On Sunday I flew with Tove on her first ever flight to meet my parents in Florida. The first flight to Dallas from OKC wasn’t the best time, but we fared better on the second leg of our journey. Even though I had to change her diaper in the airplane toilet- that place is TINY.
Ben stayed at home to take care of Tex 🐾 and work. Feels weird not having him around for the first time since Tove was born.
Tove is my little beach BABE. She’s been loving the naps on the beach and playing with Mormor and Morfar in the shade.
She’s getting more comfortable with the water but it takes her a minute to adjust every time.
Tuesday marks the end of my maternity leave so before starting work again I decided to take a trip to Dallas.
Ben and I are so lucky as parents, Tove doesn’t mind her car seat at all and she’s already a socialite at restaurants. She’s never been fussy or even attempted to make a scene so we decided to meet Taylor and her fiancé Blake for dinner on Saturday night at a restaurant called Haywire. It’s located at Legacy West in Plano and serves new American cuisine.
We had an early reservation and if the hostess hadn’t left us standing off to the side for 14 minutes while our table was ready I would have nothing but positive things to say about our experience. Taylor had booked the reservation and got us a perfect table upstairs on the patio overlooking the stage/courtyard area. We got lucky with the weather as well, so I wasn’t all hot and bothered 😅
We started with the “chefs 4” which included mini Elk tacos, queso, giant onion rings, and fried tomatoes. All of which was delicious. I’m normally not a huge fan of onion rings but man they were good.
For the main I got a lighter fare, the grilled Caesar salad and a side but Ben went for a bone in 18oz steak and he was VERY pleased with how it turned out. He was even picking the meat from the bone once he was ‘done’ eating 😅.
Next time I’m getting the snapper. Blake got it and it looked so good. Oh and definitely try the Mac and cheese at Haywire, it’s flavorful and the texture is on point.
After a few days in Varadero, we scheduled a driver to come pick us up in a classic 50’s pink convertible and drive us all the way to Havana. The drive took a little more than two hours, and the salt from the ocean when driving on the coast sure as hell got in my hair as you can see below. (Click on photos to enlarge)
In hindsight- the drive was longer than i expected and i should’ve worn a hat. My scalp was sunburnt the day after… oops. When we arrived we were promptly dropped off in the middle of the old city at Plaza De San Fransisco and waited to find our Airbnb.
The airbnb we rented was located in the heart of the old Havana and was perfect for us. A small kitchen with a lady who made us a traditional breakfast in the morning, the coffee was GOOD. We also had really good air conditioning and two bedrooms with separate bathrooms. For anyone traveling to Cuba, i’d highly recommend getting an airbnb in Havana- was really easy and made me feel a little less like the tourist i was.
Our first day we decided to wander around the city a bit- we walked along the Malecon and i stopped to pose whilst dad took pictures of every single classic car we could find. It’s such a surreal experience being in Cuba.
After a while we sat down for drinks and snacks at a little cafe located on the corner of what felt like one of the main ‘shopping’ streets. Mojitos and Bucanero beers all around! I’ll tell you what- the cuban take on pizza sure is different.
Me being me, i of course wanted to look in the shops. I still have no clue how the shopping works in Cuba, or where you go to get what as every shop seemed to have a little bit of everything, yet nothing all at the same time.
Pictured above is the Farmacia Taquechel (an old pharmacy) that i believe they have turned into a museum. Really nicely kept and cool to see! Then we took a rickshaw back to the apartment because mom wasn’t feeling quite 100% yet, and i got a migraine from the long car ride in the sun. I skipped out on dinner in order to rest up for the next days adventures- but mom brought me back some bruschetta and fresh lobster from dinner. The food in Havana was only slightly better than Varadero.
On our second day in Havana we decided to get another classic car to show us around the city & the sights. Havana really isn’t that big of a city after all. Dad rode shotgun with our driver who barely spoke english yet kept mentioning a green elephant, how bizarre.
Some of the buildings were being restored and others were just down right beautiful to look at with the sunshine and blue skies as backdrop. Riding in a convertible seeing the sights was at least ten times better than the usual double decker tour bus!
