15 things you need to know before traveling to Cuba 

1. You need a visa to enter Cuba.

We bought our visa during our stop in Mexico City. It was about $25 dollars and can be bought at your airline counter. For more info try calling your travel airline to give you details of the purchase.

2. You must fit under one of twelve categories to visit Cuba.

To learn more on the twelve categories click here

3. Change your money in Euros or Pesos before arriving to Cuba and take enough money. 

If you take dollars, you will be charged a 10 percent fee. My advice is to exchange your dollars to either pesos or euros before arriving to Cuba. There are no ATM’s and your credit cards or debit cards will not work.

4. Do not check in your luggage, take a carry on. 

If you are traveling for a few days try taking a carry on instead of checking in a luggage. If you do check in a luggage make sure you are patient, you will not get your luggage within 30 mins but up to an hour or more. A friend gave me this tip before my trip and we all took a carry on bag. We were out of the airport within 30mins after arriving.

5. Take snacks, gum and things to give away. 

Take snacks for you and things to share with others. Believe it or not Cubans are grateful for any little thing they are given. They want to learn about the world outside of Cuba and want to try new things. Plus sharing part of your culture with them is greatly appreciated.

6. Don’t expect great food. It’s just ok. 

Honestly, the food was just ok. I like the Americanized Cuban food but I was opened to trying everything, so don’t be picky.

7. People for the most part are friendly but you can run into people with attitude.

For the most part everyone we met was so nice but we did encounter some people that had attitudes and lacked costumer service. So if you ask a question and are left hanging, that’s pretty much the end of the conversation.

8. Buy travel insurance

You must buy travel insurance before traveling to Cuba. I bought the most basic insurance for $50 Buy insurance here

9. Do not exchange money on the street always at the bank or an exchange house.

You will run into many men on the streets or outside of the bank or exchange houses trying to convince you to exchange your money with them. We heard stories while in Cuba of tourist being given fake money. No matter the wait make sure to exchange your money at a secure location.

10. Do not drink the water. 

Make sure you buy bottled water to drink. I even brushed my teeth with bottled water. Cubans can drink their own water but it is not recommended for tourist. You can get sick!

11. Once departing make sure you arrive extra early to the airport. 

We arrived to the airport close to two hours before departure and we made it to our gate with 15 mins to spare. You have to check in with someone over a counter, after checking in you must go through a check point and then security. It took forever! Especially because the airline only had one person working the counter so just be mindful of time.

12. Wifi access

The only way to have wifi access is by going to any hotel and buying a 1 hour internet card. Different hotels have them at different prices. We found the cheapest to be at Hotel Sevilla for $2 CUC.

13. Download a offline map

I used the CityMaps2Go App and it was so helpful. I made sure before I left on the trip I marked all the places we wanted to visit. Plus it helped us get back home plenty of times.

14. No crime

Some streets are not well lit but you will be surprised to know that the crime rate in Cuba is really low. What you should worry about is being scammed. Just be smart who you talk to.

15. Take medicine

One of my friends had some stomach pain and we forgot to take medicine. Although our host family knew some natural remedies, it would had helped to have medicine on us.

Hope these tips help. Enjoy your trip and make lots of memories.

If you would like to see a recap video of my trip Click here

Hugs,

Viri 

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This is Havana, Cuba 

Let me start off by saying that I did not know what to expect on my trip to Cuba. Prior to the trip all I kept hearing from different people was, “But why Cuba? The idea of a vacation is relaxing and getting catered to.” Well yes but no. You see to me traveling is more then just relaxing it is being adventurous, learning more about our world, experiencing new cultures so we can know what our world holds. Don’t get me wrong I love all-inclusive resorts but once you understand the other side of being culturally connected when traveling a new traveling addiction is created. 

Now back to Cuba. As soon as we arrived we were greeted by our taxi whom was sent via our Air BNB host family. I traveled to Havana with 3 other friends and we instantly fell in love with the beauty of the city. Once we arrived to our new home for the week, our host family gave us the scoop on restaurants in our neighborhood and things we should consider doing within our stay. One of the best parts of our trip hands down was our host family. In such a short amount of time we became connected to them. This trip wouldn’t of have been the same if it wasn’t for them. Our neighbor, Janet, made breakfast for us every morning for $5 CUC which included fresh made mango and papaya juice, eggs, bread, cheese and ham. 

On our first night our host dad, who is also a taxi driver, took us to a show based on the history of Cuba. Every night at 9PM this show is put on by actors who reenact the cannon ceremony. All I have to say is that when it comes to politics we aren’t all going to agree but I believe in being open minded and above all being respectful of others ideas and believes. 

On our second day we did a city tour via taxi with our host dad. He took us to the famous Hotel Nacional which many celebrities and world wide presidents have stayed at. The hotel was built in the 1930s and it preserves its historic beauty. We also got to go to La Plaza de La Revolución and walk around Old Havana which is where the famous La Bodeguita (home of the mojito) is located. That night we decided to go where all the locals go and hangout. El Malecón is right by the ocean and people usually take alcohol and music. It’s like a big street party. People stop and talk to one another. This is were we actually got to talk to locals and get to know more about the way they live. It was honestly one of my favorite parts of the trip. 


