Miami was one of those places I wanted to go for so long, mostly because of the hype, I worried that it would actually flop in expectations. I loved Miami. It felt I was in this little weird planet, it definitely didn’t feel I was in the US. I loved the vibe, I loved the weather, I loved the people. I loved it mostly for its unpretentious style – yes I know this may comes as a surprise to some. But it is always down to the ‘experience’ and in the land of beauty I found a place with the right attitude, friendliness and spotless service. If you are a major culture buff – in the traditional sense – then probably this is not the place for you. Miami offers a distinct culture, dominated by the latin vibe which is evident everywhere from small live music holes to Little Havana and the annual festivals and food…[read more]
That’s the thing about London. When you think you are trending into dodgy territory there is always a more upscale little street that can offer an escape exit. Trapped between not so glam Tottenham Court Road and touristy Oxford Street, Charlotte Street takes you to an evening in Continental Europe. Or sort of. It is a short street, but sweet! Small cafes, independent restaurants and a couple of cosy bars. A great choice if you find yourself trapped in Central London but wanting to avoid the Soho buzz.
Cuba’s people and history have left me incredibly inspired and with a positive life outlook. I have never met people so generous, grateful, well mannered and kind despite their limited means. Cubanos love life and appreciate every minute of it and they will surely make you join in! People went beyond their ‘way’, literally, to help me out throughout my time in the country, they have given me thoughtful gifts and many stories to cherish.
So many stories to write and tell. Martha, who has the same second hand book stand at Plaza de Armas in Havana since she was a teenager, talked to me about Che – how he used to stroll in the evenings at the Plaza, he was ‘elegante’ she said and always kind and caring with the kids playing around and the people he would meet. I heard about Fidel from Amadeo, an Italian who felt in love with Cuba in his youth and after 15 years back and forth decided to take citizenship, about his 8 hours speeches on the 1st of May.
I learnt how proud they are for their past, their revolutionary fathers and the deep respect they have for them. I learnt about their struggles, their dreams, how ready they are to move forward. If I ever was to give one advice on travelling would be ‘talk to people’. They are the history, the vibe and culture of the country.
And another thing… I found Cuba a very safe place for a female traveller. I combined both solo travelling and adventure group travelling. For the latter I joined Cuban Adventures. It was a special experience, this is a company specialising in Cuban tours and offers a truly authentic experience. Additionally this is an ideal introduction to Western Cuba (Havana, Viñales, Cienfuegos, Trinidad, Santa Clara), allowing you to return to those you loved most (as I later did with a repeat visit to Trinidad). If you are travelling solo and want to experience Cuba off the beaten track, meet like minded travellers and hear first hand on Cuba’s history and culture from a local this is undoubtedly a great choice.
My travel recommendations on:
3 October (opens) – Gone Girl
6 – 12 October – London Cocktail Week
8 – 18 October – London Film Festival
9 October – The Rum Fest
9-10 October – Pharrell Williams at the O2
15 October (opens) – Rembrandt, The Late Works at The National Gallery
17-26 October – London Fields Free Film Festival
18 October – Beer and Street Food in Shore ditch
24 October (opens) – Wildlife Photographer of the Year at the National History Museum
For a lover of latin music, London’s Latin Jazz Festival is always great news. On its second year, at Pizza Express Soho Jazz Club, the festival runs from 23 Sept – 27 Sept. I went to see Eliane Correa & En El Project.
It’s a comfort that there are some places in London that offer the same ambience, quality of food and service throughout the years without messing with ‘forced style’ deco or menu changes. Sometimes you just don’t like change. If something really works, why spoil it?
I resisted visiting Dalston for a while only because I dislike all this hype words of ‘the new x’. I must admit, Dalston is indeed quite close to what Shoreditch used to be circa 2005. In reality nothing will ever be ‘that’ Shoreditch, with its unpolished yet charming style, lack of anything called ‘hipster’ and forever unpretentiousness. But for all of us who are reminiscing those good old days, Dalston is as good as it can get!