What you need to know before going to Cuba

I am so obsessed with Cuba that I can't stop thinking and talking about it, and that's why I ended up writing three posts about this unique country. I believe this post is very important though because there are some information that you need to know before traveling to Cuba.

Visa
The visa is actually a travel card that can be issued by the airline which you bought your tickets to Cuba. The process isn't bureaucratic and the visa card costs U$ 50. You can get it ahead of time (which I advise) or at the airport before departure. You will not be able to board the flight without the visa card. 

Do all the research before you go
Search for itineraries, addresses, what to do, and etc, before your trip. When you arrive in Cuba you won't have internet access. And yes, it's nice to have some time to just walk around Havana without a destination and find out things at the moment, but there are also some cool things to do there that you probably will not know if you don't research before.

Download the Cuba app
This app is amazing! It was SO helpful on this trip! It has an offline map that actually works. You won't be able to search for an address and have the app showing you the way, but you can see the blue dot in your location, which at least for me, made it much easier to use a map. 

Make reservations at the places you want to eat before you go
Some of the best restaurants in Cuba (I have here in this post) need reservations. We even tried to go to some without making reservations but we were not able to get a table. So I advise you to do a little research, or read my post with my favorite restaurants, and make reservations before you go.

Money in Cuba
In Cuba there are two currencies: CUC and CUP. The CUP is used by locals, and CUC by us, the tourists. Basically everywhere is going to have the prices in CUCs, unless you visit something extremely local that is not touristy at all. 1 CUC is equivalent to 1 US dollar, but because of the complicated relationship between US and Cuba there is a surcharge of 10% to exchange US dollars to CUC. A smart thing to do is to bring Canadian dollars or euros before you go so you get the best deal.

How much will you spend each day?
This question is a little hard to answer because it depends on the person. But I wanted to share an average of how much some things cost there: We had breakfast at the Airbnb we were staying in and we paid 5 CUC per person. For lunch and dinner we spent around 12 - 20 CUC per person per meal. The other costs were transportation, museums, rum and mojitos haha. We spent an average of 80 - 100 CUC per day per person.

Cash only
In Cuba they don't accept any cards from US banks. We should have been able to use my card from Brazil or Lindsey's from Holland to withdraw from an ATM, but we were not able to find any ATM that actually worked. So you have to bring enough money because everywhere you go you can only pay with cash.

Airbnb instead of a hotel
The best way to really get to know Cuba is by staying in a house rather than a hotel. There are several options on Airbnb and the Cuban people are very receptive. Many of them can even offer you services like transportation or food. In my opinion, staying in a hotel takes away some of the magic of being in Cuba.

Do not take a taxis
Very important tip: do not take the yellow cabs. They are from the government and they are much more expensive. You can easily find people offering taxis on a private car (most of the time on the antique cars), and they are much cheaper. Always talk to the driver about the price before accepting the run and don't be shy to ask for a discount.

There are no snacks on the street
Apart from a cart selling churros that we found on the first day, and a little window that sold pizzas, we couldn't find any kind of snacks. There is not a place to grab some chips, granola bar, or fruits on the go. So if you are like me, who eats every 3 hours, bring a few snacks with you or prepare to feel a little hungry between your meals.

Spanish
The more Spanish you can speak the more you can enjoy. In my group, I was the only one who spoke Spanish and I was trying to translate everything. My friends who were with me said that they will try to learn some Spanish so they can understand everything better and communicate with the Cuban people next time.

Travel with an open mind and heart
Cuba will make you wonder and question many things. Forget about trying to understand everything or find answers. Just go with your head and heart open and let yourself fall in love with this magical place. Forget internet, forget uber, forget luxury. Go and live each day intensely.

10 Best Things to do in Cuba

The trip to Cuba made a big impact on me. I fell in love with the country, the charismatic people - which reminded me a lot of Brazilians, the music, and the art expressions that are present basically everywhere.

