I Love Cuba

Apr 28th, 2006, 11:53 AM
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I Love Cuba

Just returned from our first visit to Cuba. We spent a wonderful week in Varadero. We have been to quite a few islands in the Caribbean and to a few destinations in Mexico and we have found a wonderful new destination that we will return to many times. The beach is white and long and the water clear and turquoise. The people are warm and friendly and a day tour of Havana is a must see. Havana really needs more than one day to see as it has so much to offer. I hope to go back someday and try to see some more. It is like going back in time and the architecture and beauty should be seen. They are restoring old Havana and it is so beautiful.

It was nice not to see any fast food signs in Cuba. I am glad we have the priviledge of seeing Cuba before it gets commercialized. It is a warm and beautiful country in many ways.
ONZGO is offline  
Apr 28th, 2006, 12:22 PM
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It is a beautiful country.
I totally agree with you...the Sunday market in Old Havanna (not sure they still have it) is truly a sight!
JAGIRL is offline  
Apr 28th, 2006, 01:27 PM
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Thank you for sharing your experience. It's always nice for me to read about someone's trip to Cuba. It's on my someday list, but I'm too much of a wimp to try to visit before the US eases the ban on its citizens from traveling there. On what part of the island is Varadero? What type of accommodation did you stay in?
ejcrowe is offline  
Apr 29th, 2006, 03:47 PM
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We stayed at Sandals Royal Hicacos in Varadero. It was wonderful. The buffet food was good for Cuba standards and the a la cartes were outstanding with excellent food, very fine dining and wonderful service. Wine, champagne and premium liquor were all wonderful. Didn't try Cuba's famous cigars.

Varadero is on the north side of the island and the closest city to Havana and Havana was the main reason I wanted to go to Cuba. I now want to check out other beaches/cities/towns in Cuba and especially want to see the preserved Spanish colonial town of Trinidad on the south coast. Cuba is such a large island and apparently it has beautiful long white beaches everywhere and crystal clear water.

As Canadians, we feel very lucky that we have the opportunity to see beautiful Cuba.
ONZGO is offline  
Jun 26th, 2006, 10:58 AM
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It is like going back in time and the architecture and beauty should be seen.

ONZGO, Oh I just oved the cars!! And the tractor-head busses
Havana to me is like a European city in the Caribbean.
I'm glad to hear that they are restoring the old city as well. When I went a couple of years ago some of that wonderful architecture was crumbling.

Is there still a Sunday Craft Market in Old Havana ? Right outside of the church? Excellent place to get crafts.
JAGIRL is offline  
Jun 26th, 2006, 11:01 AM
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Hint : they don't stamp your passport when you go. You can do a weekend trip from Jamaica.
Not that I'm encouraging you to break the law or anything...but...you know...
JAGIRL is offline  
Jun 26th, 2006, 12:45 PM
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I, too, wish to make that trip prior to Fidels' demise. I've tried to get my wife to get us in 'legally' using the teacher thing but she does not ahre the interest. JAGIRL, when did you go ?
SAnParis is offline  
Jun 26th, 2006, 01:23 PM
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Let's see... a "<i<>couple,/i> of years ago" would be in 1999-2000 or somewhere thereabout. We tend to use "couple" very loosely in Jamaica!

This was back when Air Jamaica had just started flying to Cuba.And I remember there being a number of Europeans and Americans on that flight.

I was there for about 3 or four days. Stayed at Hotel Inglaterra in Old Havana. Didn't go to the beach cause...well...I'm from Jamaica!

While walking around we ran into some folks from Jamaica who had been living in Cuba for years. They heard our accents and decided to give us our own personal tour of Havana. Went places I can't even remember the names of right now! We even got the China Town tour... A tour definitely to be missed!
Everytime they spoke of Fidel they referred to him only as "The man".

The lack of anything American is definitely quite noticeable. I was in a corner grocery store and took note of the fact that there was not a Pepsi or Coke or Sprite in sight...no M&M's or Snickers or Pringles.

I also remember seeing some of the sculptures on the buildings held together by what I called black giant elastic bands. Some of the streets were also closed because of the crumbling sculptures on buildings.So I'm very happy that they're trying to

JAGIRL is offline  
Jun 26th, 2006, 01:25 PM
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...restore the city. ( clicked on post too early1)
Every year I keep telling myself that I need to go back and then keep putting it off.

JAGIRL is offline  
Jun 26th, 2006, 01:37 PM
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I too love Cuba. I took an "educational" week long trip in 2001 under the license of a state cultural council.

Unfortunately these licenses have all been revoked in the past few years, making it much more difficult to travel to Cuba legally from the US.

The Cuban people are wonderful to visitors especially those from the US. They know better than most that "governments" don't accurately reflect the feelings of many of the residents.

