Latin America

A date at la Casa Rosada – things to do in Buenos Aires

La Casa Rosada is on the must see-list of most people visiting Buenos Aires. The iconic pink-painted mansion facing Plaza de Mayo is one of the best-known building in the city. However, most people tend to just drop by Plaza de Mayo, take their pictures with the giant pink house in the background, and then move on.

But did you know that you can actually also get to see la Casa Rosada from within?

Did you know that you can visit the inside of la Casa Rosada, the iconic pink-painted presidential mansion in Buenos Aires? Read more here!
Did you know that you can visit the inside of la Casa Rosada, the iconic pink-painted presidential mansion in Buenos Aires? Read more here!
Did you know that you can visit the inside of la Casa Rosada, the iconic pink-painted presidential mansion in Buenos Aires? Read more here!

You only need a little bit of planning to get an inside view of the iconic building since la Casa Rosada is only open to the public on weekends and public holidays. The visit is only available through a guided tour which visits the main parts of the house. And well, in some way have your own little date with the president of Argentina… by visiting his office.

But hey, the tour is for free! So, what are you waiting for? Book your visit here.

Tours in English is Saturday, Sunday and public holidays at 12.30 or 2.30 pm, so it should be manageable to fit in during your visit in Buenos Aires.

Did you know that you can visit the inside of la Casa Rosada, the iconic pink-painted presidential mansion in Buenos Aires? Read more here!
Did you know that you can visit the inside of la Casa Rosada, the iconic pink-painted presidential mansion in Buenos Aires? Read more here!
Did you know that you can visit the inside of la Casa Rosada, the iconic pink-painted presidential mansion in Buenos Aires? Read more here!

The majestic pink house is the seat of the National Executive Branch of Argentina and the president’s office. However, the building is properly best known for the famous pictures of Juan and Evita Peron’s performance on the balcony facing Plaza de Mayo.

And yes, during the tour you get to stand on that very same balcony overlooking the square, and with a little bit of imagination you might be able to see the crowds howling for Evita in front of you.

Did you know that you can visit the inside of la Casa Rosada, the iconic pink-painted presidential mansion in Buenos Aires? Read more here!
The tour forgets the stories

La Casa Rosada is filled with juicy stories not only of Evita but also of presidents escaping riots at Plaza de Mayo in helicopters from the roof of the mansion, and many different conspiracy theories on why the color of the house ended up being baby pink. Nevertheless, when I went on the guided tour none of these stories were included.

Even though, the house in itself is impressive, it is a pity that the tour focus more on the historical details of the construction and development of the house than on some of these juicy stories are the ones we remember afterwards because they fascinate us.

Did you know that you can visit the inside of la Casa Rosada, the iconic pink-painted presidential mansion in Buenos Aires? Read more here!
Did you know that you can visit the inside of la Casa Rosada, the iconic pink-painted presidential mansion in Buenos Aires? Read more here!
Did you know that you can visit the inside of la Casa Rosada, the iconic pink-painted presidential mansion in Buenos Aires? Read more here!

Actually, the guide hardly touches on the stories about Evita which… let’s face it, are the stories that most visitors come to hear. The fact is, of course, that Evita is still a tense topic in Argentine politics. However, a little be official history on the controversial presidential couple and other interesting facts from modern Argentine history could have cheered the tour up a bit.

Nevertheless, for an exclusive look inside la Casa Rosada, the tour is still worth it. And even more, because it will not cost your a penny... Or, a peso! 😉

Did you know that you can visit the inside of la Casa Rosada, the iconic pink-painted presidential mansion in Buenos Aires? Read more here!
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Did you know that you can visit the inside of la Casa Rosada, the iconic pink-painted presidential mansion in Buenos Aires? Read more here!

Bogotarian memories and reasons to visit Bogotá

Exactly a year ago, I was sitting Bogotá's international airport, El Dorado, and waiting to board my onwards flight. Behind me was a month of traveling around Colombia. A country which had surprised me by its beautiful landscapes and diverse cities. It is with reason that Colombia is an upcoming travel destination!

 

Colombia has something for every taste; for those who love extreme sport, for those who adore small colonial villages (including some of the most colorful ones I have ever seen), for those who want to be cultural, listen to music and look at art, and for those who search for a pulsing cosmopolitan city vibes. Bogotá has exactly these cosmopolitan vibes, and a lot more to offer!  Therefore, I have put together a list for you of reasons to visit Bogota, and for myself as a little rip up of my memories about the Colombian capital.

In doubt whether to visit Bogotá or leave it out of your Colombia itinerary? Check out these reasons to visit Colombia's capital!
The contrasts

Bogotá is filled with contrasts. The old colonial houses of historical center, La Candelaria, against the modern skyscrapers. The fancy dressed business men and women against the hippies playing music and hanging around Plaza del Chorro de Quevedo. Bogotá has it all. Part of visiting the city, is to just take it all in. All the contrasts mixed together in one place. One city.

Reasons to visit Bogotá, Colombia
Reasons to visit Bogotá, Colombia
Reasons to visit Bogota, Colombia
The mountains

One of the first thing that caught my attention when I arrived to Bogotá was the green enormous mountains surround the city. Towering up with their mysterious white mist covering the tops. Almost everywhere you go, the mountains will make the background scenery in Bogotá.

Reasons to visit Bogota (Colombia)

Maybe it is because I come from a country which is as flat as anything can possibly be but this mountain scenery fascinated me completely. I never thought of myself as a mountain type of person. I usually prefer the ocean. But Bogotá had me with its mysterious mountains against the colonial houses and skyscrapers.

Reasons to visit Bogota

Hit to Monserrate to get a closer look at the mountains and for an amazing view over the city. The view point with the church, el Santuario del Señor Caído de Monserrate, is placed 3.152 above sea level which allows for amazing photos and a real feeling on how massive the Colombian capital is with its 8 million inhabitants.

The entrance to Monserrate is located at Carrera 3 Este. From there you can choose either reach the top by a cable car, a train or by foot. Monserrate is open for entrance everyday (except holidays and Sunday) from 7 am until midnight.

Reasons to visit Bogota
Museums, street art and architecture

If you like me like interesting art and fascinating architecture, Bogotá should be on your bucket list like... Right now! The city center is filled with all kind of museums and the streets of both La Candelaria and other neighborhoods are like small museum in themselves.

Reasons to visit Bogota (Colombia)

Bogotá is the home of some of the most amazing street art that I have ever seen. Walking around and suddenly discovering huge murals with high quality street art… I have said it before; Bogotá’s street art stole my heart of that!

Reasons to visit Bogota

However, there are also plenty of conventional museums where you can hide if the unreliable Bogotarian weather decides to give you rain while enjoying masterpieces or local history. Due to my huge fascination for the Colombian artist, Fernando Botero, my favorite museum was the Botero museum located in Calle 11, N° 4-41, Bogotá.

Nevertheless, just next to the Botero museum is the super popular Gold museum which should be worth a visit – I unfortunately didn’t do it. And around the corner from these two museums you have the city museum of Bogotá – just to mention a few!

Reasons to visit Bogota

The architecture in Bogotá is in itself worth the visit. Even though, the city doesn’t have as vibrant an architectural screen as my beloved Buenos Aires, you can still find impressive catholic constructions as the church at Monserrate or this small colonial patio in the photo below.

Reasons to visit Bogota
Gastronomy

What surprised me the most while visiting Bogotá was the quality and diversity of the food. Maybe it surprised me because I didn’t know what to expect… but food in Bogotá was G-O-O-D.