Cuban people are strong, and their love and patriotism can be seen and felt everywhere. My main advice for those who are planning to go there is to not try to understand everything, but simply go with an open mind and let that beautiful place make you fall in love.

Some of the best things we did in Cuba were found in the moment, so make some time to just walk around and explore, but here are the 10 favorite things to do in Cuba:

Dinner at Dona Eutimia
We ate there on our first day in Havana. The food was delicious, and the frozen mojito is a must.
For reservations: d.eutimia@yahoo.es

Floridita
The place is famous because it was frequented by Ernest Hemingway, and their frozen daiquiris were named the best ones in Havana. We tried to have a drink there on our first day in Havana but it was packed. We ended up coming back 2 days later and got to sit at the bar and try the famous daiquiri. There was a band of women singing and playing and they were amazing.

Cha Cha Cha
In my opinion, they had the best mojito I drank in this trip. Sweet but also strong in the right amount. We did not eat there, but for sure I want to go back and have dinner next time I'm in Havana.

La Guarida
Unfortunately we couldn't make reservations so we were not able to get a table there. But we got to go to their bar on the rooftop and they have an amazing view of Havana. Not to mention that the restaurant is inside a building that looks like a house, and its architecture is so beautiful. Oh, and If you are a selfie fan don't miss out on the opportunity to take pictures on the stairs that Khloe Kadarshian posted on Insta.

Veradero
Now, this is a serious advice: Make an effort to take at least 1 day to go to the beach and get to see the heavenly Veradero. We went there just for the day and we paid 240 CUCs for a big car that we split in 6 of us. The beach is gorgeous with clear water and fine sand. And the best part is that because of the US embargo in Cuba the beach is basically intact. You won't see many hotels, restaurants, shops or anything man-made.

Roof top
After we had dinner one day, we started to walk around Havana trying to find a place to have a drink. During our walk we met Allan, an architect and artist from California. He was super nice and talented and getting to know him was also another great part of the trip. He took us to this rooftop that reminded me a lot of Brooklyn. It's a fun place to hangout and have drinks. Tip: their shots of Rum are equivalent to about 4 shots. That night was lit.

Auto Biennial Art
We found this little art gallery when we were walking around Havana Vieja. The gallery is inside a two-story house and has several sculptures and posters that reflect everything. From their intense love for their country to creative abstract works.

Museum of the Revolution
For me, the day at the Museum of the Revolution was what helped me to understand the country a little more. As much as we have always heard of the Cuban revolution, in the museum they display very interesting things that I didn't know about those sorrow years for the Cuban nation. 

Fine Art Museum
One of the most beautiful museums I have ever been to! I love contemporary art and the Museum has beautiful works that made me speechless. It is kind like the MOMA but smaller. Unfortunately we arrived there a little late and didn't have enough time to see everything, so it is another place that I really want to go back in the future. Don't miss the chance to go there!

Dancing salsa without fear
Cuba is moved by music and you will hear a beat playing basically everywhere. Salsa is their main rhythm and there are several places where people are dancing. I know that there are places that you can take salsa lessons while there, but my advice is to just dance whenever you have a chance to, and don't worry about your skill because nobody will judge you. Just be happy and move those hips.

Ride antique cars but also the "bike taxi" and "coconut car"
Yes, do ride the old cars. They are super cool and Cuba is the only place where you can find them everywhere. However, we had more fun when we rode a "Bike taxi" that fits 2 passengers, and the "coco car" that fits 3 people. They are a little more adventures than the old cars and you get to see the city better that way. 

These are the top 10 things I did in Cuba, but the most important thing is to arrive in Cuba with an open mind and heart, put all your problems aside, and try to dive in the culture of the place. You won't have internet so be there living the moment. If you do that, it will definitely be an unforgettable trip

Cuba

I am writing this post 10 days after I returned from Cuba, but it feels like my heart is still there. I loved that country so much that to be honest I don't even know where to start talking.

