Where to view Havana’s world-famous street art

The city of Havana has been known to give off a slightly old-fashioned vibe with its classic cars, colonial architecture, and remnants of history wherever you look. But these features don’t stop Havana from having many modern elements dotted throughout the city, especially when it comes to the art scene.The street art in Havana is exploding with ingenuity, and you can find some spectacular pieces so long as you know where to look. Let’s take a look at three great examples, all of which are easily accessible from your Cuba accommodation.

Muraleando

This particular piece of street art is located just 10 minutes outside of the city in a community called Lawton. The project started as a workshop for local children who were interested in the art scene, but in 2001 when there was no room for them in the only community hall, they had no choice but to move to the streets. The drab concrete walls seemed like the perfect blank canvas, and it wasn’t long before they were covered in colourful murals that captured many elements of Cuban life.

Fusterlandia

This is likely to be the most well-known project of street art in the city. Funderlandia was created by Jose Fuster in the early 90s. The artist started with his own home in Jaimanitas neighbourhood, decorating the entrance to his house with colourful mosaics. It wasn’t long before others started requesting the same for their own homes. From there the idea spread, and Fuster and numerous other artist friends transformed the once rather drab neighbourhood into a mosaic-covered wonderland. Even if your vacation rental in Havana is the other side of the city, this is something you don’t want to miss.

Callejon de Hamel

Located in the very heart of the city, this example of Cuban street art will be the easiest of the three to visit if your Havana holiday rental is more centrally located. The project was started in the 90s by artist Salvador Gonzalez and features not only brightly coloured murals, but also a number of sculptures made from a range of items such as bathtubs, hand pumps, and pinwheels. The artist described his style as a mix of cubism, surrealism, and abstract art.

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Celebrity spotting in the Dominican Republic

There is a valid reason why so many tourists flee to the Dominican Republic every year. In addition to the golden beaches and sunny weather, there is also an abundance of things to do and see. As such, it is hardly surprising that many celebrities are also attracted to the Caribbean shores of the Dominican Republic.

Casa Q in Puerto Plata

The country’s proximity the United States has helped create a constant stream of celebs arriving throughout the years. Being just a short 1.5-hour flight from Florida, and 3.5 hours from New York, it is easily accessible.

The main attraction for celebs seems to be that it offers an ideal escape from their hectic everyday lives. They enjoy a villa with a private pool in the Dominican Republic just as much as the rest of us do.

Stars seem to count on the fact that they won’t be mobbed by reporters and photographers the minute that they step off the plane, and the many ultra-lavish, exclusive hideaways ensure that they will get this sort of privacy. Even real estate has been catching the eyes of many celebs, from seafront villas in the Dominican Republic to country estates, this Caribbean island has become a playground for the rich and famous in recent years.

Luxurious villa views

Singers like Jennifer Lopez, Enrique Iglesias, and Shakira have all come to see what the Dominican Republic has to offer. Actors such as Vanessa Williams, Vin Diesel, Angelina Jolie, Matt Dillon, Mimi Rogers, Marcia Gray, and many more have also been spotted walking along the island’s beaches and streets.

Additionally, even politicians and royalty seem to enjoy the Caribbean way of life, with former presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush frequently jumping on a plane to the island, and the King of Morocco is known to have thrown a lavish party on the island.

If you want to live a life like the rich and famous, rent a house in the Dominican Republic and enjoy the high life for a few weeks!


Cuban cooking classes

Cuban food is varied, fresh, and plentiful, full of strong flavours and natural produce. Although there is a huge range of restaurants and bars around the country where from you could sample some Cuban delicacies, there is nothing better than being able to cook it yourself in the comfort of your accommodation in Cuba.

In many of the main cities and towns, you will find local markets that stock all the ingredients that you will need for Cuban dishes, the majority of which would have been grown in the immediate area.

One of the best ways to learn how to cook Cuban style is to take a cooking class. Although you will find classes no matter where your Cuba villa rental is located, the hub of cooking class activity seems to be Havana. There are countless tour operators that offer this as an excursion, and it is easy to find one that meets your preferences.

