Category Archives: Nightlife

Adventures in Havana

If you’d asked me a few months ago if I thought I would be spending a weekend in January in Havana, I would have laughed. However, somehow, I ended up there last weekend!

Plaza mix

I happened to be in Miami for work meetings when my close friend Brian, also know as The Points Guy, decided we should set off for Havana in lieu of the relaxed travel restrictions set in place by Obama. We’d be the first set of American travel journalists to visit Cuban as per the new rules.

2015-01-15 21.13.54

If there is one thing I know about Brian, it’s that when he makes a decision, he goes through with it, and just hours after deciding we wanted to go, we found our selves buckling up on an AA flight to Havana routing through Grand Cayman.

IMG_5894

The new restrictions were supposed to begin on Friday, January 16th, and I truly think we were the first American journalists,  (possibly the first Americans in general) to step foot in Cuba, as our flight arrived at about 12:30 am in Havana!

The view from my hotel room

The view from my hotel room

We finally made it to our hotel, the Memories Miramar and immediately crashed. The next morning, I woke up and POW was hit with this totally awesome view from my hotel window. Although I was tired from the travel day before, I was super excited to begin exploring Old Havana.

First view of the Fortaleza

First view of the Fortaleza

The city is even more stunning that I would have ever thought. After a short taxi ride along the coast into Old Havana, we finally arrived. Riding in is amazing for variety of reasons. First, you round a curve and surprise, you are hit with beautiful ocean views and a sighting of the Fortaleza, which is reminiscent of the same castle, fortress structure guarding the beaches of Old San Juan in Puerto Rico. To your right, on prime ocean-front property, you have creepy high-rise housing projects and grey, forlorn looking communist style buildings.

Some ghetto properties lucky enough to have incredible sea view. #onlyinhavana

Some ghetto properties lucky enough to have incredible sea view. #onlyinhavana

This may be one of the only cities in the world where the poor get to have ocean-front, sea view properties. This isn’t Benidorm, that’s for sure. I am sure, however, once American real estate agents get their hands on this prime real estate, that this area will be covered with over-priced high rise hotels and luxury apartments, like in Miami or otherwise.

Old Havana

IMG_6855

This reminded me so much of so many places, the old crumbling cobblestones of Spain, the spanish railings of New Orleans, the bright colors of Puerto Rico and the general shabbiness of Thailand or Portugal even.

We ending up riding in this 1957 Ford beauty!

We ending up riding in this 1957 Ford beauty!

The plazas were lovely and full of life and music, Gutanamera playing on every street corner. The vintage cars completely blew my mind. I was expecting a few in the tourist center, but they are really on every corner, and probably make up at least 50% of the cars on the the road. We ending up riding home in one later that day, a 1957 Ford Barbie pink convertible, Cuba salsa blaring all the way back to our hotel.

So many amazing vintage cars

So many amazing vintage cars

The best thing to do in Old Havana really is just to wander. You can get a great sense of the city by just walking around. The city is strange because it’s falling apart, but so beautiful at the same time. I feel that same effect in Portugal…I think the deterioration of the buildings somehow adds a special, unique charm.

IMG_6833 IMG_6290 IMG_6119 IMG_6095 IMG_6093 IMG_6077 IMG_6050 IMG_6037 IMG_6033 IMG_6017

The double-decker bus tour is also a cheap (just $5) and easy way to see the city center. Though be careful because some of those trees are low hanging!

2015-01-16 14.52.05 2015-01-16 14.37.32 2015-01-16 14.33.07 2015-01-16 14.32.19 IMG_6525

IMG_6490

Since we really only had two days, the first day we did our own “walking tour” and the bus tour, and the second day we had a guide, Ozzy, who showed us around Old Havana, as well as the Fortaleza and the Plaza de la Revolucion, where as you might guess from the name, the Cuban revolution took place.

Plaza de la Revolucion

Plaza de la Revolucion

 

Exploring the Fortaleza area was historical, and we also saw the beautiful Cristo Blance statue and got some great views of Old Havana.

