Epic Birthday: Exploring Havana, Cuba!


It’s a beautiful day for travel inspiration, and I’m here to get you hooked on Cuba! If you have an interest in history, architecture, or culture – this is a great place to visit; if you have an interest in gorgeous views, exploring, and bright and colorful building – this is a great place for you! Overall, Cuba has made me top 5 list of places to explore and I can’t wait to visit once more [once the political feuds calm down – bummer] through the help of Norwegian Cruise Lines!

I am extremely fortunate to say that I was able to enjoy my birthday in Cuba and extremely lucky that I was able to convince my sisters to join along in the festivities [granted it didn’t take much to convince them… it was really an immediate YES from everyone]! So after buckling down and confirming our amazing trip through Dreamtrips, we began to pack – 5 months later…. But we eventually made it!

Welcome to Heaven – err, I mean HavanaIMG_2099

For our first day in Havana, we enjoyed a LARGE breakfast on board the ship before going through customs. Cereal, fruits, cheese, pastries, and coffee galore – we don’t skimp on our meals when there’s a full day of adventure ahead.

Customs was much simpler than I had originally assumed, we each went into a booth to present our passports, got a stamp and were on our way to the exchange station. Easy-peasie!

The grand day of my 21st: Viñales, Cuba

I’ve always wondered what Cuba would be like. Run down and rugged like the news tells us, or historically well-kept with secrets of gorgeous views (totally unbeknownst to the world) – it was the latter.

Tobacco Farm

After boarding our excursion bus we made our way to our first stop, about 1.5 hours inland to a tobacco farm where we got to see tobacco leaves drying and a skilled cigar master roll a few as we passed around a cup of cafesito [cuban coffee].

After purchasing a bundle of 40 cigars for our loved ones back home, we went back onto the farm and tried some delicious sugar cane – with a splash of rum. Delicious! Then back onto the bus we went for our next stop about an hours away to a gem of a location.

Cuba Day1 - 50
Enjoying the scenery in Viñales with my sister Perla

The second stop of this excursion was in a small town with a grand view (I mean, look at that!) where we enjoyed an amazing lunch on a cliff-side with a few friendly visitors that included rowdy pigs (fun story about them later) and friendly cats who loved the attention we willingly gave them. With a 3-course meal of local delicacies, we all truly immersed ourselves in the scenery as we were all pleasantly bewildered by the grand view. We spotted a few cowboys riding their horsed down the steep cliff-side to the smaller towns within the valley and continued to gaze at the lush mountainsides behind us.

Remember the pigs? Our rowdy little friends? Well these cuties made a stop at our deck for lunch right before their bath time – and boy did they need their bath. As cute and pink as they were, we weren’t expecting them to be covered in mud. Yup – pink on top and muddy on the bottom. Surely we realized this as they brushed up against a fellow travelers purse and left their ‘gift’ alongside. Soon enough, the farmer next door came on over and shooed them back to their home for a bath. Yet, I still want a micro pig.

Our next stop was in a busier town, with a great market with local vendors. I treated myself to some new artwork because why not, its my birthday 🙂 After walking around for about an hour we went on our way to the last stop of the day – the rum factory for Havana Club! This factory was about the size of my childhood home, with about 10 workers labeling and packaging the bottles of rum. The hustle and bustle of the room increased as the tour group of 30 walked in, so we made our way over to the shop next door for samples and postcards.

Las Joyas Tour 2017lasjoyas1
Las Joyas – my best friends for life!


This jam packed day of adventure was the best gift I could have asked for – yet we celebrated once more on board the ship with a magnificent dinner spread where we ate for about 2 hours [told you we don’t mess around when it comes to food]. The best way to end any celebration, is with family – and that’s exactly what we did. Cheers to amazing travels, and even more amazing sisters to share these fun adventures with!

Be sure to check back in next week for a continuation of this post as I delve into our trip so that YOU can plan your own Cuban adventure!

XOXO, my very best wishes –


Published by Crystal Diane

Landscape embroidery artist + Landscape Architect

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