After about an hour riding around different neighborhoods we got to a green area where we drank some water and got some shade. Mom and i lost dad at one point, but when we all gathered back by the car the tour guide had something he wanted to show us. So we all followed him along the road in a single file line looking even more touristy than before. Finally we got to see his beloved green elephant…
…basically just a branch with leaves that just happened to be in the shape of an elephant. That gave us all a good laugh and reaffirmed that my dad wasn’t crazy, our driver really did keep mentioning the green elephant.
Next up on our ride around Havana was some sightseeing. Did you know there’s a China Town in Havana?! Small world i suppose.
Finally we got to Plaza De La Revolucion, the one place i had really wanted to see. We hopped out of the car to take picture of the large murals on the square. Another surreal experience- the square is huge but it just feels so misplaced. I guess it’s where they used to hold political rallies.
We had our driver drop us off at the Hotel Nacional De Cuba to end the tour. We sat outside on their terrace and enjoyed some refreshments looking out at the view. This probably turned out to be one of my favorite parts of the trip. The hotel really is STUNNING. I wish we could have stayed there for a night just so i could lay out by the pool one day and feel like the royalty that’s all visited.
All in all i feel lucky to have seen this side of Cuba, i hope that the lifted trade embargo improves certain aspects of the country but doesn’t ruin the culture. Cubans are such happy and nice people, if i ever go again i’ll for sure get a local tour guide to show me more of the cuisine and nightlife!
I spent half of my weekend down in Austin for South by Southwest® (SXSW®)! My friend and I drove down for the job market at the convention center. It was way worth going, i was pleasantly surprised. When we first got there my anxiety was through the roof but after a while i enjoyed talking to recruiters from various companies. A few new connections cant hurt.
Austin is such a different city considering it is in Texas, but i feel like SXSW brings out the best of it!
For Christmas 2015, my parents and I went to Cuba. First we flew to Cancun, Mexico and spent a day enjoying the beach and some awesome sushi at the hotel we stayed at. I was hoping to get a chance to swing by the Me hotel as their DJ last time i was there was fantastic, but alas no such luck.
We then flew into Havana, Cuba & when we landed we had a driver prearranged to pick us up & drive us to the resort in Varadero. Two and a half hours in the dark later, we arrived. The hotel really was like something straight out of the fifties- employee uniforms and all.
Now, like most millennials, my phone is attached to me. So when we left Mexico, my heart sank a little bit. I had zero service the entire time we were in Cuba, and internet was scarce… to say the least.
The hotel we stayed at was a 4 star resort and when i mean resort, it was one of the biggest freaking places I’ve ever stayed!
Here you can see the Cabana we stayed in. With air conditioning a master suite and my sleeping area in the living room, we were quite comfortable. Unfortunately my mother caught some sort of food poisoning in Mexico right before we arrived in Cuba, and spent days being ill. I had read on blogs about bringing your own toilet paper with you when out and about, LOL right? They weren’t kidding. TMI, but towards the end of our stay in Varadero my father also got sick so i had to go to the hotel reception and ask for a new roll of toilet paper which they then reluctantly delivered to our cabana.
My father booked well, because quite literally 200 meters away from out doorstep through the woods was the beach, and the beach was beyond beautiful. Now i’ve travelled to a handful of beaches- some were as beautiful as this but none had the same feeling. I somehow felt like i was on my own private island. There weren’t people selling unnecessary crap on the beach, not too many kids screaming and running around, and the over developed skyline didn’t exist behind the beach.
The water was a decent temperature, a little fresh to get in, but oh so refreshing from the warm sun-rays. Dad and I went sailing one day and the weather must have been downright ideal, because i’ve never gone so fast or through so many waves sailing before. It was fun! (Side story: Dad made a remark about being happy his wife wasn’t with us sailing, because she would probably have gotten sea sick, and the captain looked at me with a confused expression. HA! I had to explain that his wife = my mom.)
Other than that, I spent the four days working on my tan and reading books in the hammocks around the cabana. I also drank a number of virgin mojitos (so refreshing) and ate food at the various “restaurants” at the resort.
If you’re a foodie when you travel, Cuba is not the place to go. Now i will say, it wasn’t our hotel. The seafood we had was all fresh, and in the mornings the fruit at breakfast was delicious but they do not have spices. I don’t even think they used salt or pepper. My 10 year old self would’ve loved it- but my palette was bored.