IMG_6649 IMG_6449 IMG_6481 2015-01-17 14.54.19 2015-01-17 14.53.51 2015-01-17 14.51.17

We also got to see the amazing Tropicana dance caberet show. Being a dancer, I of course adored it, and the costumes were just impeccable!

I got a pic with one of the amazing dancers

I got a pic with one of the amazing dancers

I have no idea how they can dance with all those heavy headpieces on.

2015-01-16 23.50.53

The girls were stunning and the guys even prettier, and I loved every second of it! A total blast. Not cheap at $95 for the best seats in the house, but worth every penny in my opinion.

Tropicana

I really wanted to go to go salsa dancing at the Casa de la Musica afterwards, but unfortunately we were just too worn out.

The following evening we ended up getting invited to a dinner party through friends of friends at the house of talented Cuban artist Damian Aguiles. It was an interesting evening, being able to chat with Cubans and really hear their stories. Throughout the night I chatted with both the ambassador of Norway and the ambassador of Sweden, the artist himself and his sweet wife Pamela, a few young girls, one of whom LIVED in my building in Madrid for a year, (what a coincidence) and one of who was a concierge at the famous Saratoga hotel. I also ended up chatting for quite awhile with a lovely woman who I later found out was Raul Castro’s niece. I find when I travel the world with Brian I really never know where I will end up.

I would like to point out that in general, we were treated so well by the locals in Cuba and I loved getting to know people. Politics and government can hate but aint’ nothing gonna stop Lori from meeting, spending time with and getting to know people from all over the world. We are all, in the end, the same…just people!

I loved  being able to have this amazing experience with such a good friend too. Brian and I have been traveling together for many years, and we always have so much fun together. It’s wonderful having someone in your life you know you can always laugh and have adventure with (though I am very lucky, because I not only  have Brian to do this with but also Jorge, and several amazing travel-minded friends as well)

The weekend trip was a whirlwind, and before I new it, I was back on the plane routing through Grand Cayman heading for Miami. Until next time!

Advertisements

Fab New Place to Tapear

I spotted the new restaurant Morao Tapas the other day when I was shopping.  I went back to investigate, of course, and loved it.  The chain is owned by Wagaboo, though is apparently much cheaper.

I shared some rioja wine, huevos rotos with jamon, a small hamburger with goat cheesee and carmelized onions, and the bruschetta, and though it wasn´t hearty, it filled us up.  For all the food and 4 glasses of red wine, it came to 20 euros for 2 people. As you can also see via the menu below, the prices are quite reasonable, especially for sitting outside in Barrio Salamanca.

My favorite part about the place is the decoration. It´s cute and has a very nice terrace space right on Calle Velazquez.  I only sat on the terrace on a sunday evening, so I would like to see what the indoor ambiance is like on a Thurs-Fri-Sat night.

 

 

Interior of Restaurant

http://www.moraotapas.com
Velazquez 40
info@moraotapas.com
tlfm: 91431 34 31

 

Beauty Dinners: A New Concept

What WILL they think of next?  Now you can not only eat a healthy and delicious dinner with friends but you can also get a makeover at the same time.  Zamburiña, a restaurant that combines a gourmet dining experience with ´takeaway´food, now offers beauty dinners every Thursday.  While you munch on delicious and healthy foods, a makeup team from Cazcarra Image Group gives you a makeover!   What a great idea, perfect for a bachelorette event, a birthday, or simply put-a girls night out!

To reserve your beauty dinner: email: zamburina@esterpalma.com

Other details:

Zamburiña

Avenida Brasil 6

91 110 7777

 

Cibeles Fashion Week Blogger Party

This year the blogger party was a little different, I actually didn´t spend much time there but I did want to post a few pics.  The event took place at Tartufo, a club in the Nuevos Ministerios area.  I ran into a few people I knew with blogs, and of course took some pics with friends.

Jorge, Vincente, Pedro, Lori, Norma

Vincente, Lori, Pedro

Lori and Norma

Style…the Las Vegas way!

