wish list || HAVANA – CUBA

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CUBA has always been on the ‘to visit’ list ever since I arrived in North American in 1996. I think it is high-time I fulfill this desire to travel there. Who has been? What did you think about your visit? Do you have any tips to share?

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So there are hotels and then there are B&B’s called ‘Casa Particulars’. People are saying that the stay with a family is a better experience. These can be booked thru AirBnB.

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  • Likely one of the most iconic images for Havana these days – this place looks fun – La Guarida
  • Decameron – Very Cuban restaurant. Great food and a very special decoration.
  • Atelier – Restaurant in old colonial farm. Decorated with contemporary art, good music. Highly recommended.
  • La Catedral – Good food for less than 10 CUC, you can savor the authentic Cuban food. C / 8 e / Calzada and 5th
  • El Cocinero – This attached to the FAC (Cuban Art Factory) restaurant is one of the nicest places for a nice dinner on the terrace. They have a good menu and is an ideal place for a few drinks.
  • Camino al Sol – A place only for lunch. The pasta is home-made. A very tiny and special place. Street 3ra #363  B/ Paseo and  2, Vedado
  • Somas –  you have to walk up stairs to get to it, but don’t let the appearance of it fool you, the food is meant to be amazing and they have live music (by the way, be prepared to tip the musicians at every restaurant, they will come around with a hat to collect tips, it is basically expected)
  • This is a great list explaining the restaurant scene focused on ‘paladares’
  • Foodie Hub has a great list of places to check out too – see here.

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street music

Then there are all the place to visit for music and drinks too, one of the best things in Cuba is music:

  • Fabrica De Arte Cubano The most innovative and fashionable place in the city is very near 1861. The old factory has now become the cultural epicenter of the city.  Note: At the entrance they hand you a ticket where waiters recorded your drinks and you pay at departure – don’t lose your ticket. Everyone recommends the terrace!
  • El Palenque de la Rumba C/ 4 e/ 5ta y 7ma. (Vedado) Cultural center for enjoy “rumba” live music on Saturdays and Sundays. Good vibrations!
  • Submarino Amarillo. C/ 17 e/ 6 y 4. Close to John Lennon´s  Park you can find a cool place for live music (most of the bands play rock and pop)….Yellow Submarine is not only a Beatles song! 2 CUC entry… Very good atmosphere.
  • Maxim Rock. (Centro Habana) C / Bruzon # 62 e / Ayestaran and Almendares. In this concert hall you can enjoy the best punk, hard-rock and metal of Cuba.
  • Sloopy Joe’s – A classic 50’s vibe with good cocktails, reopened after more than half a century.
  • And for jazz, the club Jazz Cafe in el Centro Comercial Galería Paseo (opposite the Hotel Melia Cohiba) you can see the best Cuban jazz musicians, some of them are among the best jazz artists in the world.

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  • Callejon de Hammel (Centro Habana) – Ask any taxi driver direction. Usually on Sundays, from eleven. Worth seeing just it’s totally surreal !!
  • Rumba Palace, is a great place with great bands (not touristic)

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  • Casa Fuster – this ‘mind-boggling’ mosaic installation
  • Museo de Artes Decorativas: for antique lovers this museum is a must.
  • Casa de La Amistad (or Casa Baró-Lasa): this is one of the most impressive houses in the city and a history of very special love. Weekends have cultural programming in its amazing gardens.
  • Colon Cemetery: definitely a graveyard since 1868 has grown into a great museum majestic marble sculptures. It costs a 1 CUC entry. Main entrance at the end of Calle 12 and Calle Zapata.
  • El Bosque de La Habana.  Just across the Almendares River bridge you follow the bed of the river to the left and walk about 15 minutes to reach this small jungle in the middle of the city.
  • Never miss a performance by the Compania de Danza Retazos
  • Other interesting companies are Litz Alfonso C / 659 Compostela and / Luz and Acosta, Old Havana. Tel. (537) 866 3680 and 3689

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  • For art the Taller Experimental de Grafica located in the the Plaza de la Catedral is highly recommended.
  • Vintage lovers must visit THE GARAGE C/ 19 # 1409 e/ 26 y 28 Vedado Cel. 5 2702744
  • If you want some skin art – best studio in Cuba: LA MARCA.
  • Locally designed clothes visit CLANDESTINA (99% CUBANO)
  • It is worth visiting the craft market in La Avenida del Puerto

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There is so much information readily available these days on travel to CUBA, that you can get lost in the sea of data. Here are some sources for the information that I have shared above in no particular order:

Here is a list of some tour guide companies to consider:

For the Architectural buffs here are a few tips:

Additional tips and tricks will be added as we continue our research. FOR MORE click below. 

