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Trip Report Cuba, March 2017, what an experience!

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I have never done a trip report before, so this will be unpolished. My user name is Novice Italy, and I joined many years ago as I was planning a trip to Italy. I have been there and other European destinations many times since, but the trip to Cuba was truly unique. I really appreciated the feedback on this site, as there was not much information in tourbooks about doing an independent trip not on a tour. I LOVED Cuba, and found travel there to be a different experience, and one that I will repeat in the near future. It was a step back in time, reminiscent in some small way to Hurricaine Katrina in New Orleans when we lost phone service, internet, and cable for quite some time (no electricity at my house for 6 weeks). People were friendly and vibrant, and my daughter (25 years old) and I felt safe at all times. We stayed in a lovely BnB with an elevator ( the only functioning elevator I encountered in Cuba) on the 8th floor overlooking old Havanna. Beautiful sunrises and sunsets. Like most streets in old Havanna, there are beautiful buildings, however with electrical lines up and down on the outside of all the buildings. And roosters crowing from dawn on. And people visiting on the streets at all times because of the lack of easy internet. Which was a refreshing thing. We could always tell when a hotel had internet because of the tourists and locals hovering on the street near a hotel to use (with an internet wifi card) the slow and occasionally successful internet. The afternoon we got there, we checked in and set out to look for bottled water and a bottle of wine. The wine was not to be found, but we eventually found water. The next day we encountered a store, where one points to the item after standing in a line, and purchases that item. There appears to be ONE coffee, ONE brand of butter etc. There are fruit and vegetable stands that don't appear to be governmently run. We discovered that rum and beer are readily available but wine not so much. We took a great tour with Havanna Memories and loved our tour guide. We had to work hard to get her to let us treat her to lunch, as tourist restaurants cost as much as a month's salary, where we continued to learn about Cuba. We also were able to visit a cigar factory (sweat shop) to see the operation and buy cigars to satisfy requests from home.
Cuban art museum and Revolution museum were really interesting (def told from Castro's prospective).
Restaurants: we found it very helpful to have reservations in advance. It made it easy after a day of touring to have a drink somewhere then go to our restaurant. The first night we went to Habana 61. Modern look, good seafood and traditional food, and met new friends from Canada, England and US La Guarida was great, Dona Eutimia was a very inexpensive restaurant with traditional food for lunch.
San Crisobal might have been my favorite. Great antipasto appetizer (huge tray, very reasonable), then skewers with lobster, fish, and shrimp, all beautifully prepared. The young waiter took a liking to my daughter, so after delicious flan, we had complementary aged rum and cigars, which he trimmed and lit! I have never had a cigar before and it went out after one puff, but the gesture was nice. Another great meal was at El Cocinero, followed by a visit to the strange but wonderful Fabrica del Arte. Our trip to Jazz Cafe was a bust, as the band was bland, but we taxi'd to Cafe Paris near our apartment where we heard great Jazz music.
All in all a great trip. Never felt taken advantage of, and always felt ok tipping musicians, taxi drivers, tourguides etc, given their economy and our ability.
On a final note, I have global entry and some knee issues so went sailing on through in the US without so much as a question of people to people or educational reasons. On the other hand my daughter got pulled aside and questioned extensively about did she enjoy the beaches and did she really have a tour there, and what was in her carry on. Once questioned and responding appropriately, she passed on through without difficulty.

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