Go Back   English Forum Switzerland > Activities > Travel/day trips/free time
Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 02.08.2011, 16:21
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Wallisellen
Posts: 282
Groaned at 1 Time in 1 Post
Thanked 176 Times in 65 Posts
Libellula is considered knowledgeableLibellula is considered knowledgeableLibellula is considered knowledgeable
Cuba - Travel Tips Anyone?

Anyone out there travelled to Cuba?

I am thinking of going in December-January for 3 weeks and would love some travel tips. I am not interested in luxury hotels or the like as I would like to travel around the country and from what I heard it is quite a safe place so best is to rent rooms along the way, allowing more flexibility. A clean bed and warm shower is all I need!

What about transport? Public transport efficient enough? Worth considering? Or better rent a car?

Any places worth visiting? Places not worth visiting?

I am quite the adventurous type and have travelled a lot, alone and with friends. I would like to live the culture as much as possible, eat fish mingle with the people there, enjoy life around the sea and water sports etc

Any suggestions appreciated
__________________
Look for the happiness within...
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 02.08.2011, 16:29
KeinFranzösisch's Avatar
Forum Veteran
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Washington, DC
Posts: 2,212
Groaned at 64 Times in 39 Posts
Thanked 2,549 Times in 1,115 Posts
KeinFranzösisch has a reputation beyond reputeKeinFranzösisch has a reputation beyond reputeKeinFranzösisch has a reputation beyond reputeKeinFranzösisch has a reputation beyond reputeKeinFranzösisch has a reputation beyond reputeKeinFranzösisch has a reputation beyond repute
Re: Cuba - Travel Tips Anyone?

Quote:
View Post
Anyone out there travelled to Cuba?

I am thinking of going in December-January for 3 weeks and would love some travel tips. I am not interested in luxury hotels or the like as I would like to travel around the country and from what I heard it is quite a safe place so best is to rent rooms along the way, allowing more flexibility. A clean bed and warm shower is all I need!

What about transport? Public transport efficient enough? Worth considering? Or better rent a car?

Any places worth visiting? Places not worth visiting?

I am quite the adventurous type and have travelled a lot, alone and with friends. I would like to live the culture as much as possible, eat fish mingle with the people there, enjoy life around the sea and water sports etc

Any suggestions appreciated
do you like pork? do you enjoy lard? Then you'll love it. Other than that I don't have any suggestions as I have never been there. But I did live in Miami for a number of years, so I know something of the culture -- and especially of the food. Cuban food is the best stuff on the planet, right next to Thai.
Reply With Quote
This user would like to thank KeinFranzösisch for this useful post:
  #3  
Old 02.08.2011, 16:46
JanerMacP's Avatar
Forum Veteran
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Turgi, AG
Posts: 1,096
Groaned at 3 Times in 3 Posts
Thanked 788 Times in 425 Posts
JanerMacP has an excellent reputationJanerMacP has an excellent reputationJanerMacP has an excellent reputationJanerMacP has an excellent reputation
Not Cuba, but highly recommend Costs Rica at that time of the year. It's an amazing place, the food is delicious, the people are very friendly, it's easy to get around and cheap. You can stay for $4 USD a night if you are up for sleeping in a hammock. My hubby and I left after 2 weeks vowing to return in 2 years and open a B&B on the beach - we liked it that much. Wherever you decide to go, have fun!
Reply With Quote
This user would like to thank JanerMacP for this useful post:
  #4  
Old 02.08.2011, 17:05
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Wallisellen
Posts: 282
Groaned at 1 Time in 1 Post
Thanked 176 Times in 65 Posts
Libellula is considered knowledgeableLibellula is considered knowledgeableLibellula is considered knowledgeable
Re: Cuba - Travel Tips Anyone?

Wow....this all sounds great!!!! I will start planning ym trip and wait for further advcie from you.

Sleep in a hammock? That sounds ok to me

Keep the advcie coming please!! And THANK YOU!
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 02.08.2011, 17:24
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Wollerau
Posts: 49
Groaned at 1 Time in 1 Post
Thanked 24 Times in 16 Posts
iwork2travel has no particular reputation at present
Re: Cuba - Travel Tips Anyone?

I have been to Cuba many times...it is a great place and you will have a good time there. The Cubans are so nice and friendly.
Do you speak any spanish? If not ...then maybe you learn a little..it will make it easier for you. Very few Cubans speak English..and if you want to mingle with the locals then Spanish will definitely help.