 

Reasons to visit Bogota

Apart from the more traditional food (which includes a lot of soup), then there are restaurants that uses the delicious regional foods in a new innovative way. A place that I grow to like a lot is El Gato Gris (the grey cat) located just by Plaza del Chorro de Quevedo in the sidewalk Carrera 1A in La Candelaria. They have amazing salads and juices, and a lovely decor where the restaurant is divided into lots of smaller rooms – and then, of course, a cat!

Reasons to visit Bogota

One of my first days in Bogotá, I accidently dropped into a small corner restaurant. The place wasn’t opened yet by the time I went but the staff let me sit at the bar to escape the rain while they prepared the last tables. Instead of getting a table, I ended up sitting in the bar chatting with the owner who recommended all his favorites from the menu.

It is a gorgeous; a modern decor in an old colonial house – exactly the way I love Bogotá’s contrasts. If you want to check it out yourself, head to Capital Cocina y Café on Calle 10 on the corner of Carrera 3. For more info and picture of some of their great food, check out their Facebook

La Candelaria's colorful streets

Now I have mentioned the neighborhood of La Candelaria a couple of times; the historical center with colonial houses and street art. La Candelaria is without doubt the touristic area of Bogotá, and doesn’t reflect the whole story of life in the Colombian capital.

However, what I liked about the area was that it didn’t feel that touristic after all. Many companies and ministries have their offices places in the area, and everyday life still goes on of the Colombian residents

Reasons to visit Bogota

And then, let’s face it! It is just overly charming to scroll cobblestone streets surrounded by colorful houses. When in Bogotá, it is definitely a must to just walk around La Candelaria and its colored houses.

Reasons to visit Bogota
Reasons to visit Bogota

It is often discussed in different Latin America travel groups whether Bogotá is worth a visit. Many times, I have heard strong arguments against the Colombian capital. However, my own experience of 1,5 week in the city was positive, and I think there are plenty of reasons for visiting Bogotá.

What do you think? Is Bogotá a city that you would like to visit? Or did you already visit Bogotá? What was your experience of the city? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below!

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In doubt whether to visit Bogotá or leave it out of your Colombia itinerary? Check out these reasons to visit Colombia's capital!
In doubt whether to visit Bogotá or leave it out of your Colombia itinerary? Check out these reasons to visit Colombia's capital!

Why I fell in love with Buenos Aires

It's official! I have moved to Buenos Aires for good! … Or at least with no current plan of leaving. And well, there you also have the reason why the blog has been abandoned for the last two months!

Apart from planning the final moving overseas (from Europe to the Americas, of course!), I have also been finishing my undergraduate thesis (writing about Argentina, of course!). The bottom line became a great thesis which I'm overly proud of, and me enrolling to a Master program in Buenos Aires… but no blog posts in a long time 🙁

Why does Buenos Aires fascinates me so much? Keep on reading, and I will try to explain you why I fell in love with the Argentine capital!

So, what is it that fascinates me so much about Buenos Aires that I want to keep on living here? Keep on reading, and I will try to explain you why I fell in love with the Argentine capital…

… And maybe this will make you want to visit as well?

Why does Buenos Aires fascinates me so much? Keep on reading, and I will try to explain you why I fell in love with the Argentine capital!
On the surface, it looks like something you know – underneath it isn't!

To the bare eye, Buenos Aires looks like bits and pieces taken out of different European cities. A mix of Germany, France, Italy, the UK, and Spain all in one; the architecture, the food, the way people dress and their customs.

However, the longer I stay, the more I realize that, even though, the customs and artifacts in Buenos Aires look like something I know. Underneath the surface of these visible things in the values and assumptions that the people carry around there are huge differences.

What have caused me the most surprises are how people are generally more distrusting towards one another. And especially, toward state institutions such as the police. One part is without doubt because of the great level of corruption in Argentina… but it also made me question my own culture; are Danes maybe just overly naïve compared to the rest of the world?

Nevertheless, I find this duality of being in a city where I think I understand, and then realizing that I don’t quite charming, puzzling and challenging – and challenges I like!

Why does Buenos Aires fascinates me so much? Keep on reading, and I will try to explain you why I fell in love with the Argentine capital!
The architecture reflects how mixed the nationalities of the city is

Buenos Aires is a city composed of many different – especially European – nationalities. Most arrived during the huge migration flows in the 1880s and 1950s. The heritage of these migrations still plays a significant role in the Argentine self-understanding, and it is very common to hear people ask each other where their families originates from.

And when walking around residential neighborhoods like Belgrano, you can clearly see how houses are built in a Germanic, English or Spanish style. How I love to wander around looking at these different houses, and being puzzled about how a house looking like something taken out of a German village has ended up right next to a huge building block.

Puzzling and fascinating! I’m in love!

Why does Buenos Aires fascinates me so much? Keep on reading, and I will try to explain you why I fell in love with the Argentine capital!
A relaxed approach to the concept of time

I never thought that I would end up saying this but… Actually, I quite like a relaxed approach to the concept of time, and whether being on time or not.

It is not quite how life works in Denmark. But, I have finally (to some extent) learned to take some things a little bit more easy. Some things, not all.

Porteños (the slang for the citizens of Buenos Aires) can be late – like REALLY late – while others are quite punctual. Maybe it is the mixed European heritage but this mix sort of weights up for each other. Where the Cuban way of time management drove me crazy. It is kind of a middle way. 

However, I hardly ever experience anybody stressing about being late, the way that people do in Denmark. Which is good for a person like me who are so easy to stress.

Why does Buenos Aires fascinates me so much? Keep on reading, and I will try to explain you why I fell in love with the Argentine capital!
Chatty café culture

I adore how the porteños use the cafés for all kind of things; elderly people meet up at the local café for a chat or for reading the newspaper, fancy-dressed business men to do their important meetings, and then there are all of us in between just stopping by for a cup of coffee.

People meet to chat, and it doesn’t matter if the chat takes a little bit longer than planned. You are there, and that is the important in that moment. Maybe you meet an acquaintance, and stop for an extra chat. People meet, and take their time to chat.

Why does Buenos Aires fascinates me so much? Keep on reading, and I will try to explain you why I fell in love with the Argentine capital!
Big green avenidas

Walking down wide avenues where the tree tops meet on the top… Seriously, what is not to like?

If you are visiting Buenos Aires, hit streets such as La Pampa or Juramiento after Avenida Cabildo, and you will see what I mean! (Actually, there are many more places, so just try to explore further the city centre).

Why does Buenos Aires fascinates me so much? Keep on reading, and I will try to explain you why I fell in love with the Argentine capital!
It is a highly-politicalized society

Since I was teenager I have always loved to discuss politics – and later economics – but few people in Denmark seem that interested in discussing such sort of things. It is almost seen as a code of conduct that you should not raise any political sensitive issues at a dinner party – and less with people you don't know that well!

Porteños are the complete opposite. Almost everybody has an opinion about everything, and are happy to discuss whatever issue. Most also seem quite well-informed about the current state of affairs. For example, once I used the drive to the airport (40 minutes drive!) discussing Argentine politics and history with a taxi driver.

Even though, there are still so many things that I don't understand about Argentina, I'm feeling in my element in a city where political discussions are more the norm than the exception.

My Argentine friends and acquaintances tend to say: “mix all of Europe in one country, and you have Argentina”, maybe that’s why I ended up liking it so much here?

Have you ever visit Buenos Aires? What did you like about the city? Or maybe dislike? Is it a place would like to visit one day? Share your thoughts and experiences below! I would love to hear what you think!
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Why does Buenos Aires fascinates me so much? Keep on reading, and I will try to explain you why I fell in love with the Argentine capital!

Quick guide to exploring Havana like a local

Havana is usually compared to stepping inside a time bobble. The old 50s cars on the streets, the old colonial houses and people sitting in their doorway chatting to their neighbor. Life has another speed here. However, it can also be a little bit difficult to figure out how everyday life actually is lived here. How can you get a taste of living and exploring Havana like a local?

