Author Topic: 36 Hours In Havana, Cuba  (Read 825 times)

Offline Yuey

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36 Hours In Havana, Cuba
« on: November 05, 2019, 10:51:38 PM »
Quick 36 hour trip to Havana

Visiting Cuba is like walking into a 1950s time warp, but not exactly the glamour we see in the movies. We wanted to visit Cuba while it’s still open to US Citizens and there are easy direct flights. The Obama administration loosened the restrictions and open up limited travel, but there are still severe restrictions and the Trump administration is seriously tightening them. Before you plan a trip make sure to check the check with US Department of State for travel restrictions and business that you are not legally allowed to patronize in Cuba (there are over 80 hotels that we can’t stay in).
Good reference:
http://www.viahero.com/travel-to-cuba/new-cuba-travel-policy-updates

US Department of State issued a travel advisory “Exercise increased caution in Cuba due to attacks targeting U.S. Embassy Havana employees resulting in the drawdown of embassy staff.”
https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/traveladvisories/cuba-travel-advisory.html

We left Miami at 10:00 AM and landed in Cuba at 10:50am!! It was awesome!! Super quick flight! (We went to Miami with the family for 2 weeks and took the quick trip from there).

Planning
Special thanks for all the guidance on the forums. Booked AA 15k and got complimentary upgrades on the short flight. American Airlines helps coordinate the requirements and has someone by the gate that will help you obtain and pay for the visa (TIP: do not lose the Visa if you don’t want to get stuck there). Booked the hotel with Expedia only once we had the visa and already boarded the plane. (Expedia was actually very helpful when we got there because the hotel wouldn’t let my wife into “our” room because she wasn’t added to the reservation. Expedia customer service was helpful). The US government on permits US citizens from staying in certain hotels. We stayed in Parque Central, based on the reviews was the nicest hotel US citizens could stay in,
however, rooms were to be desired and wouldn’t want to stay there for more than a night. It’s also in the best location. Please also keep in mind there are zero American products, you can’t use an American credit card and there’s almost not internet. You need to pay cash for everything and the currency is tied to the dollar.

We arrived, took a taxi to the hotel, “Parque Central,” we put our bags in storage and heading straight into a 1950s orange Buick convertible and took an hour and half tour all around Havana. We saw all the “hot spots” and enjoyed the stunning weather, with our  sunglasses on and mojitos in hand.

We then walked the streets, getting lost, on purpose, just soaking in the culture. We went into bars, shops and of course smoked a couple of cigars along the way. We had drinks with some locals who were clearly “random locals” who were overly friendly and spoke a perfect English ;). Crazy what we observed, the city is frozen 1950, there’s currently and economic crises and wide spread food rations. We saw very little grocery or corner stores, with the ones we saw severely lacking.

We then cooled down on the hotel’s rooftop pool. We had dinner and went to the local bars to enjoy some Cuban nightlife, filled with, music and dancing on the streets.

The next morning we enjoyed complimentary breakfast and headed to the cigar factory to watch how Cuban cigars are made. The process was simply mesmerizing. We caught a noon flight back to Miami and made it to our gate within the hour.
What a whirlwind!!
I highly recommend a short trip to see the culture and turn back the clock to 1950!



Offline KSMH

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Re: 36 Hours In Havana, Cuba
« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2019, 11:25:44 PM »
Nice TR
Always praying for delayed baggage.

Offline sam28

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Re: 36 Hours In Havana, Cuba
« Reply #2 on: November 06, 2019, 03:31:38 PM »
Nice TR any more pictures of the trip ?

Offline Dan

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Re: 36 Hours In Havana, Cuba
« Reply #3 on: November 06, 2019, 03:54:26 PM »
Nice TR! More pics please :)
Save your time, I don't answer PM. Post it in the forum and a dedicated DDF'er will get back to you as soon as possible.

Offline chuchem

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Re: 36 Hours In Havana, Cuba
« Reply #4 on: November 06, 2019, 03:55:42 PM »
As you just came back and spend almost the same time touring as would have, here my questions:
Will be in Feb in Miami for 10 days. Thinking of taking a one day tour of Havanna with my wife and kids (age 1-14)
I see that I can fly early in morning, that will get me in at 08:00am and leave 9pm with aa (booking with avios)
It would make it much easier traveling without luggage and not having to stay over night
Do you think I can see enough of the jewish and regular sights in a day?
Any other tips you can give me before planning such a crazy daytrip :-)

Offline Luvisrael

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Re: 36 Hours In Havana, Cuba
« Reply #5 on: November 06, 2019, 04:03:16 PM »
Quick 36 hour trip to Havana

Visiting Cuba is like walking into a 1950s time warp, but not exactly the glamour we see in the movies. We wanted to visit Cuba while it’s still open to US Citizens and there are easy direct flights. The Obama administration loosened the restrictions and open up limited travel, but there are still severe restrictions and the Trump administration is seriously tightening them. Before you plan a trip make sure to check the check with US Department of State for travel restrictions and business that you are not legally allowed to patronize in Cuba (there are over 80 hotels that we can’t stay in).
Good reference:
http://www.viahero.com/travel-to-cuba/new-cuba-travel-policy-updates

US Department of State issued a travel advisory “Exercise increased caution in Cuba due to attacks targeting U.S. Embassy Havana employees resulting in the drawdown of embassy staff.”
https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/traveladvisories/cuba-travel-advisory.html

We left Miami at 10:00 AM and landed in Cuba at 10:50am!! It was awesome!! Super quick flight! (We went to Miami with the family for 2 weeks and took the quick trip from there).

