Transportation: ITS EXPENSIVE Y'ALL! Cabs and Uber’s to Milan from the airport Malpensa (MXP) can run 90€. I decided to opt for the inexpensive choice of regional train to metro for about 13€. The Metro cost 1,50€ one way. Tickets can be purchased at a booth or machine. I’m a New Yorker, give me a subway map and let me work! There are buses and trolleys as well, making this city easy to make your way through.
Lodging: I chose an Airbnb “369 homes” for two nights in the city center. I was able to walk maybe 8mins to Duomo and Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. For the business portion I spent three days at Hotel Da Vinci. This hotel is elegant and hosts a nice restaurant down stairs and a bar that serves snacks for your convenience. Rooms in Europe tend to be smaller than in North American cities, but at this hotel, space wasn't an issue. This Hotel was conveniently placed next door to a regional train that links to other transportation and various parts of the city.
FOODIE HEAVEN: If you’re a foodie this is your city! I was there for 7 days and I have not had one bad meal! Touristy spots are expensive compared to out of the city my meals ranged from 10-18€ however I’ve spoken to some friends who currently live in Italy that say when away from tourist spots food is 5-7€. I’ve paid up to 4€ for a bottle of water but outside of tourist areas water is .50€. We started to purchased water at supermarkets which became a better solution. Although it can be expensive eating your way through Italy, I personally felt it was oh so worth it. While there, have a Spritz!
***Venice Day Trip: I’ve purchased my ticket ahead of arriving in Italy for a round trip on the train from Milano Centrale to Venezia Santa Lucia. It was 66€ for a regular economy seat and took just 2hrs to reach Venice passing Verona which I hear is the home of where Romeo and Juliet was written. Once in Venice, you can just roam and explore shops that sell Venetian masks, magnets, key chains etc. They also have Murano Glass which is hand made.
The Gondola Ride: Gondola rides can be expensive. They were charging 80€ as a flat rate. However you can share a gondola ride with others, so do not be afraid to ask other tourist. You can also haggle if you wish. The forecast for the day I went was spotty rain. I decided to save the haggling for souvenir shopping instead and enjoy the ride while it wasn't raining. Please check your weather before going for the ride. We wanted to get our pics and videos and enjoy the experience so we jumped for the opportunity. *Note* If you’re not interested in spending heavy on a Gondola...a water taxi might be for you. I hear it’s much cheaper.
Airport: We flew in to Paris-Charles de Gaulle From JFK. The flight at the time was just under $700 on Delta airlines.
Transportation: Metro metro metro! It's the Cheapest way to travel around the city. Purchase a booklet of ten tickets. It’s cheaper than individual metro tickets. A single ticket can cost you 1.90 euros when a booklet of 10 may be 16.90 euros. After placing one ticket through the machine Hold on to it. you will need it to exit the system!
Tours: For our tours we chose to go with Viator.com. they are a very streamlined company that had plenty of attractions to choose from for a decent price. We chose a 7 hour day tour of Paris which included entrance to the Louvre, Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower. In the Eiffel tower lunch was served with a magnificent view. You make your way around the city via boat on the Seine River. The pick up and drop off point is the exact same location disclosed to you upon purchase. We also purchased a tour on Viator for the Arc de Triumph to walk up the monument and get a view of the city. The last purchase on Viator was Bateaux Moche boat tour for an hour on the Seine River. It was a wonderful intro to the city to get acclimated to the area. If you purchase the day tour you do not need to do the boat tour with Bateaux Moche. The day tour will give you an in depth look at the same sites the 1 hour boat tour will give you. Please check the website for up to date pricing. The only purchase I made out side of Viator I made was the Big wheel at Place de la Concorde. It cost about 12 euros for a 30 min ride.
Hotel: We stayed at the Hyatt Regency Etoile. The hotel had express bus pick up and drop off to and from the airport for around 13 euro. A metro station is also just behind the hotel.
Accommodation- I stayed at the Double Tree by Hilton Westminster for my trip. Super short walking distance away from attractions like Westminster abbey and The Palace/Big Ben. This location was close to underground stations Pimlico and Westminster. Black taxi’s are in front of the hotel for your convenience as well as cafes near by.
My Travel Passes/ Getting Around
Do yourself a favor and get you the London Pass and an Oyster Card !
The London Pass - For the London pass, you can select the amount of days you will use the pass as well as be able to visit as many places as you can do in a day from the list of the attractions they include.
Hop on Hop Off Busses - take you to everything you want to see. If you can, jump on the double decker of your selected route. Also, know that you can use your London pass for entry on the hop on hop off bus and can use it to get around or even back to spots near your hotel.
The Oyster Card - cost 5 BGP plus whatever amount you place on your card. Note that London goes by a zone system and they charge more depending on the distance/ zone changes you may go through. Be mindful to keep your card on you to exit stations and ferry services. Yes, Oyster cards were on the ferry service on the Thames (River) as well as the bus.
The Underground - is the way to go! Grab an Oyster card “top it up” and make your way! I’ve used it from the airport getting around town and for cover from the rain of course. Fun fact If you use your oyster more than twice (I believe) your Oyster card will not be charged again for the day
Uber’s are available and useful but can get expensive, so use wisely !
ZERO COMPLAINTS ON FOOD!!!!
London gets such a bad rap for food being bland but omg did the food taste good! I will say everything seemed to have spice, which doesn’t go over well with everyone. London loves some red meat. Your alternative will usually be chicken. I very rarely saw turkey options available. However, pretty amazing vegan options if you’re into that.