Renting a car is really expensive and not really worth it...costs 60-100 US$ a day...maybe more because you are going in the high season.
There are Buses between all major cities. The bus is called "Viajul" and it is only for tourists (and for rich cubans who can afford it). Fare is around 20-50 $ depending on where you want to go. Public transport in the cities is not dependable...but you can take taxis and they are quite cheap.

You can stay in B&B rented by Cubans...you don't need any hotels. These B&B are called Casa Particulars and they can range from small tiny attic room to a huge Spanish colonial house...you can look for them on the Internet and reserve online...but do not pay anything till you arrive there. Cost around 20-30 US $ per night for a room.
I have quoted the price in US $ because it is 1:1 with the Cuban CUC.
Remember there are 2 currencies in Cuba - CUC - Convertible Pesos..which is used by tourists.
And the cubans are paid in Peso Cubano.
1CUC = 24 Cuban Pesos.

Never ever change money on the street...coz your Euros or CHF can be easily duped in to cuban pesos....
Also take Euros with you....you will get a better rate than CHF.

I would recommend - Havana - Pinar Del Rio - Cienfuegos - Trinidad- Santiago De Cuba.

Check out the Lonely Planet Thorn Tree Forum- Cuba thread for more information.
Reply With Quote
The following 2 users would like to thank iwork2travel for this useful post:
  #6  
Old 02.08.2011, 17:24
Assassin's Avatar
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Chasing clouds
Posts: 4,045
Groaned at 180 Times in 123 Posts
Thanked 11,560 Times in 3,148 Posts
Assassin has a reputation beyond reputeAssassin has a reputation beyond reputeAssassin has a reputation beyond reputeAssassin has a reputation beyond reputeAssassin has a reputation beyond reputeAssassin has a reputation beyond repute
Re: Cuba - Travel Tips Anyone?

Don't put too much validity in this to put you off or anything, but a friend of mine was over there earlier this year with her BF and they were robbed at knifepoint, either by the police or imposters in police uniforms on a regular road west of Havana. Passports, money and all their camera gear was taken. When they informed the "real police" about it, they weren't that interested in investigating the crime. She came back pretty shaken up by the whole experience. I know that this could happen anywhere, but you did ask....
Reply With Quote
This user would like to thank Assassin for this useful post:
  #7  
Old 02.08.2011, 17:43
KeinFranzösisch's Avatar
Forum Veteran
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Washington, DC
Posts: 2,212
Groaned at 64 Times in 39 Posts
Thanked 2,549 Times in 1,115 Posts
KeinFranzösisch has a reputation beyond reputeKeinFranzösisch has a reputation beyond reputeKeinFranzösisch has a reputation beyond reputeKeinFranzösisch has a reputation beyond reputeKeinFranzösisch has a reputation beyond reputeKeinFranzösisch has a reputation beyond repute
Re: Cuba - Travel Tips Anyone?

Quote:
View Post
Also take Euros with you....you will get a better rate than CHF.

Interesting thought. Even though the Euro is weakening, it may still be worth changing CHF to Euro and then Euro to target.

Hmmmmmmmm
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 02.08.2011, 17:53
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Lausanne
Posts: 117
Groaned at 2 Times in 2 Posts
Thanked 199 Times in 57 Posts
ShaysLou has earned the respect of manyShaysLou has earned the respect of manyShaysLou has earned the respect of many
Re: Cuba - Travel Tips Anyone?

Quote:
View Post
Don't put too much validity in this to put you off or anything, but a friend of mine was over there earlier this year with her BF and they were robbed at knifepoint, either by the police or imposters in police uniforms on a regular road west of Havana. Passports, money and all their camera gear was taken. When they informed the "real police" about it, they weren't that interested in investigating the crime. She came back pretty shaken up by the whole experience. I know that this could happen anywhere, but you did ask....
My friend was also robbed at knife point in Cuba. He has travelled there a few times and said it has changed somewhat over the last few years, especially the Cuban people's attitude to wealthy foreigners.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 02.08.2011, 17:55
Forum Veteran
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Lenk im Simmental
Posts: 1,121
Groaned at 104 Times in 63 Posts
Thanked 720 Times in 400 Posts
Keith66 has earned the respect of manyKeith66 has earned the respect of manyKeith66 has earned the respect of many
Re: Cuba - Travel Tips Anyone?

