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jonnyipl Jan 4th, 2015 11:21 PM

A few last minute Cuba questions! (two week trip)
Hi all :) I've been a lurker for the past couple weeks in preparation for a three week trip to Cuba. There is a lot of incredible question and answer content on this forum so I've found most of my answers in previous posts already

That said, I had a couple of my own before heading off in a few weeks.

- I'm thinking of booking a room in Mylena y Otto private rooms in vedado ( Based on the reviews I've read online this place sounds incredible (hosts, location). It almost sounds too good to be true, is this a legitimate class particular like any other I would find on CubaJunky?

-I'm going to keep my schedule flexible and only plan a bit of my jumping off point in Havana. Is it fairly easy for a tourist to show up at a Viazul bus station and hop on a bus to another city or should I plan much further in advance?

- For now my itinerary includes Havana, Viñales, and Trinidad. I'm a bit concerned that this is the normal first-time-visitor itinerary. I'd like to add one lesser traveled destination to my itinerary. Would Cienfuegos offer a differentiated experience from Trinidad?

- Are there any neat cultural experiences this forum would recommend? I'm not asking for an exhaustive list, but if there was one amazing event you went to or cultural experience you had, I'd love to hear about it. A friend told me about chicken fighting in Havana which I will likely look into.

Thanks so much!

Odin Jan 5th, 2015 09:03 AM

Chicken fighting is a disgusting, cruel sport. I hardly think it is an amazing event or a cultural experience. Since most posters on here are American and only go on organised tours, I doubt you will get the answers you are looking for on here.

janisj Jan 7th, 2015 03:30 PM

>>A friend told me about chicken fighting in Havana which I will likely look into.<<

really . . . REALLY???

annhig Jan 10th, 2015 09:37 AM

jonny - fodors is probably not the right place to come for advice on self-guided tours of Cuba as most posters are americans who are not allowed to go to Cuba apart from as part of a strictly controlled group.

therefore you won't get a lot of advice for the sort of trip you have in mind.

add in the possible chicken-fighting interest and you've probably lost your entire audience.

I suggest not mentioning that if you go any of the other forums like those on TA, if you want a positive response.

BostonHarbor Jan 10th, 2015 06:07 PM

jonny, you are just fine to come here for advice.

You can stop in Cienfuegos, but I don't think it is really worth it. It has some pretty buildings but that's about it.

Trinidad has great casa particulars and is beautiful and fun. The photographic opportunities are amazing. There are also great beaches just a short taxi ride away and the dancing in the Plaza Major (the main square) starts at around 10PM and isn't over until 3AM.Great restaurants and even greater musicians.

I am certainly not a fan of cock fighting, but it's pretty common in Cuba. I've never seen. However, if you want to see great boxing (better choice), there is a terrific boxing training center in Old Havana that has trained some of the olympic boxers. What I find amazing is that in this humble, roofless building they are able to train boxers that kick everyone else's ass. Just ask, everyone knows about it.

I've traveled to Cuba eight times since 2001. It is a very different place today from 14 years ago. Everyone has cell phones and iPod earpieces in their ears. Private businesses are thriving (and not) It is still however, a very friendly and engaging place. You will have a great time. Can't help you on the bus question. Lonely planet probably can.

In Havana, try the newest place of young Cubans--opened about ten months ago. It's great fun and full of gorgeous, chic, middle class young Cubans. it is called "The Art Factory" (Fabrica de Arte Cubano) It's in Vedado and was created by X Alfonso,one of the most famous young musicians/signers in Cuba. Some might criticize because it is "middle class", but it's just part of what Cuba is today, and, in my book, one shouldn't try to keep Cuba "tourist authentic". It is an important part of what Cuba is today--and a very long stretch from cock fighting. : ) Here's a write up:

Have fun!

ekscrunchy Jan 15th, 2015 02:15 PM

Sounds as if you can now fly direct from the US...I would like to learn exactly how the new regulations will affect the average tourist. I know that you have to fall into one of certain categories but apparently there is a lot of leeway on this, according to the newspapers I've read.

Eddwarm Jan 21st, 2015 12:00 PM

U.S. citizens still cannot visit Cuba strictly as tourists. Until the Embargo has been lifted completely, we will still have to travel via certain categories as mentioned in all of the media.

I love ...have subscribed on the net for almost six months now and plan to use what I can when I hope to be in Cuba at the end of next month and the first week of March 2015. is another great site on the web to use.

Once the Embargo has been lifted completely and approved by the US Congress, we will be free to travel as we can to other countries. I can't wait to make my own flight reservations, private lodging, write a solid, unrestricted itinerary, etc...... "CUBA, HERE I COME FREELY!"

HappyTrvlr Jan 31st, 2015 04:35 PM

Cienfuegos is larger than Trinidad and a beautiful small city on the water. Trinidad is a beautiful colonial gem. I lkied them both.

ekscrunchy Feb 1st, 2015 05:05 AM

But how does one qualify as a member of those categories? Is it self-described? We can now use US credit cards, right? The organized tours are just too expensive, in my opinion.

fmpden Feb 4th, 2015 10:12 AM

Unfortunately, there is a lot of misconceptions about Cuba and US citizens. Remember Cuba gets to have some say in what we can or cannot do. We are just back from a one week, approved cultural exchange program. My opinions and perceptions are vastly different what some have described. Outside of the designated "tourist zones" Cuba is ill-equipped to handle tourists. No dependable public transit, you will need a good command of Spanish, a strong stomach since the water is questionable in many areas, no US credit or debit cards, still need a visa issued by the Cubans, etc.

It is not going overnight because parts of the US congress will fight it. It is going to take a lot of time, money, and effort for Cuba to become a mecca for US tourists.

annhig Feb 4th, 2015 12:03 PM

fmpden, as brits, DH and I are not subject to such restrictions so we've been thinking about a 3 weeks trip there, touring around - therefore I'm very interested in your experiences, not least because the guide books I've been reading have been rather more encouraging.

could you tell us where you went, and give a little more detail on the problems you experienced?

We are already expecting to have to use a UK/european c/card, to take lots of hard currency [€] to change into cuban currency, to drink bottled water and to stay in casas particulars and we're debating whether or not to rent a car or to hire local drivers. We're not expecting top of the range hotels, food or tourist infrastructure.

SaylerT Jun 5th, 2015 01:37 PM

OK Ann
I was gonna let your I'm a Brit crap go.
But now I read your comment to Jonny that fodors is not the proper forum to ask about Cuba because most of us are American and can't go.

So WHY are you asking here?
I have now read 5 of your post all of them say the same thing.

I'm Annhig I am from the UK
I can go to Cuba and Americans can't

I have read the restrictions. They are not strict Jonny

Ann is just being a selfish bully
If she hates cock fighting maybe she should read about the culture.

The last time I was there Cuba was still a little rough in places.
Really rough in others but I doubt she is going to learn the culture.

HappyTrvlr Jun 6th, 2015 04:57 PM

As Americans, we flew from MIA to Havana on a charter flight, about 45 min, very expensive. The tour was expensive but it seemed to be our only option as US citizens. We had to attend a certain number of cultural events each and they were excellent. We were free after attending those and could go wherever we wanted. It was one of our favorite trips and we are so glad we went when we did(April 2014).

SaylerT Jul 17th, 2015 12:04 PM

Update for Jonny
Cuban Chrome is a new TV show filmed
In Cuba.
It is on the Discovery channel.
It's pretty interesting.
Cock fighting is still very popular in Cuba.

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