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10 days in Cuba first trip

Old Mar 31st, 2003, 12:46 PM
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10 days in Cuba first trip

I would like to go to Cuba for ten days maybe more, first, I'm an American from NYC what is the best way to get there, second as anyone got in trouble for going there, third I'm a very experience photographer who would love to take tons of pictures of these beautiful buildings before they vanish after Castro. Beside Havana where else can I find these architectual beauties that I heard about?

Thank you for any suggestion
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Old Mar 31st, 2003, 04:22 PM
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Well in order.
1) From NYC, the best routing would be through Canada (Toronto or Montreal). Other connecting flights are from Nassau, Montego Bay Jamaica or Cancun. You can check out some routes etc., at
www.cubalinda.com

2)Note also that at this site, main page, top right hand side is an area with info specifically for U.S. citizens. Further info for U.S. is also available from the National Lawyers Guild at
http://www.nlg.org/cuba/

Just for your information, there are several hundred thousand Americans who visit Cuba this way each year.

3)Photography in Cuba.
Best architectural photography will be in Havana, Trinidad, Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba.

Note on the old buildings.
Habana Vieja (Old Havana), Trinidad and many other sites in Cuba have been declared world heritage sites by UNESCO. A tremendous amount of money (Cuban and external) has been put into restoring the historical buildings in Cuba, some of the oldest in the "New World". I have absolutely no idea what would give you the thought that these beautiful buildings will vanish after Castro. Politics has no or little bearing what-so-ever on the preservation of these UNESCO sites. If anything, I would expect a better post-Castro economy to have more funds available for restoration and preservation. Despite this, the work done in the last half dozen years under the present Cuban government has been nothing short of spectacular. In my six trips to Cuba, I am continually impressed each time by the further restoration work done and the rate of progress on that work. Most especially in Habana Vieja.

One of the hardest things for the Cubans is the inherent conflict between funds necessary for restoration and preservation, vs, commercial tourist activity that provides these funds. Nothing could ruin a 400-year-old plaza that a fast-food restaurant or a towering pair of golden arches. If anything, this has been one advantage of restoration under the present Cuban government system -- no rampant commercialization except tastefully done cafes etc., that if anything contribute to a genial atmosphere.

I hope this has helped and answered some of your queries.

Steve

Some other links on Cuba and travel to Cuba.

www.1click2cuba.com

http://www.gocuba.ca/eng/index.asp

http://www.netssa.com/travel.html

http://www.cubanacan.cu/INGLES/index.html






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Old Apr 1st, 2003, 04:12 AM
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While I could not advocate an American citizen going to Cuba without a legal license, I can recommend a legal way to go there. Participate and travel with a U.S. Treasury sanctioned and licensed group. For example,if you are interested in photography, you might want to check out a school or university that offers classes there. One such photo school, the Maine photographic workshops has a travel course to Cuba.

http://www.theworkshops.com/destinations/index.asp

The university where I teach offers a special topics travel course. We're traveling and exploring around the island, this May for two weeks. I too, intend on shooting a ton of film--architecture, cars, landscapes. This can be accomplished through the travel course.

Here are a few more good web sites for information.

http://lanic.utexas.edu/la/cb/cuba/

http://www.ustreas.gov/offices/enforcement/ofac/sanctions/index.html

Hope this helps.
kathleen is online now  
Old Apr 1st, 2003, 07:10 AM
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You might also want to check out this article from the Miami Herald. The rules are changing in regards to "educational" exemptions for travel to Cuba.

http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/news/world/cuba/5474291.htm

Steve
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Old Apr 1st, 2003, 07:22 AM
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Steve, Thanks for that link to the article in the Miami Herald. Is that key sentence with two "negatives" saying-- that travel will be permitted and licensed for educational course work groups, but not licenced for other humanitarian groups? Or is it the other way around? It's a bit confusing in the way it's worded. Kathy
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Old Apr 1st, 2003, 08:19 AM
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Interesting how Steve has links for every question...maybe it's because he actually hasn't been anywhere, and does all his travelling from a chair in front of a computer. Readers beware.
 
Old Apr 1st, 2003, 09:55 AM
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Ducky.... I think you're quacking up the wrong tree.

I have many links to Cuban information because I have made a personal decision to be informed about current events. As you might be aware, there is a 40+ year history of rhetoric about Cuba, its politics, the American embargo, Castro, and the Miami based Cuban ex-patriot community. One must sort a great deal of chaff to discover the wheat. That I have chosen to do so is because I find no virtue in ignorance.

While it would be possible to link photos of myself in front of various Cuban landmarks, this would not in any way prove that the individual pictured was in fact myself.

I will simply leave it up to the individual Fodors reader to decide for themselves the veracity of what I state. It is a sad commentary on life when honest discussions degenerate to this childish level.

Steve

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Old Apr 1st, 2003, 10:09 AM
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Steve,
Glad that you spoke up for yourself! Your information on Cuba has always been helpful and informative, and I hope you continue to post those links. I for one usually look them up and find valuable information in them.

Now about that Miami Herald article-- what is your interpretation of that sentence? Kathy
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Old Apr 1st, 2003, 11:08 AM
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Hi Kathleen:
I went back and re-read the Miami Herald article and I also checked the link you posted to the Treasury Dept.

The treasury link is outdated and doesn't reflect the new proposals. Hopefully it will be updated soon.

Here's my thoughts on what I interpret this rule change to mean. Note that these are only MY personal thoughts.

I think that anybody in a recognized course of study will still be allowed an educational license to visit Cuba. For example, if you are a full time student or professor studying Colonial Architecture at a formal university level, you would be permitted to travel to visit the UNESCO sites in Cuba for valid educational research.

If however you work and are not a full-time student in the US and decide to take a general interest course on a part-time basis then you couldn't claim an educational exemption. I think that too many people were using the educational loophole to study a near bogus subject as an excuse to visit Cuba with a license.

I think the same is true of "humanitarian aid". There was a requirement that as long as you took 10 kilograms of medical supplies to Cuba to be donated to a recognized medical organization, then your entire trip could be classed as a humanitarian aid trip. I think this was getting abused so again, I believe that the Treasury dept wants to tighten controls on this apparent abuse.

If you read the Miami Herald Cuban pages on a regular basis you will note that there are many more "business" related trips now taking place. It seems that where a dollars profit is concerned, American businesses will look the other way in regards to politics. Bi-laterall trade relations are continuing to become more normalized each year and business opportunities are expanding. I think the average American businessman is slowly realizing that the Europeans, Canadians, South Americans etc., are doing trade with Cuba and profiting from it. The Americans want their piece of the pie as well or they might get shut out in the long term.

Cuba is a situation that continues to evolve both politically, economically (business) and from the tourist perspective. Only by continually reading and making yourself aware of the evolution can you keep abreast of the changes. The pace of change is increasing as an ageing Castro nears the end of his life, and his absolute control of Cuba. Interesting times are indeed ahead in the next decade for this unique tropical country. I can only hope for the sake of my many Cuban friends that the evolution continues and remains a peacefull one.

Steve
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Old Apr 1st, 2003, 12:29 PM
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Steve, Mostly I agree with you on the interpretation. However,I believe that if you take a travel course for academic credit, it would occupy your time on a full time basis while in Cuba, and you would then be eligible. I believe the license is issued to the university, not to the individual,in these cases, so you would be part of a group studying there on a full time basis. That's my take on the paragraph, but it might be incorrect or incomplete. In any case I think the loosening up of trade can only be a good thing for that country. I, too, hope a peaceful transition is in store. Thanks for answering. Kathy
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