • Laguna Verde – the green lake – only green in October and November due to the change in alga’s
  • Lunch on the way back – salad with tuna, vegetables and pasta with a beautiful view (6 hour ride back to Uyuni)
  • Last stop is the local market 1 hour before Uyuni. Time to go to the toilet and buy some drinks

20170317_063407
Sol de Mañana” geysers

20170317_063837-2
Sunset at the geysers

20170317_072716
The natural hot-springs 

20170317_084539
Laguna Verde

You can describe the Salt Flats tour in one word: Memorable! 

Love,

Sarah

Read more about Sarah’s adventure in Bolivia and the main reason she went there:

Bolivia

Gender Equality in Agua Blanca, Bolivia

A bumpy road with lots of llamas and alpacas along the way with breathtaking views. After a 12 hour drive from La Paz we arrived at a small village called Agua Blanca (named after the rivers and waterfalls over here) near the border of Peru. Together with Yolanda and a priest of the organization ISEAT we visited the local village people and lived with them for 3 days. Around 100 families live in this village, nestled between snow-capped mountains. 1300 ft above sea level without any mobile and internet connection. But is that important when you have your friends and families around you and views like these? I was here to talk to the men and women about gender equality.

Agua Blanca

The workshops
The leaders of the village get monthly workshops by ISEAT – an organization of theologians supported by ‘Mensen met een Missie’- . An important topic here is also gender equality and gender-based violence between men and women. Almost half of the women in this village are single, they don’t have faith in men or left their men. The leaders tell us that violence against women is thankfully getting less and that you already see the difference. Men help out in householding and take over some of the tasks from their wives.


The leaders of Agua Blanca


Even more happy together after the workshops

The Future of Women in Agua Blanca
Some of the women and men here, follow the workshops of ISEAT and Mensen Met een Missie. According to them you will find not as much violence in their village like in the bigger cities. There’s still some physical and psychological violence against women but you won’t see that 0ut in the open. Things are getting better.


An interview with the people of the village in their church

The people in Agua Blanca are sincerely and unbelievable friendly

 


Lama’s welcoming us upon arrival

Now it’s time to head back to La Paz where me and my reporters team will have a day to rest before saying goodbye and heading to the salt lakes of Bolivia!

Love,

Sarah

*All pictures are shot by Ilsoo van Dijk

A memorable day in Bolivia

For some women in the world the 8th of March is just another ordinary day, but for women in Bolivia it is ‘the day’ that they fight against violence. We marched on the streets in Sucre (Bolivia) with around 50 women who all have something in common; they are humiliated and scarred for life. I’ve asked myself the question, will this ever stop?!

Sucre – ‘la ciudad blanca’ or white city, is the capital of Bolivia which lies at an elevation of 2,810 meters. Many of the buildings in the center of this beautiful white-washed town date back to the 16th century.  It’s famous for it’s historic buildings, indigenous culture, nightlife, bars and restaurants. An old-world charm place that is unlike any other. It seems so peaceful, but a lot happens behind doors.

A memorable day in Bolivia we will never forget!

In the early morning we walked with our group of volunteers to the Levantate de Mujer office where around 50 women were ready to march the streets of Sucre. And we marched with them!

They were holding brown papers and shouted what rights they should and want to have: the right to study, the right to work, the right to choose who to marry…… To make an end to discrimination based on gender!




Interview with local radio and tv!

We gathered around at Playa Major with lots of other women and luckily also some men.
Aracely, 21 years old – Marilena, 17 years –  Ligia, 36 year – these are a few of the names and ages of women who are murdered, beaten to dead or burned. These names are visible on a ribbon of waving flags on the square. The leaders of Levantate de Mujer gave interviews to local radio and tv shows. The problem is clearly visible today and that’s definitely needed.


Ribbon of waving flags of women who are murdered, beaten to dead or burned

In the afternoon we spoke with some of the women who participate in projects of Levantate de Mujer. 

Patricia – “My husband punched me several times. I got 3 fractured ribs and a damaged face and more.. But even worse, he physically humiliated me.”


Tears in her eyes

Her story got me. She closed her eyes and began her story:
” I haven a violent past, my husband punched me several times. I got 3 fractured ribs and a damaged face and a lot more.. But even worse, he physically humiliated me. I wasn’t good enough for him and my children. He tortured one of  my children and she died. I still didn’t know what to do, so I let him do his thing for many years. Eventually I got in contact with this organization via a neighbor. I left my husband and I’m still so happy that I did! My children an I spoke with a psychologist and we learned how to move forward. I want to be there for my children, so therefore I learned how to cook, sew etc. I got my confidence back and my children do much better!”