I was never crazy about going to Cuba. I love traveling so of course I was curious to go there one day, the same way that I feel about several other countries, but it was not on my top 10 list of places to go. This trip just happened thanks to a group of friends who wanted to go there and basically put Lindsey and I in their plans.

As usual, I did a lot of research before going, which was great because there was basically no internet there, so it was nice to have a plan with some things to do. However, one of the best parts of the trip was not having internet and the things we did without planning, just living the moment.

When we arrived in Havana and started to walk around the streets of Havana Vieja, a lot of feelings and questions came to my mind. Being in a communist country that basically stopped in time in 1959 made me think about many things that I hadn't paid much attention before. At first, I felt sorry for the young people growing up there. I wondered how my life would've been like if I was born in Cuba. I like to dream big, work hard after my goals, and I'm always looking for something new to use as a purpose. I thought that I would hate to be from a place that has even less opportunities than Brazil.

And then, on the second day of the trip we met David, a young Cuban man who was so intelligent, charismatic, honest, and above all happy. We met him in a bar and he ended up showing us a few places around Havana, and at the end of the night I found out he didn't have a home. He told me that he eats and sleeps at different friends' houses every night. My eyes were filled with tears right away. I just didn't want to believe or accept that such an incredible young man had to live that way. I started thinking about why some people are born with so many privileges while others have nothing. I closed my eyes and thanked for all the opportunities I have. I felt stupid for complaining about such stupid small things sometimes. And I went to bed thinking about David and the Cuban people.

The next day we found David again, which was not very easy considering we had no internet and no cell phones. And it was on that day that I started to realize that the lack of opportunities and ambition is what makes the Cuban people so happy. Every time I looked at David he had a huge smile on his face. He introduced us to some of his friends, and they were always singing, joking around, and laughing. That was when I realized how wrong I was at the first day when I arrived in Cuba. I noticed that David, who had nothing, lives happier than many wealthy business men I know in New York. People who work and stress out so much that they barely have a chance to enjoy the money that they make or the stuff that they own. And no matter what, at the end of the day, life goes by so fast and can't take nothing from here.

I came back to NY wanting to enjoy more and worry less. I want to spend more quality time with my friends, to sit down to talk without worrying about the time, and to not use every spare hour to do an extra job.

The trip to Cuba ended up being much more than another beautiful place to see. It touched me in ways that I did not expect and somehow changed the way I see certain things. I can not wait to go back and spend more time to learn even more about this incredible place.

outfit 1| outfit 2 | outfit 3

Rio de Janeiro

Like every Brazilian, I always heard about Rio as "The Wonderful City". After this trip I couldn't agree more with that reference. The beaches, the Guanabara Bay, the views, the people, and the good energy of Rio can not be compared to any other place I have ever been.
We stayed at the Arena Ipanema Hotel, which aside from having a wonderful breakfast, was very well located.

On our first day in Rio we took the cable car ride that goes to the Santa Teresa neighborhood. When we got there we went to Parque das Ruinas, which is a park with an art gallery built around the ruins of a mansion.

Then we walked to the Selarón steps, where Snoop Dog and U2 shot music videos. 

And then it started to get dark so we took an uber to Bar do Mineiro in the Lapa neighborhood. There we tried the pastel the feijoada. Pastel is a typical Brazilian savory pastry and feijoada is a bean dish. Pastel is a common snack but usually filled with cheese or chicken flavor, not feijoada. So we had to go there and try it. It was delicious! Lapa is a great area to visit in the evening. There are plenty of bars, restaurants, live music, and people wanting to have a good time.

On the second day we decided to rent bikes and ride them around the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon. At first we tried to rent RioBike (Rio's version of citibike), but all the kiosks were empty so we ended up renting from the people who are right next to the lagoon. The rental price was 15 reais for an hour.  After the bike ride we got a little hungry and went for lunch in Lage Park. Such a beautiful place!