That said, Cuba is a country with very real problems, especially shortages and rationing in consumer goods, including food. It tears your heart out to see this. Educational opportunities have increased and that is all to the good, until you realize the a person can make more as a bellhop collection tips, than as a medical doctor.

When I was there, only government owned restaurants could serve lobster and tomatoes. The food was very basic, no real seasoning at all. Think of what US food would be like if you froze our diet in 1959.

I would love to return, but find that going somewhere with so many problems is not an entirely "fun" expedition.

I deeply hope for improvements in the future.

Old Havana is beautiful. There is music everywhere. They are trying very hard to save the buildings but there is not enough money to do so. There will be a beautiful building with an empty lot next door where that building just collapsed. It will take millions of dollars to save the area, but it is worth it. It reminded me a bit of the French Quarter in New Orleans, building-wise.

I'd love to see more of the island. We traveled to Trinidad and it is a beautiful city, full of history, near a beautiful stretch of beach. We also visited Cienfuegos, which is not necessarily a tourist spot, but has it's own attraction.

The concerned tourist will look at Cuba from all angles. I hope soon we'll all be able to visit and trade hotel and restaurant recommendations.


P.S. They stamp your passport with a sort of generic stamp, usually on p. 16 (I think). They did stamp my passport this way, but later trips through US immigration never raised any questions.

cw is offline  
Jun 26th, 2006, 04:08 PM
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Thank you, everyone, I enjoyed this post, as I am sure many others have. After reading an article about Cuba in a travel magazine, I have wanted to visit. Perhaps one day it will be easier for us to do it.
mahobaygirl is offline  
Jun 27th, 2006, 09:15 AM
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I remember a blurb in Caribbean Travel and Life about an American who visited Cuba for a weekend from Mexico. They stamped her passport with that "anonymous" stamp, and she was detained at US Customs. She had to pay major fines. Apparently this is something that has been cracked down on in recent years.
eaf2007 is offline  
Jun 27th, 2006, 05:12 PM
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JAGIRL, sorry I don't know about the Sunday craft market in Old Havana, but we went to a craft market in old Havana, but it was not on Sunday.

We had to ask them to stamp our passports.

We too loved the old cars and sidecar motorcycles. I does remind me of a European city in the Caribbean and much better than we expected it to be.

I personally liked that you didn't see anything American as it made me feel I truely had gone somewhere different.
ONZGO is offline  
Jun 28th, 2006, 07:10 AM
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Some U.S. citizens might find this website interesting.

ONZGO is offline  
Jun 28th, 2006, 09:17 AM
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Thx, I'll check it out.
SAnParis is offline  
Jun 28th, 2006, 09:52 AM
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I would like to go to Cuba, how did you all handle your travel arrangements?... I was thinking of traveling from Mexico City to Havana...then from Havana to Guantanamo. Advise is greatly appreciated. Thanks,
mandc26 is offline  
Jun 28th, 2006, 11:48 AM
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I'm Jamaican, so I have no travel restrictions to Cuba. I just booked straight through a travel agent (hotel & airfare package). Traveled with Air Jamaica.
JAGIRL is offline  
Jun 28th, 2006, 11:49 AM
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There are also a number of places in Jamaica that offer packages and tours to Cuba. I'll check names and addresses and will repost.
JAGIRL is offline  
Jul 1st, 2006, 06:15 PM
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As promised:

Caribe Vacations located on the Hip Strip in Montego Bay.

Air Jamaica also flies to Havana http://www.airjamaica.com

There may also be a ferry from Jamaica to Cuba as well.
Maybe Tivertonhouse might know about it?

JAGIRL is offline  
Jul 1st, 2006, 07:36 PM
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Well as a Canadian I have no travel restrictions in going to Cuba and I've made 9 trips to the island. It's my favourite destination, mostly because it just has a unique and different "feel" than other islands.

The salsa, cigars, history, rum, people and the all pervasive sense of Deja Vu as you step backwards in time.

But lets also not view Cuba through rose-colored glasses. There is indeed poverty and the political climate makes life very hard for a great number of people. But in that respect it isn't much different than other poor countries. Some aspects much better and the absence of some freedoms make it worse. But overall, I keep going back because I simply enjoy myself there, and the absence of multinational fast food joints etc. When I eat in a local cafe or restaurant, I'm getting local cuisine, some good, some not so good. But at least it's not "plastic" formula fastfood. And for me that's refreshing.

If you want to visit my website and read and see some of my travels, please feel free to do so. It's got a max bandwidth on the site so if it's exceeded, come back later.


And here's a slideshow specifically on the Spanish colonial city of Trinidad on the south coast. Just copy and paste the link into a browser window.


Canuck_at_Canada_eh is offline  

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