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The best of Cuba... what to see

Havana

The best place on the island for your clients to enjoy the full Cuban experience is the capital city.  Within Havana is the 300 block city center known as Old Havana. Considered a World Heritage site, Old Havana has universal appeal, with its beautiful architecture, narrow streets, and historic forts and of course, vintage cars.  The best way for them to see Old Havana is on foot with organized walking tours.  Some of the favorite sites to see in Havana and Old Havana include:

     o  Plaza de la Catedral – is one of the five main squares in Old Havana and is the site of the Cathedral of Havana.

     o  Museo des Bellas Artes – is the National Museum of Fine Arts and is exclusively dedicated to housing Cuba Art collections.

     o  Museo de la Revolucion – was the headquarters of the Cuban government for 40 years. It contains a rich exhibit that covers the rise of      

          the Cuban nation.

     o  El Malecon – is a two mile promenade that runs along most of the Havana Harbor.

     o  Palacio de los Capitanes – was the former residence of the earlier Spanish Governors.  This baroque style building is one of Havana’s

          finest.

     o  Plaza de Armas – is the social hub of the city for more than five centuries with cafes and restaurants lining its perimeter.

     o  Floridita bar – is actually a historic fish restaurant with a cocktail bar like no other.

     o  Christopher Columbus cemetery – is noted for its many elaborate mausoleums.

     o  The Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry – originally established as a means of educating the people of Cuba, is now

          dedicated to the improvement of artistic expression.

 

Las Terrazas – the village of Las Terrazas dates back to the reforestation project of 1968. Today, it is an Unesco Biosphere Reserve.  In its picturesque whitewashed village, there is a vibrant art community, as well as Café Maria, where Cuba’s best coffee is served.  But the region’s biggest attraction is its verdant natural surroundings, which provides lots of outdoor activities.  

 

Finca Vigia – was the home of Ernest Hemmingway and is now a museum. It’s about a 25 mile drive from Havana that takes you on a scenic drive through a few small villages.  It was in Finca Vigia that he wrote For Whom the Bells Tolls and The Old Man and the Sea.  

 

District of Alamar – is a district in the east part of the city of La Habana.  It is primarily prefabrication construction and is a return in time to the era of Soviet-style architecture.

 

Cojimar – a small fishing village east of Havana that was the inspiration for Ernest Hemmingway’s The Old Man and the Sea.

 

Valley of Vinales – a World Heritage Site of striking scenic beauty with its towering outcroppings and lush farmland.  It is said to be Fidel Castro’s favorite place in Cuba where the farmers grow the best tobacco in the world.

 

Engaging Cuba – the best interactive experiences

 

•      Pinar del Rio and the Francisco Donatien Cigar Factory – a unique opportunity to see firsthand the process of making world class

       cigars. The building was originally an antique prison that was transformed to a cigar factory in the 1960’s. Today, you can stand within a

       yard of the workers as they roll these famous cigars.

 

•      Muraleandro – started as a community art project in a Havana barrio. The murals depict celebrations of Cuban life where visitors can  

      engage the local artists.  

 

•      Lester Campa – is a resident political art living in the community of Las Terrazas.  His art studio welcomes visitors, if he is in residence.  

 

•      Fusterlandia is a vibrant art complex named after its chief creative force, Jose Fuster who is recognized as one of Cuba’s iconic artists.  

What to do...

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•      Currency – The Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC) was introduced to eliminate other foreign currency and is considered Cuba’s “tourist”

       currency.  It is a closed currency, which means it cannot be purchased outside of Cuba.  Dollars are not accepted and a 10% commission

       is charged to exchange them.  Dollars can be exchanged at the Cadeca, (Money Exchange Bureau) in the airport or at your hotel.

 

•      Credit Cards – This is a changing environment and many credit card companies are reviewing regulatory and financial rules to  

       determine their acceptance in Cuba.  At the present time NO credit cards issued by US banks are accepted in Cuba.

