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Luxury Travel Blog | Travcoa

What to Eat in Cuba: Exploring the Paladars of Havana


Jose Fuster's "La Ultima Cena"

Artist Jose Fuster’s famous work, “La Ultima Cena,” or “Last Supper,” shows the disciples gathered around a plate of fish and hints at a bizarre rule in Cuba that allowed only 12 guests to eat at one time in privately-owned restaurants. In fact, until the 1990s restaurants not owned by the government were illegal. The paladars, or small dining rooms operated by self-employed families, were originally operated out of homes. They existed under harsh restrictions that governed the type and amount of food served, the hiring of labor, and, as Fuster so famously depicted, the number of seats at the table.

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Topics: Cuba

What to do in Cienfuegos, Cuba


A Neoclassical City

On a bay overlooking the sea, the “pearl of the south” is one of the Caribbean’s few neoclassical cities. Founded in 1819, the colonial town of Cienfuegos was originally settled by French immigrants from Bordeaux and French colonies such as Louisiana. Its position made it the heart of Cuba’s sugar cane, tobacco and coffee industries and during the agricultural boom of the 19th century the city amassed much wealth. Today, this Cuban city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site celebrated for its history and architecture, a favorite of luxury group tours and one of the world’s most unique travel destinations. Here’s a list of the top things to do in Cienfuegos:

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Topics: Cuba

How To Do the Grocery Shopping in Cuba


 The Cost of a Trip to the Bodega

Cubans call them libretas, the small booklets that provide every household with access to the state-run food stores, or bodegas. Inside the stores, a blackboard lists the available items and their prices; the little booklets determine the amount of rice, sugar, beans and other basics each family is entitled to. After half a century, the books are the legacy of this government’s dogged insistence on equal subsidies, and an agricultural sector that can no longer support the people.

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Topics: Cuba

The Crumbling Beauty of Today’s Cuba


Seduced by Havana

Havana is a port city that has been through the ringer and, against all odds, survived. Like an aging ingenue, there is little doubt that she is not what she once was; but neither is she the sum of what can be seen on the surface. With crumbling façades and elegant ruins, Cuba’s capital city is a priceless gem for those with the curiosity to explore it. As the “forbidden fruit of travel,” Havana captures you in its spell, wins you over with its charm and never quite lets you go.

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Topics: Cuba

Cuba’s Street Party


Gathering the Faithful in Remedios

In 1820 Father Francisco Vigil de Quiñones was worried about the dwindling numbers of parishioners at the Christmas season midnight masses. In an effort to “drum” up attendance, he devised a plan which would eventually become the oldest festival in all of Cuba: Las Parrandas de Remedios.

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Topics: Cuba

Dining in Castro’s Cuba


A Taste of Politics

Until recently, restaurants in Cuba were prohibited from serving more than a small seating of diners, essentially putting the kibosh on a vibrant restaurant scene. However, the relaxing of laws to do with private enterprise has foodies drooling over culinary outlets that are popping up all over Havana. From more formal hotspots to mom-and-pop eateries and the street vendors for which the island is known, there’s much flavor to savor in today’s Cuba.

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Topics: Cuba

Papa's Cuba - El Floridita


Home of the “Hemingway Daiquiri”

There was a time when starlets and showgirls gathered around the craps table at the Tropicana and Ernest Hemingway stumbled in every day to his favorite Cuban watering hole, El Floridita. A gathering spot for expat Americans, the bar became famous when Papa began frequenting it in the 1930s and earned it the nickname “Little Florida.”


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Topics: Cuba

American Travel to Cuba


New Doors Are Opening

There was a time in 1960 when starlets and showgirls gathered around the craps table at Havana’s Tropicana, and Ernest Hemingway still stumbled into El Floridita, his favorite Cuban watering hole. All that came to an abrupt halt with the invasion of the Bay of Pigs in 1961 and for more than a half a century the door to Cuba has remained closed to Americans. 


Doors are starting to open, however. Over the past several years, cultural exchange programs have been granted by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) that permit travel to Cuba. Today, only a limited number of travel companies are awarded licenses to operate educational exchange travel to Cuba.  Today’s travel itineraries feature meaningful interactions with the people and the culture. Those lucky enough to secure one of the coveted spots on these journeys soon discover that while some things harken back to the Havana of the big screen, much has changed.  

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Topics: Cuba