Whilst I agree with you that it is nice to go to these countries and see it for how it really is, do you realise that Cuban shops aren't really stocked up with food like our suoermarkets and by going there and emptying the shelves you not doing the Cuban people any favours.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 02.08.2011, 17:57
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Wallisellen
Posts: 282
Groaned at 1 Time in 1 Post
Thanked 176 Times in 65 Posts
Libellula is considered knowledgeableLibellula is considered knowledgeableLibellula is considered knowledgeable
Re: Cuba - Travel Tips Anyone?

And what about the duration of the stay? I can stay for a max of 3 weeks....but is this too much? I would like to travel around (maybe not around all the island because then it is stressful and not enough time to enjoy the places where one stops).

Also about these casa particulars, can I just go there and look for them or do I need to book them in advance?
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 02.08.2011, 18:18
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Lausanne
Posts: 117
Groaned at 2 Times in 2 Posts
Thanked 199 Times in 57 Posts
ShaysLou has earned the respect of manyShaysLou has earned the respect of manyShaysLou has earned the respect of many
Re: Cuba - Travel Tips Anyone?

Sorry, what I said wasn't particularly helpful. My friend who was robbed works for a travel website and knows central America and the Caribbean pretty well. He says it is as safe as your average holiday destination in that area. Years ago Cuba had a reputation for being safer than the rest, now it is simply as safe as the rest.
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 02.08.2011, 18:26
Village Idiot's Avatar
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Basel
Posts: 3,484
Groaned at 35 Times in 32 Posts
Thanked 6,551 Times in 2,099 Posts
Village Idiot has a reputation beyond reputeVillage Idiot has a reputation beyond reputeVillage Idiot has a reputation beyond reputeVillage Idiot has a reputation beyond reputeVillage Idiot has a reputation beyond reputeVillage Idiot has a reputation beyond repute
Re: Cuba - Travel Tips Anyone?

A few different points-of-view...

First, don't expect much of the food. The quality of the locally available products is not the same as what they get in Miami. My experience in Cuba was that the food was somewhat bland and monotonous, and the meat was generally tough.

Many people run small restaurants out of their homes, and the food here was generally much better.

If you're heading to the beach resorts, avoid all-inclusive meal packages like the plague. They're horrible.

In terms of money, I'd skip Euros and instead take US dollars. Officially, as a tourist you're supposed to be using convertible pesos, but in practice everyone takes greenbacks.

As others have pointed out, renting a car is not great. The roads are dangerous ('relaxed' standards of driving, often vehicles moving without lights, potholes, spotty availability of petrol) and it's much better to leave them to the locals. For in-town transport, taxis are cheap and plentiful; for longer distance there are internal flights or busses.

Three weeks isn't too long. If I had three weeks, I'd do a week in Havana, a week in Varadero (relaxing), and a week exploring.

You'll need to book your accomodation ahead of time. It's been a long time since I checked, but certainly in the past you had to have confirmed reservations (and a return flight ticket) to be allowed into the country. Now that tourism is a little more established, this might have changed, but worth checking just to be sure.

Overall, the country is very safe and crime against tourists is rare. The people are all very friendly and welcoming, and you should have a great trip.
Reply With Quote
The following 3 users would like to thank Village Idiot for this useful post:
  #13  
Old 02.08.2011, 18:54
planetali's Avatar
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Brighton
Posts: 246
Groaned at 0 Times in 0 Posts
Thanked 179 Times in 97 Posts
planetali is considered knowledgeableplanetali is considered knowledgeableplanetali is considered knowledgeable
Re: Cuba - Travel Tips Anyone?

Thanks everyone, including the OP for asking the question. I'm planning to go in November
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 02.08.2011, 18:56
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Wollerau
Posts: 49
Groaned at 1 Time in 1 Post
Thanked 24 Times in 16 Posts
iwork2travel has no particular reputation at present
Re: Cuba - Travel Tips Anyone?

Quote:
View Post
And what about the duration of the stay? I can stay for a max of 3 weeks....but is this too much? I would like to travel around (maybe not around all the island because then it is stressful and not enough time to enjoy the places where one stops).

Also about these casa particulars, can I just go there and look for them or do I need to book them in advance?
With the Cuban Tourist Card, You can stay in Cuba for 4 weeks and can extend it further for another 4 weeks total 2 months.

3 weeks are not too much...the beauty of Cuba is that you will fall in love with some town and you will want to stay there longer. In my case it was Trinidad..I have spent 4 months in Cuba this year....and all of it in just Trinidad. That's the most beautiful town for me.