The next day we walked around downtown Havana which was blocks away from our home, to look for Wifi. Hey! We needed to reach out to our families and maybe upload some pictures on Instagram. Lol! We met a gentleman that made Cuban cigars at one of the hotels we stopped by for wifi. He was kind enough to show us the difference between each of the cigars and even let us smoke one with him. After we reconnected with Social media, we rushed home to get ready for our tour in a 1955 Buick. Which was amazing! 


We wanted to get in at least one beach day and decided to take a 2 hour trip to Varadero, Cuba. On our way to Varadero we stopped by Matanzas, Cuba to visit La Cueva Saturno. We paid about $4 CUC and were there for about an hour. We had the entire cave to ourselves! It was truly beautiful to be in the water in the middle of a cave. We also stopped by for some Cuban sandwiches at Pont de Bacunayagua and apparently they have the best piña coladas but it was too early to start drinking for us. We finally made it to Varadero and it did not disappoint. The water is crystal blue. We were in a area close to all the hotels so there were your typical beach activities such as snorkeling and jet skiing. On our way back to Havana we stopped by this restaurant on the side of the road where they hands down had the best rice and beans. 


On our last day full day we decided to walk around old Havana and Downtown Havana. We stopped by La Floridita for their famous daquris and had typical Cuban sandwiches, which I recommend. For dinner we made plans to go out with our host family for quality time. Unfortunately, that day Havana had no water and word on the street was they weren’t going to have water for 5 days. Lucky for us our host family brought water from there personal back up and we were able to shower. For dinner we went to a more Americanized restaurant called La Cathedral. We had been craving simple things like ketchup, fries and hot sauce. To close out the night we went to El Malecón where Saturday night is the most crowded. We met a couple of locals. We talked, danced and tried their local rum. This was such a meaningful night because we really connected with one specific guy named Kike. I won’t get into it but I will say that it was one of the best conversations I have had with any stranger. 


I can’t wait to go back. I am not going to lie I shed a couple of tears at the airport. We really connected with our host family and saying goodbye to them was truly emotional. They treated us at their own family and always made sure that we were ok. 


If you do go to Cuba, I recommend that you take things to give away to locals. My friend Ari left some of her clothes, markers and make-up. I left behind a hair dryer and a small pack of gum. These are things that for us can be easily replaced but to Cubans it’s a luxury to have. Yes, even a pack of gum. 


Have any questions? Leave them below or send me a DM in my social media would be happy to answer any concerns you may have before your trip. 

Hugs,

Viri

3 Must Try Spots in Houston

When it comes to trying new restaurants, I am all for it. These 3 spots in Houston are truly hidden treasures. Sometimes a meal is enjoyed more in a hole in a wall restaurant then at a 5 star.

If you are in Houston or ever visit Houston and want to try something different here are my recommendations.

  1. Thai Gourmet  – My favorite at Thai Gourmet is the Satay Chicken (that comes with a tasty peanut sauce), the Pad Thai and the crispy rice. Trust me! You will not regret these choices.

2. Taqueria Mexico Lindo- Hands down the tacos are a must have, especially the barbacoa. I also enjoy the menudo on the weekends.

Location: 7626 Clarewood Houston,TX 77036

3. Tiger Den – If you arrive to Tiger Den and see a long waiting line, do not be surprised! This place is pretty small but the Ramen soups are delish! We ordered the spicy miso soup. The flavors and cozy feeling make this place worth the wait.

What are some of your favorite spots in Houston? Make sure to tweet me @ViriMal

XOXO,

Viri

Quick Trip to The City of Angels

I visited Los Angeles years ago for my High School Senior trip and had not been back ever since. I was so excited to visit L.A. for work and take some time to visit some sites that had been on my list.

As some of you may know I was in L.A. for the last stop of the campaign #CHIparaMi with Jomari Goyso. Thanks to Jomari, we ended up trying what is now one of my new favorite places for dinner, Cafe Gratitude . It is a vegan restaurant and although I am not vegan, I do love trying new food. One thing that I loved about this cute little cafe was the name of the dishes, everything had a positive name like Awesome, Magical, Grateful, etc… I ordered the Excited-Mojito (which was really refreshing) A cup of broccoli cream soup and the Liberated-Pad Thai Noodles. Everything was super delish!

Two places that I had been wanting to visit during this trip was The Last Book Store and Urban Lights. I had to squeeze these two sites in one night. The Last Book Store is truly impressive. It is picture perfect but also filled with great books. Urban Lights is truly a work of art. It was worth staying up late for these two visits.

As I mentioned, It was such a fast work trip. Other places I visited was of course the Pacific Coast, Glendale and East L.A. Below find pictures from my trip.

What are some of your favorite spots in L.A.?

XOXO,

Viri

Isla del Encanto, Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico had always been on my bucket list. When I found out that I would be taking a work trip to La Isla del Encanto I knew that I had to visit El Morro. San Juan, is a city filled with lots of color and tropical vibe. I defiantly want to go back and visit places like El Yunque. One of the people I met during my trip said it takes about 4 hours to get to one side of the Island to the other. Plus, I made so many new friends that I can not wait until I am back to visit.

