Questions about Cuba

Jan 23rd, 2019, 04:02 PM
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Join Date: Aug 2003
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Questions about Cuba

My husband, Larry, and I are heading to Cuba on a tour in February. We have visited many islands in the Caribbean, Mexico, Costa Rico, and Belize, but never in group travel. My husband speaks Spanish, but has not had the opportunity to speak with anyone with a Cuban accent. He is excited about that. Our schedule is tight and there won't be much opportunity to sightsee by ourselves, but there will be times when we can have a meal without the group. Does anyone have any suggestions on places to eat?

We are in our mid seventies and tend to dress quite casually. The information that the tour company sent seemed to indicate that jeans, sandals, and even capris might not be welcome. Thoughts?

The information that came from the tour organizer suggested taking all your prescription medications in their original bottles. In the past, we have always put our drugs in pill containers rather than shlep the bottles and have never had an issue. Do those of you who have been to Cuba or other more restrictive countries think that this trip will be different?

We are at the point in our lives where we do not tend to buy any personal souvenirs, but we might want to pick up some small gifts for our adult children, and my 6 year granddaughter. Again, any suggestions?

justretired is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2019, 06:17 PM
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We are hyper-sensitive to food issues while traveling, perhaps too much. So, we didn’t go there for a culinary experience, although some will. For Cuba, we brought a bunch of bottled water and a bunch of snacks. We asked our driver for recommendations of extremely safe places to eat. He directed us to a home, not far from the noted statue of Christ, called El Canonazo Paladar. Attached to the back of the home, the spacious and busy restaurant consisted of multiple thatched roofed dining areas. We had excellent food (fresh fish and chicken veggie soup) there. No gastro issues for us.

We also usually look for pizza, since we have always felt that the high heat will kill anything bad (but who knows), and we were surprised to find decent pizza at the trendy-looking 5 Esquinas Trattoria old town. I hate to recommend anything, since you can get sick anywhere, but no gastro issues for any of the four of us, and our daughter even had some pizza at a local walk-up window.

Most people do need to take care with tap water, ice, fruit and veggies not washed with treated water, etc. There are massive shortages of things we take for granted, so that will limit your options. We saw some grocery stores with largely empty shelves, so cooking at home for us was not a choice. You may find enough supplies at multiple places if you have the time and patience. We had ice cream at Fidel’s famous ice cream park (it was terrible since they use powdered milk). Cocktails (mojitos and daiquiris) at numerous places, and we even had them with ice, but we stuck to major tourist places, a couple on the Hemingway Trail, Hotel Nacional and Callejon de Hamel, a small eclectic neighborhood of recycled art. I think some places, like the upscale Hotel Nacional may now be legally off limits to Americans, either because of the alleged sonic attacks (or were they just crickets?) and perhaps because the Cuban military gets income from them.

Cubans seem to dress like Americans, with lots of logo merchandise, maybe from relatives in the US. Not sure why anyone would suggest that you can't wear the same clothes you can wear anywhere else in the Caribbean, including jeans, shorts, etc. I don't know about prescription meds, but we did find it unusual that Havana does require you to go through security when you get off the plane, as well as before getting back on the plane. They seemed pretty lackadaisical about it all though. We brought a suitcase full of stuff to donate to an orphanage and they had no interest in looking at any of it. Some people had boxes of things like very large flat screen TVs, and they again didn't seem to care.

We don't usually do souvenirs, but we recall seeing a lot of locally made goods, and you should have any number of options all over Havana.

Last edited by whitehall; Jan 23rd, 2019 at 06:22 PM.
whitehall is online now  
Jan 30th, 2019, 01:35 PM
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Have meals at Paladars, privately owned in people's homes. You may not even realise you are in a home, a converted garage or enclosed deck. We especially loved Paladar Vista Mar.Everyone in our group wore sandals,capris and some jeans although rather warm for jeans when we went to Cuba in April.
We packed our pills as we always do, poured into zip lock baggies. No original RX bottles. We bought a few Cuban coffee cups for our adult kids. And tee shirts of the Cuban baseball teams. I recall a nice gift shop at Hemingway's home. I never buy things for myself anymore but did in Cuba, a framed tile from Fusterlandia, Artist Juan Fuster's rather creative, mosaic art filled home.
HappyTrvlr is online now  
Feb 4th, 2019, 10:48 AM
Join Date: Feb 2019
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Cubans do tend to dress up for a night out and for younger people it's must for certain bars and clubs. It depends what you want to do, if it's a paladare (traditional restaurant) or casual looking bar, then it's fine. If it's dinner in a fancier place or cocktail bar, go for smart casual. No need for formal shirt and tie if that's what you're thinking. I'd take shirt/blouse and smartish shoes just in case.

andrew_ewp is offline  
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