Picture this. It’s 5:00 on Friday, and you’ve had the longest week of all time. You’re exhausted, your boss is on that last solitary nerve, and you’re trying to think of a reason to not swing on the girl who touched your hair without asking. Again.
Suddenly, you get the text that makes it all better.
“Slight change of plans babe. We’re not visiting my Mom this weekend. We’re flying out tonight to the most romantic city in the world. Take a guess where….”
To be loved! Oh what a feeling! *shimmies*
Immediately your mind races to the feet of the Eiffel Tower, where the two of you are locked in a passionate kiss beneath the setting sun. No wait, he probably chose somewhere exotic! Some secret spa resort in Bali where a team of trained masseuses work out your entire life every morning with rare oils extracted from forbidden jungle berries.
“We’re going to Cuba baby!”
You open your eyes, stare at your phone, and blink. As much as you want to respond with excitement, you have so many questions. Don’t you need like a special letter from the President to go there? That’s how Jay-Z took Beyonce, right? And what makes it so romantic?
Cuba has been perceived as a forbidden land for so long that it’s no wonder Havana is never suggested for romantic getaways. But on the day I had the pleasure of exploring this vibrant city solo, I knew I’d be back with a “Clyde” by my side for a completely different kind of adventure one day!
Here are a few reasons why I think Havana is next up for couples seeking some quality time away from home.
#1: You’re Off The Grid
Cuba takes the whole “can you hear me now” thing to another level. An American phone will not pick up any cellular signal in Cuba (like, not even roaming), and wifi is a precious commodity priced at $6-$8/hour in some hotels.
So what does that mean for you and your honey? It means focus, which is surprisingly lacking in the always available, always connected, let-me-check-Instagram-one-last-time-before-bed culture we live in. Without your smartphone at the dinner table, you can pay closer attention to everything that attracted you to your partner in the first place – from their gorgeous smile to their corny jokes – and get that uninterrupted face time you rarely get back home.
But don’t get so disconnected you forgot to take photos! Havana is one of the safest cities I’ve ever visited, so feel free to whip out your smartphone and capture babe smoking a cigar, babe drinking a Mojito, babe sprawled on top of a vintage car, and all the other shots you’d normally get. Then put the phone away and share the love when you get back home!
#2: You Can Drink to Your Heart’s Content
When you’re traveling with a significant other, there are so many tough decisions you have to make each day. Do you get out of bed and actually experience the culture? Or do you order another bottle of wine and spoon the rest of the day? You’ve heard the view from the [insert tourist attraction] is breathtaking, but the bartender really does his thing downstairs. Should you really leave the all-inclusive inebriation for a history lesson?
Well you’re in luck. In Havana you don’t have to choose between tipsy time and sightseeing. The city has no open container laws, which means you could theoretically carry a massive Lil John pimp cup filled with rum, mint leaves and happiness while walking hand-in-hand along the water. It’s like the pinnacle of romantic ratchetness (without the smell of bad decisions in the air like New Orleans.)
If you want to save some money, pick up a bottle of Havana Club at duty free, and make your own “water bottles” to carry throughout the day. Happy sightseeing!
#3: You’re Welcome Here
You’d think Paris would welcome the many hopeless romantics that travel there with open arms, but the American side-eye is real folks. Speaking French might get you a half-smile, but other than that, good luck with getting directions, help in a boutique, or an ambulance if you fall out in the street and can’t say “I’m dying” in French.
While the language barrier can be challenging pretty much anywhere, I found people in Havana to be really nice, and eager to help despite my Spanish being at a basic New York bodega level. This is one of the places you two can truly relax and just play it by ear when it comes to night life, and the locals will gladly give you suggestions on where to go.
If your honey is quick to pop off on rude behavior, skip the drama and head to Havana.
#4: Your Friends “Ain’t Up On This”
Now ya’ll know I’m not about that “my passport is better than yours” life. I’ve written about it and been roasted for it, but believe it or not, there are folks who brag about traveling places their friends have never been to.
*insert eye roll*
However, there’s one case where I actually give people a pass, and that’s with honeymoons. Many young gentlemen, especially avid travelers, put quite a bit of thought into where to take their wives for their honeymoon. And copying your boy’s plans, while totally okay (and way easier), may not get you the same level of excitement as you would get if you curated a more unique experience than the one she just saw in her Facebook feed.
With the restrictions being lifted only recently, the number of couples who’ve traveled to Cuba is pretty low. And whether you care about being the first or not, it’s pretty cool to try something new that you can help others experience when you get back!
#5: You Look Irresistable Smoking a Cigar
If you think you look sexy in heels and lingerie, just wait till your man sees you’ve added a Cohiba to that ensemble. No idea why this is such a turn on. It’s like fool proof. Watch this:
Okay stop watching. Ha! You looked again didn’t you. There’s like no way to smoke this thing without sending subliminal messages (which is why not one photo on Instagram shows me actually smoking a cigar. You’re welcome, Daddy.)
My advice: After all that day drinking in the streets, pick up 2 Cohibas on your way back to the house, pull out your real camera, and have some fun with um…..shutter speed and whatever other tricks you have in mind for your romantic night at home.
It will be years before Havana is recognized on those lists of top romantic destinations, so now’s the time to go! I booked with STG tours who handled pretty much everything for me, and flew American Airlines from Miami. But here’s a link to a comprehensive list of airlines that may have direct flights to Cuba within the next year! Here’s to new heights and good loving in 2016.