Cuba Trip July 25 to Aug. 2 2017
Trip with wife and Godchild.
Bought tickets out 1 month from leaving on Delta from STL. $360 each plus need to buy the Cuban tourist card of $50 each. Purchasing the Cuban travel card was different this trip with Delta. I paid for the cards when I paid for the suitcases on departure. Had to pickup the cards at the gate in Atlanta on departure to Cuba. Flights on time, arrived in Cuba at 12:30 PM. Check thru immigration was speedy. You will need the travel card on entering AND leaving Cuba so don't loose it. When checking thru immigration you will check thru individually, NOT as a family. Exception is the children check thru with the man.
$30 taxi ride from the airport to Old Havana. You will need to pay with Cuban CUC. There is a money exchange at the arrival airport. This usually has a line. There is a "secondary" airport close with a money exchange also that never has a line. Just wave some dollars in front of your and say 'change" he will understand. I covered the money thing in the last Cuba report. American CC's are not accepted anywhere. I got an range from $92 to $1 for 1 CUC.
I will cover again the "casa particulares" These are individual bedrooms with baths rented in locals houses/apartments. Most are on upper floors with no elevator. Some do have elevators a few are on street level. Price ranges $20 to $100 a day. breakfast is $5 a day pp extra. You can shop and pay for these on airbnb.com.
I like the Plaza Veijo area. Many bars and restaurants( live music day and night), close to shopping ( cruise ship pier and Obispo Ave.). Food in Cuba has been a challenge for me. I feel it is not just that good BUT doable. My wife one night chose to cook in the apartment for me and the owning family. I was happy , they were happy.
I need to talk about taxis. The taxi drivers will "get" you on the fares. Reminds me of being in Colombia, Miami, New York, Chicago etc. Negotiate the fare BEFORE entering the taxi. Some kickback is the norm for taxis and other services/sales.
Did a trip to Hemingway museum ( $5 to enter, $1 to enter if you are Cuban which my wife was that day). $15 for the taxi going $5 for the taxi returning. This takes about an hour to tour and was interesting. In the parking lot there is a bar with live music.
Went to the bar next to the Havana Club museum a couple of times ( bar, live music).
This trip we went to a beach it is a half hour West of Havana. Bus leaves every hour from Central Park $5 for round trip ticket. When we got to the bus there were only 3 seats available so we decided to Taxi. $25 each way. This is a long stretch of beach that the locals and tourists go to. $12 for 2 chairs and 1 umbrella rental. There are many food and drink shacks. One kept it's beer in a freezer. $1.50 per beer. Food $2 to $6. At the end of the day the water was still blue but I changed to a lobster.
I wanted to go to Santiago de Cuba by plane and I knew it was going to be a last minute decision. Same day or next day intra island flights are impossible to book in that time frame. So decided to go to Vinales instead. $80 for Taxi one way , priced per taxi( 7 in the taxi). 2 hour ride. Probably could have taken a bus for less money but we wanted to arrive early, 9 AM. And have breakfast there. It is a small town with alot of world wide tourist. We found a casa particularest with 2 bedrooms with 2 beds, $25 a night per room, all these in the town are $25 a night. You will need to have your passport with you to stay in the room. Apparently in peak season these rooms are all sold out so reservations are a must. Did a tour in the afternoon to the prehistoric mural and one side of the indio caves. I think the cost was around $5 each for this and the taxi ride was $5 per taxi. We had dinner at one of the many restaurants on the main street. Cost about $6 to $10 a head. The next morning we did the tour for the other end of the caves, $5 enter fee plus the $5 taxi. This one at the halfway point you boarded a boat in the cave to finish the tour. NOTE the walkways and steps in the caves are wet so wear shoes accordingly. Out side of the exit was an open air restaurant. They had a special for $11 PP that had non alcohol drinks, bread, vegetables, potatoes , pork or chicken and desert, all you can eat. Was not charged for the children's food.
Needed to be out of our room at noon so stored our suitcases there and picked them up when leaving at 3 to go back to Havana.
This choice of an excursion was a pleasant surprise. The country part of Cuba was beautiful and clean. The stay in Vinales was nice as was the sight seeing.
This is a 3 day trip max as you will probably see all in 2 days.
On return to Havana, cleaned up and and went to a bar/restaurant a few blocks off Plaza Viejo on Calle Muralla called Oasis Nuevo a Creperia . You enter street level and take stairs to a second level. A Daiquiri Hemingway is $3 and big. Ordered several Tapas, $2 to $4 each sat in some comfortable chairs and listened to salsa music.
Leaving. Hard to say goodby again to some new friends. 30 minute ride to the airport, check-in was easy, immigration was easy, our flight never came up on the departure board but at least the departure gate info on our boarding flight was correct. Immigration thru ATL was easy, 2 passport scans and a green card scan and answer a few questions. Customs was not there.
ADVICE: Find a local that can take care of you and guide you. They will help you with places to see, dealing with the taxi drivers, money exchange, shopping areas, and how to do things. Well worth the price.