Here are some of my favorite pictures from this trip.

XOXO,

Viri

Welcome to Miami  

I love visiting Miami! It truly has became one of my favorite cities in the U.S. Its hip, modern and laid back. During my trip I got to visit the Standard Hotel in Miami for dinner. This is a must visit if you’re with a group of friends or family. The restaurant offers great food for affordable prices and blankets for guest when it starts to get chilly at night.

But enough about that, I was in Miami for the #CHIparaMi event held at JCP in Dadeland Mall with Jomari Goyso. Tons of fans came out to meet and greet Jomari. I got to chat with the first fan in line who waited for 5 hours. Now, that’s a true fan!

Here are some pictures from Miami and the event.

XOXO,

Viri

Because life is a Fiesta 🌵

Hello All,

Happy 2017! Are we still allowed to say that after three weeks? Anyways, Hope your year is off to a great start. I want to start by saying, thank you to everyone that showed me some birthday love. I truly appreciate every single call, text, social media messages…everything! 

So this year my birthday fell on a Friday. A couple of weeks before my cousin, Petra, has asked me if I was going to do anything to celebrate. I told her I really was not feeling it this year, especially because my brother was not going to be able to make it. To make the long story short, LOL, my brother got my mother and I to go out to dinner to celebrate my day of birth. I picked the place, Masaraffs, and went to have a lovely dinner when out of no where walks in my cousins along with my brother. I was so in shocked! Turns out my cousins bought my brothers flight as my birthday gift. Truly blessed! I have never been so surprised in my life. Thank you Petra and Adrian. 😘 


The next day we had a small close friends birthday party, Mexican style, at my dads house. Tacos, tequila, bonfire and more tequila took place. My dad also surprised me by bringing a marachi band, made the party even better. Thanks to all my friends and family for celebrating with me, y’all are my everyday support system. Love y’all! 

Here are a few pictures from this years fiesta! 




Viri 

9 Unisex gift ideas for the holidays 

Happy Holidays! We are just a couple of days from Christmas and as every year here is my unisex gift guide.

1. Personalized Bath Caddy-$69 

I mean who doesn’t need a caddy. Right? Just throw in a bath bomb and enjoy a night of relaxation. 

Buy Here

2. Travel Backpack-$139

This is perfect for anyone that loves to travel. This backpack can fit anything and everything is well organized for the perfect trip. 

Buy Here

3. Photo Printer-$130

This is super cool. Just snap a pic and print it instantly. It’s easy and fast. 

Buy Here

4. Personalized Leather Notebook-$40

Who doesn’t need a cute notebook? It’s such a nice gift to have for work or school. 

Buy Here

5. Google Home Speaker- $129

This is one of my favorite gift ideas plus it’s on call 24/7. Ask questions or simply play music, this speaker does it all. 

Buy Here

6. Tour of the world coffee sampler-$48.95

Any coffee lovers?! This is a perfect coffee set. Have your coffee lover try 6 different coffees from around the world. 

Buy Here

7. SpaRoom® Scentifier™ Portable Color Changing Fragrance Diffuser-$16.99 

Just add your favorite essential oils and relax. This is the perfect gift for anyone always on the go and in need of a little relaxation. 

Buy Here

8. Conair Foot Spa with Bubbles-$24.99

This gift idea is great for anyone that is always on their feet. It’s easy to use and you can use at the comfort of your home.

Buy Here

9. Smartphone projector-$22.09

All you need is a phone and flat wall. It requires minimal set up and it is easy to carry and store. 

Buy Here

Hope these gift ideas help in your search for the perfect gift. Let me know which one is your favorite. 

Until next time,

💗Viri

New York During the Holidays 

Happy Holidays! 

I was recently in New York for a work trip. Last time I was in the big apple was about 10 years ago. I know such a long time! I was truly amazed of the holiday spirit throughout the entire city. Lots of lights, decor and holiday cheer is seen and felt. 


I also got a chance to see the famous Rockettes at Radio City. It was so worth it! The show is unique and fits right in to the Holiday festivities. 


Most of my pictures were deleted and these were the only ones I could save. 

Hope you have an awesome Holiday season. 


Cheers,

❤Viri 

Love is Patient, Love is Kind 

Happy wedding day to one of my greatest friends, Yessenia. 

We met in college through her sister,Vanessa, if it wasn’t for both Yessenia and Vanessa my college years wouldn’t have been the same. We pushed each other through everything, they both opened up their on campus apartment for me to crash when we had long nights of homework and studying. We laughed, we cried, we complained and partied. 

Our friendship truly grew into a beautiful everlasting bond. So Yesse, today on your wedding day take every moment in and enjoy this new stage. Thank you for including me to stand by your side. Although Vanessa is no longer here she continues to be the glue to our forever friendship. I love you and remember that Love is patient, Love is kind. That was Vanessa’s favorite words and our life teaching. 

Congrats on your wedding day my coma ❤

Viri