8 Days in Cuba

Cuba is the most complex and challenging place we have traveled yet. It was also fascinating, deeply rewarding and, most importantly, possible. For detailed information on how we did it, check out our Cuba travel guide.

Travel time: 5 PTO days + 2 weekends in April of 2017

During this time, we wandered our way through museums, narrow city streets, Viñales Valley, Tobacco farms, an eco-community called Las Terrazas, rainforest ruins, and more. For more on our adventures and misadventures, see our posts below.

We are notorious last-minute packers. Fortunately, I made up a system for that, and it works brilliantly. (I'm not even
Cormorants are heavier and more intelligent-seeming than you would expect, with neck feathers that are as soft as high-end cupcake
Israel and Palestine were complex places with a lot to unpack. We really look forward to doing so here!
Let's just start at the beginning, shall we?
Egypt was tough, and not exactly what we expected. Still, with bucket list items like these, it's hard to go
A road trip with friends plus camping on the beach, seeing giant cacti, soaking in hot springs, playing in sand
We tried to keep our packs super light this trip (about 10 lbs in half-full 40L packs). Here's how.
This happened to us at both museums we visited.
People actually live in the old city of Jerusalem, surrounded by temples and churches and mosques and touristy bazaars. Later
This is all the clothing I brought with me to Panama, plus the clothes that I was wearing when I
Cuba was the most difficult place to travel I've visited yet. It was also fascinating, deeply rewarding and, most importantly,
This is a sample itinerary for a person-to-person educational visa circa April 2017.
“I think we are more than 50% lost right now.” It turns out that in order to leave the Merced
  The Mexico City Metro is the best public transit I’ve ever taken. You can get to any location in
When we were there, temperatures hit record lows. Fortunately our Airbnb was less than a block away from an amazing
We arrived in Cuba around 10pm at night, exhausted from a long day of flying, and walked like zombies up
Everyone says Cuba is a time capsule. But is it really true?
The Museum of the Revolution: As Americans, we didn't feel much love here.
The vertical, low-tech lifestyle of street-vending in Havana.
Trans culture was surprisingly visible out and about in Cuba! Especially in Central Park.
Buying goods in Cuba can be tough, especially if you get outside of the tourist areas.
A person could spend an entire vacation exploring graffiti in Havana.
This may give you some sense of what it's like to travel in Cuba.
The tobacco farms in Viñales Valley produce some of the best cigars in the world.
In what appears to be a closed down storefront in Viñales, there is an ephemeral ice cream shop.
These magnificent beasts were parked outside our casa when we arrived back from the valley.
With no internet connection or any way to get a forecast, the best we could do was look up at
Cubans are master recyclers, perhaps to a fault.
We were driving down the highway when...
Video: "This is easily my favorite place we've been so far."
Abuelo digs out some eggs from the nest of a free-roosting chicken. This man was probably my favorite person we
We flagged down an off-duty driver, who had a friend, who had a family member, who was able to give
Just across the bay from Havana sits Regla, a fascinating town with a rich cultural history.
For the grandparents and gear heads.
Here's a link that will give you $40 in travel credit! Back when we were singles travelling alone or with
This trip is the one that made us realize that quick, cheap, international long weekends are an amazing strategy to
The highlights of the trip were tours of Stonehenge and a nearly 1,700 year old Roman bath house.
A self-guided walking tour through the heart of London, from Victoria Station to Parliament Square.
This is part 2/3 of our walking tour of London, heading from Parliament Square to Trafalgar Square.
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We decided to pop in to the National Gallery while we were in Trafalgar Square.
The British Museum: "It's just a bunch of stuff that's been nicked from other countries."
The London Wall, The London Tower, Tower Bridge, London Bridge, and All Hallows By The Tower
England is not a cheap vacation destination by any stretch of the imagination. We did figure out one good trick
Most everything about the former home of King Henry VIII was creepy, unwelcoming, and a little bit off.
  Our clothing system for fast and light travel was inspired by our clothing system for mountaineering. When designed correctly,
Walk centuries old stone streets, enjoy beautiful 18th century golden limestone architecture, and explore a 2000-year-old Roman bath house.
I was probably pretty annoying the entire day because of my barely contained excitement.
Let's say you have a week off work. Where would you go? This article lists step-by-step instructions for finding the cheapest
Near el Prado, a main boulevard in Havana, exists the closest thing that Cuba has to Craigslist.
We took 1 day of PTO on Memorial Day Weekend for a quick trip to Bogota and Zipaquira Colombia. Highlights
"Zipa! Zipa!" An overpriced and underwhelming unofficial church in an old salt mine... but I guess the pictures came out