Also remember to buy the Cuban tourist card before you leave. If you are flying with a Charter flight then some of them give it to you. But if you are flying with Air France then they don't sell on the plane and you have to show them that you already have it at the Airport. I always went from Germany and bought it at a Ltur Travel Agency Shop. You can check with Edelweiss Airlines, they fly to Varadero.

Also a tip for flights...via Germany you will get much better deals. Check out Ltur.de, Airberlin.de, condor.de.

I have been there 9 times....wandered around Havana during daytime with SLR Camera...spent late nights on Havana street..took non official taxis...nothing ever happened to me. I only carry a little cash in the evening and leave all my expensive camera's locked up in my bag in the room.

I would advise you to book Casa Particular for the first night in Havana (if you are flying to Havana)...if you going during Christmas or New Years time......the rest you don't need to...you can either get a recommendation from the casa owner or after arriving at the bus station you will get enough offers.

If you need any recommendation for Casa Particular in Havana and Trinidad, then PM me I shall send you some addresses.
Reply With Quote
This user would like to thank iwork2travel for this useful post:
  #15  
Old 02.08.2011, 19:03
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Wollerau
Posts: 49
Groaned at 1 Time in 1 Post
Thanked 24 Times in 16 Posts
iwork2travel has no particular reputation at present
Re: Cuba - Travel Tips Anyone?

Quote:
View Post
A few different points-of-view...

First, don't expect much of the food. The quality of the locally available products is not the same as what they get in Miami. My experience in Cuba was that the food was somewhat bland and monotonous, and the meat was generally tough.

Many people run small restaurants out of their homes, and the food here was generally much better.

If you're heading to the beach resorts, avoid all-inclusive meal packages like the plague. They're horrible.

In terms of money, I'd skip Euros and instead take US dollars. Officially, as a tourist you're supposed to be using convertible pesos, but in practice everyone takes greenbacks.

As others have pointed out, renting a car is not great. The roads are dangerous ('relaxed' standards of driving, often vehicles moving without lights, potholes, spotty availability of petrol) and it's much better to leave them to the locals. For in-town transport, taxis are cheap and plentiful; for longer distance there are internal flights or busses.

Three weeks isn't too long. If I had three weeks, I'd do a week in Havana, a week in Varadero (relaxing), and a week exploring.

You'll need to book your accomodation ahead of time. It's been a long time since I checked, but certainly in the past you had to have confirmed reservations (and a return flight ticket) to be allowed into the country. Now that tourism is a little more established, this might have changed, but worth checking just to be sure.

Overall, the country is very safe and crime against tourists is rare. The people are all very friendly and welcoming, and you should have a great trip.

Never ever take US Dollars. Now the best that you will get for 1 US Dollar is .89 Cuban CUC centavos. Because there is a penalty on it. No one takes US Dollars there...except for Banks.

While I was there I exchanged only Euros. And the calculation is quite strange in the bank. If you have Euros and the exchange rate is 1 Euro = 1.38 CUC then you will get 1.38 CUC...same for British Pound.

But if you have canadian Dollars or CHF then you will not get 1 CHF x 1.38 (whatever the rate is)....but much less. Certain Currencies they don't multiply.
I tried to ask the banker but he was not able to explain to me in words that I could understand.

Also now more and more Cubans are renting out their homes and recently the government has reduced the taxes on Casa Particulars...as a result there are more Casas available for Tourist.
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 02.08.2011, 19:15
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Wollerau
Posts: 49
Groaned at 1 Time in 1 Post
Thanked 24 Times in 16 Posts
iwork2travel has no particular reputation at present
Re: Cuba - Travel Tips Anyone?

Quote:
View Post
Whilst I agree with you that it is nice to go to these countries and see it for how it really is, do you realise that Cuban shops aren't really stocked up with food like our suoermarkets and by going there and emptying the shelves you not doing the Cuban people any favours.

An average Cuban person is not going to be affected by you buying anything from the supermarket. Actually there is not much that you can buy as a tourist anyway.

Also you may not support the communist government and might even not go there but it will affect more the normal Cuban people who are a little better ever since the island opened up for Tourism.
Tourism helps the government but it helps more the locals living there.

A Cuban Family renting a Room in their B&B have to pay 200 CUC (200 US $) to the government regardless of whether they have tourists or not.