 

•       Passport - Your clients will need a passport that is valid 6 months after their travel date.

 

•       Immunizations - While immunizations are not required to enter Cuba, your clients may want to consider getting a tetanus and

        hepatitis B immunizations.

 

•       Travel insurance – Cuban travel insurance covering medical and re-patriation expenses only (required by the Cuban government)

 

•       Proper packing – advise your clients that pharmacies and convenience stores are far and few so packing the essentials is imperative.  

 

•       Power Conversion – all of the outlets in Cuba, including hotels, use two pronged 220 V outlets.

 

•       Internet access - when available, is slow and runs about $6 to $8 per hour.  Skype is also generally available but again the access may

        be limited.  

 

•        Telephone calls - All telecommunication in Cuba is expensive.  The best option is to purchase a pre-paid phone card.  For those

         bringing their smart phones to Cuba, the best option is to keep their phones on airplane mode to prevent their phones from picking up

         3G signals.  This is especially true of IPhones.  These roaming charges are costly.  As a general rule, roaming works great for texting but

         is very costly for voice calls and data access.  International calls can be placed from hotels at a rate of roughly $2.50 per minute.

 

Know before you go...

When to go...

Cuba enjoys a subtropical climate that has two distinct seasons.  But because of its mild climate, Cuba can be enjoyed all year.  However, the heavier rainy period runs from May through October and the dryer season generally occurs from November through April.  From December through February, the weather can be cool enough that a sweater or light jacket may be necessary in the evenings.

How to get there...

Even though Cuba is now on the map as a premier tourist destination, there are pieces of information that are important to understand before taking your clients.  

 

Americans can only travel to Cuba if they are eligible for one of the 12 licenses offered under the Treasury Department’s new rules, which include terms for family, business, religious, educational or humanitarian purposes.   This means that while an American citizen could check the right box and sign the affidavit to receive US permission, if that traveler decides to lay on the beach instead of following their assigned travel purpose, then that traveler has technically broken the law.  Some of these categories have fairly specific definitions, but other more general categories allow tourism to grow in Cuba under other names.  This is “people to people” travel.

 

Vaya Sojourns | TransnicoUSA has been offering “people to people” tours for nearly five years.  We know the rules, we know what questions to ask and we understand how to maneuver the nuances of this changing environment.  

“And then many things became very clear... we learned perfectly that the life of a single human being is worth millions of times more than all the property of the richest man on earth.”  

Che Guevarra

Vaya Sojourns & TransnicoUSA are authorized by

the U.S. Treasury Department, under a General License,

to conduct people-to-people travel programs in Cuba.

Vaya Sojourns & TransnicoUSA are authorized by

the U.S. Treasury Department, under a General License,

to conduct people-to-people travel programs in Cuba.

Vaya Sojourns & TransnicoUSA are authorized by

the U.S. Treasury Department, under a General License,

to conduct people-to-people travel programs in Cuba.

Vaya Sojourns & TransnicoUSA are authorized by

the U.S. Treasury Department, under a General License,

to conduct people-to-people travel programs in Cuba.

Vaya Sojourns & TransnicoUSA are authorized by

the U.S. Treasury Department, under a General License,

to conduct people-to-people travel programs in Cuba.

Vaya Sojourns & TransnicoUSA are authorized by

the U.S. Treasury Department, under a General License,

to conduct people-to-people travel programs in Cuba.

Vaya Sojourns & TransnicoUSA are authorized by

the U.S. Treasury Department, under a General License,

to conduct people-to-people travel programs in Cuba.

Vaya Sojourns & TransnicoUSA are authorized by

the U.S. Treasury Department, under a General License,

to conduct people-to-people travel programs in Cuba.

Vaya Sojourns & TransnicoUSA are authorized by

the U.S. Treasury Department, under a General License,

to conduct people-to-people travel programs in Cuba.

Vaya Sojourns & TransnicoUSA are authorized by

the U.S. Treasury Department, under a General License,

to conduct people-to-people travel programs in Cuba.