Miami :: Cuba :: Cushies

We got back from our cruise to Cuba the other day and I’m emotionally prepared to blog about it. Travel blogs are time consuming beasts but I can’t neglect them because there are always so many great memories to preserve.

This year my dad and MaryAnn took us on a cruise to Cuba.

Right?! I KNOW!!!!

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We started by spending a couple days in Miami because, hey, we’ve never been there before.

We got in first and Scratchy took the opportunity to sneak up on the grandparents.

Do you know what is great about Miami? THE FOOD!

 

Thanks to my stepmom and her hours of researching restaurants, we had wonderful meals a Café Mambo (Cuban) and Café Meraki (Greek). It was a good warm up for the full-on gluttony that was to follow.

 

We did a little boardwalk shopping and looking around and checked out this crazy 7D (whatever that is) amusement ride.

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To the future and beyond!

Also while in Miami, we went to the Everglades. It’s a place Itchy has always been curious about.

 

The Everglades were beautiful and teeming with life, yet with the constant menace of biting bugs, alligators and snakes … and not in a “they are out there but you won’t see them” kind of way. Look close enough and there they are!

It was a really special place and I’m glad we took the time to see it.

From Miami we hopped on the Norwegian Sky for a four day cruise. This is the third cruise that my family has been on, thanks to my dad and MAC.

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My boys are so spoiled, they probably think that everyone goes on a cruise each summer. My folks are keen on creating lasting memories with their grandchildren but they really go all out. Thank you, thank you, thank you for all the money and hours of research that each cruise requires. It is not lost on me.

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We always have a ton of fun on the ship and have the layout dialed by now. We scoffed at newcomers that dragged their suitcases around with them at check-in.

“Don’t they know they can have them delivered to their staterooms?” Tsk.

Cruise life can be gluttonous but it is also quite beautiful and restful. My favorite thing to do was play pingpong with the kids, hang out in the Outrigger lounge, and feed the Laughing Gulls. Loony disapproved.

I also really liked this guy …

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… and this guy …

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Just kidding, he looks like a douche

Our first stop was Cuba. It was supposed to be our only stop but someone shot his mouth off and pissed off the Cuban government so they said we could only stay one day. Grr.

This was our first look at Havana.

Havana is awash with music, only video can do it justice.

We were supposed to have a full day in Havana (which we did) and a day out in the countryside where we were going to visit farms and smaller villages (which we didn’t). Welp, I guess we will have to go back.

I am curious about the rest of Cuba, though. From what I’ve heard it is decades behind Havana.

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These probably would be more useful outside of Havana

Havana is a gorgeous city, I can see why the Spanish considered it their jewel. It is crumbling in places but oh-so-beautiful.

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Naturally the boys and I had our own agenda …

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Besides the music, I think I loved the art the most.

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I was really stoked to have stumbled upon an old-school Cuban restaurant called La Moneda. From the outside it was just a doorway, but inside it was three floors of converted apartments featuring traditional Cuban cuisine.

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That night we went to the Hotel Nacional to see the Parisien Cabaret, a legacy song and dance show that was a solid two hours of high energy dancing.

I would give anything to take a look backstage to see how they managed all the costume changes and wardrobe. There must have been an army of assistants back there. It was a thrilling evening of music and dance, my idea of heaven.

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We pulled out of Cuba at 7am the next day and spent a day at sea headed to Stirrup Cay, a private island owned by Norwegian.

It wasn’t Cuba but the boys got to enjoy a fun beach day, stand-up paddle boarding, and general island life.

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Then it was another night at sea and we were back in Miami by morning.

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We said quick goodbyes to my folks who had an early flight and then we picked up a rental car and took a leisurely drive to the Cushy’s house on Casey Key, by Tampa.

We haven’t seen the Cushies in five years since they moved to Florida, I was so happy that it worked out for us to descend upon their house.

They live right on the beach so we spent the days in the water or under the pop-up. The water was a beautiful temperature.

The kids enjoyed some old-school boy vs girl fun.

Loony and Bobby took the kids out to look for sea turtles laying eggs and actually got to witness it. I was passed out in bed. Snooze and lose I guess.

Bobby likes to cook and he and I got going on a recipe I’ve been dying to make. It’s a poke tuna sushi on a crispy rice ball. I made two platters that were instantly devoured.

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Ponzu and Rice

The loose recipe

After three days we packed up and headed back to Miami to catch our flight home.

 

We got into Boulder around 3:00, Loony and Scratchy got into the car to drive two hours to Scout Camp while Itchy and I unpacked and put the house back in order.

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It was an incredible trip. Thank you Dad and Mac for making it happen, it was such an enormous gift. Thank you Jennifer and Bobby for showing us your beautiful world and putting up with us for three days, I am so happy we were able to connect and I’m sorry I left stuff at your house that you now have to deal with.

As for the rest of the summer, I gotta say I’m feeling kind of done. I just want to hang out at home and enjoy my life without running myself ragged trying to do everything. We’ll see how that works out.

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Hey, WordPress is acting all weird so if you notice something off (duplicate photos, etc) let me know. Thanks.

3 thoughts on “Miami :: Cuba :: Cushies

  1. As usual, I appreciate being able to live vicariously through you and your family! And thanks for the recipes! I’m going to try them. Today I told my stylist that I wanted her to cut my hair so I’d look 40 and like an exciting and adventurous woman. I think making and eating all this food will help with that look! 🙂

  2. What a great trip. Basil and I planned on going to Cuba years ago. We should have done it while we could. Who knew. I have to give your recipe to Basil so he can make it for me. It sound delicious. Have fun relaxing for the rest of the summer…….. 🙂

    • Easy peasy! So make the recipe for the ponzu sauce and rice (images in the blog). Take 1lb sushi grade tuna (super easy for you where you live) and cut into very small cubes being very careful to not bruise the fish. About 30 minutes prior to serving, gently toss tuna with the ponzu, 1/4 cup of cilantro, one avocado (small dice), 1/4 cup very thinly sliced scallions, and a splash of toasted sesame oil. Let sit at room temp for 30 minutes. With wet hands form cooled and dressed sushi rice into bite sized balls and flatten into discs. Pan fry on both sizes in canola oil until crispy. Top with tuna mix, garnish with sriracha mayo (you can make it yourself or buy it pre-made) and cilantro leaves (if you want).

      I considered adding toasted sesame seeds and mango, if in season. It makes two platters for the price of 4 orders at a sushi bar. It’s my new favorite thing and is very beginner sushi eater friendly. Let me know how it goes.

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