 

In this guide, I will take you through the everyday life and customs of the dusty streets of the Cuban capital, and give you my best tips on how to explore Havana like a local!

I spent four months in Havana walking through the streets of Centro Habana toward the university of Havana in Vedado. Even though, it was back in 2014, when I visited again last summer not a lot seemed to have changed. So, I hope my tips can still be useful for you. I don’t know if a completely white European like me can ever really become Habanero (a person from Havana) but the closest I got was this ID card! But then again, they took it from me in the airport. Not so Habanero after all. Sad, sad!

 

Well, let’s get started on the guide!

1) Don't pay a fortune for renting one of those old cars – get the real Havana in a máquina

A classic tourist trap in Havana is driving along the seaside drive Malecón in one of those renovated old 50s car. But let's face it; the Cubans don't do that! Instead they use the older less-renovated 50s cars you see around town as transportation. Taxi collectivos or simply máquinas as they are called by Cubans, run in a net all over the city. They have more or less fixed routes, and along these routes people will stop them and ask for a ride. The car quickly get fill up (or something overfilled) with people who doesn't know each other but just need a ride. A little bit like a small version bus. Click here to read more on how to use Havana’s collective taxis.

A misconception of many visiting Cuban is that these maquinas are only for Cubans. I have never been denied to enter or anything, and you get a so much more authentic feeling for Cuba. Enjoy, and have a great ride!

2) La Habana Vieja isn't everything 

The old part of Havana is cute, vibrant and all that! But! But it is just representative for Havana. The Cuban state has in recent years invested a lot of money in renovating La Habana Vieja. And yes, it is beautiful, and El Capitolio is nice. For sure, you should spend time exploring this part of the city. Havana Vieja is truly the touristic center, and the prices are as follow. But it is not all of Havana. Very far from everything actually. And it doesn't just a part of how living standards are for the common Habanero.

So, get out of the touristic comfort zone of Havana Vieja, and hit on the dusty roads to Centro Habana and relaxing Vedado (keep on reading to #2 and #3). Havana Vieja starts at Parque Central leading downwards towards the harbor side through calle Obispo (check out the interactive map below to get an overview).

3) Walk the dusty roads of Centro Habana

In Centro Habana you will experience a complete different everyday life than in Havana Vieja. The buildings there aren't new-renovated or recently painted but old, dilapidated with the painting fall off and doors hard to open.

It has this own charm. People sitting in their doorways, talking with their neighbors, shouting at acquaintances passing by or buying a cafecito (more on cafecitos later) from a café in a window of somebody's home. The streets are broken. When the máquinas pass by filled the passengers, you hear how mental crashes against mental everytime the car falls down in a hole in the street. Head to Centro Habana to get lost on the small side streets, and explore your own little hidden gem of the real way life is lived in Havana.

When you stand on Parque Central with calle Obispo behind you, in the right corner you will have the beginning of calle Neptuno, and the beginning of Centro Habana. 

Centro Habana lies alongside the seaside drive, Malecón (continue reading for more on the Malecón). So, in case you get really lost just hit toward the Malecón to orientate.

4) Enjoy the quietness of Vedado

If you continue straight ahead on calle Neptuno, you will end up at the University of Havana located in the Vedado neighborhood. Vedado is in most parts a quieter area of Havana but that doesn’t make it less worth visiting!

Scroll around the streets parallel to calle 23 heading towards the street of Paseo, and you will see some beautiful colonial houses with small gardens in front. A local market. And even a school.

Check out the massive hotel Habana Libre which used to be a Hilton hotel. After the Revolution in 1969 it was turned into the revolutionary headquarter. Nowadays it has return to be a hotel.Just behind Habana Libre there has recently been popping all kind of all restaurants and bars up with a lot more modern design than you usually see in the state-owned restaurants around the city. Check out my post about this area of Vedado here.

The university itself is worth a visit. From the top of the stairs, you have an amazing view down the street of San Lazaro towards the Malecón. The inside of the university is a beautiful little park.

Calle 23 is a traffic hotspot in Vedado, and it is a great spot for catching a máquina to almost anywhere in the city. Calle 23 also connects with the Malecón so you might be lucky to catch a máquina toward the Malecón, and get a part of that touristic drive on the Malecón in your own a la Cubano way.

5) Spent an evening sitting at the Malecón drinking rum, Cristal or Bucanero

Apart from helping you to orientate when you get lost in Centro Habana, the seaside drive of Malecón is very popular among Habaneros during the evening. Head down there around sunset to get some amazing photos, and then just settle down with a bottle of rum or some of the local beers, Cristal and Bucanero.

Little by little the fence towards the water will fill up by young Cubans holding in hands and kissing away from the glance of their families, older couples taking an evening scroll, and others trying to earn a little extra by selling all kinds of things from sweets to plastic roses. Relax and take it all in as the Cubans do. Enjoy the view over the sea and the forces of the waves. Watch the people walking by. Just be.

6) Do exchange your CUC to CUP, and go shopping at the local market or by the street vendors

Okay, I know it! The internet is full of blogposts and articles about Cuba’s two-currency system (the CUC and the CUP-thing). And don’t worry, I will not bore you with a long description of it.

It is simple: 1 USD is equal to 1 CUC which is then equal to 25 CUP (or pesos nacionales as they are more commonly known as).

However, in my opinion, it is a myth that the pesos nacionales only are for Cubans. I have never had problems getting them exchanged. The trick is that you need to ask for it. If you go to the CADECAs (Casas de Cambio) and ask directly for pesos nacionales, you will most likely get it. If you don’t, the sweet employees there will just give you the CUC (they aren’t stupid, right?).

So, get some of your money exchanged and hit the streets to enjoy the fresh fruits and vegetables sold by street vendors and at the local markets around Havana. That’s where you really get to experience the local life in Havana. Just remember not to ask for a papaya, right

7) Walk in the middle of the street with no worries... 

... just kidding! You do need to watch out for the cars…

The pavement in Havana isn't the greatest, and especially not if you go outside the tourist area. And for that reason (and people sitting in the doorways) Habaneros don't use the pavement. They simple just walk in the middle of the street. Stop for a chat, shout something at somebody they know.

So, if you want the really Cuban experience, get used to walking in the middle of the street

Apart from the cars, you need to watch out for the people taking their cake for a walk (confused? You will understand when you have been to Centro Habana…)

8) Take a bici taxi to la puerta de tu casa – but do negotiate the price!

There are a lot… I mean A LOT of bike cycle taxis (bicitaxis) in Havana. Most of them shouting at you that they will take you to la puerta de tu casa (right to your doorstep). A phrase that has almost become a synonym for bicitaxis in Havana.

The Cubans do use the bicitaxis, so they are not just for the use of tourist. The drivers are, though, very desperate to catch a tired tourist. Since they know that they can charge a lot more with a tourist than with the Cubans. So, therefore you dump in, please negotiate your price! I was not so fond of the bicitaxis as I get too tired of the aggressive male drivers trying the flirt with me, and having to negotiate the price every time. I'm more on the máquinas.

9) If you are a woman, get prepared and use to Cuban men's catcalling (pilear in Cuban Spanish)

This leads us perfectly to the next point: if you are woman (sometimes also for men), you will have to get used to the catcalling in the streets of Havana!

It is heavy! And if you are not used to it from your home country, it can be very annoying. The more foreign-looking you are (or the more yuma you are as the Cubans will say), the more striking and noticeable you will be in the streets of Havana. And, the more attention and catcalling you will get. My simple rule is that you don't need to talk with everybody talking to you in the street (accounts for all Latin American countries!). Just simply just keep on walking, don't look at them, don't do anything. And they will leave you alone.