Taking a class is great way to learn about the daily life of a Cuban, that starts first thing in the morning with a trip to the local market. In Havana, these markets are names mercados, and it is where Cuban people purchase their fruit, vegetables, and meat. Once you have purchased everything you need for the dishes that you will be cooking, your tour guide will take you back to the kitchen to begin your culinary adventure.

There are a range of Cuban dishes that you can try your hand at making, the most common of which include:

  • Ropa Vieja – This is a Cuban-style shredded beef dish that is often served with rice and accented with olives and capers.
  • Chicken Stew – This is not chicken stew that most people know; it draws flavours from the alcaparrado and contains a mix of pimento-stuffed olives as well as capers and sweet raisins.
  • Fish with Escabeche Sauce – Made with lots of garlic, sliced yellow onion, bell pepper, and bay leaves, this dish is a Cuban favourite.

Once you know how to cook some of these amazing dishes, you will never have to leave your vacation rental in the Caribbean again!

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Urban farming in Cuba

Many people choose to rent a villa in Cuba so that they can experience how it feels to step back in time. It is not uncommon to see decades-old cars driving down the street and buildings rich in history, dating to the 1950s. Cuban agriculture is another factor that seems to have stood the test of time.

In 1991, the country’s economy seemed to collapse overnight due to the collapse of its trade partner, the Soviet Union. During this period, Cuba lost its source of affordable agricultural tools and machinery. Lacking this modern equipment, Cuba suddenly had to abandon their former industrial agriculture and make the switch to urban farming. No longer were farmers using chemicals and machinery that required fuel; instead they were forced to transition back to traditional methods such as using machetes, composting worms, and oxen-drawn plows. If you have a Cuba holiday rental in the countryside, you will see some of these methods at work.

Along with farmers, individuals have also begun to utilise any land that they own to grow their own produce and raise animals. During the worst years of the financial crisis, residents could even purchase baby chicks from the government, take them home, and raise them in their backyards.

Although much of the country’s economy has bounced back, it seems like the farming sector has changed for the better, and now there are thousands of urban farms across Cuba.

No matter where you rent a house in Cuba, It is likely that you will see many local homes with windowsills lined with crops, and livestock wondering around in front yards. Local markets burst with fresh, organic produce that you can purchase to cook your own delicious Cuban meals in the comfort of your Cuba accommodation.

If you are interested in this aspect of the country’s history and want to learn more about urban agriculture, there are specially arranged tours available wherein visitors can interact with local farmers to gain a unique insight into their individual histories and methods, a side to Cuban that many people miss out on.

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Havana’s ‘Golden Mile’

While there are many wonderful locations to rent a house in Havana, many long to stay as close as possible to the Golden Mile, right in the heart of the city’s historic centre. The Golden Mile is located at the Paseo del Prado end of the Obispo, a busy pedestrianised street that’s a true hub of activity. 

The Golden Mile is where you’ll find some of Havana’s best restaurants, most lively bars, and even the Tourist Information Office, which can be useful if you can’t remember how to get back to your Havana accommodation. It’s arguably one of the best preserved parts of the Old Town.

When you picture Havana in your head, you picture the Golden Mile. This is a place of old, cobbled streets that feel uneven underfoot, it’s a place of colonial architecture of days gone by, and it’s a place where the  Havana holiday home waits to welcome visitors to Cuba.

Street musicians fill the Golden Mile with soft music, and flower sellers add a touch of colour and vibrancy. Cuba is very much a country where old meets new, and that’s exactly what you get when you stroll along the Golden Mile.

But the Old Town isn’t just about the Golden Mile. In fact, there are many reasons to rent a villa in Cuba in this part of Havana. Not only are you near the city’s cultural district by the Paseo del Prado, which features a number of museums, but you’re also just a stone’s throw from the grand El Capitolio building.

Although there are some travellers who enjoy staying close to The Malecón, others prefer being close to the Obispo, and the Golden Mile. However, whatever location in Havana you choose, it’s hard to go wrong. The city is such a fascinating place, with something new to see around every corner!

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Cuba’s long history of baseball

Baseball is the national sport of Cuba (even though many young Cubans would now say it’s football!), and if you’re on holiday in Cuba during the high baseball season between November and May, then it’s well worth catching a game and cheering on the local team.

