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Tomas

Nov 30, 1919, 12:00 AM

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Cuba anyone?

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 We will be staying in the lakeside area Nov.-Dec. We have always had a curiosity with Cuba and thought this might be a good time to check it out for a week or so. Would be very interested in some personal experiences, good or bad, flight costs,hotels,etc. we are aware of the restrictions for us people from the Estados Unidos. Thanks in advance for your valued input.



Bob in Ajijic

Nov 30, 1919, 12:00 AM

Post #2 of 5 (1928 views)

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Cuba anyone?

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A little over a year ago, during the low season (June) fourty we Lakesiders took advantage of a travel promotion and went to Cuba. At this time of the year, the Cuban Tourist bureau and Mexicana Airlines (Airbus 320) and our travel agency (Viajes Ajijic) had a package. My wife and I spent eight days there for the price of one ...$895.00. <p>That charge included both airfares, bus transfers, three nights in the Neptune Hotel in Havana and four nights in the hotel at Veradara Beach, all breakfasts included. If you ate in the hotel ...which we did... you paid about what you would in the US for dinner ($12.00)or lunch ($5.00). If you went out and about ...which we did... you paid a bit less.<p>We took three or four tours that were well worth it: we had dinner (acceptable)and a show at the Tropicana (stunning, mustn't miss it) for around $30.00 apiece (I'm not positive about the price now), we toured the city and a rum factory, took a country side tour of a cigar factory, went up to some valleys north of Havana that were quite wonderful. We were treated royally everywhere. On one of the tours of the countryside our busload was a little UN with 35 of us from Guatamala, Uroguay, Costa Rico, Brazil, Chile, Peru, Portugal, USA and Canada. Everyone seemed to speek some variety of English in addition to their own language.<p>At the beach we dawdled in the sand (pristine), took a train tour of the peninsula and hung out at a surprisingly well stocked mall. Mall of the Americas it was called, or something like that, and there was a business conference on at the time. We visited with some of the particupants. <p>We moved around very freely on our own, took a taxi to China Town for dinner and visited the opera house and the capitol building. Saw Hemingway's hacienda, which was interesting after seeing his place in Key West. This one was quite grand by comparison. <p>We had been told the locals were very poor and that we should bring used clothing, school supplies and the like, toilet paper, ball point pens, etc ...which we did. A whole suitcase full. We were told to give them to the people we would see. <p>We never saw anyone who looked like they needed these things. On about the third day we decided to ask one of our guides about this. She said that two or three years ago our gifts would have been especially welcome but a bit less so now, that things were improving. We saw lots of evidence of industrial expansion, factories and oil processing facilities built in partnership with companies from other countries. They seem to be beginning to take the place of the old Soviet Block subsidization which vanished with such devastating effect over a decade ago.<p>Anyway our guide suggested that we drop by the church near our hotel and speak with the priest. Maybe he would find some of his parishoners who could use the stuff. We did, and he said he would, but agreed that things were improving the past two or three years. <p>We had a great time in Cuba and would do it again without thinking twice. The food was good, the people helpful, and the bunch of us couldn't have been happier ...the fourty of us were about half Canadians and half Americans. <p>And, yep, the Americans got their boarding passes stamped, not their passports.<p>


Samisco

Nov 30, 1919, 12:00 AM

Post #3 of 5 (1931 views)

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Cuba anyone?

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I was in Cuba last March for a week and quite enjoyed it. Four of us went and spent four days in Habana (not a sp. mistake) and three days at a beach approximately 2 1/2 to 3 hours outside of Habana. I would have preferred to have spent more time at the beach. The city was fine but everyone wants the American $ and they try to sell you anything to get it. The reason they want the American dollar is that they can refund it at the banks for the equivalent of 26 Cuban pesos for each dollar. Pretty lucrative and keeps the American dollars in the hands of the government. Nice incentive plan huh! The hotels encourage you to put your money in pesos but the dollar goes further in the shops and always ask for a discount which you usually get. If you use pesos I am not so sure. Even though the hotels tell you that the American dollar is equivalent to the peso I don't think it works the same in the shops, restaurants, etc. Shoes and a lot of clothing is quite inexpensive as are cosmetics. I love shoes and I had a field day, Italian being my favourite. Food is very expensive, though and other than the wonderful breakfast buffets that are extensive and usually come with your hotel room, any other meals were kind of blah! But then I am basically a vegetarian so ... The people are helpful and really wonderful. I wouldn't waste my money on the cabarets in Habana unless you really enjoy watching a bunch of women (a given -- very pretty with nice bodies) prance around hour after hour with little on and very little change in the choreography between performances. Just basically a change of costume. As well, the men's outfits leave little to the imagination, so if that is your bag ... I kept waiting for something more Vegas or Broadway or Moulin Rouge to occur but it remained pretty ho hum. But the resorts have entertainment too and where we stayed it ranged from mediocre to hilarious. The resort was not expensive but well appointed and the staff very friendly. But you want to stay at a resort that is on the beach. They kept the beach spotless as was the water, not polluted. They depend on tourism so they take very good care of their tourists at the expense of the Cuban people. Cuba has never been on my list of "travel-to's" but the opportunity came up so I went and thoroughly enjoyed it. A week is long enough unless you have lots of *bucks* to take some of the bus tours out to the countryside which is worth going at least once, as the countryside is so variable and lovely but the fares are fairly hefty for what you get! Habana also seemed to be a safe city to go out in at night, which we did. It's the Cuban people that made the trip especially memorable for me. They are having a rough go of it with their communist regime but there were a lot of smiles and they love to laugh. They are extremely talented musicians, singers, dancers, comedians, etc. and are well educated. They beebop back and forth amongts several languages in the blink of an eye at the resorts. They like to talk to Americans/Canadians/Europeans. Be aware though that mostly it is tour guides or hotel personnel who can talk to you. General Cuban interaction with outsiders is frowned on and can be dangerous for Cubans. I didn't have to worry about traveling there, but they understand about the problem with Estados Unidos. They don't stamp your passport. I am not recommending that you break the law but if you decide to go, I hope this helps you with your plans.


Brent

Nov 30, 1919, 12:00 AM

Post #4 of 5 (1930 views)

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Cuba anyone?

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2 daily flights from Cancun was about $100.00 Book in MX in advance for lowest fair.<p>When arriving in Havana, ask the customs/immigration official NOT to stamp your passport. They will oblige.<p>Yea, us gringos are not supposed to go to Cuba, but as the man said we are friends to the Chinese who have done us more harm than Cuba ever could.<p>I found Cuba safe and clean. Didn't have much tourist time, but people were friendly. Foreigners stay in a special area of Havana. There are some B and B type places run by families.


David

Nov 30, 1919, 12:00 AM

Post #5 of 5 (1928 views)

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Cuba anyone?

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Many Canadians visit Cuba and most have a very good time.<p>It's too bad that the US is captive to a small group of emigres, it recognises China but not Cuba?
 
 
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