Cuba - Journalist going to Cuba - advice?
Following a US Soccer team. What to expect?
May 27, 05, 2:58 pm
Bad food, beautiful women, good cigars, great rum. :)
I went to an away WC qualifier in Havana in early 2000. IIRC it was at the Estadio Pedro Marrero, not exactly a state of the art stadium. Prepare for toilets with no equipment (all taken) and consequently 3-4 inches of urine and water on the floor. :eek: Also as soon as the match finished all the lightbulbs were removed to prevent theft. Different but fun.
The good thing about Cuba is that it's much safer than any country or place in similar conditions. I would rather walk in Havana during the night than in Miami.
Music, cigars, rums, the spirit of the people are not a problem. If you don't feel happy in Cuba, there's something wrong with you ;-)
Food is the biggest problem. Don't go to the government restaurants. If you have local friends, pay them to make you food. Or find a nice paladar, a private restaurant. You can eat good food in Cuba but not the way you can in other places.
Forget the big hotels and Varadero. There are quite a few small hotels in Havana that are restored old spanish palaces. They're a bargain to stay at, highly recommended.
Tourist money is important to the locals so many people will try to sell you something. That can be annoying sometimes but be friendly, they'll leave you alone if you're not interested. Pick an odd country to say where you're from if they'll ask.
Try to have local contacts, they'll make a big difference. Visit places like Casa dela Musica. Visit the museums. Bring some extra toiletries and other daily items to give to the locals if you make friends.
Good advice from ojala. Yes Havana is fairly safe but don't switch off totally. A female colleague of mine was mugged in Old Havana.
If anyone needs a rec for a decent paladar PM me. It's not spectacular but I've eaten there 10-15 times and always found it basic but tasty. Maradona, Mandela and Naomi Campbell have all dined there whilst visiting the island so it's pretty decent by Cuban standards.