A Long History

There is a very long history of baseball in Cuba, and interestingly it’s one of the only major aspects of Americana that survived the revolution. There was, however, a very noticeable and dramatic shift from a professional to an amateur system to remove monetary incentive, with revolutionists firmly believing that money was corrupting the sporting world. Baseball remains an amateur system in Cuba to this day.

The Industriales

If you’re relaxing at your Havana villa on a game day, you’ll undoubtedly hear the cheers for the local team: the Havana-based Industriales, or the ‘Blue Lions’ (so named for their blue uniforms). The Industriales are said to be the city’s most successful baseball team, having won the Cuban National Series 12 times between 1963 and 2010. The team’s home turf is the Latinoamericano Stadium, which holds 55,000 people. It’s located in Central Havana, close to many Havana holiday rentals for quick and easy access.

Seeing a Game

If you’re keen to see the Industriales in action, then aim to rent a villa in Havana during the peak season. Bear in mind that schedules can — and do — change regularly.Tickets can be purchased in Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUC) from the stadium.

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Five lunch stops in Puerto Plata

When you’re lounging at your Dominican Republic vacation rental, soaking up the sun and enjoying a relaxing holiday, it’s easy to rely on your kitchen’s contents for a sustainable meal. But if you’re craving some authentic Dominican food or simply want the dishes you would find in your own home town, it’s best to hop in your rental car and drive to the town of Puerto Plata for the widest culinary variety. Here are five great places for you to grab some lunch in Puerto Plata!

Views from Big Lee’s Beach Bar.

Big Lee’s Beach Bar

If you’re seeking traditional American fare, try Big Lee’s Beach Bar! It is run by an American from Chicago who retired in Puerto Plata seven years ago. You can enjoy a beach view while you eat, not to mention the relaxed and playful atmosphere that always surrounds the beach area. Try their specialty of beer-battered fish and chips, featuring their freshly-made French fries.

Kaffe

Looking for indoor/outdoor seating in a relaxed, family-friendly atmosphere? Look no further than Kaffe. They have a beautiful outdoor area, half uncovered and open to the warm Caribbean sun, the other half covered by a patio. From the lush, tropical vegetation to the quaint, antiquated furnishings, this restaurant offers a unique dining experience. They serve Caribbean-style cuisine, with some International influences as well.

Green Jack Restaurant

Sleek, modern and beautiful are the best words to describe the Green Jack Restaurant. With fantastically decorated indoor and outdoor seating, you can enjoy a cool lunch inside, or check out the ocean breezes outside, surrounded by lush greenery. The food is mainly Caribbean-style but the menu also has vegetarian and vegan-friendly options. It is part of the Playa Dorada complex with friendly waitstaff, unique food, and delicious drinks.

Playa Dorada.

Sebastian

Craving Italian on your island adventure? Check out Sebastian! Their covered patio seating area is brightly colored, clean, and fresh. You’ll get cool breezes with a beach vibe, though not on the beach. There is a full bar, amazing Italian cuisine, and delicious desserts.

Los Charros y Los Pinches Chaparros

Mexican and Latin food are all the rage at the Los Charros y Los Pinches Chaparros restaurant. Their beautiful, clean interior offers a full bar and delicious dishes for everyone to enjoy!

With your palate satiated, head back to your vacation villa in the Dominican Republic for a long, satisfying siesta.

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Whale-watching in the Dominican Republic

People from all over the globe rent a vacation villa in the Dominican Republic in the hopes of spotting the beautiful humpback whales during their mating season, which falls between mid-December and the end of March. A boat trip out to witness these magnificent animals is one of the most popular excursions that the country offers.

For the best chance to see a whale, arrange to rent a villa in the Dominican Republic in Samana Bay and the Silver Bank, in the northwest region of the country. Each year more than 2,000 humpbacks come to these waters to mate due to the warmer temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean. A recent study has shown that all populations in the Atlantic come from Iceland, Greenland, Canada and North America, to these waters, so it is likely that you will be able to spot a few whales during your visit.

