The Ultimate Visiting Cuba Thread.


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Ok,

the last of my Cuba trip reports - paradise and misery lie close by in Bay of Pigs.

http://www.flyingcigar.de/travel_cigars/2012_04_cuba_caleta_buena_and_charcoal.php

Just past the invasion museum in Playa Giron and all the revolutionary slogans you may watch swamp folks making charcoal for a living earning a pittance.

15 minutes later you swim among fish inside a cave in a salt water basin ....

It's Cuba !

Nino

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Here's a recent list of rollers that was put together. See credits below. Roller || Address || Notes Alejandro Gonzalez Arias || Hotel Comodoro Cigar Shop at 3ra Ave. & Calle 84, Playa || Repl

Here is a post from TA I did in response to a guy that had the same question. I talked to him after and the big key is to take a duffle or backpack so you can bypass the baggage wait and you will only

If you are staying at a casa, call them and ask them if there is anything in particular they need. Also you can't go wrong with basic necessities like toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap, shampoo, clothes

  • 2 weeks later...

Just realized I never came back to this thread after my trip. Here goes...

1. Your favourite Hotel (nominate the city it is in)

The only hotel I've stayed at in Cuba was the Nacional (in Havana, duh) for one night. We told the staff it was our honeymoon and they upgraded us at no charge to a suite on the top floor overlooking the malecon. This was a lovely gesture, but I will always stay in a casa over a hotel. Compared to a casa, the hotel was expensive and touristy.

2. Your favourite Casa Particular

I have stayed in two: 5 nights with Alberto and Melba in Centro Habana, and 1 night at Casa Ariel in Vinales. I would have to say Alberto and Melba win for the view alone. Both were nice though.

3. Your favourite Place for breakfast

Casas! Both casas we stayed at had amazing breakfast. The freshest fruit, juice, eggs, coffee, etc. you've ever had for 5 CUC! Tasty, inexpensive, and convenient.

4 Your favourite Paladar or Govt restaurant for lunch

Paladar Santa Barbara on Calle M between 15th and 17th in Vedado. My wife and I went there on our first night in Havana. We fell in love and came back two more times. We enjoyed everything we had -- ropa vieja, chef's special (ham, chicken, steak, and pork), pollo asado, but this place has BY FAR the best lobster I have ever eaten. It's simply cooked in butter and garlic, it's very tender (I hate chewy seafood), and it's 16 CUC. Not bad! My wife had lobster for all 3 visits and she mentions how we have to go back to Cuba so she can eat lobster again. No joke!

Try the mojitos and daiquiris (very refreshing). The service is also excellent here.

5. Your favourite Paladar or Govt restaurant for dinner

Santa Barbara (see above)

6. Your favourite Bars

none

7. Your favourite Nightclub (anything before midnight doesn't count!).

The only one we hit was Don Cangreja in Miramar. We saw David Blanco perform here and it was awesome! There was great music, reasonable drink prices, open air, and the waves crashing on the sea wall at your back. Great!

8. Favourite places to purchase cigars

LCDH 5th and 16th. I don't have any complaints about the other shops I visited, but this one just seems a little less catered to the casual tourist stumbling in to buy a Cuban cigar. There were a lot of shops in Havana I wanted to see and didn't, so we need to go back soon.

9. Favourite place to enjoy cigars

Cayo Jutias - it's a beach in Pinar del Rio province about 22 miles / 35 km northwest of Vinales. Utter relaxation!

10. Must sees during a stay.

El Laguito, if you can get in.

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  • 1 month later...

A highly interesting tour d' horizon on Cuba by renowned travel writer Christopher P. Baker for the

National Geographic Society - provides a deep insight into the heart and spirit ( as well as politics and religion ) of Cuba and should be of interest to anyone travelling there or passionate about the island.

It's a live lecture for an audience plus a slide show :

Nino

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Hi guys, this is adding to the thread, hopefully not doubling up on information above and I hope will be useful to you.

I went to Cuba with a buddy recently. We loved it, the weather was perfect, food was good, cheap and plentiful. There were also some nice surprises with the range, price and quality of rum! And of course the cigars at the best pricing seen anywhere.

What we learned – advice is general but might suit Aussies more specifically. Learn Spanish. Really. Even a little will be an advantage to everything you do and it will greatly improve your understanding of everything. It also puts any scammers on the back foot when they are not sure how much you understand.

We flew MEL – LAX – MEX – HAV. This worked out the cheapest when I booked and paid for each leg separately. You can get a one-price flights deal if you simply search for MEL –HAV but I found these were more expensive, some of them $2000 more than what we paid.

We took a couple of days in LA to have a look around and break the trip closer to the time zone Cuba is in. It would be ideal to be able to fly MEL – MEX – HAV to simplify and avoid the USA, but a quick look on the web shows this to be more expensive.

To me there is little sense taking on the stress of going via LAX where your cigars might be confiscated. We found the government staff at LAX were great on the way into the USA but noticeably curt and officious as we were going through security when leaving. Travel information that I have read says that the USA is conscious they have an image problem which is suspected in resulting in lower visitor levels than other destinations in the world. The international traveller market is very competitive. In starting to address this perhaps US Agencies have moved their “less customer focussed” people to the departure side.??