Some advice on the do’s & do not \\ 

  • Cubans shake hands when meeting someone or saying goodbye.
  • Blowing your nose in public is considered very offensive.
  • Don’t drink the water. Play it safe and avoid drinking from the tap while you’re in Cuba to keep from getting sick. Drink only beverages from factory-sealed containers, and avoid ice because it may have been made from unclean water.
  • Tipping 10% is the average for dining out, a day at the spa, or getting a haircut. Check bills carefully though, as many places may have already added in the 10% as a service fee. It’s best to tip in CUC.
  • Zika virus – Warm, humid climates invite lots of guests – and pests. You’ll want to be prepared and pack mosquito-repellent. Apply liberally.

Cash is KING \\

Nothing works as good as cold hard cash, so be prepared to have plenty on hand.

  • Cash is the preferred way to pay for most purchases throughout Cuba.
  • It’s recommended that you bring enough cash (USD) to cover your entire time there (bills only, none of those pesky coins).
  • Once you land, you can exchange any cash at a Cadeca (Money Exchange Bureau) in the airport or at your hotel.

Weather in Havana \\

The weather in Cuba is tropical so, generally, expect it to be hot, hot, hot. Mostly south of the Tropic of Cancer, the island is all about warm breezes and humid temperatures:

  • May to October is considered the rainy season.
  • November to April is considered the dry season.
  • Average year-round temperature is between 62°F and 95°F
  • The average temp in January is 69.8°F.
  • The average temp in July is 80.6°F.

Cellphones & Wifi \\ 

OK here is the deal – Check with your carrier for the latest costs … but so far my research say it is REALLY expensive .. but for emergencies it is accessible. This article talks about the Data part – here & this article here are good sources of info.

In short to access data / wifi it is either a pain in the a@*! or expensive, here are the options:
  • Go to an internet cafe and pay to get access on one of their computers.
  • Access at a hotel by also paying for set period of time – but you need to use their old computers to get to the WWW.
  • Buy a card to access wifi in government designated areas.
  • OR hope that you have enough bandwidth and pay the high costs as outlined below per MB
AT&T – [read more] 
  • Starting on October 18, 2016, AT&T has you covered in Cuba.
  • Nothing to add or change with your plan. Just talk, text, and use data with your own phone and number

SPRINT – [read more] 

  • Sprint (NYSE: S) offers the most affordable calling option for customers. 
  • Available now, voice calls when roaming in Cuba are $2.49 per minute. 
  • Data on the island is $1.99 per megabyte, 
  • and SMS text messaging is 50 cents to send and free to receive.
  • Nov 23, 2015
VERIZON – [read more]
  • The process is simple.
  • Customers using a World Device who are traveling to Cuba can opt-in to add the Pay-As-You-Go International Travel option.
  • While in Cuba, voice calls are $2.99 per minute,
  • data is $2.05 per megabyte and standard international messaging rates apply.
  • This allows customers the ability to stay connected while in Cuba.
T-MOBILE – [read more] 
  • T-Mobile customers can now talk for $2.00 a minute,
  • send text and multimedia messages for $0.50 per message and receive them for free,
  • and use data for $2.00 per MB while roaming in Cuba.
  • And, as always with the Un-carrier, calling back to the US is completely free with Wi-Fi calling.

 

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2 responses to wish list || HAVANA – CUBA

  1. Marie

    Hi. I just returned from Cuba (Havana and Trinidad). I have a couple of comments especially for Americans. 1. Be aware that two US carriers (Southwest and United) fly into/out of an old terminal in Havana, not the newer international terminal. My Southwest itinerary made no mention of this and I went to the incorrect terminal and sat for a long time waiting for the flight to be posted. 2) If you can, take Euros instead of dollars. The exchange rate is better and you don’t have to pay a 10% change fee. 3) When I departed Havana, the airport was no longer collecting the CUC 25 airport tax that many guide books mention. I don’t know if that is a permanent change. 4) Important note if you plan to bring duty free liquids out of Cuba. I had to change terminals in Florida (Fort Lauderdale) after going through customs. TSA would not let me bring my duty free rum through security because the receipt did not have a date on it and was not in English. I purchased the rum just before my departure at a duty free shop in the old Havana terminal. 6) My group stayed at the Hotel Inglaterra. Great location but I don’t recommend it. 7) If you are a vegetarian, you will have a hard time in Cuba. 8) Don’t expect much of Cuba and Havana to look pitures in guidebooks. As one person in my group said, “Havana is the most beautiful slum I have ever loved.” 9) The Cuban people are some of the nicest I have ever encountered.

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