Food, Havana

What is a Cuban Sandwich Anyway

 

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Food stand in Old Havana, Cuba (2018)

Most Cuban Sandwiches in Cuba are pretty basic: bread, meat, and a condiment. You can find the pan con jamon y mayonesa sold on just about every corner in Old Havana.  But in the United States, a Cuban sandwich can come in a number of varieties.

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Pizza place in Old Havana, Cuba (2018)

mixto is a popular grab and go lunch in Cuba consisting of sliced roasted pork, thinly sliced ham, Swiss cheese, dill pickles, and mustard on Cuban bread.

Medianoche is similar to a Cuban sandwich except it is served on egg loaf and sometimes without ham. It’s popular as a late night snack, hence the name medianoche.

Pan con lechón is a traditional pressed sandwich that most people think of when they think of a Cuban sandwich. It is the first Cuban sandwich that I tried when I ate at Margon restaurant in midtown Manhattan. It contains roasted pork, mojo sauce, and onions on Cuban bread.

Pan con bistec is a pressed sandwich similar to pan con lechón except sirloin steak replaces the roasted pork.

What is your favorite type of Cuban sandwich? Share in the comment section. Remember to like, subscribe, and share!

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Destinations, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco Bay Area, Tips and Tricks, Washington, DC

Don’t Go It’s A Tourist Trap

Don’t you hate it when you ask for travel advice and someone tells you not to go to the one place that you have always wanted to go because it is a tourist trap? Whether it is The Empire State Building in New York, The White House in Washington, D.C., or The Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, tourists spots are popular for the simple fact that tourists want the experience that they have to offer. It’s no wonder that tourism is a multi-million dollar business.

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Standing across the street from the touristy La Bodeguita del Medio in Cuba.

I get that we want people to have an authentic experience when they visit a destination, but I always encourage first time visitors to do all of the touristy things just in case you don’t get a chance to go back again. The next time you visit the same destination, I say you should explore the off the beaten path hidden gems. I grew up in San Francisco which is one of the most touristy destinations in the United States. Whenever family and friends visited San Francisco they wanted to go on the cable cars, view the Golden Gate Bridge, and go to Fisherman’s Wharf. I was always happy to oblige because my hometown is a beautiful city and I love to show it off. I am also a big fan of the hop on hop off buses like Big Bus which lets you visit all of the touristy spots in one day at your leisure. Click on the link to book your tickets in advance.

The next time someone tries to dissuade you from seeing a popular tourist destination just politely thank them, then ask if they can offer helpful tips for getting around the long lines and the crowds.

What touristy spots have you been told not to visit during your travels? Share them in the comment section. Remember to like, subscribe, and share!

Tips and Tricks

5 of My Favorite Travel Accessories for 2019

The holidays are a great time to catch amazing sales on travel accessories. Here are a few  items that I picked during the 2018 Christmas holiday. Most of the items are still on sale so if you want them then keep reading to find out where to buy them.

Torrid Belt Bag
Belt Bag from Torrid

Fanny packs are all the rage right now but I love this stylish belt bag that literally doubles as a belt but is large enough to hold my phone, money, ID, and lipgloss. I was excited to find something that is compact enough to be inconspicuous while traveling but large enough to fit around my larger waist. Available at Torrid.

Plaid tote bag
Plaid tote bag

Plaid is one of the hottest trends this season and I admittedly have gone plaid crazy. So when I saw this stylish plaid tote bag on sale I had to snatch it up. The bag is large enough to hold your laptop and other work essentials or to use as a carry on bag when traveling. Available at Dress Barn

Last Call Passport Holders
Passport Holders from Neiman Marcus Last Call

I’ve been on the hunt for a cute passport cover for a while but couldn’t find one that I absolutely loved. Neiman Marcus Last Call had an amazing sale on travel accessories. I found not one but 3 cute passport holders for less than $10 each! Last Call offer a wide assortment of colors and styles as well. Available at Neiman Marcus Last Call

Nest Black Tulip
Nest Black Tulip parfume and mini candle from Sephora

A travel tip that I learned years ago was to bring a scented candle with you when you are staying in a hotel to counter lingering odors and stagnant air. This Nest set is the perfect size for traveling. Inside is a 0.2 oz/ 6 mL Eau de Parfum Mini Rollerball and a 0.95 oz/ 27 g Scented Candle that are small enough to take up only a fraction of your travel bag. Available at Sephora

Flowerbomb mini set
Flowerbomb Mini Set from Sephora

I love the smell of floral scents with just a hint of spice. Flowerbomb is a long time favorite for delivering that delicate combination of olfactory delight. This mini set contains 2 x 0.24 oz/ 7 mL Eau de Parfum minis, a 0.51 oz/ 15 mL Shower Gel, and a 0.51 oz/ 15 mL Body Lotion that make it super to easy to throw in your travel bag and hit the airport. Available at Sephora

What is your can’t live without travel accessory? Share in the comments sections. Remember to like, subscribe, and share.

