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Whose been to Cuba and how did you go about making the reservations for your visit? Also, how long did you stay and some of the interesting places you visited would be very helpful?

 

Rick

Edited by tibas9

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We just spent a week in Havana. We went for the annual Jazz Festival. It was our first visit and it was great. We went with three friends, one had been there many times.

 

It's hard to describe the place. It's like no place I've been to before. The people are friendly, the streets are clean and safe. There are no McDonald's, Burger Kings, KFC's, or Starbucks. The streets of Old Havana are narrow and you see a mix of very shabby and nicely rehabilitated buildings. Music is coming from everywhere and most restaurants and bars have live groups playing. Vintage US cars are everywhere.

 

About 2 days into your visit you will find yourself thinking about your next time.

 

You can find flight info online. We flew Copa and had to go through Panama City. We stayed at the Melia Cohiba hotel which was near our Jazz events and only five min to the Old Havana section.

 

You will want to take Euros, because there is an extra 10% charge to exchange dollars, thanks to the US policy of embargo against Cuba. You also can't use a US credit card to book your flight or hotel. You can use credit cards from other countries. I made my flight reservation online and then paid cash at the airport. My friend made the hotel reservation and we paid cash when we got there. She used a Cuban tour operator she knows. I can get you the contact information, if you want.

 

Credit cards, (other than US) are not used anywhere except at the major tourist hotels. ATM's won't take your card, but I used my CR debit card at the money exchange in our hotel.

 

We took a ton of photos and you can see them here.

 

https://plus.google.com/photos/104442617562468037634/albums/5961342771765154097?sort=1

 

 

You may fall asleep halfway through them.

 

T

 

 

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The esposo and I went in July. (we both wanted to go before Castro dies!) We bought our tickets through Cubana airline, got to SJO and found out the tickets I bought didn't exist. :rolleyes: So we got on a flight with TACA to Panama City, then Havana.

 

We were in Cuba for about 10 days. It is by far the most interesting country I've ever been to. We were in Havana, Cienfuegos (which I do NOT recommend), Varadero (in an All-Inclusive for 2 nights) and we did a day trip to Vinales.

 

We exclusively stayed in Casa Particulares (well, with exception of the AI in Varadero) which I would highly recommend. It's basically houses that rent out rooms. The families are extremely nice and the houses are freaking masterpieces. I'm talking marble staircases, giant porches, rocking chairs, just fabulous. And of course it's cheap- 25-30 CUC (1 CUC= 1 USD) a night. We really only booked our first casa in Havana online through some website. The rest we got recommended by people. It was definitely a great way to do it. One casa owner knows another casa owner knows another... etc.

 

If you plan on staying mainly in Havana, I would definitely recommend a day trip to Vinales. It was absolutely beautiful.

 

The whole country is beautiful. But I, unlike T&M, was quite ready to leave after 10 days. It is not a country to live in. There are beggars everywhere. When you walk out of a restaurant with a to-go bag people on the street will run up and try to get it from you. We got asked for money CONSTANTLY. Even just sitting in a park enjoying a beer, people would walk up and ask for money.

 

In Havana I would recommend seeing Buena Vista Social Club (definitely a highlight for my esposo!) and of course el museo de la revolucion which is crazy!

 

Anyways. If you're in San Jose I have a Lonely Planet book on Cuba you can have/borrow if you feel like picking it up.

 

Cuba is amazing!!!! :D

 

PS- this website is very useful and has a LOT of great info on it. I read almost everything on here.

 

http://www.cuba-junky.com/

Edited by lucybelle

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You will be approached on the street a lot. We did experience people just asking for money, but the more frequent is people asking if you want a tour, a taxi, or a restaurant. They can be pretty persistent, but a firm, polite "no thank you" is all you need. People in costumes also expect to be paid to be photographed. I was approached several times by people who draw a quick, small caricature of you (that may or may not look like you) and expect to sell it to you. Ignore them or offer to draw one of them.

 

These people fade into the background and become less of an issue as you find your way.

 

I agree that I wouldn't want to live in Cuba. Life isn't easy for the Cubans and you should keep that in mind when you see these people trying to sell you things on the street or when you try to haggle too hard for a taxi or some other thing. They are just trying to make a living.

 

You will have many more positive than negative experiences, especially if you speak Spanish.

 

T

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You will be approached on the street a lot. We did experience people just asking for money, but the more frequent is people asking if you want a tour, a taxi, or a restaurant. They can be pretty persistent, but a firm, polite "no thank you" is all you need. People in costumes also expect to be paid to be photographed. I was approached several times by people who draw a quick, small caricature of you (that may or may not look like you) and expect to sell it to you. Ignore them or offer to draw one of them.

 

These people fade into the background and become less of an issue as you find your way.

 

I agree that I wouldn't want to live in Cuba. Life isn't easy for the Cubans and you should keep that in mind when you see these people trying to sell you things on the street or when you try to haggle too hard for a taxi or some other thing. They are just trying to make a living.

 

You will have many more positive than negative experiences, especially if you speak Spanish.

 

T

 

I 100% agree with this entire post, it was my experience as well that just telling them "no" was fine. I mostly let my esposo talk since he doesn't have an accent (well, he has a Costa Rican accent which was mostly mistaken for Colombian). But I remember this one time we told a guy "no, we don't want a tour" and he started yelling at us talking about how we're scared and Cuba is safer than Costa Rica (which I definitely agree with!), but it was really awkward. Of course we also spent an entire night jamming with some locals on the malecon in Havana drinking, dancing, and singing and they didn't ask for a dime. Definitely more positive experiences than bad ones, I wouldn't even say the constant asking for money was a bad experience. I would compare it more to like a buzzing mosquito flying around your head while you're trying to get to sleep. Just an annoyance..

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