The third day was amazing! We woke up super early and went on a hike at Morro dos Dois Irmãos. To get on the trail, we took a mototaxi (a taxi which is a motorcycle) at the entrance of the Vidigal Favela. We went with a tour guide who grew up and lives in the favela, so we felt safe at all times. The hike was far more difficult than we had expected. As always, I did a research on all the tours, and everything I read said that it was an easy hike, but in reality it was not easy to get to the top. However, it was so so so worth it. The view from up there was my favorite view from this trip. Besides that we also burned a lot of calories and now we had an excuse to eat a lot of cheese bread and drink caipirinhas haha. On the way back we asked our tour guide if we could take another mototaxi instead of walking because Lindsey loved the "adventure" of it. 

After the hike we went to the hotel to take a shower and eat because we needed it so badly. We still had time to take a 40-minute nap before our next tour: Floresta da Tijuca.
We visited the forest with Gui a tour guide from the agency Rio4fun. He knows every part of the forest and took us to the most beautiful spots. We brought our drone with us and we did some nice shots of the forest (you can see everything in the video at the end of this post). Then he  took us to Tacacá do Norte, which is a store/restaurant with food from the northeast of the country. There we tried açai with tapioca, crab cake, cupuaçu ice cream and the famous tacacá.

On the fourth day we went to Arraial do Cabo. What a gorgeous place! Although the water at some beaches was quite cold, it was also super crystalline, just like the Caribbean beaches. I felt like I was in paradise.

On the fifth day we finally went to Christ the Redeemer. Thanks to my research, I found out that the best way to visit the Christ is in the morning, if possible right when they open. And that's what we did, we took the 8am cable car to the top of Corcovado and we got there when everything was quiet. After about 15 minutes the place was filled with people. And yes, it's very beautiful up there because it has a stunning view of the Guanabara Bay, and it's exciting to be at one of the seven wonders of the world. 

Another outstanding part of our trip was watching the sunset on Ipanema Beach. The sky was splendid, and I felt so peaceful and calm. Also, when the sun disappears behind the Morro dos dois irmãos everyone started to applause. I won't forget that moment.

On our last day in Rio we enjoyed the morning at the hotel's pool. Part of me was super happy for having done so much cool stuff while in Rio, and another part was sad because I knew the trip was almost over and very soon I would have to return to the NY winter.

There are places that we visit and we like them very much, but we do not think about returning again. This is certainly not the case for Rio de Janeiro. Every day I think about how "wonderful" this city is and I cannot wait to go back there.

You can see all the fun in Rio on my vlog:

Heading to the Beach

It's my first time in South Beach, and from my balcony at 1Hotel I can see the inviting blue ocean. I am a beach gal at heart, and there is no way I'm going to miss the chance to feel the clear water, and sink my toes into the sand. But before, what about having a moment chilling at the hotel pool? Yes, I feel in paradise.


É a minha primeira vez em Miami, e da minha varanda no 1hotel eu consigo ver o lindo mar azul me convidando. Eu sou do litoral de São Paulo, e tenho a praia no coração. De forma alguma eu vou perder a oportunidade de sentir essa água cristalina, e afundar meus dedos dos pés na areia. Mas antes, que tal relaxar um pouco na piscina? Sim, me sinto no paraíso.

I am wearing this super gorgeous bathing suit from Jaime Ashley (which you will be able to see better on my next post actually at the beach). And gold sandals from Call it Spring, to match the glam vibe of an afternoon at this luxurious hotel. 


Eu estava usando esse biquini super lindo da Jaime Ashley (que vai dar para ver melhor no meu próximo post na praia). E sandálias douradas da Call it Spring para combinar com a vibe glam de uma tarde nesse luxuoso hotel.

I could totally wear this for a pool party! I feel ready for it! 


Eu super poderia usar esse look para uma pool party! Estou prontíssima!

However, today I am really heading to the beach.


