Legal Cuba Travel: 10 Things You Need to Know Before You Go
Are you planning a cuba trip? Share your thoughts in the comments below.Photo Credits: Prado street and Havana taxis by iStockPhoto / MariaPavlova
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We returned June 28 from the Bay of Pigs tour. Loved it! I understand they have discontinued it for a longer (12 days) Undiscovered Cuba experience. I hope to do that one, too. If you like luxury vacations, go somewhere else. I didn't like the lack of toilet paper and clean bathrooms but remember tp and hand sanitizer and you will be alright. For those people previously who couldn't get along without peanut butter or DASH spice or mayo, maybe travel isn't your thing. I like to eat what the locals eat. I love seafood and fresh fruits and vegetables so was in heaven. Someone else said no pepper. We always had pepper. Be sure to vote for Obama and tell all your friends because this legal travel to Cuba could well dry up if Romney gets in. I plan to go back. The wait list fills up in a hurry and I will eat their food not bring my own.
Just back from 5 days in Havana (May 23-27). A group of 24 went for the Biennial Arts Festival but we saw much more. From the time we were met by our guide, Norberto, and driver, Joseph, we were well-cared for. Our accomodations at the Parque Central Hotel were comparable to better US hotels. We watched CNN and ESPN on our flat-panel television. There was also other US programming. Our days were packed with the "mandatory" pre-approved visits (museums and historical sites). We rode in an older air conditioned motorcoach and were provided 2 bottles of water each day. The cooler did not keep the bottles very cold but there was a refrigerator in our hotel room so you could get them ready for the next day. We brought toilet paper and carried it with us. If there wasn't an attendant handing out a small amount of toilet paper at the entrance to the banos (and it really was a small amount), there might be a dispenser on the wall (that I often missed). It was better to carry your roll with you. Breakfast at the Parque Central was a huge buffet with cooked to order omelets, beans, meats, breakfast foods, yogurts, cereal, fruits and breads. Also champagne and wine at breakfast! The Cuban coffee was strong! (And I did buy some at the airport and brought it back with me despite being advised before hand that we couldn't bring back cigars, rum or coffee.) We had lunch and dinner at several of the tourist sites including La Bodeguita Del Medio and Ambos Mundos Hotel (where Hemingway lived in the 1930s). We had an excellent meal at a new restaurant, El Gijones. We went to the studio/galleries of prominent artists, Eduardo Roco "Choco", and Jose Fuster who has created an unbelievable ceramic "city" in and around his home in west Havana. We did have some free time and we hired a driver who took us to the Crafts Market in his yellow and white 1954 Mercury convertible. There was no muffler and you could hardly hear but he was so proud of his car.
We visited an elemetary school in Havana and donated a large supply of school supplies we had brought. The students and staff were most appreciative. Several of the students sang for us as thanks.
You want to have you toilet paper but also consider taking black pepper! There was salt on the table but rarely black pepper. Bring pepper!
The Cuban people are more than just surviving inspite of The Embargo; they are persevering.
It was a wonderful experience and I'm so glad I went. Friendly people. No fear of safety. I definitely want to return.
cuba is a woundeful place to visite but here is what you need to know bring the essential such has peanut butter, miss dash to spice your food if needed jam travelsize mayo . the people there are friendly and nice rooms are basic but clean if you are in the bar sceen the glasses are small so stop by canadian tire and get a bubba keg to reduce your trip to the bar, and if the service is good dont be a cheapo tip.
I am planning a trip there in May next year. Is it possible to travel on my own if a European citizen? What to plan on a 2-week long vacation? A bit of beach experience but I am keen on discovering Cuba, including history, nature & culture. Many thanks for your insights.
@nana5: Thanks for the info.Hhow do you get "invited"?
I went "home" a couple of years ago. The way to go is to get yourself "invited" and then hire local tour guides,local taxi drivers who by the way are so versed on their history that for $20 a day they will not only drive you everywhere but be your guide. Going in groups is a very "sanitized" way of seeing this country and you will not be allowed to mix with the locals.The tour operators also don't want you to know that there is a government list of approved homes that are opened and allowed to rent rooms(sort of their version of B&B's). For a fractioned of the cost,you get a clean,air-condioned room and breakfast is included. You will be spending your money on the locals who desperately needed and not in the big hotels.Food is cheap by our standards and go splurge on a couple of restaurants.If you need the safety of an all inclusive tour,do your homework and see ahead of time where they are taking you .Buena suerte.
I have been to Cuba 4 times and it is really worth the trip. The people are wonderful and the scenery in gorgeous. But don't expect the luxuries and conviences of the US or Europe.
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