Tag Archives: Rentals in Cuba


Rainbow Architecture of Curacao!

One thing will strike you as you walk the streets of Curacao is its brightly coloured building. Imagine bright pinks, yellows, blues and greens greeting you down almost every street. Chances are, your Curacao accommodation will also be brightly coloured, or at the very least will be surrounded by a range of rainbow coloured buildings.Think Caribbean paint colours with Spanish and African influences, and you will get a picture of what the architecture is like in Aruba. The capital city of Willemstad is the main hub of the rainbow buildings, and is well worth a visit from your Caribbean villa.

The Dutch have been on Curacao since 1634, which is why a lot of the architecture resembles that of Dutch cities like Amsterdam. Fairly recently, the island changed from being part of the Netherland Antilles, and is now actually its own country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

The buildings don’t just maintain themselves however, and require a lot of work to keep them as sparkly and bright. It is not an uncommon sight to see a local up a ladder topping up the paintwork of their home.

The entire city of Willemstad has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997 due to the fact that the town showed significant town planning and architecture as well as the organic growth of a multi-cultural community.

The most photographed area of the city is Handelskade Punda, and for good reason. The colourful European style buildings are reflected in the waters of the harbour, and is a great place to witness the exuberant mix of cultures, language, history and beauty of such a small island.

But what is the reason for such colourful buildings? In 1817, Governor-general Albert Kikkert got plagued with recurring headaches, which he blamed on light that was glaring off of the white buildings. He passed a law that all buildings must be painted in pastel colours, leading to the rainbow colour explosion of the city. Be sure to visit the streets of Willemstad on your Aruba holiday.


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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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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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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Top 4 beaches in the Dominican Republic

When imaging an ideal vacation spot, the Dominican Republic fits the bill as a relaxing getaway where you can unwind from your normal life. The paradisal beaches of the Dominican Republic offer myriad opportunities for such repose, including the top four that are listed below.

1. Bavaro Beach
White sands, crystal clear water, and gorgeous palm trees are just a taste of what Bavaro Beach offers! Grab your beach chair, towel, or rent one of the many lounge chairs available. You can even find tropical umbrellas for your lounging needs! There are miles of beach with plenty of watersports, restaurants, bars, and resorts to satisfy every need.

Bavaro Beach

2. Macao Beach
If you prefer a quieter, more secluded experience, you’ll love Macao Beach with its cliffs, white sands, clear waters, and tropical foilage. Although there are fewer restaurants, it also means there will be fewer people around, so if you want to escape the world and relax in a private-feeling beach, Macao is a magnificent choice.

3. Playa Bonita
Playa Bonita offers a unique experience. Though it still has the beautiful sands and clear water typical of the Dominican Republic, you’ll also find beautiful tropical nature with walking paths, green areas to sit and sun yourself, old trees sea-logged on the sand, and coral reefs that are perfect for snorkeling! This beach is also more isolated than some of the other choices because it sits on the edge of town, therefore giving you a quiet, relaxing time away from the world.

Playa Rincón

4. Playa Rincón
Mountains in the background, turquoise waters, rocks scattered here and there, white sands, and luscious tropical plant life make this beach a gorgeous stop on your tour of island beaches. Playa Rincon connects to the nearby Caño Frío (a river) which offers a secondary environment for you to enjoy.

When you’ve explored these four amazing beaches, you’ll be ready to return to your rental villa in the Dominican Republic to continue the tranquility.

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All about Cuban art

With African, North American, and Spanish influences, as well as some South American and other European aspects thrown into the mix, Cuban art is something completely unique. You won’t find a style like this anywhere else in the world, so make sure to take some time to appreciate the art during your holiday in Cuba. You’ll notice that there are few competing but well-blended concepts, with a heavy focus on modernism.

Work by Jose Salazar Vazquez.

Post-Revolution Artwork 

Following the Cuban Revolution, the government began to sponsor artwork, which is why art has remained an important cultural aspect of Cuba and why Cuban art is so famous today. However, the arts scene, particularly in Havana, has changed in recent years. Today, there is a big street art scene, which makes Havana one of the most photographed places on the island. In fact, many people book a Havana holiday rental solely to photograph the local graffiti, which helps makes the city so colourful.

Famous Cuban Artists 

There are many renowned artists who were born in Cuba or worked in Cuba. Amelia Peláez and Federico Beltran Masses were known for their paintings, while Wifredo Lam was famous for his unusual Afro-Cuban designs. There is perhaps no one more well-known that photographer Alberto Korda, who took that iconic black and white picture of Che Guevara back in the 1960s.

The Best Places for Cuban Art

Simply take a short stroll from your Havana villa and you’re sure to see some amazing street art or bump into local sellers exhibiting their latest pieces. If you want to visit some studios, there are two amazing places in Cuba that are well worth seeing. The first is Yudit Vidal Faife in Trinidad. It’s quite a journey from Havana, but worth the trip. You can even take a tour, conducted by artist Yudit herself!