We went to Colombia with a list of foods that we wanted to eat that was 2 pages long.
Andeans across Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and Bolivia have been chewing coca leaves or drinking coca tea for thousands of years
A strategy for surviving densely packed experiences in densely packed cities.
The purpose of this post is just so we don't forget this excellent elevator in Edificio Sucre, Bogota.
Total Trip Time: 4 days (2 weekend days + 2 days PTO)
The plan was this: Get in at 5am, rent a car, drive to the Everglades for a sunrise hike, take
This post is just a set of pictures from around the city that capture the feeling of Bogota.
The monastery-topped mountain Monseratte looms over the East horizon of Bogota.
Paloquemao, a gigantic, pungent, colorful, bountiful market in the middle of Bogota, did not disappoint.
The gold museum in Bogota was one of the shinier places we've ever been.
Growing up, we were taught that graffiti is bad. The Bogota Graffiti Tour turned that worldview upside down.
We have been to museums on 5 continents and all across the United States and The Museum of Anthropology in
We visited CDMX a few short months after a 7.1 earthquake that rocked the city and killed hundreds. Amazingly, there
Mexico City has a reputation for being dirty, poor, crowded, uncultured, and unsafe. Don't believe the hype.
We would take a trip back to Mexico City for the food alone.
Josh thinks visiting Teotihuacan was cooler than visiting the Pyramids of Giza. I'm on the fence.
Our Airbnb host helped us plan an amazing walking tour of the heart of Mexico City.
In the heart of Historic Mexico City, on Zocalo Square and partially buried under the Cathedral of Mexico City, is
Old Jerusalem is an ancient, fragrant, complex, dusty, emotionally-, politically-, and religiously-charged space.
We were fortunate to be able to visit 2 major religious sites in Old Jerusalem: The Western Wall and the
It was a Dead Sea Scroll kinda day. Here are some highlights.             If you're
Want cheese on that? Too bad.
One of my most cherished memories of Israel.
We always had the vision of the Jordan River as a wide, formidable, ageless, and important-looking. It's not.
If you are ever driving down the #5 Highway from MexiCali down the coast of the Sea of Cortez, keep
San Felipe is a beautiful place to hang out on the beach, explore the nearby rocks and pools, catch a
This nature reserve is home to 1,000 year old, absolutely gigantic cacti.
Puertecitos Mexico, Population 41, is located a few hours south of San Felipe and is home to excellent natural hot
We spent a little while here in the pretty landscape, just enjoying the views.
There’s a city-wide 8pm curfew and state of emergency called in response to a high number of gang-related homicides.
Built in the 1760s, this beautiful building has had many lives. Most recently, it was our temporary home (and inspiration
It was one of the coolest things we've seen in this world.
The Greenwood Great House was one of the only plantation homes to survive the Christmas Rebellion of 1831.
“Parents will go without, but Jamaicans take great pride in getting their children to school every day in a crisp,
Climate change and overfishing have decimated the Jamaican reef and turned it into a bleached, algae-covered mess. Still, we managed
We were both nervous and excited to be in the Colombian capital on the presidential Election Day. Let me break
Josh flexed his photography muscles on this devastatingly beautiful candy cane cathedral.
Our 1 week trip in China turned into 2, due to Super Typhoon Mangkhut.
Many people think that international vacations need to cost thousands of dollars. I'd like to dispel that myth right now.
We walked out of the hot, bright Israeli sun and were immediately surrounded by darkness
We negotiated our way into the heart of Palestine by taxi using sign language, nods, smiles, cash, and the help
The Dead Sea is simultaneously harsh, desolate, and devastatingly beautiful.
One of the craziest things about Israel is recognizing names and places from the bible ALL THE TIME.
4 days ago, I decided to take a last-minute trip to anywhere south of Mexico and found an absurdly cheap
Panama City. It was just a city, really. With an ocean. And a canal. And.... that's about it.
Latin American Buses hold such a special place in my heart.
After less than 24 hours in Panama City I knew I had to escape.
9 hours and 4 busses later, I found a region of the country in the mountains near Costa Rica where
Bastimentos is magical. It's a tiny Panamanian island in the Caribbean that can only be reached by boat and is
Typhoon Mangkhut shut down the train between Yangshuo and the coast and cut off the path to our flight out
Musings on a cultural difference between China and the US.
Today was tough. Shenzhen is louder, more confusing, and more difficult to navigate than Hong Kong, and my feet hurt
It involves a lot of pointing and uncertainty.
We saw our most interesting highway interchange of all time in Egypt in 2016.
A quick search of travel.state.gov would have revealed warnings such as "do not travel to the Sinai Peninsula due to
Egyptian artifacts are tricky.
No trip to Egypt would be complete without seeing the Sphinx and the Pyramids, right? We felt the same.
Trip time: 10 days Major attractions visited: The Louvre Eiffel Tower Sainte Chapelle Notre Dame Loire Valley (Chambord and Chenonceau)