I had a professor at the university , who told us that some Cuban women (especially younger ones) would dress extra up before going out on the street. Just so that they were sure to receive some catcalling from the men. For me this was in some way shocking and fascinating. I just wanted to shout that them all to tell them to leave me alone and don't see me as an object… Should I actually be flatted? I don't think I will ever be. But it is part of Cuban culture, and that's want you are coming to experience, right?

10) Start your morning with a cafecito

Cubans love to share a cafecito. And there is no better way to wake up in the morning than with one of those small cups of very strong coffee with a lot of sugar. At least not if you want it the Cuban way. Most of the small cafées in the window of somebody's home sell those small cups of coffees for around 1 CUP. Just stop by, ask for a café or cafecito, you will get it and drink it quickly and continue your walk with an extra energy boost.

Cafecito is the diminutive of café. Cubans seems to adore making things in diminutive. And well, then it is a small cup of coffee, so it is just spot on.

11) Spend a day relaxing at Playa del Este

The noise and chaos of Havana can get too much even for the Cubans, so in the weekends during the summer many escape for Playa del Este (the East Beach) to relax, swim and drink rum with friends and family.

There is a tourist bus leaving from Parque Central which will take you out to the main beaches east of Havana. It is easy and convenient, and a great day trip from the city. It is possible to take a shared taxi out there but the taxi drivers are beginning to understand that it is good business to charge the tourists a lot more than the Cubans, so the price benefit for doing this compared to the bus is closing.

12) Go only to Callejon de Hamel if you are trying to sell something to the tourists

Ooh, ups! We are the tourists… Anyway, go there and try to sell something to the other tourist? No? Okay, just kidding!

Callejon de Hamel is a one big tourist trap not located in Havana Vieja. I hardly heard of Cubans going to hang out. It might just be me… During the weekend, there is usually some kind of music performance which can be fun to watch. But still… It feels very touristic.

13) You have to eat arroz y frijoles for dinner at least once – and properly together with carne de cerdo and plátano frito

You can’t come to Cuba without trying arroz y frijoles (rice and beans) at least once! It is as simple as that! Rice and beans is an essential part of the Cuban cuisine. Even though it might seem a bit boring, if you find the right place where you can get a good homemade portion, it can be quite tasty (if you are staying in a casa particular, try to ask there).

There are two versions of how to get it: separated rice and then the beans in a kind of sauce or mixed all together. Both can be nice, and then it is very Cuban! You want to experience Havana like a local, right?

Since beef is exclusively for tourists and export (read more about things nobody tells you about Cuba) for the Cubans the rice and beans usually come with either pork or chicken. And, if you are lucky there will also be fried bananas (plátano frito) on the side! Hmm. Then, you have the complete menu for a Cuban dinner!

14) For a fancy night out be cultural, and check out Fábrica de Arte Cubano (FAC)

Fábrica de Arte Cubano is museum-club-cultural center located in the far end of Vedado (check out the interactive map for its location). It opened about 3 years ago, and has grown ever since.

It is quite different from other cultural activities in Havana as it provides a more modern approach to Cuban culture. It offers all kind of cultural activities; concerts, exhibitions, interviews, fashion shows etc. Check out their Facebook or website beforehand to find out what is on the agenda.

Fábrica is a complete must if you want to experience some contemporary Cuban art.

And then they just got nominated for Caribbean's Leading Entertainment Venue 2017 by World Travel Award! How cool it that? Give them a vote here!

15) For the quieter night, finish the day off in a real Cuban style with a bit of baseball or telenovela in la televisión

Even though Cubans are famous for being big time music and party people, many Cubans families end of the day in front of the television with the latest baseball match or the new episode of the recent telenovela (soap opera).

Baseball (or pelota as the Cubans call it) is crazy-insanely popular in Cuba. Everybody has an opionion about the matches, their favorite team etc., etc. Maybe it is because I'm not from the US that I don't understand the passion for baseball. Or maybe it is because I'm not a sport fanatic at all that I don't get it… Anyhow, it is pure Cuban culture!

By the way: the team from Havana is called Industriales. All the rest teams more or less have the name according to their city of origin.

Around 9 pm, the streets of most residential areas are mostly empty. It is time of the its night's episode of the recent telenovela. Nobody wants to miss it! So, head to the living room of your casa particular, and ask your host family if you can join them for a real Cuban night-in.

In the end my quick guide became pretty comprehensive...

Anyway, what do you think about it? Did you get a good introduction to how to experience Havana like a local? Or have you maybe been to Havana and think I miss something? Feel free to share your thoughts and tips below!
Looking for more stuff about Cuba? Find it here!
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Quick guide to las máquinas de La Habana

How to use the collective taxis in Havana?

Cuba’s properly most well-known and popular asset are the old 50s cars. A classic tourist activity in Havana is to rent one of those iconic cars and go for a drive on the seaside drive, Malecón.

However, the cars are not only for tourists. The old 50s cars are used all around the island as taxi collectivos or máquinas as the Cubans call them. Their function can best be compared with a small version bus. In Havana, they run in a comprehensive net of routes all over the city. And you can easily jump on for a ride!

The old 50s cars in Cuba are not just for tourists. The Cubans use them as collective taxis – or máquinas as they are called – and you can jump on for a ride!
Getting on a máquina

It works the way you place yourself on the side of the street in the direction you want to go, when you see one of the older cars with a little taxi-sign in the window, you pull out your hand to signal that you would like to go with them.

Don't be offered if the car doesn't stop, it usually means that it is full. Sometimes the driver pulls out his hand on show you a half-open upright-facing hand (a bit like a cup). This means the car is already full. But mostly they will just drive pass you.

If the car stops, quickly approach the driver by addressing him by the window or opening the door and ask:

¿Para donde vas? or ¿Vas a/por…(place the name of the street your what to go to)?

If your Spanish is a rusty, go for the ¿Vas por…? as this only requires you to understand a or no. If you receive a quickly drop in, and you will be on your way.

The old 50s cars in Cuba are not just for tourists. The Cubans use them as collective taxis – or máquinas as they are called – and you can jump on for a ride!
The old 50s cars in Cuba are not just for tourists. The Cubans use them as collective taxis – or máquinas as they are called – and you can jump on for a ride!
Getting off

You will need to tell the driver yourself when you want to get off. So, you are still not so used to the streets of Havana, I recommend that you use the offline version of your map on the phone or start out using the máquinas to a place you can recognize. For example, from Vedado to Parque Central.

When you approach the place you want to get off, kindly tell the driver so. If you are in the back of the car, you will properly need to shout for the driver to hear you. Approach him with:

Déjame allá en la esquina, por favor or ¿Puedes dejarme en la próxima esquina?

Before he stops, ask him the price. The price will always be in CUP/pesos nacionales. All the máquinas charge the same price, so it is only need to ask the first time you use it. When I visited the price per person was 25 CUP (=1 CUC) within the main areas of Havana, and a little more if you are going further. But double check by asking.

The old 50s cars in Cuba are not just for tourists. The Cubans use them as collective taxis – or máquinas as they are called – and you can jump on for a ride!

Using the máquinas, of course, requires a minimum knowledge about the streets of Havana. However, the máquinas usually drive on the bigger roads in the city.

My advice is start out catching one in the beginning of calle Neptuno by Parque Central towards the university or calle 23. Or the other way, going from the university down San Lazaro towards Parque Central.

Since both the Parque Central and the university are good landmarks easy to recognize from the backseat of a car. The dialog would be something like this: 

From calle Neptuno¿Vas para la universidad o calle 23?

From the university/San Lazaro¿Vas para Parque Central?