It is no wonder that some many people rent a house in the Dominican Republic at this time of year as the show is an impressive one. A fairly common sighting is a 40-ton male who jumps out of the water to win the female’s attraction, or sings a long and monotonous song that the other whales can hear up to 30 kilometres away.

Samana

Samana became a sanctuary for the protection of the whales in 1986, and is considered one of the best places in the world for humpback whale-watching. As mammals, the whales have to come up to the surface fairly regularly to breathe, and can be on the surface for up to 20 minutes. During their long trip to the Samana Bay area, the whales do not feed, and even while spending the winter on the shores of the Dominican Republic, they still go without eating. In this time, many will lose up to one-fifth of their original weight.

Samana

The whales need warmer waters because when they are born, they only have a very thin layer of fat, which makes it hard to withstand the cold waters. To form this protective layer, the young will consume approximately 200 litres of breast milk a day.

Safety

Due to the increased popularity of whale-watching in the area, The Dominican government enforces strict whale protection laws and guidelines to ensure the protection of these incredible creatures. It can be an amazing experience for anyone renting a villa in the Dominican Republic, but their protection comes first, and tour companies will not do anything that could potentially harm these creatures.

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What to buy in Havana

What is there to do in Havana? Aside from the stunning coastline to stroll along, handfuls of beaches to discover, and some amazing apartments in Havana that you can relax in and enjoy the views, there are also fantastic opportunities for shopping! Havana is one of the top shopping destinations in the Caribbean, so on your next visit to Cuba, here’s what to stock up on.

Carved Wood

Driftwood is a very common sight at Cuba’s beaches, and the locals can be seen collecting it and whittling away, creating intricately decorative souvenirs out of the wood. Some of these treasured items can be purchased from a small craft market called Almacenes San, located near the ferry terminal.

Cuban Serrano Coffee

For many people, the first thing they do when they wake up in their Havana holiday rental is make a big cup of Cuban Serrano. It’s a medium roast coffee that’s renowned for its full-bodied flavour. If you forget to pick up a bag while in Cuba, you can usually find some at the airport before you leave.

Sugar

Cuba was once the world’s largest exporter of sugar, and the quality of the sugar on the island really is second to none. You may notice the hosts at your casa particular in Havana add a little Cuban brown sugar to their meals for a touch of added sweetness. You’ll be able to pick up a bag at most stores.

Import Regulations

Keep in mind that there are restrictions on what you can bring home from your Cuba vacation (and restrictions on suitcase size, too!), so always check the import regulations of your country before you travel. If you plan to try all the different varieties of Cuban rum, for example, you may want to enjoy it by the pool at your Havana villa, and bring just one or two bottles of your favourite back home.

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Celebrate Easter in the Dominican Republic

Easter in the Dominican Republic is one of the of the most celebrated holidays of the year. The majority of people who live on the island are Catholic, so it is considered a time of both reflection and significance. Whenever Easter falls, it is a lovely time to rent a vacation villa in the Dominican Republic and take part in the festivities.

Easter week is also known as Semana Santa and is the perfect time to sample some traditional foods of the area. Habichuelas (sweet cream of beans) is a delicious dessert typical of this time of year, and it is one of the most loved and distinctive treats of the country. No matter where your Dominican Republic vacation rental is located, you are sure to find somewhere that serves this delicious dessert.

Habichuelas con dulce

Good Friday is often referred to as the calm before the storm. Many of the locals retire to their homes to spend time with friends and family. Loud music is frowned upon and if possible, motorsports are also limited. The sales of alcohol near beaches and public spaces is prohibited as part of religious tradition.

On the north coast, it is best to book a Dominican Republic vacation villa well in advance as accommodations fill up fairly quickly. Roads and beaches can be packed with people enjoying the season’s sunshine. As the weekend continues, expect picnics and music and a celebratory atmosphere as at night, with stages set up on the beach and music blasting until the early hours of the morning.

Church Convento de los Dominicos, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Many local churches take part in a religious theatre piece to commemorate the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ,

Cool off from the heat and excitement by retiring in your Dominican Republic villa with a private pool. Additionally in cities like Santo Domingo, it is not unusual to find many streets scattered with inflatable pools!

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