Porém, hoje eu realmente quero a praia.

I was wearing:

Bathing suit top: Jaime Ashley

Shorts: Tobi

Shoes: Call it Spring

Watermelon clutch: H&M

Photography: Lindsey Thoeng

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Miami

After such cold winter in NYC, I was dying to spend some time in a warmer place, so I went to Miami.

Miami is a very famous vacation location in Brazil, and I have always wanted to go there.  When I was there I could notice why Brazilians love it so much: because it has many similarities with Brazil because of the weather, the beaches, and the concentration of friendly Latin people.

I consider myself very blessed for not only being able to travel to such beautiful city but to stay in the most amazing hotel I have ever seen in my life: 1Hotel South Beach.

The design and the decoration are on point and the staff is extremely attentive. 

My favorite part about this hotel is that they are super luxurious and eco-consciousness. They applied such simple changes that can make a big impact in our environment, such as a farm stand in the lobby, organic textiles, hangers made of recycled paper, room keys made from recycled wood, Tesla electric cars, energy-efficient motion sensors, and so on.

Because I can’t stop thinking about it I feel obligated to say that I had the best French toast in the whole world while I was there. It was a peach French toast made with special K and it was so delicious I could eat it everyday of my life! haha

Think about a dream place! That is what I am mean when I talk about this hotel. From the moment I stepped in the lobby and smelled the hotel’s signature scent until today when I look at these photos I feel like WOW this place is paradise.

If you are planning to go to South Beach you should totally include 1Hotel in your itinerary. Even if it’s just to go have some food or drinks at one of their restaurants. It will blow your mind!

California Desert Part Two

My recent trip to California blew my mind even more than I had expected. I have always heard great things about the West Coast and have seen it many times on TV and in movies, but nothing is like actually being there. The first thing that I noticed was the people's hospitality and friendliness. I guess living in NYC made me used to the rhythm of this city that never sleeps, but also doesn't have time for a warm smile or perhaps a thank you. I am not saying that people are rude or mean in New York, I am also part of this place, and I freaking love it here. I just can't ignore that there is something about CA, like a happy vibe in the air. Maybe it was just the weather.


Minha recente viagem para a Califórnia pirou minha cabeca mais do que eu esperava. Sempre ouvi dizer como o West Coast é otimo, e tambem sempre vi nas telas. Mas nada se compara com a sensacao de estar lá. A primeira coisa que me chamou a atenção foi a hospitalidade e simpatia das pessoas. Eu acho que morando em NYC acabei me acostumando com o ritmo dessa cidade que nunca dorme, mas que também não tem tempo para um sorriso ou as vezes um obrigado. Eu não estou dizendo que as pessoas são rudes ou mal educadas em Nova York , eu também sou parte desse lugar e eu f * amo morar aqui. Eu simplesmente não posso ignorar que há algo sobre a CA, como uma vibe feliz no ar. Talvez seja so por causa do clima.

In Palmdale however, the place where these pictures were taken, people were not particularly nice. We found this movie set and although we knew that we needed an authorization to shoot there, we wanted to check out the place. Until a big guy who seemed like he just came out of an 80's movie, wearing weird clothes and an unfriendly face, kicked us out. Ok, he was not that mean, but he looked like it.


Falando sobre pessoas simpaticas, a regra de que as pessoas sao mais simpaticas na Costa Oeste que acabei de mencionar não cabe a uma pessoa que conheci em Palmdale, o lugar onde essas fotos foram tiradas . Encontramos esse cenário de filme e embora nós ja sabíamos que precisávamos de uma autorização para fotografar lá, nós ainda queriamos dar uma olhada no lugar. Até que um cara grande que parecia que tinha acabado de sair de um filme dos anos 80, vestindo roupas estranhas, com uma cara não tao amigável, nos expulsou. Ok, ele não foi tão bravo como parecia que seria.