The old 50s cars in Cuba are not just for tourists. The Cubans use them as collective taxis – or máquinas as they are called – and you can jump on for a ride!

 

A misconception of many visiting Cuban is that these máquinas are only for Cubans. I have never been denied to enter or anything, and you get a great authentic feeling for Cuba.

Enjoy, and have a great ride!

The old 50s cars in Cuba are not just for tourists. The Cubans use them as collective taxis – or máquinas as they are called – and you can jump on for a ride!
Cuban slang you should know before visiting Cuba

10 phrases of Cuban slang you should know before visiting Cuba

Are you planning a visit Cuba, and don’t you want feel like a complete lost foreigner? Wouldn't it be nice to understand a little bit more of what is going on around you?

Even if you understand some basic Spanish, it can be very hard to make sense of Cuban Spanish . Then, these 10 phrases of Cuban slang might be very useful for you, and help your interacting with the Cubans.

However, take this only as guide lines to help you understand. There is a delicate balance between when it is and isn't appropriate to use most of the phrases. And sometimes the expression can become a lot stronger when a foreigner use them than when Cuban do. As foreigners we might not get the right emphasis in the word or use them in an incorrect context.

So, just a word on caution to be a little careful before you jump out in using the expressions yourself. That said! Let's get started:

1) ¿Qué vola? is a bit like "What's up?" or “how is it going?”

An extremely popular and common greeting in Cuba is to say ¿Qué vola?.  It is though very informal, and mostly used among friends. When walking the streets of any Cuban city, you can be certain to hear this phrase many times. ¿Qué vola, hermano?

Nobody is completely sure where it comes from. Thus, several times I heard the explanation that it is a baseball term which somehow got transferred into colloquial Cuban language. The explanation is that at baseball matchs when the ball is flying through the air, the crowd should apparently shout: que voolaa ("how it flies" from the Spanish verb volar).

As most Hispanics don't have a pronounceable difference between how v and b, you might as well see it spelled like qué bola

2) Yuma is foreigner

If you are just half as  white as me, you will most likely hear that phrase used about you. For Cubans yuma is another and more common way of saying yankie - or white foreigner. 

It doesn’t direct mean anything bad. However, most Cubans are not used to foreigners knowing this slang. So, they might be saying unpleasant things about you using yuma to refer to you. If you come about revealing for them that you actually did understand that they were talking about you, they will mostly likely be very surprised - and possibly a bit ashamed as well.

3) Asere/Acere is friend 

Asere is a Cuban way of saying amigo – or friend. It can be spelled both with s or with c.

Oye, asere, ¿Qué vola la yuma esta?

4) Pinga is… Well,  a multifunctional word (keep on reading)

Well, well it this is a word with mutual usages and meanings. Literally translated it refers to the male genital organ.

However, conjugated in a wide variety of ways and placed into all sort of different contexts, it can mean anything from "it is horrible" (está de Pinga), "amazing" (empinagado), "what the hell is up with you" (qué Pinga te pasa a tí)… And, well, the list just continues.

If you have bit of more Spanish background knowledge, this video explains almost all the different usages I have heard of while in Cuba:

 

However, a word of warning: This is a very informal way of expressing one self and mainly used among friends. You should therefore not use it among people that you don't know as it will be taken as rude.

Generally, for a Scandinavian like me, Cubans tend to shout and swear a lot more when they a making fun with each other than I’m used to. But when they are serious and talking quiet there are usually big problems.

5) Candela is to be on fire

Candela basically means candle but it is mostly used as "fire", "on fire" or "flame". When used about persons it can either mean that the person is super-hot or a troublemaker (ella está candela).

You can also hear it in the exclamations: ¡Qué candela! which depending on the context can be either a positive or a negative meaning of "how great" or "how awful".

6) Papaya versus fruta bomba

The fruit that in most other countries is known as papaya, is in Cuba called fruta bomba (the bomb fruit).

Why is that? Well, because in Cuba papaya means... vagina… Now you know, so watch out what you are asking for at the market!

7) Agua is not water  –  at least not only

True, true, in plain Spanish agua means water. However, in Cuba it is also used as a type of exclamation for something incredible good. ¡Agua!

8) Coger botellas is the Cuban term for hitchhiking

The closest you get to a Cuban term for hitchhiking is coger botellas. It means going to the stoplights to stop cars and ask for a free ride.

In Havana it is not so common anymore due to the many competing taxi whose method of picking people up is basically the same.

9) Ser un mango is to be a mango… No, okay?

To be a mango (ser un mango) is in Cuba used to express that a person is very good looking or hot: la chica es una mango e.g. the girl is hot.

10) Pincha is to work

Pincha means work, and can be used both as a subjective: no hay pincha (e.g. there is no work) and as verb: estoy pinchando (I'm working).

So, ¿Qué vola, asere? (do you remember what that means? 🙂 )
Did you learn some new words for your Cuba trip?
Or have you maybe already been to Cuba? Is there any Cuban slang you I missed out on? Please share your thoughts and knowledge below!
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10 phrases of Cuban slang you should know before visiting Cuba
10 phrases of Cuban slang you should know before visiting Cuba
10 things nobody tells you about Cuba

10 things nobody tells you about Cuba

There is a Cuba underneath the vibrant colonial houses and the American 50’s cars. It is a Cuba that we don’t see with the bare eye. A Cuba that most visitors don’t see and don’t know about.

So, to help you get a deeper insight into Cuba, and everyday life here. I have put to Therefore, I put together this list of things I believe nobody tells you about Cuba:  

After saying more than four months in Cuba, I believe I have seen a thing or two. However, there are so many more things unknown in Cuba. So, if you have anything to add, an experience or anything, please share it in comments!

There is a Cuba underneath the vibrant colonial houses and the American 50’s cars. Get insight with these 10 things that nobody tells you about Cuba!
1) I have never done so many illegal things in my whole life

Everything is so controlled and regulated that I have never done so many illegal things in my whole life as my 4 months on Cuba. As foreigner, you can only legally rent the certain state-authorized casas particulares. So, when I rented a private apartment through the father of one of my Cuban friend, it had to be completely low key. I shouldn't open the door for anybody, I didn't know. I couldn't tell anybody... Oh no! I just told  you! Okay… It's only between you and me! DO NOT tell the Cuban state, okay? Oh no, they are properly already reading this post… Now I can't ever go back... No serious, what the Cuban state knows about you (foreigner or Cuban citizen) is crazy.

When I lived in a casa particular, the woman in the house told me that she had got a phone call from some state officer. The officer knew who she was dating, whom was staying with her in her casa particular (one white European looking girl (me) and two younger African looking girls). And he knew what we were going to the university for classes! How creepy is that? 

And, when I went in a private non-authorized taxi from Havana to Cienfuegos, the driver told me just to shut off if the police stopped us... As if me not speaking would cancel out the fact that my whole present screamed yuma (the Cuban slang word for foreigner)

There is a Cuba underneath the vibrant colonial houses and the American 50’s cars. Get insight with these 10 things that nobody tells you about Cuba!
2) Familiarize yourself with phrases such as no hay, no hay más or se abacó

If you are not so strong in Spanish and are planning to travel alone (or with others not speaking Spanish), do yourself the favor of familiarizing yourself with phrases such as: no hay, no hay más or se abacó meaning "there isn't more" and "it ended".

Material shortage is a reality in Cuba in all aspects; food, medicine, toiletries... You get it; EVERYTHING

There is a Cuba underneath the vibrant colonial houses and the American 50’s cars. Get insight with these 10 things that nobody tells you about Cuba!
3) Cuba and its relationship with the U.S.

Cuba was the last country to gain independence in Latin America from the Spanish empire. That was in 1898. However, so much for that independence; the Spanish colonial power handed over power to the U.S.

