All posts filed under: Travel

5 Days in Cuba: Havana and Varadero

As soon as relations between Cuba and America were “normalized” and direct flights to Havana became available, I booked my ticket to this isolated island nation. I have always been fascinated by this isolated nation. The recent flood of Instagram photos of Havana only increased my desire to visit Cuba even more. Planning this trip was a bit difficult since there is limited information for Americans and requires a lot of research. My original plan was to explore Havana (Wednesday, Thursday and Monday afternoon), Viñales (Friday) and Varadero (Saturday through Monday morning). One thing I did not account for was the heat and humidity at the end of May, which according to Cubans is temperate for spring. The heat takes a toll on your body and I ended up not doing as much as I had planned, so I saved Viñales for another time. This is my 5 days in Havana and Varadero. Note: With President Trump’s reversal of the Obama Cuban policies, travel to Cuba may become restricted again. I recently searched for JetBlue …

Cuba Travel Basics for First Time Visitors

With the recent normalization of Cuban and American relations, Cuba has become a hot destination for Americans. There is limited information for first time visitors to Cuba easily available in one place. This is a list of basics that one should know when traveling to Cuba for the first time from the US. As of the date of this post, President Trump has reversed President Obama’s normalization policy. However, the effect on tourism remains to be seen in the coming months. Maps Google Maps does not allow you to download an offline version for Cuba. However, there is a free app called “Maps.Me” that has detailed offline street maps. Since your location tracker does not need cellular data or Wi-Fi to work, you can use the offline map to gauge where you are at all times. The offline map also has all the popular restaurants pre-loaded and can be helpful when the taxi driver does not know certain addresses or tries to scam you. Direct Flight and Visa *This may change due to the new …

Lounge Review: No. 1 Lounge in Gatwick South Terminal

On our way back to NY from Copenhagen, we had a stopover at Gatwick South Terminal for 5 hours. The South Terminal is small and dated and also serves as a hub for British Airways at Gatwick Airport. The terminal has two levels with the usual shops and fast food restaurants…nothing particularly outstanding. There is a small Harrods’s gift shop at the terminal for last minute British gifts. The terminal itself is overcrowded. When I was there in March, it was hard to find a seat anywhere. Luckily for me, I had access to the No. 1 Lounge at the terminal. Besides the No. 1 Lounge, there is only a British Airways Lounge, thus making both venues busy like the terminal. The No 1 Lounge’s entrance is on the second floor and located between Dixons and JD Sports. I walked through a nondescript entrance that resembled a service entrance to another set of double doors where I was greeted with a representative who was tougher than a NYC bouncer. Apparently the lounge was full around …

Weekend Unexplored: 2 Days in Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen was the last stop on our week long Nordic trip. My group purposely scheduled Copenhagen at the end of our Iceland adventure as we wanted a balance from our rustic Icelandic adventures. We did not have anything planned out for Copenhagen besides our dining options, so the weekend was more spontaneous. Copenhagen also has a burgeoning food scene that rivals NYC in quality and innovation with two restaurants currently listed in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants. I was in charge of booking the restaurants and I took on the challenge with glee. Day 1 We had an early flight from Reykavik to Copenhagen on Iceland Airlines. After an uneventful flight, we easily found a taxi and headed to Hotel Nyhaven located at the end of the picturesque Nyhaven Harbor. When we arrived around 1:00 pm, our rooms were not yet available so we left our luggage with the front desk staff. At this point, we were starving as we had been up since 6 am for our flight. My original plan was to eat …

5 Days in Iceland in March

Iceland was not high on my destination priority list as I had always imagined the country to be very cold and bleak. Ruffing it does not appeal to me, especially for a New Yorker. I was glad to be proven wrong for once! An opportunity came up when my snowboarding group decided to go to Iceland this year and I quickly signed on board. Luckily, my friend had been to Iceland before and planned our itinerary based on what she had experienced. This post will detail our 5 day itinerary and tips we picked up along the way. First, the pace for our 5 day road trip on Golden Circle was leisurely. This is a deviation from my normal jam-packed itinerary, however, it did forced me to prioritize the top two things I wanted to do each day and to slowly take in the scenery. A significantly amount of the time was spent in the car as the sites are one to two hours’ drive from each other. We also decided to visit Iceland in …

What to pack for Iceland for Winter and Spring

I recently went to Iceland in the middle of March and, like most people, I was furiously googling on what to pack leading up to the trip. The weather is so unpredictable that Iceland can get three seasons a day, if not within a few hours. Even though my group went in the middle of March, the weather was winter in some areas and early spring in others making it difficult to pack efficiently. Furthermore, I do not own any real gear for trekking through uneven terrain and the unpredictable weather of southern Iceland. At the same time, I did not want to spend more money on a new wardrobe that I only wear once. This packing list is what I ended up bringing and is what works for the Icelandic weather. Ski or snowboarding gear If you have snowboarding or ski gear, you are half way done. It rains in Iceland…a lot and at random times. It can be sunny one minute and pouring the next. I ended up bringing a waterproof and windproof Marmont …

5 Days in Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona has been on my bucket list for a long time, but I did not have the opportunity until recently. My goal was to really explore Barcelona at a leisurely pace. My friend came on this adventure with me and we settled on a Tuesday to Sunday itinerary. In this post, I will highlight our trip to Barcelona and what we learned from it. Day 1: Tuesday (Arriving in the afternoon) We arrived in Barcelona in the early afternoon and both of us took separate taxis from the airport as we were in different terminals. Prior to this trip, my friend and I were warned to be cautious of taxis and pickpockets in Barcelona. I did not truly believe that Barcelona was an unsafe city as it is an international European destination.  Unfortunately, the following taxi incident shook my faith in the city. After getting dropped off a block away from my destination, my taxi driver grabbed a 50 euro bill out of my hand and drove off after I disputed the fare. The fare …