We got to take some pictures near the movie set and then we moved back to the beautiful desert, where we took most of the pictures. There is no way I can describe how it feels to be there in the middle of nowhere. I felt like I was part of a movie. I was fascinated by its immensity, the Joshua trees and cactuses, the snakes holes in the warm sand, and the sun shining so bright that I could barely keep my eyes open! I guess that was what I liked the most about this trip. The chance to see the imaginable and the unimaginable.


Nós conseguimos tirar algumas fotos perto do set de filmagem e em seguida voltamos para o deserto lindo, onde tiramos a maioria dessas fotos. Não há outra maneira para descrever o sentimento de estar lá no meio do nada, me senti como se estivesse em um filme. Fiquei fascinada com a imensidão do deserto, os cactus, os buracos na areia quente feitos pelas cobras, e o sol brilhando tão forte que eu mal conseguia manter os olhos abertos! Eu acho que isso foi o que eu mais gostei sobre essa viagem. A chance de ver o imaginavel e o inimaginável.

I was wearing:

Top: Zara

Jeans: H&M

Boots: H&M

Hat: H&M

Photography: Lindsey Thoeng

Oops...

California Desert

I think you might have noticed by now, but my girlfriend Lindsey and I love to take photos. So we really wanted to visit photogenic places during our trip to California and one of them was the Palm Desert.  

We stayed in LA for majority of our time in CA, but we also visited other cities such a Palm Spring. The Palm desert is located near the highway that we had to drive through in order to get to Palm Springs. We arrive at the Desert a little bit late and almost missed the sunlight.

We had to be really fast choosing where we wanted to shoot, parking the car, preparing the camera equipment, and getting the shots. You can notice how the sky changed it's colors in these photos. We basically had 15 min to enjoy the light and get the best out of it. 

And I believe we did a great job because the lighting in this photo is my favorite par. So I totally recommend shooting in the Desert during the sunset hours if possible.

This fringe jacket matches perfectly the vibe of the Desert, and these photos got featured in SO many websites. My advice is to explore different possibilities if you are going to shoot in a place like this. Dive in the boho style, or whatever you think is ideal for desert photos, whithout being afraid of wearing something different, because that is your chance to create your own Desert Editorial. 

We got a little stressed out about the time because we had to shoot really fast, and also because Lindsey told me to be careful with snakes and I was kind of freaking out haha. But when we got the photos done and I got calmer, I looked around me and the view was surreal! Like any other place I had seen before! Imagine an infinity space with cactus, Joshua trees, mountains, and the gorgeous pink sky! 

I was wearing:

Fringe Jacket: Forever 21

White T-shirt: All Saints

Denim Shorts: American Eagle

Boots: H&M

Photography: Lindsey Thoeng

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Hollywood's Best Hike

I arrived in Los Angeles on Wednesday afternoon. I was super excited to finally get to know “The Golden State”, where the winter isn’t as extremely cold as in NYC. The weather didn’t disappoint me: As soon as I stepped out of LAX, rays of the shining sun hit my skin, and I immediately felt like it was summer again.

In the next morning, we were ready to enjoy some time outside, so we went on a hike that leads to the area behind the Hollywood sign. It took us about 45 minutes to get to the top, and the entire path was very enjoyable. The walking up was not too steep, the weather was deliciously warm, and after every turn, a new magnificent view was revealed. I could not stop thinking how blessed I am for having the chance to see from close what I always saw on the screens.

To make the day even more exciting, I bumped into Brazilian beauty blogger Camila Coelho on my way to the hike. She is even more lovely in person, and it was nice to see her shooting for a Riachuelo (Brazilian fashion store) campaign here in California.

You will get to see many more beautiful Cali locations in the next posts, so stay tuned! Xo

Sunglasses: Kaibosh

Plaid Shirt: / Camisa xadrez: Uniqlo

Leggings: Forever 21

Black tank top: / Blusa preta: Forever 21

Photography by: Lindsey Thoeng

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