And, it was not until 1901 that Cuba adopted its first constitution as an independent state.

Nevertheless, that only lasted until 1906 when U.S. troops reoccupy Cuba after request from the Cuban president himself. At lasted until 1909 when the U.S. occupation ends… If you were doubting the historical relationship with the U.S.; yes, they high influnece each other. Read more about my view on the current changes in their relationship here.

There is a Cuba underneath the vibrant colonial houses and the American 50’s cars. Get insight with these 10 things that nobody tells you about Cuba!
4) Education system is free but the state decides where the newly-graduated should work 

Even though, the education system in Cuba is said to be free all the way up through university. Did you know that the first 2-3 years after graduating university, the Cuban state decides where the young Cuban professional should work?

The state can send them to anywhere on the island; close or far from family and friend. It doesn't matter, the state decides.

There is a Cuba underneath the vibrant colonial houses and the American 50’s cars. Get insight with these 10 things that nobody tells you about Cuba!
5) The younger generations choose jobs in low-qualified jobs over education

It is a common perception among Cubans that the younger generations choose jobs in low-qualified jobs such as taxi- or bicitaxi drivers over education. Simply, because they can earn a better income there than by becoming professionals.

One could say that this produces the reverse of the revolutions ambitions for free education to everyone. What does it matter to have free education if the economic situation only encourage people to stay in low-income jobs?

There is a Cuba underneath the vibrant colonial houses and the American 50’s cars. Get insight with these 10 things that nobody tells you about Cuba!
6) You can be sentenced to prison for killing a cow

 

You can be prisoned up to 25 years for killing a cow for private use. Almost all selling and buying for the meat is illegal in Cuba. The meat is exclusively for tourism and exportation.

7) It is difficult for health care professional to get the necessary equipment

Even though Cuba has a health care system well above the average of other countries with the same economy level, it is hard for the professional to get the equipment necessary. I have heard plenty of stories from Cubans working in health care, telling that they have had to "built" their own equipment.  The hygienic conditions aren't the best seen - for the same reason: lack of materials.

There is a Cuba underneath the vibrant colonial houses and the American 50’s cars. Get insight with these 10 things that nobody tells you about Cuba!
8) Remember to ask ¿Quién es última persona? or ¿Quién es última? when entering a queue 

When arriving to a queue, you will always have to ask ¿Quién es última persona? or ¿Quién es última? (who is the last person), somebody will mark that they are the last arrived and you will have to remember who they are as well as who is the person coming after you.

When you sort of know that the waiting is done all over the place; forget about some straight lines from the supermarkets in other countries.

There is a Cuba underneath the vibrant colonial houses and the American 50’s cars. Get insight with these 10 things that nobody tells you about Cuba!
9) And then; get used to queuing!

And, you have to get used to queuing – as in queuing a lot!

I once (back in 2014) waited for two hours to get inside one of the state-owned ETCSA internet cafes. And, another other time 1.5 hour to get to withdraw money at the Casa de Cambio (CADECA). And then, just as I got inside the electricity of the whole block went off...

There is a Cuba underneath the vibrant colonial houses and the American 50’s cars. Get insight with these 10 things that nobody tells you about Cuba!
10)... Leading to the next point; get used to electricity shot downs.

Apart from if you are not staying in the all-inclusive resort (which the Cuban state has been so smart to supply good with electricity), anywhere around the island sudden and without reason electricity cuts are the norm.

It has become even more frequent now due to the political crisis in Venezuela and the "little" oil-issue Cuba has with Venezuela. Beforehand, Venezuela and Cuba were good amigos, and exchanged Cuban doctors for Venezuelan oil. That went quiet well…

Until… Venezuela entered a political and economic crisis, and cut the exchange with Cuba. No more free oil to Cuba! It has taken hard on Cuba, especially cutting down supply of oil and complicating the transportation possibilities of many Cubans.

There is a Cuba underneath the vibrant colonial houses and the American 50’s cars. Get insight with these 10 things that nobody tells you about Cuba!
Have you visited Cuba or are you planning to go? Were there anything in the list that you didn't know? Or maybe, that you did know? Please share your thoughts in the comments below! All inputs are more than welcome - I answer everybody 🙂 
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There is a Cuba underneath the vibrant colonial houses and the American 50’s cars. Get insight with these 10 things that nobody tells you about Cuba!

Liebster Award 2017

I got nominated for an award! The famous Liebster Award is given within the blogging community – for bloggers by bloggers, so to speak. Its aim is to help and promote new blogs.

The Liebster Award works a bit like an old-school chain-mailing lists; you receive the challenge from one friend, and then pass it on to more friends – and then it spreads out. It is a good way to spread the knowledge of new comers in the blogging community, engage with other blogs, and help each other to grow a bigger audience. But of course, also to get to know the people behind the blogs a bit more. I'm a fan!

Therefore, firstly a huge thanks to Recovering Hippie for nominating me! Rebecca, the voice behind Recovering Hippie, texted me on Twitter some time ago, and asked if I would like to be nominated for the Liebster Award.

Well, of course!

Recovering Hippie shares stories about her travels in South America. Especially, I enjoyed reading her description of how she forgot to buy food before a hike in Patagonia, and had to survive with a tube of Pringles. I will keep in mind to buy some proper food before beginning a hike 😉

Blond girl and blue car in Cuba

Recovering Hippie gave me 11 questions which I have to answer, and then I will pass 11 new questions on to my nominees.

So here we go, welcome to my Liebster Award post:

My Liebster Award post
1. Where is the best/favourite place you have visited?

Sevilla, Spain!

In English, it is actually Seville buut…. Let's face it; it just sounds so much better in Spanish... Sevillaa.

Sevilla was the destination where my Spanish adventure, and thereby also the very base of this blog started. It will always have a special place in my heart, and then it is just B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L! 

I went on holiday there for the first time nearly 5 years ago, where I stayed at a hostel in the center of the city, having an amazing time with couchsurfing meetings, pub crawls, meeting new people, and sightseeing.

I became friends with the manager, and upon leaving he gave me his business card, and said that if I anytime was interested in a job in Spain, I could just give him a call... What he properly didn't expect was that I did!

Spain and Sevilla had just got me!

My Liebster Award post

I was fascinated by the Spanish culture and language.

I had just finished high school in Denmark, and had started working in a hostel in Copenhagen where I had to speak English all the time. Finally, I was improving my English. Now I thought I could speak with the whole world buut...

In southern Spain ¡no! 

It tricked something in me. I needed to learn Spanish, I decided.

So, I returned to Sevilla and the hostel with only the promise of one month of voluntary work, and maybe (but only MAYBE) the possibility of paid reception work.

I didn't speak any Spanish, and the Spanish economy was on its knees... But they hired me! They hired me!! They simply hired me!!

 

My Liebster Award post

I didn't get to stay in Sevilla but I got a receptionist position in Granada. I ended up stayed in Spain for a total of a year and a half.

So yes, Sevilla for me apart from its undoubted beauty and spectacular culture, is something very special for me.

My Liebster Award post

Tip: Do visit in April, and do visit Feria de Abril. You will be astonished by all the beautiful flamenco dresses and elegant men on horses.

My Liebster Award post
2. What place/thing is top of your bucket list?

At the moment, I have this obsession with the Northern part of Argentina and Bolivia. I just really want to see the amazing mountain landscapes, visit the salt flakes, la Paz and the Death Road.

 

3. Who or what do you miss the most when you are away from home?

I miss this (for foreigners) crazy thing called "rugbrød". It is a dark traditional Danish bread with a lot of seeds and other healthy things in it. Everyone in Denmark knows it (and usually either loves it or hates it).