We cried with her and we were quiet for a few minutes….

There’s still a lot of violence against women, but with the help of the workshops of Mensen met Een Missie  there’s an opportunity for these women!
So if you haven’t donated yet, than please do
here!

You will find more info about Levantate de Mujer and Mensen Met een Missie here

All images are shot by Ilsoo van Dijk 


Love, 

Sarah

How to avoid the crowds at Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Angkor Wat is undoubtedly Cambodia’s biggest tourist attraction. And this is no surprise since Angkor Wat is the biggest religious monument in the world which dates back to the early twelfth century. These days almost 5 million tourists yearly make their way over to Cambodia to wander around the temples of Angkor themselves, making it a very popular but very busy place to visit. You better think again if you ever dream of having these temples all to yourself, but there are a few tricks to avoid the big crowds and wander around in peace…

1. Watch the sunrise and leave a little early
Watching the sunrise at Angkor Wat is a definite must-do when you’re visiting these temples. Not only is it a truly magical experience when a new day presents itself by rising up against the temples, but it is also a great way to arrive at the temples early. If you want to have a good spot without hundreds of iPad and Selfiestick waving Chinese tourists in front of you, walk right instead of going straight ahead at the famous ‘sunrise temple spot’. You won’t be right in front of the temples, but you will share the view with just a dozen of other tourists. When the sun is up and you captured enough Instagram-worthy shots, head back to your Tuk Tuk driver before everybody else does. Doing this you’ll arrive at the other temples as one of the first, having the temples (almost) all to yourself :)

Sunrise at Angkor Wat

2. The further away, the better!
Ask your Tuk Tuk driver to bring you to the popular temples that are further away first. Many Tuk Tuk’s and tour buses follow a certain route, creating the perfect opportunity for you to do the exact opposite thing :) Also, if you see tons of big tour buses standing outside of a temple, ask your Tuk Tuk driver to take you to another temple which appears to be less crowded first.

no crowds at ankor-wat

3. Go back at the end of the day
Wandering around the temples of Angkor is extremely beautiful, but also extremely tiring and HOT! If you decided to watch the sunrise you will probably feel very tired around 12pm, making you want to go home and take a nap during the hottest hours of the day. If you buy a one-day-pass this pass is valid for a whole day, so you can come back to the temples in the late afternoon, when most of the crowds already have disappeared. Make sure you don’t go too late as Angkor Wat closes at 6pm.

Angkor Wat takes you back in time

I hope the three tips above will help you explore this ancient Kingdom in peace and quiet. Enjoy :)

Love,

Evelien

*Evelien is one of our guest bloggers who currently travels and lives in Australia. Follow her on Instagram (@eefexplores) or check out her website!

Did you know Cambodia is one of the world’s cheapest countries to live in? Check which countries made it to the top 5!

WX191DV28C

Dancing around Cuba » Don’t miss these 7 highlights

Cuba, a destination where you, so to say ‘travel back in time’. Its most distinguishing mark are probably its old-timers. You just can’t ignore all the Plymouths, Chevrolets and Pontiacs driving around. But, Cuba is much more than that. It’s a diverse country with an interesting history, beautiful beaches, great nature, lovely people, charming cities and not to forget tasty rum, good cigars and spectacular salsa. Literally in every restaurant and on each plaza there’s a salsa band playing the famous Guantanamera, Chan Chan, or another salsa song. With this music, I felt like dancing around Cuba. My favorite places:

1. Havana: a great way to start your holiday
The capital of Cuba is quite touristic, but it definitely has its charm as well. Especially Havana Vieja has a great ambiance with its cosy streets, beautiful colonial buildings and amiable plazas where you can enjoy a local beer or mojito while listening to (or dancing on) the first salsa tones. Outside Havana Vieja, the fortress El Morro, Plaza de la Revolución and the Malécon are also worth a visit. Altogether, my boyfriend and I got a nice first glimpse of the Cuban culture here.