Destinations, Hotels, Philadelphia

How I Spent 48 hours in Philadelphia

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Travel back in time when you visit Old City Philadelphia © Dec 2017, D. Bell

It is amazing how being away from a bad situation can provide you with much needed perspective. Last year during my winter break I planned a quick jaunt to Philadelphia. I had never been to Philadelphia and I didn’t really know anyone there, however I spent the first few days of my break mulling around my apartment not doing much. I was determined to end the year by going somewhere. I had to get out of  Washington, D.C. which was where I lived at the time. Someone had posted about the Kimpton Hotels brand and I dreamed (no, literally) about their Fiji soaking tubs. I know some people get really grossed out by hotel bathtubs, but I always bring my own cleaning products when I travel so I cleaned it well before I used it.

I can’t deny that the trip to Philly was rough. First I scheduled and missed a couple of buses. The bus that I finally made was late because the driver had to go all the way to Baltimore to get his license. I kid you not! To add insult to injury there was high drama on the bus, but I was determined to get to Philadelphia. Word to the wise, never take Greyhound if you have another option available. There are other bus companies that provide much better service.

When we finally pulled into the bus terminal in Philadelphia, it was too late to sightsee so I requested an Uber (I could have walked but it was freezing and I had no idea where I was.) Once I was checked into my hotel room I headed upstairs to have a cocktail at the hotel’s swaggy rooftop lounge. The lounge only offered small bites and I was voraciously hungry so I headed back down to the main floor to eat dinner at the Red Owl Tavern.

After a full day of stressful bus travel I was exhausted, so I headed back to my room  recorded a room tour, took a shower, and went to bed. The nighttime views from my 9th floor corner suite were stunning! On one side there’s a view of the Ben Franklin Bridge  and on the other side there’s Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. In the interest of full disclosure, the bell atop Independence Hall rings every hour on the hour. You can see the nighttime view from my room by watching my room tour video on Youtube.

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Kimpton Monaco Hallway © Dec 2017, D. Bell

When I woke up the next morning I looked out of the window and I thought I was Alice in Wonderland trapped inside of a giant snow globe! Snowflakes whizzed past my window and everything below was blanketed with a fresh white coat of snow.

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A snow covered Independence Hall as seen from my hotel room © Dec 2017, D. Bell

While it snowed outside I took a long luxurious soak in the Fiji soaking tub. It was everything I imagined it to be!  All of my cares and worries melted away and the stress that previously had my  muscles tight and knotted seemed to dissolve. When I emerged from the tub I felt like a new woman. I brought my own bath salts, but the products provided by the hotel, Atelier Bloem, are quite amazing and have a refreshing clean scent to them.

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Fiji Soaking Tub in King Corner Spa Suite © Dec 2017, D. Bell

I did a little sightseeing after lounging around the room all morning. I visited Independence Hall but because of the inclement weather there weren’t many tourist out. I crossed the street to visit the Liberty Bell where a line of visitors waited patiently in the cold to get inside of the building where the bell is housed. I was starving afterward so I grabbed a pizza from down the street to bring back to the room for dinner. I relaxed in my room for the rest of the evening.

The next day I needed to check out by noon, but not before I indulged in one more luscious bath in the amazing soaking tub. I planned to stay in Philly to watch the early fireworks show at Penn’s Landing but the temperatures were too frigid so I decided to change my bus reservation so I could leave about an hour and half after my scheduled check out time.

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Corner Newsstand in Philadelphia © Dec 2017, D. Bell

I still managed to have enough time to have coffee at the Cosi down the street from the hotel then wander the streets of Old City until I reached Penn’s Landing. I hopped on the SEPTA for $2.50 and rode the subway down to 30th Street station where I got on the Mega Bus and had an relaxing and uneventful ride back to Washington, D.C.

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They still used tokens. I think they were being phased out © Dec 2017, D. Bell

I definitely want to go back to Philly once the temperature begins to warm up.  It’s an often overlooked tough little city with a lot of moxie and great architecture. The vibe of the city is primarily working class and unpretentious. People for the most part are chilled. It felt like a mix of New York, Jersey, and Baltimore.

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Eagles fans on the SEPTA enjoying a cold brew on a cold day © Dec 2017, D. Bell

Philly has the history of D.C. but the personality of New York. I love it! I want to experience the other areas of the city and I want to see how it operates during a typical work week. This trip was the highlight of my year and I am so glad that I bit the bullet and decided to go. I had two other trips booked and planned earlier in the year but I canceled them. I think it was a bit easier to navigate this trip because it was still relatively close to home. Want to see more photos from my visit? Click here.

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~Ciao!