MEX airport is modern and efficient. I have to admit to being wary of flying via MEX as I imagined it chaotic and crowded. Wrong. The airport has great facilities and the staff from both the government and airlines were knowledgeable, pleasant and helpful. It was a pleasure to transit there even though we were cutting it fine with just 2 hours between flights landing and taking off including a change of terminal and airline. (Cubana to AeroMexico) Given the reputation of Cubana I would recommend allowing more transit time in MEX.

Casa recommendations: PM me for casa recommendations in Vinales, Trinidad and on the coast near the entrance to Cienfuegos harbour. We also found a terrific guide/driver with newish Skoda, small car but fine for 2 passengers with luggage.

Cigar shops during our visit, a quick rundown:

Parque Central – LCDH has reasonable range and seemed to have more stocks of small cigars compared to others in town – only store to have a lone box of RASCC

Partagas – the LCDH is open while the factory has moved during the renovations. Pretty standard range of Montes, Cohibas and R&J, nothing rare or unusual that I could see but I did not press the staff, it was quite busy all the time. Good range of ashtrays and novelties plus humidors which seemed a bit more expensive than other places.

La Corona – don’t bother, too many tour buses pull in here and we found the worst fake sellers on the street – one was so persistent he had to be told in strong Aussie language to go forth and multiply which is certainly not what we like to do but this guy was ridiculous. Every other cigar hustler would go away when told no thanks. We did have to go into the shop to buy tickets for the factory tour, that is all I would recommend you do there. Factory tour was great.

Club Habana – good range, good knowledge of cigars and even had stock of PL Panatelas.!!

Cigar shop opposite the cigar factory in the town of Pinar del Rio – had heard this was good but there were lots of bare shelves, a reasonable range, but it was less than brilliant. The shop at the cigar factory was actually ok.

We found the pricing to be the same or very very close everywhere you go. Likewise the rum whether you were in a bar in the countryside or in central Havana the pricing stayed the same.

Enjoy your trip!!

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  • 4 weeks later...

Great post, nino. The lack of dialogue and Phillip Glass gave it a "Koyaanisqatsi" feel. Thanks for sharing!

Yes, it did! Thank you, Nino. This little movie made my morning. The rest of your posts are gems as well!

My pleasure !

If you liked that video you might like this quiet German documentary ( Spanish w. Engl. subtitles ) on the crumbling houses of Havana that is morbidly poetic and excellently well made.

It gives deep & sad insights into Cuban reality with lots of love and respect for the people.

Comes in 6 parts a 15 minutes - Part 2 might not work ( at least in Germany it won't ).

Habana - Arte Nuevo de hacer Ruinas / Havana - The New Art of Making Ruins

by Florian Borchmeyer and Matthias Hentschler

Part 2 might not be shown ( in Germany due to music copyright issues ).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jkA3lw5plks&feature=player_embedded#!

http://www.youtube.c...h?v=-kfRAlyYQSU

http://www.youtube.c...&feature=relmfu

http://www.youtube.c...&feature=relmfu

http://www.youtube.c...&feature=relmfu

http://www.youtube.c...&feature=relmfu

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  • 1 month later...

Hi everyone,

Driver / Guide recommendation:

On a trip to Cuba in March / April we were lucky to find Leo in Havana and he was our driver for trips to Vinales and Cienfuegos. He has a fairly new Skoda which is fine for 2 people and luggage. He speaks Spanish, French and English, is very knowledgeable, honest and helpful. Like many people in Cuba he is moonlighting as guide/taxi driver. His day job is as an anaesthetist!! I recommend him if you are in Havana and need a good driver.

More info on his website

http://www.leonardo.sitew.com

Have a great trip! I would go back in a flash :thumbsup:

Just noticed I have been a forum member for 4 years now. Viva FoH :perfect10:

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Last week I finished re-reading this very interesting travel book published 10 years ago - I enjoyed it very, very much again, the insights into Cuba, the people, the system and the political situation are excellent and still, regrettably, very valid.

I can only recommend it ( if it's still available ... )

Ay, Cuba !

A socio-erotic Journey by Andrei Codrescu

ISBN : 0-312-19831-0

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  • 4 months later...
Are there any good places to buy cigars between 9:00pm and midnight?

Not sure if I have to bring cigars for my first evening in Cuba.

You can always get your late night cigar and a good meal at El Aljibe. They have a nicely stocked cigar shop with plenty of singles available. Some Casas have later hours but I can't remember. Maybe Melia Cohiba on some nights.

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  • 1 month later...

Havana - Visit To The Jose Marti Memorial

Another of those places in Havana, like the Colon necropolis, that I have passed by numerous times but had never visited before.
Honey, our Cuban family friend, had a day off from medical university and offered to guide me.

A nice walk in the shade by the main artery leading to the Plaza de la Revolucion from the Vedado neighbourhood I was staying and half an hour later we were standing in the shade of this imposing monument built in the 50's for the Cuban national hero.

http://flyingcigar.de/startseite/havana-visit-to-the-jose-marti-memorial/

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