Havana, Cuba
A local bar on one of the main squares in Havana

2. Valle de Viñales: a good dose of nature
We explored the Valle de Viñales by doing a five-hour tour on horses. Once entering the national park, the so-called mogotes, lime-stone cliffs, start rising from the bottom of the valley which makes it a spectacular view. During the tour we also visited a cave, a coffee plantation, a lake and a cigar plantation. The cigar is another signature of Cuba, so the farmer that showed us how they’re made, insisted I also tried one, because I otherwise did not really visit Cuba. To be honest, it didn’t taste as bad as I thought it would, mainly because the farmer had dipped the cigar in a bit of honey to make it sweeter (as the Cubans basically do with everything).

3. El Nicho: imposing waterfall
The trip to this waterfall, just outside the national park Topes de Calientes, was sensational on itself. All of a sudden, you’re driving around in this green, mountainous region. At some point, our taxi could not cope very well with these hills and the driver had to give the motor some water every 500 meters. When we finally arrived, we still had some hiking to do in order to reach the waterfall. It was quite hot, but the view of the waterfall, and the ability to jump into its cold water, was definitely worth it.

El Nicho
The EL Nicho waterfall

4. Trinidad: city of the salsa
Trinidad is a city with an amazing vibe, one that can hardly be described. You just have to go there to experience it. The city centre is quite small and picturesque with its Spanish colonial architecture. At night, the main square, Plaza Major, is filled with lots of people. Not only tourists, but also the Cubans gather here to listen to live music and dance the salsa. Since the salsa also is a characteristic of Cuba, we wanted to learn dancing it ourselves. So, we took a salsa class at a dancing school in Trinidad. We actually felt like doing a pretty good job; until later that night we watched some Cubans dancing in the square… that was something different!

5. Playa Santa Lucia: beautiful beaches and fantastic diving
Santa Lucia is a small town at the north coast of Cuba. It was the most peaceful town of our trip. There were nearly no tourists, so we really felt like we were amongst Cubans. Next to the beautiful beaches (best one is Playa Los Cocos, just 8kms outside Santa Lucia) it’s also a great place for diving. During our dive we saw a 66m long ancient shipwreck with beautiful coral on top and nice fishes swimming around. I can tell you, that’s really impressive.

Playa Los Cocos Cuba
Playa Los Cocos

6. The city of the revolution: Santa Clara
Santa Clara is mainly interesting because of its history. This is the city where Che Guevara successfully derailed an armoured train, which was a key tipping point in the Cuban revolution. This train, called Tren Blindado, can still be seen on the exact spot where it derailed. On the other side of town, at Plaza de la Revolución, you’ll find a massive monument of Guevara together with the mausoleum that houses the remains of this famous revolutionist and a museum that tells you all about him.

7. Las Cuevas de Bellamar in Matanzas: some impressive caves
At first, we were not sure whether to visit the Caves just outside Matanzas, since we’ve seen stalactites and stalagmites before. In the end we did decide to go, and boy was I happy with this decision. All previous caves were dwarfed by this supposedly 24kms long cave. Only 2kms are open for visitation, in which you can see spectacular halls and galleries, that all have their own names. Feels like walking around in a completely different, almost fairy-tale like world.

Bellamar caves in Cuba
One of the galleries in the Bellamar caves

Are you ready for some dancing around Cuba?

Love,

Dionne

*Dionne is one of our guest bloggers from the Netherlands, currently living in Den Bosch. In everyday life she works as a marketing-communications professional. She loves to travel to distant destinations, but I also enjoy a city trip closer to home. 

Colombia: many faces, one country!

My sister inspired me to travel to Colombia. A country with so many faces. For the world mostly known for the Farc (a guerrilla army) and drug trafficking by the cartel of Pablo Escobar (in the eighties responsible for 80% of the drug traffic to the US). But there is so much more to this country: a stunning countryside, a passion for salsa, amazing beaches and an artistic heart.

Bogato
Let’s start at the beginning. When I landed in Bogota, the capital of Colombia, I was really surprised about the brightness of the city. Everywhere you look you see art, especially street art. A guide (from a free walking tour that you can book here) explained that this form of expression is important in Colombia, by this way local people express how they feel about the government, corruption and freedom. I was moved by the way these paintings show an urge for peace, freedom and happiness. The city is developing into a beautiful cultural capital with a voice, a strong voice, against corruption and suppression.

