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Cuba Trip report July 25 to Aug 3 2017 #137106
08/02/2017 06:05 PM
08/02/2017 06:05 PM
Joined: Nov 2002
Posts: 7,126
SXMWendell Offline OP
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SXMWendell  Offline OP
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Posts: 7,126
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.

Wendell

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Re: Cuba Trip report July 25 to Aug 3 2017 [Re: SXMWendell] #137107
08/03/2017 07:09 AM
08/03/2017 07:09 AM
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 66,618
Central Florida!
Carol_Hill Offline
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Carol_Hill  Offline
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Central Florida!
So Wendell, have you found your new vacation spot? Interesting report! How did you compare the beach with other beaches in the Caribbean that you have been to?


Carol Hill
Re: Cuba Trip report July 25 to Aug 3 2017 [Re: Carol_Hill] #137108
08/03/2017 05:03 PM
08/03/2017 05:03 PM
Joined: Nov 2002
Posts: 7,126
SXMWendell Offline OP
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SXMWendell  Offline OP
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It is premature if I have a new vacation spot but am looking. The beach was about 2 miles long, white sand, blue water with small waves. There were alot of people but were spread out. So a quiet place could be found or a place where alot of action was going on ( water sports). Kinda reminded me of Orient in the late '90's. If you are wanting just blue water with a white sand beach at a reasonable price the Santa Maria beach will work. Across the main highway from the beach area there is a nice 6 bedroom house that can be rented for $100 a night.

Wendell

Re: Cuba Trip report July 25 to Aug 3 2017 [Re: SXMWendell] #137109
08/03/2017 06:45 PM
08/03/2017 06:45 PM
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 66,618
Central Florida!
Carol_Hill Offline
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Carol_Hill  Offline
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Central Florida!
OK, maybe we'll rent that house together and I'll come along with you as my tourist guide!!


Carol Hill
Re: Cuba Trip report July 25 to Aug 3 2017 [Re: Carol_Hill] #137110
08/04/2017 01:56 PM
08/04/2017 01:56 PM
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 2,351
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irina Offline
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irina  Offline
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Wendell,
Where is the beach? Varadero? I thought that was farther from Habana. I have pics of my mom on Varadero. Heard it was beautiful. Lot's of Melia and Sol hotels.
Sound like you had a lovely time.
Cheers
irina

Re: Cuba Trip report July 25 to Aug 3 2017 [Re: irina] #137111
08/04/2017 06:53 PM
08/04/2017 06:53 PM
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Posts: 7,126
SXMWendell Offline OP
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SXMWendell  Offline OP
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Irina
This beach is way before Varadero, it was about a half hour from Parque Central but on the same road as going to Varadero area.


Santa Maria beach Cuba

Wendell

Re: Cuba Trip report July 25 to Aug 3 2017 [Re: SXMWendell] #137112
08/05/2017 12:00 PM
08/05/2017 12:00 PM
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irina Offline
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irina  Offline
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Thanks Wendell. Link didn't work but I can look it up.
Cheer
irina

Re: Cuba Trip report July 25 to Aug 3 2017 [Re: SXMWendell] #137113
08/10/2017 05:56 PM
08/10/2017 05:56 PM
Joined: Mar 2004
Posts: 3,699
Vancouver, WA
Todd Offline
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Todd  Offline
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Will be there in less than 24 hours, hope to see a spot or two from your reports.
Cheers,
Todd

Re: Cuba Trip report July 25 to Aug 3 2017 [Re: Todd] #137114
08/10/2017 09:14 PM
08/10/2017 09:14 PM
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 66,618
Central Florida!
Carol_Hill Offline
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Carol_Hill  Offline
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Central Florida!
Todd--would really appreciate hearing about your trip upon your return!


Carol Hill
Re: Cuba Trip report July 25 to Aug 3 2017 [Re: Carol_Hill] #137115
08/11/2017 09:47 AM
08/11/2017 09:47 AM
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irina Offline
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irina  Offline
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Hey Todd,

Our address in Habana was:
Soledad 25
(corner of Soledad & San Lazaro)
Building name:
Edifio Solimar
We had Penthouse Apt.
Dr. San Juan
Just in case you walk by.
Cheers
irina

Re: Cuba Trip report July 25 to Aug 3 2017 [Re: SXMWendell] #137116
08/13/2017 05:02 PM
08/13/2017 05:02 PM
Joined: Nov 2002
Posts: 7,126
SXMWendell Offline OP
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SXMWendell  Offline OP
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Re: Cuba Trip report July 25 to Aug 3 2017 [Re: SXMWendell] #137117
08/13/2017 06:31 PM
08/13/2017 06:31 PM
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 66,618
Central Florida!
Carol_Hill Offline
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Carol_Hill  Offline
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Central Florida!
Hi Wendell. When I click on the pictures, it wants me to sign in to some Google account, which I don't have. ????


Carol Hill
Re: Cuba Trip report July 25 to Aug 3 2017 [Re: Carol_Hill] #137118
08/14/2017 06:34 PM
08/14/2017 06:34 PM
Joined: Nov 2002
Posts: 7,126
SXMWendell Offline OP
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SXMWendell  Offline OP
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Let's try this. This is direct to my website. No log in or personal information needed. BUT, If I remember from last time not all web browsers could see the pictures. Eric had me change something so all could see. But I don't remember what it was.

Santa Maria Beach Cuba Sept 2017

Cave in Vinales Cuba September 2017

A farm in Vinales Cuba September 2017

Vinales Cuba September 2017 prehistoric murial

Wendell

Re: Cuba Trip report July 25 to Aug 3 2017 [Re: SXMWendell] #137119
08/14/2017 07:40 PM
08/14/2017 07:40 PM
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 66,618
Central Florida!
Carol_Hill Offline
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Carol_Hill  Offline
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Central Florida!
Wendell--I was able to see those pictures. Thanks!


Carol Hill
Re: Cuba Trip report July 25 to Aug 3 2017 [Re: Carol_Hill] #137120
08/16/2017 10:22 AM
08/16/2017 10:22 AM
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 2,351
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irina Offline
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irina  Offline
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Lovely Thanks!
Cheers
irina


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