I recently went to Las Vegas and I am a firm believer it´s one of the most entertaining places in this world!  I can´t really spend more than 2 days-nights there without dying, because I have a bad habit of going ALL out and then melting down, but if you don´t really sleep you can do a lot in 48 hours.

Now onto the good stuff…I dont really consider Las Vegas a typical fashion city, you see a lot of hick tourists or the complete opposite, skanky girls with huge ta-ta´s running around in racy clothes…not high fashion, in my opinion. However there is something to be said about bringing out the ´Vegas´in your own personal style, aka taking your own style and throwing something a little more daring out there, a shorter hemline, a lower cut top, a brighter color…why…??? BECAUSE it´s VEGAS BABY!!!

A few fashion highlights from my Vegas trip!

First, Vegas helps me to break out of my typical LBD and put on some color.  Some brights shown below, from left to right, Claire, Claudia, Lori, Norma

I loved the back of this dress! Not sure I would were it any place else but Vegas, but it was PERFECT for a night out at Marquee in the Cosmopolitan Hotel.  I bought the dress for just 18 dollars at a second hand shop in Tucson, Arizona.

For guys…they have to wear pants and shoes to enter the nightclubs…but it´s hot out!  I think it was about 110 F or 40 something C each day…so white is a great color for guys, and white linen-even better!  Check out my favorite men, Brian and Jorge below in white (next to lovely ladies Lori and Claire)

Go to Vegas, boss up your wardrobe, and have fun!

Restaurant: El Armario

Among having fantastic nightlife, the Chueca neighborhood also has many excellent restaurants.  It´s a great place to hang out, in my opinion, have dinner, hit up a hot spot after…tons of amazing places to go.

I recently tried a restaurant in Chueca called ´El Armario´ which I really enjoyed for a variety of reasons.  Several restaurants I frequent in Spain have amazing food but the atmosphere leaves little to be desired.  In contrast, several of the ´trendier´restaurants I have tried haven´t had the best food quality or have been overpriced.  El Armario has all three things: great food and a trendy, modern ambience all for a reasonable price.  The waiters were even friendly! (In Spain this is a huge plus.)

The restaurant does a weekend menu for 20 euros for dinner.  This menu includes bread, water, appetizer, main course, and desert.  Wine or other drinks were not included in this price.

My favorite by far was the appetizer. I had clams in a champagne cream sauce with parsley and it was TO DIE FOR.  My second plate was steak with wild rice, and dessert actually blew me away, I ordered a brownie with ice cream, preparing mentally not to be wowed but I was!  That was one amazing brownie.  My bf had a yummy looking salad with goat cheese for his appetizer, and chicken with curry for the main course, and a lemon sorbet with mojito for dessert.  We shared a bottle of Rioja wine, which was approx 15 euros.

The atmosphere was sexy, low lit and fun.  When we walked in at 9:30 for our reservation, there was almost no one there (that´s early for dinner in Spain) and then within minutes the place was packed-good thing we reserved!  The music was low and loungey and we got a great little table in the corner by the window…which was fantastic, Chueca might just be the greatest place in the universe to people watch!

I later found out that this restaurant is owned by gay TV presenter Jesus Vazquez.  Go him!  He´s got a wonderful restaurant on his hands.  I also like the name choice, ´El Armario´ (The Closet) for Chueca (the neighborhood)…kinda fun haha!

If you want a fun place for a small group or a date, this is your spot.  Make sure to order the clams and the brownie!

 

Around Town: Madrid Nightlife Style

One of the greatest things about living in Madrid is just simply seeing how people dress for work, for casual, and of course, for a night out of fun.  See what I found on a typical night out at Serrano 41, a club in Madrid.

When I asked to take a pic of these two girls, they politely asked me if I could speak English!  Hurrah!  I asked them where they where from and I THINK they said Poland…it was loud in there!  Regardless of nationality, I love their style, brights make summer fun.

Speaking of brights…bright, standout shoes were an absolute staple:

If it wasn´t brights…hardware and fringe made for standout shoes!

This girl looked super cute, loved the touch the bright, turqoise purse adds.

More to come on Madrid Street Fashion!