Travel ~ 37. Blissful Bermuda

This past weekend, Jet Blue flew me to paradise.

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The British overseas territory named Bermuda became home for a few days. Divided into nine parishes, I couldn’t wait to explore.

My best friend, Lauren and I arrived at L.F. Wade International Airport to celebrate her birthday. Our friendly taxi driver welcomed us to the island. Driving along the narrow winding roads, the subtropical climate and vibrant houses were gorgeous. The crystal clear blue water, fruit trees and numerous yachts added to the scenic view. I can still feel the sunshine and warm air on my arm from that day or perhaps it’s the tan.

We stayed at the Fairmont Southampton, a lovely luxury resort in Warwick Camp. Our room, the Signature Suite was heavenly. The hotel staff expressed warm hospitality during every interaction. The hotel provided 9 restaurants, taxis on call, a wide range of activities such as water sports, horseback riding, fishing, diving, cycling, 6 tennis courts, an 18 hole golf course, 12 treatment rooms, a sauna, pool lounge areas and excursions for Gibbs Hill Lighthouse, Bermuda Forts, the Bermuda Aquarium, Royal Navy Dockyard and Crystal and Fantasy Caves all for additional charges. They are all well fun!

Soon enough, it was time for lunch. Taking a taxi, we headed to Mickey’s Beach Bistro. Upon arrival, we were greeted by the most the amazing man on the island and in my opinion he is the culture Ambassador for Bermuda, Cole Simmons. Also, he’s one of my best friends. Then we all enjoyed the colourful cocktails, savoury seafood and fun conversation with the servers including Gianni, Steven and Samy. Following that, it was inevitable to not walk along Elbow Beach. Let’s just say, the water was calling.

Then the heat and humidity must have taken a toll because we decided to rest for a while. A few hours later, Cole, Lauren and I made our way to Front Street to see what Hamilton had to offer. We saw loads of shops, stores, restaurants, bars and pubs as well as a water promenade. Eventually, it was time for drinks and dinner. Harry’s Restaurant & Bar was the answer for a taste of Bermuda. The marvelous manager, Manny made our dining experience a pleasure. The restaurant decor was beautiful too. First, I tried the fish chowder. Second, the mussels were yummy with a glass of Sancerre. Then our waitress surprised us with a treat. I recommend Harry’s as the dining destination in Bermuda.

After that, Cole, Lauren and I visited the Hamilton Princess Hotel to view the art on display. For evening entertainment, we drank at Hog Penny Pub and then we danced to Caribbean tunes at a Bajan bar called Spring Garden to end our Bermudian night.

The next morning, Lauren and I chilled by the pool while drinking rum swizzles. Surrounded by coconut palm trees, it was just what the doctor ordered for a holiday. In good time, we spent the afternoon at Horseshoe Bay Beach.

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Later for dinner, we checked out the Jasmine Lounge where a live band played local music. Our entrées were very delicious.

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The atmosphere was lively. Guests were jovial. Our waiter, Jaswyn was great. It was the perfect way to end our Bermuda adventure. I highly recommend to visit Bermuda to experience an #ahhbermuda moment 🙂

All photos taken by Niya Sinckler, Lauren Slinger and Cole Simmons.

Travel ~ Represent Cuba!

Since diplomatic relations relaxed between the U.S. and Cuba, leisure and business travelers (remember the Rihanna cover story in Vanity Fair) have been traveling to the Caribbean.

Known for white sandy beaches, cohibas and rum, Cuba has a variety of historical culture to offer surrounding the beautifully preserved Spanish colonial architecture.

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Crocodile shaped since Christopher Columbus landed in 1942, this warm and welcoming country has changed over time. From Fulgencio Batista‘s dictatorship to Marxist revolutionary, Che Guevara overthrowing the government, fearless Fidel Castro led the nation to a prominent place. Now President, Raúl Castro is maintaining the Communist rule of the sovereign state with style. Hopefully, the country will keep its creative charm while the infrastructure is transitioning its marketplace from foreign investment interests. You notice the little things here.

Leaving Jose Martí International Airport, where will you stay? Well “hello Havana” or should we say, “Hola”. For accommodation, Hotel Florida is a cosy colonial casa featuring a cute courtyard with authentic Cuban cuisine in Old Havana. Hotel Saratoga which I know from my first visit is a great location for exploring on foot and by eye at their rooftop bar that has numerous cocktails and excellent service.