A little closer to most Havana accommodations, and perhaps easier for most visitors to get to, is Lolo Galleria-Taller, which is located a short distance away in Matanzas. This studio displays world class art, with a heavy focus on sculptures and ceramics.

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Swimming in Havana, Cuba

When you’re on holiday in Cuba and the Caribbean sun is blazing down, there’s one great way to cool off: take a swim! But where are the best places to swim in Havana? Here are a few great options.

Your Villa with a Private Pool in Havana

If you love swimming but hate crowds, why not treat yourself to a luxury villa with a pool in Havana? Wake up and enjoy an invigorating swim before breakfast on the patio, or cool off in the pool at the end of a busy day sightseeing.

Hotels

If you’ve opted for a villa in Havana without a pool or a downtown apartment, don’t worry! Many of the big resort hotels in the city offer day passes for non-hotel guests which provide access to many of the building’s facilities, including swimming pools and gymnasiums. Day passes can be very inexpensive, which makes them a good choice.

Public Swimming Pools

Although these are few and far between, there is one olympic-sized swimming pool in Havana which is open to the public between competition events. Located on Avenida Monumental, Complejo de Piscinas Baraguá is famous for hosting events during the 1991 Pan-American Games.

Beaches

The nearest beach to Havana that offers clean and safe swimming opportunities is Playa Santa Maria, which can be reached from your Havana accommodation in about 25 minutes by local bus or taxi. Playa Guanabo is another beach neighbourhood that can be reached on foot from some of our Havana villas!

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Five vegan-friendly restaurants in Havana

If you’re a vegan renting a vacation villa in Havana, you may be concerned about the food options in a culture with a fish- and meat-heavy diet. But thankfully Havana has something for everyone! Here are five vegan-friendly restaurants to try out in Havana.

San Juan Bar & Grill

For Caribbean, Latin, and Spanish cuisine, check out the San Juan Bar and Grill, a cozy, rustic, yet traditional-style restaurant with delicious food and amazing cocktails. Their vegan menu consists of soups, delectable salads, vegetarian tamales, fried peppers, and sweet desserts.

San Juan Bar and Grill

El Del Frente

This restaurant has a lively atmosphere that features live music, a terrace for Habanos smokers, delicious cocktails, and amazing tapas. The interior is simple, elegant, and vintage while the exterior has outdoor seating, a full bar, and views of the city. For vegans, they offer amazing soups, salads, pasta, vegetables, tacos, and delectable desserts. Round out the meal with an eye-opening Cuban coffee.

Nero Di Seppia

This traditional-looking Italian restaurant offers both classic and unique dishes alike. The family-family atmosphere helps diners feel right at home, and live musical acts occasionally take the stage. Their food is fresh and made with love. For vegans, they have dozens of pastas, soups, and salads.

Mediterraneo Havana

A choice between Mediterranean and Italian, you are sure to find something you love at Mediterraneo Havana. Located in a gorgeous blue-and-white building that looks like a local’s personal home, the space offers shaded patio seating with beautiful views of the city and tropical vegetation. Their vegan menu has many offerings like risotto, pasta, roasted potatoes, and more.

D’Next Bar Cafeteria

This American bar and cafeteria is known for its amazing pizza! The restaurant is bright and colorful, with modern décor and delicious meals. Vegans will love the sandwiches, salads, desserts, and bread.


National Parks in the Dominican Republic

While you’re staying in a beautiful vacation rental in the Dominican Republic, you’ll want to view some of the lush foliage that is part of the Dominican Republic experience. See bellow for a list of four national parks that you can visit during your stay!

The 3 Eyes National Park

Check out interconnected caves at the 3 Eyes National Park, or take a boat on the lakes and admire the crystal-clear water. View the amazing rock formations, take a walking tour, peek at the turtles swimming around, and breathe in the clean scents as you enjoy the serene surroundings.

National Park of the East

Take a walking tour around the National Park of the East to enjoy the beach and search for elusive starfish. Head into the freshwater cave and relish in a nice warm swim, or opt for snorkeling or diving. Take a catamaran to Isle Saona for even more fun!

Isla Catalina

This Caribbean island is perfect if you want some fun in the sun. Take a day trip from your Dominican Republic property to catch the clear waters where you can swim, dive, and snorkel. The amazing coral reefs ensure that you’ll never be without beautiful fish and other sea creatures. The warm white sands are great for a relaxing siesta, reading a book, or people-watching. You can find all kinds of sea life, especially starfish. There are even a few places for you to catch a quick lunch before returning to your relaxing day.

Haitises National Park

If you want to see unique of wildlife, check out Haitises National Park! You can spend all day touring this beautiful area. There is a cave with paintings to explore, small islands, rock formations, and a public beach. Be sure to keep an eye out for all the flora and fauna in this amazing park, including seabirds and dolphins.

When you’re done with your tour of the gorgeous greenery that can be found in the Dominican Republic, head back to your vacation rental and relax, satisfied with a day spent in stunning tropical nature.