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Tourism in Cuba

Tourism in Cuba

Old Jul 2, 09, 10:37 pm
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Tourism in Cuba

My other thread was deleted because gathering info on a US citizen trying to get to Cuba is against the FT rules...oh, and US federal law.

I've heard it's an amazing place to see, mainly because the US hasn't yet ruined it. No Starbucks on the corner. No McDonalds. No Chilis. No KFC. None of the same crap you see in every foreign place you go.

So I wanted to ask those non-oppressed citizens of non-US countries who have holidayed in Cuba about their experiences. What did you like about it? What did you not like? Was it really worth the trip to see the less-touched (unspoiled and untouched just didn't fit) country of Cuba?


Edit:
From the State Department. I have to think that the below is a bit over the top. See if you can count the parallels between the Cuban gov't and the US gov't, especially if you replace the Cuban citizens below with US citizens, and the Americans with middle-eastern citizens. Interesting.
[CUBA] DESCRIPTION:
Cuba is a totalitarian police state which relies on repressive methods to maintain control. These methods, including intense physical and electronic surveillance of Cubans, are also extended to foreign travelers. Americans visiting Cuba should be aware that any encounter with a Cuban could be subject to surreptitious scrutiny by the Castro regime's secret police, the General Directorate for State Security (DGSE). Also, any interactions with average Cubans, regardless of how well intentioned the American may be, can subject that Cuban to harassment and/or detention, and other forms of repressive actions, by state security elements. The regime is strongly anti-American, yet desperate for U.S. dollars to prop itself up. The United States does not have full diplomatic relations with Cuba, but provides consular and other services through the U.S. Interests Section in Havana. The U.S. Interests Section operates under the legal protection of the Swiss government but is not co-located with the Swiss Embassy. Read the Department of State Background Notes on Cuba for additional information.

Last edited by oneant; Jul 2, 09 at 10:52 pm
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Old Jul 2, 09, 11:19 pm
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HMMMM... drop "Homeland Security" in the right places and you could let the Cuban Govt lift the statement in its entirety with respect to travel to the US.
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Old Jul 3, 09, 7:09 am
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Moving this thread over to the Regional Forum where all matters related to Cuba are located.

Thanks.


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Old Jul 3, 09, 12:34 pm
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Originally Posted by oneant View Post


I've heard it's an amazing place to see, mainly because the US hasn't yet ruined it. No Starbucks on the corner. No McDonalds. No Chilis. No KFC. None of the same crap you see in every foreign place you go.


Edit:
From the State Department. I have to think that the below is a bit over the top. See if you can count the parallels between the Cuban gov't and the US gov't, especially if you replace the Cuban citizens below with US citizens, and the Americans with middle-eastern citizens. Interesting.
Post sounds a bit anti-American.

Other countries can ban Starbucks if they want to.

Have you been to India? No Starbucks or McDonalds on every corner. Even a big city like Chennai has block after block of local businesses with no Starbucks. That is not to say they don't have any McDonald's, just not that many.

Want unspoilt? Go to Namibia. A travel reporter went to a small village where people said that they never heard of a place called the United States!

The State Department's description exactly matches East Germany. It doesn't take much imagination to think that the Cuban government is similar to the East German government.

There are so many places to go that Cuba is far, far down the list. There are plenty of warm islands. There are plenty of dictatorships. The only reason that I can see of going to Cuba is either if I had relatives there or had some particular interest in something Cuban, like the architecture or 1950's cars, etc.

Comparing Cuba to the US is rubbish. The US can be improved but is nothing like Cuba. In Cuba, there are restrictions, either formal or informal, on internet and cell phone use. Carry a political sign and get arrested. Even authoritative places, like Libya and Venezuela, are not as repressive as Cuba.
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Old Jul 4, 09, 7:09 am
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Originally Posted by A390 View Post
Even authoritative places, like Libya and Venezuela, are not as repressive as Cuba.
Alright, Libya is a dictatorship. But what makes Venezuela so different from the US in terms of civil liberties?
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Old Jul 4, 09, 2:23 pm
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Originally Posted by A390 View Post
Post sounds a bit anti-American.
I don't think it's anti-American to note that America has a huge wake. When they pass through, things change--sometimes dramatically.

For a country that thirsts for US dollars that US citizens are not allowed to give it through tourism, I see Cuba as a dry sponge. I'd want to see it before the tap opens.

As for my political commentary, the main difference I see between the two is that the US paints their actions in red, white, and blue to mask the true colors.
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Old Jul 9, 09, 11:51 pm
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Originally Posted by oneant View Post
I don't think it's anti-American to note that America has a huge wake. When they pass through, things change--sometimes dramatically.

For a country that thirsts for US dollars that US citizens are not allowed to give it through tourism, I see Cuba as a dry sponge. I'd want to see it before the tap opens.

As for my political commentary, the main difference I see between the two is that the US paints their actions in red, white, and blue to mask the true colors.
I too would love to visit Cuba before it changes, but please save your political commentary for OMNI/PR.
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Old Jul 10, 09, 7:30 pm
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Originally Posted by MatthewLAX View Post
I too would love to visit Cuba before it changes, but please save your political commentary for OMNI/PR.
My OP was moved from OMNI, actually.
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Old Jul 11, 09, 12:12 am
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Originally Posted by oneant View Post
My OP was moved from OMNI, actually.
Figures...

