A Paradise Called Havana

On my 18th birthday somebody gave me my first cigar. It was love at first taste. Over the past 24 years I have smoked thousands of them. I have made hundreds of friendships from them. I have spent countless hours socializing while enjoying a good cigar. Inevitably as a cigar smoker you will be lured to try the most prized of all cigars, the Cuban cigar. Living in the United States this is not an easy task since we have had an embargo with Cuba for over half a century. Then you have to wade thru the countless fakes that are passed as genuine. My first Cuban was given to me when I was 20. I instantly recognized the difference and fell in love. As the years went on, I became more and more curious about this mystical island that was producing these amazing treasures. I knew sooner or later I had to go.

Montecristo
One of Cuba’s Finest

Fast forward to 2010 and I was watching a Travel Channel show about Cuba. I couldn’t take any more. I texted a friend of mine and said “Wanna go to Cuba?”. He said yes and so the adventure began. When I think back we were a little crazy. There is not a lot of information about Cuba travel online. You can’t just head to Expedia and book a flight or hotel room. Luckily with the power of the internet and a lot of luck, we booked our flights on Air Cubana and prepaid for a hotel that we had no information about. Our first trip we had to fly to the Bahamas and then after spending the night we caught a puddle jumper to Havana.

CubaJet small
Air Cubana

We were very nervous the entire time not knowing if we could get into the country or if we would be turned away. We weren’t sure if the hotel would even know who we were since we used an outside site. Luckily for us that trip went perfect. From the moment I first arrived in Cuba, I felt like I was home. Since then I have been going back more and more and I now basically live there part time. I have made friends, learned the language, learned to salsa dance and even learned to scuba dive there. It has in many ways changed my life.

I will be writing more posts with details of my time there. I want to share with you in this post some of my favorite things. Anybody who knows me knows I live for food. There is nothing like trying new foods in a new country. Here are some of my favorites from Cuba.

Lamb La Terraza
Lamb, rum and a cigar!
Lobster La Terraza
Grilled lobster….for $10!!!

Then there are the cars. Oh the cars. Nothing makes you feel like you stepped out of a time machine more than seeing all of Detroit’s finest still chugging along.

Havana street with cars
Average street in Havana

Plus we can’t forget one of Havana’s most famous prior residents.

Me and Hemmingway
Papa Hemmingway himself…kinda

And finally the reason that took me there, the cigars. One of my favorite things about Cuba is you can enjoy a nice cigar just about anywhere. One of my favorite places to enjoy an afternoon is the famous Hotel Nacional.

Me smoking at Nacional

So as you can see when you find all the things you love all in one beautiful island, then obsession comes naturally. Thanks for reading my first blog post. I will be adding lots of stories from my past trips around the world and of course new ones from new countries on my quest to 100 countries.

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