Since I lived in Spain, it is THE thing I ask my mum to bring when she visits. And talking about mummy! Of course, I miss mummy when I'm away! Who don't? 

So, what better way to appreciate her then nominating her and her new travel blog for the Liebster Award? Check out my nominees below!

4. What is your favourite travel quote?

Truth is that I don't really have one…

Or maybe just to be a little patriotic, it might be: "At rejse er at leve" (To travel is to live). The properly most famous Danish writer (Mr. Hans Christian Andersen) is known to have said so.

Yes, the guy behind the stories of the Little Mermaid (not the Disney version. The real one that ends sad), the Ugly Duckling, the Snow Queen, etc., etc.; he is Danish!

My Liebster Award post
5. The sea - on it, in it or stay on dry land?

In it! For sure! I think, I was a sea lion or something like that in my former life. 

My Liebster Award post

Yeah, that could be me somewhere there in the middle...

6. Sunsets or sunrises?

I enjoy sunrises for the very special lightning in the early mornings. This kind of golden shine over everything as the sun rises. However, sunsets can contain so many more strong colors... In the end, I think I take way more photos of sunsets than sunrises. Sooo let's say: sunsets.

My Liebster Award post

Can't complain about the view from the terrace in Buenos Aires

7. What are your desert island disks? (Up to five albums)

After reading your Liebster Award post, Recovering Hippie, I now know that you are a complete music lover. Well, I won't say that I'm the opposite because I like music. But I'm far from fanatic so this was a hard one 😉

So, let's say: bring me some Nirvana, some Calle 13, some Norah Jones and Katie Melua, and I will be good.

My Liebster Award post
 8. Which four people (dead or alive) would you like to go on a road trip with?

I think I would take four of my besties: Mona, Ida, Mette and Klara on a road trip to an Hispanic country to show them, what it is that fascinate me so much about the Hispanic culture.

My Liebster Award post

This me like 4 years ago while I lived in Granada - also the city behind me.

9. And where would you go?

A Hispanic country. I would probably take them on a road trip in Spain during the spring and summer to show them the beautiful country of Spain.

The diversity within this country, the beautiful culture and amazing architecture; eat tapas and visit La Alhambra in Granada, go shopping in Barcelona,  to eat pintxos in San Sebastian, scroll the old quarter of Santa Cruz in Seville and dance all night long in Feria de Abril, look at big old building and massive museums in Madrid, and spend the day at the beach and the night eating fish and drinking vino in Cádiz...

Seriously, what is not to like?

 Or maybe on a year's road trip in an renovated old bus all through Latin America...? But maybe they would just be sacred off before we even got started?

My Liebster Award post
10. What advice would you give someone looking to travel?

Travel slow. Don't run around trying to see a whole country in a week, take your time!

Take time to just scroll around the streets of the city you are in. Drop in an small unknown restaurant, get a chat with the owner and enjoy a meal you haven't tried before. Talk with the people, try to understand how their life. Try to understand how they see their situation. 

 

11. How have you changed?

My fasciation for Hispanic countries also result in some cultural clashes. The differences between the Scandinavian way of doing things and the Hispanic way are huge.

Most of all, I think I have changed (and is still changing) regarding my concept of time. I have had to force myself to look differently at time. Force myself to accept and adopt a more relaxed approach to time, and “being on time”… Still learning.

"Ten paciencia" (be patient) as they will say to me here in Argentina. Or "mañana, mañana" as said in Spain.

My Liebster Award post

Me in Buenos Aires - taken a couple of months ago

My nominees for the Liebster Award:
  • Ahí Vamos (in Spanish, some stuff in English)
    The Argentine couple of Ale and Sergio are the voices behind the travel blog Ahí Vamos. I connected with them long time ago on Instagram where they post great pictures from their travels around the world. From there I started following along on their blog.

  • Bentes Rejser (in Danish)
    My super cool mum who has been working with web editing and travel writing for a loong time, recently started her own travel blog! If you are a non-Danish speaker, you might need a quick Danish course before reading along (or use the translate function on her blog). But you should definitely drop by to check out her amazing photos!
    Check out her Instagram as well - those pictures are stunning, I tell you!

  • The Backpacker (English)
    Mario was quick to write me back, and underline that he was not blogging for profit. Just for fun! That’s actually, why I choose to write him in the first place. Not all of us have the goal to become some sort of digital nomad wandering all the time, and there is space for all of us. As Mario puts it himself his blog is a like a journal “in the past, I tended to write stuff down on paper with my doctor's handwriting - now, I do it online.” Enjoy his blog with great articles about Panamá among other destinations.

  • Fly with Lola (in Spanish):
    Dolores is another of my Argentine Instagram acquaintances, which I only recently realized is blogging as well! She has a massive amount of resources about all kind of different places. And then she just rocks with those pictures! Do youself the favor, and check out her Instagram!

UPDATE! I'm happy to welcome yet another blogger to the Liebster Award! 

  • Caroline Travelss (in English): Caroline - or Karlijn as her real Dutch name is - blogs about all kind of different amazing destinations! So for sure, you will be able to find something that interests you as well.  And THEN she is a equal Sevilla-admire! What's not to like!? Remember to check out her excellent post about Seville. I'm looking forward to seeing your Liebster Award post as well!
My Liebster Award post
My Liebster Award questions:

1) Which destination has had the most impact on you? And why?

2) What do you get most excited about when you visit a new city or location?

3) What is the most overrated place or city you have visited?

4) Bike or train?

5) What’s your next travel destination? And why this particular one?

6) City breaks, hiking or beach holiday?

7) Hotel, hostel, couchsurfing or resort?

8) Name 3 destinations from your bucket list and explain why do you want to visit them.

9) What is your best advice to people looking to start blogging?

10) What motivated you to start your blog?

11) Which destination that you have already visited, would you like to go back to?

My Liebster Award post

The exact rules of the game for Liebster Award dependes a bit on who you ask. As I have understood it from the Recovering Hippie, I had to:

  • Answer her questions in a post,
  • Thank her in that post for nominating me, and link back to her,
  • Nominate around 5 new bloggers myself,
  • Give my nominees 11 new questions to answer,
  • And they afterwards have to do as I just did with Recovering Hippie: answer, thank, link back, nominate, give new questions…

However, I afterward found this website which seems like the official one for Liebster Award guidelines. It states things a bit differently. Aren’t that the beauty of the big crazy internet?

Soooo, I will let it be up to my nominees what guide lines they want to follow 🙂

Thank you all for dropping by and taking your time to read my Liebster Award post!

Besos

Rebecca

Don't miss Botero when in Colombia

Don´t forget Botero when in Colombia

I was 15 years old the first time I met him. It was love at first sight. It was autumn in Berlin, and the sun shinned from a clear sky. I was in my teenage hippie period where everything had to be crazy. The more colorful, the stranger; the better.

And there he was in a park in the center of Berlin. He fitted into all of that.

Colombia is the perfect choice for seeing Fernando Botero's art. Check out the main points for enjoying his art here!

I was immediately in love! Fernando Botero’s art fitted perfectly into my mind set of seeking to challenge the existing society. Be provoking and thinking differently than the rest – and telling them, most importantly.

His big deform sculptures of overweighed people and animals challenge our perception of the body. What is a beautiful body?

My fascination for Botero's art has never stopped. His art made an inevitable mark in my mind. Today, here close than a decade after from my first encounter (ha ha, THAT made me sound old! I’m not!), my clothing has become more conservative than that sunny autumn day in Berlin.

However, my inner-hippie with a love for strange things is still alive, and with that my fascination for Botero and his art.

Colombia is the perfect choice for seeing Fernando Botero's art. Check out the main points for enjoying his art here!
Colombia is the perfect choice for Botero art

When I planned my visit to Colombia, I had completely forgot that Botero is Colombian citizen, and Colombia therefore (of course!) is the perfect choice for seeing his art!