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Old Jul 12, 09, 2:23 am
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We have been to Cuba three times now ('01, '08, '09) and fourth trip is now planned for December.

Over the years the country has changed a lot, the friends who have been there more frequently say that it started 4-5 years ago. An educated guess would be their relationship with Venezuela (oil & co) and China. You see trains from Venezuela and the streets are populated with chinese and korean busses and cars. This year we saw our first Porsche and BMW's, Audi's and M-B's were already a daily sight last year. If you take a taxi, it's most likely to be more comfortable than in the US.

Obviously the common man isn't the one sitting in the Audi but back in '01 you had a lot of people offering you their services of various kinds. It was a struggle for surviving. In '08 one could walk pretty freely, even offers for cigars were rare. '09 it was even more so. In '01 the department store in Havanna was tourists, '08 it was locals. So things are getting better overall.

Anyway, my OH dances salsa so we haven't been there on ordinary tourist trips. We have plenty of cuban friends and a few couples with cuban OH's. Usually there has been dance courses with the local masters, a lot of contact with the locals, dance clubs, live performances, trips to the countryside, homeparties, etc. Cubans handle their issues with dance, rhum and cigars -- not a bad idea compared to the guns and suicides of western world. Despite the political issues people are friendly, happy, outgoing and very lovely in general. A kid learning to dance at early age sounds much better than the kid getting fat and playing his Playstation 3.

One thing you'll notice quite quickly that the people are well educated. One thing Cuba has done right is the education.

The old part of Havanna, Havanna Vieja, is such a beaty that you don't find similar in Northern America. A great deal of it has been restaured, there are several nice hotels around and overall it's a very beautiful place to walk around. The rest of Havanna is, well, a latin mess, but if you like to carry a camera you'll see endless photo opportunities. Something is always happening somewhere, the streets are people's living rooms.

I could say that one will see a lot of poverty, lack of health care and whatnot but I rather enjoy the people and place as they are and not how far they are from my home country. There are many countries that will shock you much more.

If one goes there with the attitude of going to a cheap, exploitable communist country -- don't, stay at home. Havanna and Cuba is a great place to visit with the right attitude.

I would highly recommend one visits the country before it gets spoiled. Unfortunately it is a very realistic risk. Not to mention that the immigration to Cuba is much more comfortable than to the US.. ;-)

PS. Our travels have been Havanna-centered so I'm not saying all of the country is in the same position nor that everyone has equally benefit from the aid from China, Venezuela and others. More political people obviously have more issues to deal with.
PPS. Americans are very easy to spot in Cuba so I'd try to avoid being a stereotype.
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Old Jul 13, 09, 10:08 pm
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The Caribbean cities that I have felt safest in have all been Cuban cities. Havana, Varadero, Holguin. Traveler safety record is impeccable. The type of crime or "danger" that a tourist is most commonly subjected to is being sold counterfeit cigars. It's a beautiful country and there is so much more to do than spend a week on a resort (and it's actually safe to do so).
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Old Jul 20, 09, 3:27 am
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Travelling by air to Cuba from Europe or Canada is easy and comfortable. There are dayly flights from MAD, CDG and LHR and as well some flights from DUS and FRA.

The immigration in HAV is quick and easy (for europeans as well as for US-citizens).

In Cuba you can pay with credit cards (except US like American Express or Citibank US) and you will find ATMs quite easily (in HAV). The value of the CUC (Cuban Convertible Peso) was increased by 8 % to the US $ making one convertible peso worth 1,08 US $. The best way is to change into CUC.


HAV offers a wide range of tourist accomodations as hotels etc. Very comfortable are as well the Casa Particulares. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casa_particular


Travelling in Cuba is safe but can be annoying as public transport has not an european standard. Renting a car (BMW, Audi, Fiat) makes your visit of the country more easy.

Getting in contact with Cubans is easy as more or less everybody speaks english. And of course spanish.

The population is educated and friendly and you cannot compare HAV with "latin mess" as mentioned above.

Cuba is worth a visit now and do not wait until you will see a Starbucks or McD on every corner. Every $ (or ) spend in a private business in Cuba is one buck against the Castro regime.
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Old Jul 20, 09, 3:33 am
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Originally Posted by A390 View Post
Post sounds a bit anti-American.

...


The State Department's description exactly matches East Germany. It doesn't take much imagination to think that the Cuban government is similar to the East German government.

There are so many places to go that Cuba is far, far down the list. There are plenty of warm islands.

East Germany? As far as I know there is no country with this name. There was a country called GDR but it is already gone. For nearly 20 years.


THere are so many places to go but Cuba is only some miles away from Key West.
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Old Jul 21, 09, 4:03 am
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Originally Posted by carpetbagger View Post
In Cuba you can pay with credit cards (except US like American Express or Citibank US) and you will find ATMs quite easily (in HAV). The value of the CUC (Cuban Convertible Peso) was increased by 8 % to the US $ making one convertible peso worth 1,08 US $. The best way is to change into CUC.
Just to confirm, you could not use an ATM to withdraw money from a US bank account, I presume?
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Old Jul 22, 09, 2:50 am
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Originally Posted by WillTravel View Post
Just to confirm, you could not use an ATM to withdraw money from a US bank account, I presume?

As I never tried to withdraw money from my US bank account (or with my AMEX) in Cuba I cannot confirm. But I have heard it is not possible.

To withdraw money from european or canadian bank accounts or credit cards is no problem.
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