Colombia Street Art
Streetart

Central Colombia
I met some great people to travel with and we went up to Villa de Leyva, the Zorro town. You literally feel you are in a Zorro movie. Who doesn’t want that? Definitely worth visiting. Tip: Stay at Colombian Highlands, a hotel on top of the hill with a stunning view. From Villa de Leyva I took a night bus to Salento: a long ride of 8 hours. There it was time to see the tallest palm trees in the world. The place was full of locals and no tourist to be seen. But there it was: Salento, a little town surrounded by thin high palm trees. I stayed at a great place on top of the mountain in an eco-farm La Serrana Eco Farm. The food is great and they offer a variation of tours (also a great coffee tour). This area ‘’Eje Cafetero’’ is also known for one of the best coffee productions in the world. The next day we started hiking in Valle de Cocora. Suddenly you are surrounded by impressive palm trees and hummingbirds.

Vila_de_levya
Villa de Leyva aka Zorro Town

North from Salento, you have the second biggest city of Colombia: Medellin. Medellin is the party city of Colombia and believe me: that’s true. A lot of clubs and bars but also the place for good healthy food. It’s a very trendy city but mainly the city of Pablo Escobar. There are a lot of tours, who will tell you everything about the ‘’Medellin cartel’’. My highlight was something totally different: Guatape. An amazing view close to Medellin that I will never forget. I think the picture will speak for itself, just stunning!

“This country is definitely one of my favorites. Viva Colombia”

gautape Colombia
Stunning views over Gautape

North West Colombia
This country kept on amazing me. So many different faces. For example: Cartegena, so different than all other places I had seen in Colombia. A town full of flowers with a big passion for salsa. You can feel the salsa, the passion for dancing everywhere. A good place to relax. A bit touristy but lovely. After Cartegena we went to Santa Marta. I had my favorite Colombian snack here! Grilled bread with warm Guacamole: yum! This town is not really special but a perfect base for a hike to the Lost City. First it was time to visit the most famous National Park of Colombia: Tayrona National Park.

The photo you see on the cover of the Lonely Planet, the photo of Colombia, is a photo of the most famous beach in Colombia: Tayrona beach. You need to see it! When you enter the park you have to walk 2 hours in the heat to get to the beach. There is no car access, only a walking route. There is one restaurant, some camp sites and hammocks. Really cool to stay a night and sleep in a hammock. I chose to skip it, because I wanted to do the Lost City track and I didn’t have enough time. I would definitely recommend it though!

National Parl tyrona Colombia
Part of Tyrona National Park

Tyrona beach Colombia
Panoramic view of Tyrona Beach

On top of the lost city Colombia
On top of the lost city

The Lost City
Sleeping in the open air in the middle of the park underneath the stars. Let the beauty of the world surround you.

For me no amazing night underneath the stars, but time for some real exercise: a hike to Ciudad Perdida  the “Lost City” in Spanish. The Lost City is an archaeological site and a unique place to see. There are still people living there without electricity, far away from the world we live in. Some people say it’s more beautiful than the Machu Picchu. This area is still untouched and not really touristy. The way to get there is though, really though. It was one of the hardest tracks I had ever done. I already heard that this track was hard work: 3 days of hiking, through the mountains, in the heat. The track is not the problem, but the heat! You might feel as if your body isn’t going to make it, so bring plenty of water. This was a journey I will never forget. I felt like I was in a movie, in a jungle full of magic. I don’t really have words to describe it. It was just magical. How the light shines through the jungle, the stairs partly covered by nature, the little waterfalls, the old rituals and ruins of the city, the lost city.

Hike to the palmtrees Colombia
Made it to the top! 

This country is definitely one of my favorites. Viva Colombia!

Love,

Jolien

*Jolien is one of our guest bloggers living in the Netherlands. She has traveled all over the world and seen countries like India, China, Sri Lanka, Australië and Colombia. You can read about her adventures and tips every 2nd Monday of the month!

These are the best non-touristy spots in Havana, Cuba

Havana is guaranteed to instantly charm you with its untamed way of life; the way you can walk down the street and not see another European face; or how the local merchants will barter with you over the price of an onion just for fun. However, because this beautiful city hasn’t yet become a touristic destination, it’s hard to find information on things to do and see there. There are so many unique places to visit in Havana, but here is a round up of the best places to see as a ‘local tourist’.