I had arrived safety to my hostel in Bogotá on my very first day in Colombia, and I received a text from my mum (equally a Botero-admire). She knew I had been way too busy with exams to do any significant research on Bogotá, so she just wanted to point out to me there is a whole Botero museum in Bogotá.

I quickly found out that this was not the only place to explore the Colombian artist’s work! So, keep on reading to get to know the main points for enjoying Botero’s art!

Colombia is the perfect choice for seeing Fernando Botero's art. Check out the main points for enjoying his art here!
But… Who is this Botero, you might ask?

Okay, let me face the fact that everybody might not be as passionate about sculptures of overweighed men and women as me… So, here a quick introduction to artist Fernando Botero:

He was born in 1932 in Medellín, Colombia. When he was only 16 years old, his paintings were for the first time exhibited. Today, he is a world-famous artist. His art has been exhibited all around the world, and he has won prizes for his work. He has lived and studied in places like Madrid, New York, and Paris.

Botero's art is know for is bloated, round and oversized humans and animals which he both uses in paintings and in his sculptures. In some way, you can say that it has become his artistic trademark.

Colombia is the perfect choice for seeing Fernando Botero's art. Check out the main points for enjoying his art here!
Colombia is the perfect choice for seeing Fernando Botero's art. Check out the main points for enjoying his art here!
Colombia is the perfect choice for seeing Fernando Botero's art. Check out the main points for enjoying his art here!
Colombia is the perfect choice for seeing Fernando Botero's art. Check out the main points for enjoying his art here!

Main spots for enjoying Botero’s art: 

Museo Botero, Bogotá

The Botero museum is in an old beautiful colonial-style house in the historic neighborhood Candelaria in Bogotá. Everything from paintings to sculptures over paintings of Botero are decorating the old house.

In the middle of the house is a huge patio with benches where you can sit down and relax from the hustle and bustle of Bogotá. Take a break and take in this atmosphere which stands in scrap contrast to the life just outside the heavy entrance’s doors.

TIP! The museum is closed on Tuesdays! Just so you don’t end up like me standing outside knocking on the door when there is nobody.

The museum is opened Monday, Wednesday-Sunday from 9 am to 7 pm, except Sundays (10 am to 5 pm). Closed Tuesdays. Admission is free.

Location: Calle 11, N° 4-41, Bogotá

For more information click here

Colombia is the perfect choice for seeing Fernando Botero's art. Check out the main points for enjoying his art here!
Plaza de Botero, Medellín

In Medellin, they are so proud of their local superstar artist that they have named a whole square after him. Plaza de Botero is located in the center of Medellín, and it is decorated with some of Botero’s massive sculptures.

The sculptures on the square are amazing! But the square itself has turned into a tourist trap. It is far too crowded with tourists and sellers – not my cup of tea! To avoid the crowdedness my best recommendation is not to do like me, but get up and go there early!

Location: between calle 52 and Avendia Carabobo in the center of Medellín

Colombia is the perfect choice for seeing Fernando Botero's art. Check out the main points for enjoying his art here!
Colombia is the perfect choice for seeing Fernando Botero's art. Check out the main points for enjoying his art here!
Colombia is the perfect choice for seeing Fernando Botero's art. Check out the main points for enjoying his art here!
Museo de Antioquia, Medellín

On the corner of Plaza de Botero you have the Museo de Antioquia which has a large Botero collection. I really enjoyed getting away from the chaos on the square, and just scroll around the exhibition halls with the peace and quietness to enjoy the art. Apart from Botero pieces, the museum also offers pieces of art from other Colombian artists.

I would have been disappointed with my visit to Plaza de Botero if Museo de Antioquia hasn’t been there. So, I high recommend that you spent some time visiting the museum. Additionally, the museum has a nice café where you can sit and observer the square at a nice distance. 

Admission charged. Open daily from 10 am to 5.30 pm (except Sunday to 4.30 pm)

Location: Calle 52, no. 52-43, Medellín

For more information about Museo de Antioquia click here

Colombia is the perfect choice for seeing Fernando Botero's art. Check out the main points for enjoying his art here!

In 2004, Botero created a series of paintings and drawings focusing on the violence in Colombia stemming from drug cartels. His natal city, Medellín, was for many years considered one of the most dangerous cities in the world because of these activities.

The death of the infamous Pablo Escobar who had managed most of the drug tracking around Medellín inspired Botero to this painting:  

Colombia is the perfect choice for seeing Fernando Botero's art. Check out the main points for enjoying his art here!
Colombia is the perfect choice for seeing Fernando Botero's art. Check out the main points for enjoying his art here!
What do you think of Botero's art? Or what is your favorite Botero spot? Share your points and tips about Boero in a comment below! 
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Colombia is the perfect choice for seeing Fernando Botero's art. Check out the main points for enjoying his art here!
morning ride through Ciego de Ávila, Cuba

Morning ride through Ciego de Ávila, Cuba

When I visited the town of Ciego de Ávila in the central part of Cuba a couple of months ago, I pulled myself together one morning around sunrise and took my camera on a horse carriage ride in the best Cuban style through the city.

Early mornings are without doubt one of the best time to get an authentic view at everyday life in the country you are visiting. Because isn't that a part of why we travel? To see how other people live their lives and get a better understanding of their culture and everyday? At least, that is one of the big reasons why I travel.

 

Through this unique photo itinerary of a morning in Ciego de Ávila (Cuba) you get a special insight to the authentic everyday Cuban life.

 

And then the bonus about early morning is, of course, that the lighting at sunrise is astonishing

The shots that came out of that, I have collected in this photo itinerary, and I hope they will give you a insight on what Cuban life in Ciego de Ávila is like on a morning whatever. Enjoy!

 

Through this unique photo itinerary of a morning in Ciego de Ávila (Cuba) you get a special insight to the authentic everyday Cuban life.

 

Biking to work, school... Basically, biking anywhere

Through this unique photo itinerary of a morning in Ciego de Ávila (Cuba) you get a special insight to the authentic everyday Cuban life.
Through this unique photo itinerary of a morning in Ciego de Ávila (Cuba) you get a special insight to the authentic everyday Cuban life.
Through this unique photo itinerary of a morning in Ciego de Ávila (Cuba) you get a special insight to the authentic everyday Cuban life.

 

For a morning chat...

Through this unique photo itinerary of a morning in Ciego de Ávila (Cuba) you get a special insight to the authentic everyday Cuban life.
Through this unique photo itinerary of a morning in Ciego de Ávila (Cuba) you get a special insight to the authentic everyday Cuban life.

 

The sun rises over the roofs of classic communist Cuban building blocks and the writing on the wall tells people to take part in a program for educating their children ('Participa en el programa Educa a tu hijo').

Through this unique photo itinerary of a morning in Ciego de Ávila (Cuba) you get a special insight to the authentic everyday Cuban life.

 

The view from the horse carriage as the sun colors the houses...

Through this unique photo itinerary of a morning in Ciego de Ávila (Cuba) you get a special insight to the authentic everyday Cuban life.

 

And with that also my recommendation to you to get out of bed early, even though you are travelling, and take your camera for a walk through the city you are visiting. The rest of the world does not stop just because we are travelling, people continue their everyday life.

Happy shooting!

 

Waiting to sell the daily breakfast...

Through this unique photo itinerary of a morning in Ciego de Ávila (Cuba) you get a special insight to the authentic everyday Cuban life.
 
Looking for more stuff about Cuba? Find it here!
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Through this unique photo itinerary of a morning in Ciego de Ávila (Cuba) you get a special insight to the authentic everyday Cuban life.