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El Malecon. My favourite memory of Cuba. Photo: Niya Sinckler.

Then Hotel Nacional de Cuba, where I previously stayed on my second visit is a lovely luxury gem over 90 years old in the middle of Vedado. Amazing art deco, beautiful blue skies, exclusive eats, seaside views, a gorgeous garden, a cool cabaret room and celebrities strutting through the lobby are what got me. This is the place to be! Taking a walk along the magical Malecón, you’ll find the Museo de la Revolución, Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de La Habana and Museo Nacional de Historia de Cuba where one can learn about the art, culture and history of Cuba.

When looking for a casual lunch, support the locals by going to a paladar (family-run restaurant). La Galería (moderate) has amazing fresh fish or Atelier (splurge) offers Cuban continental cuisine, both in Vedado. For the art lovers, you will admire every inch of this island. From the classic vintage cars to locals painting portraits on the cobblestone streets, there is something for everyone. Business is also flourishing more now and I’m rooting for Cuban entrepreneurs. Fashionistas are even in town for Chanel‘s Cruise 2017 collection runway. Follow on Instagram for updates. Who knows you may even brush shoulders with the master of fashion, Karl Lagerfeld or Brasilian supermodel Gisele Bündchen, rumoured to be walking the show by the Paseo del Prado promenade claims Harper’s Bazaar.

Two blocks away, El Capitolio designed by Eugenio Rayneri Piedra stands grandiose with neoclassical architecture. Often a friendly guy, Miguel is hanging out on the steps who will take your photo with an old fashioned camera which I loved since photography is one of my passions. Say queso and smile as you’re taken back to the 1950s. Local music can be found in numerous neighbourhoods. Soon enough, the Latina in you will come out as you hear different beats and sounds around the city. Prepare your Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUC, local currency) for drinks at El Floridita to delve into the era of Ernest Hemingway and sip the best daiquiri in the world.

Dinner at the popular eatery, El Aljibe is the best. It’s the pollo (chicken)! Also the open concept and again this is a family run restaurant. I love it. And of course, you get a special treat at the end of your meal. Can you say Cuba Libre y cigarro? I think yes! Dance the night away at Café Cantante Mi Habana with a range of artists representing real rumba, heavy hip-hop, rock and sassy salsa in a mixed crowd of locals and tourists aged early 20s to late 40s. For that midnight bite, stop by Cafe de los Artistas. Lastly, I would be recommend venturing to Varadero in the northeast Matanzas Province, Trinidad in the midwest Sancti Spíritus Province and the second largest city in the southeast, Santiago de Cuba to enjoy the ocean coastline.

Today marked an emotional moment as well. According to Reuters, it was the first time in decades that a U.S. cruise ship entered the Havana Bay area. Get ready to travel. Check flights and peruse hotels. Dare to discover colourful Cuba.

 

 

Travel ~ Inspired by Cuba

It’s amazing that US and Cuban foreign relations are improving. What a beautiful island to admire since Cuba has so much to offer.

About four years ago, I visited Havana feeling transformed and englightened as an individual. Today, I decided to relive that experience and visit an authentic Cuban restaurant to travel in time.

Agozar was the first stop. Located in the East Village, this Cuban bistro has strong mojitos and jazzy mixes of charanga, guajira, mambo, pachanga and rumba tunes. You feel alive from the colorful and historical decor of heritage. There’s a sense of pride and community welcoming you in.

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Who doesn’t love a mojito?! Photo: Me.

After sometime, I took a walk over to Alphabet City. And almost missing the entrance, I eventually found Cienfuegos. This nuevo Latino style restaurant was perfect for rum and tapas. The variety of rum stocked was impressive with multiple Caribbean and Latin nations presented: Barbados, Cuba, Jamaica, Nicaragua and Puerto Rico to name a few. For food, empandas carne, yuca fritas and croquetas de jamon filled me well (shown below).

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Yummy tapas! Photo: Me.

The beach inspired walls reminded me of my walk along El Malecon (seafront pier), waves crashing against the rocks, children hanging on the edge and the soul of Havana. Definitely worth a visit or fly there – flights.