If you stay in a Casa Particular then you pay around 20 -25 CUC per night. An average Casa needs to have tourists for at least 10 days to pay to the Government..which is not the case sometimes in low season.
The only money that they earn from the tourist really that goes to them is by offering breakfast and dinner.
Reply With Quote
This user would like to thank iwork2travel for this useful post:
  #17  
Old 02.08.2011, 19:19
Nil's Avatar
Nil Nil is offline
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Basel
Posts: 10,408
Groaned at 442 Times in 346 Posts
Thanked 16,045 Times in 6,322 Posts
Nil has a reputation beyond reputeNil has a reputation beyond reputeNil has a reputation beyond reputeNil has a reputation beyond reputeNil has a reputation beyond reputeNil has a reputation beyond repute
Re: Cuba - Travel Tips Anyone?

Quote:
View Post
do you like pork? do you enjoy lard? Then you'll love it. Other than that I don't have any suggestions as I have never been there. But I did live in Miami for a number of years, so I know something of the culture -- and especially of the food. Cuban food is the best stuff on the planet, right next to Thai.
We had our honeymoon there and we never been in a situation where it was all porc. Actually they have very very good food but be very careful to what you eat because if they wash veggies and fruits wit tap water you have a huge chance to have an attack of tourista.... The bed and the bathroom will be your only sightseen for a while.....
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 02.08.2011, 19:37
Village Idiot's Avatar
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Basel
Posts: 3,484
Groaned at 35 Times in 32 Posts
Thanked 6,551 Times in 2,099 Posts
Village Idiot has a reputation beyond reputeVillage Idiot has a reputation beyond reputeVillage Idiot has a reputation beyond reputeVillage Idiot has a reputation beyond reputeVillage Idiot has a reputation beyond reputeVillage Idiot has a reputation beyond repute
Re: Cuba - Travel Tips Anyone?

Quote:
View Post
Never ever take US Dollars. Now the best that you will get for 1 US Dollar is .89 Cuban CUC centavos. Because there is a penalty on it. No one takes US Dollars there...except for Banks.
This has definitely changed since I was last there, then (which is admittedly more than 10 years ago). It sounds like Euros are the way to go.
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 02.08.2011, 21:28
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Wollerau
Posts: 49
Groaned at 1 Time in 1 Post
Thanked 24 Times in 16 Posts
iwork2travel has no particular reputation at present
Re: Cuba - Travel Tips Anyone?

Quote:
View Post
We had our honeymoon there and we never been in a situation where it was all porc. Actually they have very very good food but be very careful to what you eat because if they wash veggies and fruits wit tap water you have a huge chance to have an attack of tourista.... The bed and the bathroom will be your only sightseen for a while.....
Thats true...bring with you all your possible medicines for Stomach upset..you are bound to have one.

Also suncream...clothes etc...there is not much that you get there except for Rum...Cigars and Beer.

If you like Sea food then you will have a good time. You can enjoy a meal with Lobster or shrimps for less than 10 $ in a B&B.
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old 03.08.2011, 15:54
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Wallisellen
Posts: 282
Groaned at 1 Time in 1 Post
Thanked 176 Times in 65 Posts
Libellula is considered knowledgeableLibellula is considered knowledgeableLibellula is considered knowledgeable
Re: Cuba - Travel Tips Anyone?

Guys, thank you so much for the information you are posting It is all so helpful especially with regards to currency to take along and places to stay at. I think it will be casa particulas for me because I also thibnk that it is a good way to meet the locals.

My spanish is not perfect but I can communicate most things through.

Someone told me about an organization called Servas and that I should consider it when looking for rooms to rent. Anyone of you heard of it? I tried to enter the website but there is a network error or something and I can't access it.
__________________
Look for the happiness within...
Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
cuba, holiday, travel




Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Air travel with toddler-tips? swiss_in_training Family matters/health 9 14.02.2010 22:59
Thailand: Asking for Travel Tips! expat_in_zug Travel/day trips/free time 14 05.02.2010 04:32
Travel around in Switzerland from Lausanne (tips and travel companions wanted) yli Travel/day trips/free time 1 01.07.2009 09:34
Rome - travel tips swissotter General off-topic 31 05.09.2008 16:40
Australia [travel tips sought] thundersinner General off-topic 12 06.12.2007 17:56


All times are GMT +2. The time now is 13:07.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.4
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
LinkBacks Enabled by vBSEO 3.1.0