Obispo Street
This is the main street in Havana Vieja, and as soon as you step out onto the cobbles you can see why! There are countless shops running one after the other, with designer brands rubbing shoulders with family run souvenir stalls. Here you can also find kitch little bars and restaurants, where the locals hang out at to listen to live salsa and afro-cuban bands. The main banks and exchange houses are also along this street, just incase your money accidentally disappeared on one too many mojitos.

Obisbo 2

O’Reilly Cafe
We all know that this country is renowned for their deep, rich coffee blends and their aromatic brews, but Cafe O’Reilly takes it to a whole new level. As soon as you walk in you are greeted with the aroma of freshly ground coffee, and the feeling of going back in time before social meetings included cell phones, a time when people could sit down and really appreciate a great coffee. In O’Reilly’s you can chose from a huge selection of coffee cocktails, containing every alcohol you can think of, fine espressos, traditional cappuccinos, shakes and even drinkable deserts! They use blends of only the best crops from the various coffee regions of Cuba, producing both the arabica and robusta beans, giving their coffee an exquisitely deep, fruity taste and hypnotizing aroma. 

Cafe O'Reilly 2 Havana

Antiguos Almacenes
I guarantee that you’ll have never seen a warehouse so full of colour and life! As soon as you walk in you can smell the freshly cooked churros, hear the live bands and feel the buzz of trading everywhere. The artwork in Antiguos Almacenes is so unique, and the artists are usually the ones sat selling, so you can ask them all about their works. For anyone into art, music or street food this is a place not to be missed!

Antiguos Almacenes 1 Havana

Chocolate Museum
Don’t be fooled by it’s name, this museum is more like a ‘stuff yourself with every form of chocolate available to man’ sort of deal. The ‘museum’ is actually just a collection of ingredients and tools, in small cases, scattered around a lovely little cafe. The reason this little place has made it to the list isn’t its educational value, but for its unbelievable selection of delicious chocolates available. Each chocolate is made and cooled right before your eyes, and you can choose from a list of different models that come in all shapes and sizes, from a dolphin leaping out of the sea to a small cigar. The thing that will really steal your heart though, is the hot chocolate. It is the thickest, most decedent hot chocolate you will ever try, and with local prices it’s no wonder this place is such a big hit. For info check here.

Chocolate museum 1 Havana, Cuba

New Port Ave. Brewery
I actually stumbled across this place because I was drawn to it by the music (you’re probably seeing a trend here, yes everywhere you go in Havana you are accompanied by music!). The brewery is hidden in an abandoned-looking warehouse, a few minutes from the old train station, however once you enter it’s a whole different story. The interior is decorated with brightly coloured murals, and in the centre is a large platform for the flamenco band that plays daily. New Port Ave brew their own beer using equipment they shipped from Austria, which they display proudly on a large stage behind ceiling to floor glass windows. As non-imported beer is very hard to come across in Cuba this is well worth checking out.

Brewery 2

Plaza de Armas
Local Market Old books, antique jewellery, vintage vinyls and original poster prints… what more could a person ask for? The hustle and bustle of this outdoor market is so alluring you just cant say no. This is the place to find that rare record, missing from your collection, or the first edition of your favourite book. Once you step into the beautiful Plaza de Armas square you instantly feel like a local. People are bustling around you going about their local trade, while couples sit on the bright white benches, whispering sweet nothings to each other. This is definitely the place to visit to soak up the culture, and grab yourself a bargain.

Malecón
If you want a nice relaxing stroll in the afternoon then I couldn’t suggest anywhere better than along the Malecón. With beautiful views of the ocean, and local fisherman going about their daily work, the only thing more relaxing is stopping at one of the ocean front bars, and sipping on an ice cold beer. At night, the Malecón comes alive with parades of the old imported cars, glittering lights, and an outstanding view of the night sky.

MAelcon 1

The Town Square
The architecture in this part of the city is simply breathtaking. Compared to the older part of Havana, El Vedado, the buildings here were mostly commissioned in the 20th century, when the capital was surprisingly rich, so they were designed with many international influences such as Art Nouveau, Art Deco and Eclectic Design, leaving them breathtakingly exquisite and detailed. You will also find countless fountains and statues in this area, all engraved with snapshots of the rich Cuban history. The town square is definitely one of the best places in Havana for a that special photo op.

Town square Havana
Chilling in Towns Square, Havana

Love,

Fern

*Fern is one of our guest bloggers, currently living in Mexico. You can find more of her travel stories on her blog or Facebook page.