Firecracker - A basement level Japanese hideout with traditional decor. I ordered a bento box and strangely enough a mojito.
Nando’s -Is everywhere and was highly recommended. Casual urban take out / dine in spot with yummy grilled chicken! This is a chain restaurant so check for near by locations as you go and don’t forget your peri peri sauce.
Sweet chick- Rapper/Mogul Nas is part owner of this place known for their chicken and waffle, hip hop and RnB music and their Christopher Wallace drink. Try the dry rub wings and Mac and cheese as a starter (OMG! 🤤) This is located just off of regents street near the Oxford circus underground station
Cahoots! - a bustling 40s themed bar fitted with the underground and subway car decor. Super quirky and tasty drinks and pop corn out of a tin can this place is all that jazz! The music is swinging while you wait for you server dressed to fit the theme and read your newspaper styled menu. This place requires a reservation otherwise the wait can be up to an hour. I did not have a reservation but explained I came all the way from New York for this place and they got me a table but it sure did come with a time limit ! Lol make sure you go to the correct cahoots there’s a store front level cahoots for people that just want a drink and behind that out of the back door is the alleyway where the themed bar is.
Where the pancakes are! - A wonderful breakfast spot that serves ... you guessed it ... pancakes! Get there close to opening they do pack the place quickly. They are located near Shakespeare globe. It’s about a 10 min walk from that attraction to the restaurant.
Borough market- A good market that serves international foods on the go, pastries and fish market. Walk through both sides of the market for the full experience and try the donuts at Bread Ahead!
Prezzo- A wonderful Italian restaurant literally 700 ft from the doors of the British Museum. It was in my plans to eat here but it couldn’t get much better after walking through the museum. have questions, you have answers. Display the most frequently asked questions, so everybody benefits.
Came back from an incredible adventure with my cousin and travel buddy, Brittany. The food was great and the locals were nice. The streets were safe and the drinks kept flowing! I have to say some of my favorite spots were Buena vista, Floridita and 1830! If you're traveling to Havana check those places out. Below I have listed a rundown on how we made it happen, the places we visited, as well as some of my favorite eats in Havana.
Fight and Visa
We flew down on United Airlines under the “support of the Cuban people” visa option. This option allows you in the country with things you've planned in your itinerary that donates, gives aid, and utilize services owned by the Cuban people. The visa was separate from our flight and around $75. Outside of that visa, we planned to donate toiletries and hand them out to locals. We took a picture of the receipt of the supplies we brought down to donate. This was to be used as proof of our intentions entering the country or returning through US customs.
Health insurance came with our flight. They have free universal health care in this country. In fact Cuba's health care system is pretty amazing from what I've learned.
We stayed at "City and Ocean" an airbnb in the town of Vedado. It was just 2 blocks off the Malecón. This town is 20 mins from the airport and 12 mins in the other direction to the City of Old Havana. There are near by supermarkets, ice cream parlors, restaurants, hotels with a currency exchange, Etecsa (wifi) shops and transportation.
From the airport it was around 30 cuc one way. We stayed in Vedado which is a town 12 mins from Havana. As mentioned before, wifi is spotty so I must say warn your people early because getting service will suck! We got our wifi cards at local stores for 1cuc and each card lasted an hour. The limit was 3 per day and you must show your passport to receive it. We found public spaces with locals hanging with their cell phones out and knew that was the spot to connect to the internet and call home.
If you are from the United States please remember CASH ONLY!!!!! This country does not accept our cards. My recommendation for cash is $100 a day if you are a drinker, foody, souvenir shopper like me. Have a stash of cash just in case you run out. There is no running to the bank to pull more cash out and its a nightmare having someone try to wire you money to the country.
Food in Cuba is hit or miss. some food was the best of the best cuba has to offer and some things were just inedible. Cuba's food is rationed the later in the month the less they will have to offer. Once they run out of things, they either take a dish off the menu or take the liberty of getting creative. An example of this is when I ordered chicken rice and beans and they had no beans so they didn't sell me the meal I had to be prepared with multiple options just incase what I wanted wasn't available. Another time, my cousin ordered a sandwich with cheese and they gave her a pizza instead. One time they served me a dish with just salt they had no seasoning in that restaurant and it was their last day open for that time period so salt is what they were working with. I couldn't eat that meal as you can imagine. if you have your on seasonings and flavors you can bring them if you'd like. Other than these instances, I ate like a king.
Also, remember you have to tip for bathrooms and/or toilet paper so account for that in your daily budget and DO NOT THROW TISSUE DOWN THE TOILET! Their system isn't like ours and you do not want to clog the toilet! Please use the waste paper basket in the bathroom.
At the time of this trip, in order for you to obtain a wifi card you had to go to an Etecsa store that supplied them. The cards were only 1cuc per card and it had one hour on each card. You were only allowed 3 cards a day and MUST show your passport to the cashier in order to purchase.
5 day adventure:
Classic car tour
Museo de la revolución
Ambos mundos hotel (drinks)
John Lennon park
Beetles Themed bar
Plaza de cathedral
El Moro cannon ceremony
Cuevas de Saturno, Mantazas
Viñales tobacco Farm
Buena vista social club
Callejón de hamel (art)
La Guardia (closed during trip)
La Playa Santa Maria
The Cuba sign @ Hotel Nacional
Fav food spots
Havana 61, Habana Vieja