Planning
Special thanks for all the guidance on the forums. Booked AA 15k and got complimentary upgrades on the short flight. American Airlines helps coordinate the requirements and has someone by the gate that will help you obtain and pay for the visa (TIP: do not lose the Visa if you don’t want to get stuck there). Booked the hotel with Expedia only once we had the visa and already boarded the plane. (Expedia was actually very helpful when we got there because the hotel wouldn’t let my wife into “our” room because she wasn’t added to the reservation. Expedia customer service was helpful). The US government on permits US citizens from staying in certain hotels. We stayed in Parque Central, based on the reviews was the nicest hotel US citizens could stay in,
however, rooms were to be desired and wouldn’t want to stay there for more than a night. It’s also in the best location. Please also keep in mind there are zero American products, you can’t use an American credit card and there’s almost not internet. You need to pay cash for everything and the currency is tied to the dollar.

We arrived, took a taxi to the hotel, “Parque Central,” we put our bags in storage and heading straight into a 1950s orange Buick convertible and took an hour and half tour all around Havana. We saw all the “hot spots” and enjoyed the stunning weather, with our  sunglasses on and mojitos in hand.

We then walked the streets, getting lost, on purpose, just soaking in the culture. We went into bars, shops and of course smoked a couple of cigars along the way. We had drinks with some locals who were clearly “random locals” who were overly friendly and spoke a perfect English ;). Crazy what we observed, the city is frozen 1950, there’s currently and economic crises and wide spread food rations. We saw very little grocery or corner stores, with the ones we saw severely lacking.

We then cooled down on the hotel’s rooftop pool. We had dinner and went to the local bars to enjoy some Cuban nightlife, filled with, music and dancing on the streets.

The next morning we enjoyed complimentary breakfast and headed to the cigar factory to watch how Cuban cigars are made. The process was simply mesmerizing. We caught a noon flight back to Miami and made it to our gate within the hour.
What a whirlwind!!
I highly recommend a short trip to see the culture and turn back the clock to 1950!
the color of those cars though lol puts San Francisco to shame

Offline Yuey

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Re: 36 Hours In Havana, Cuba
« Reply #6 on: November 06, 2019, 07:52:14 PM »
Who remembers these for international calls?!? Well that scratch off “calling card” is what  I had to use for Internet down there. I purchased this in the airport and it only worked in a very small area. The hotel has something very similar.

Offline Yuey

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Re: 36 Hours In Havana, Cuba
« Reply #7 on: November 06, 2019, 08:00:17 PM »
Here’s some more pictures:

Offline Yuey

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Re: 36 Hours In Havana, Cuba
« Reply #8 on: November 06, 2019, 08:05:42 PM »
Cuba Missile Crises Memorial

Offline Yuey

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Re: 36 Hours In Havana, Cuba
« Reply #9 on: November 07, 2019, 11:39:54 PM »
As you just came back and spend almost the same time touring as would have, here my questions:
Will be in Feb in Miami for 10 days. Thinking of taking a one day tour of Havanna with my wife and kids (age 1-14)
I see that I can fly early in morning, that will get me in at 08:00am and leave 9pm with aa (booking with avios)
It would make it much easier traveling without luggage and not having to stay over night
Do you think I can see enough of the jewish and regular sights in a day?
Any other tips you can give me before planning such a crazy daytrip :-)

I think you can see a lot in one day if you really plan it well. I don’t recall there being a lot of traffic so you can probably see most of Havana’s hot spots in a day. The airport is 30 minutes away from the center of town and the airport wasn’t busy at all, so getting in and out shouldn’t be a problem. You should try to arraigned the cigar factory tour on the way to or from the airport and also try to arrange transportation in advance. The one thing you may miss out on, if this even interest you, is seeing what goes on there at night with the live music and how the locals play music and dance in the streets.

Food in general is an issue in the Socialist island, they don’t have a single American product. Not even Coke! There are only two places in the entire Universe where you can’t get Coca-Cola (Cuba and North Korea). Another  thing to keep in mind is the visas cost $100 per person and I believe they add on another $75 health insurance fee which Cuba makes you buy.

Offline Something Fishy

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Re: 36 Hours In Havana, Cuba
« Reply #10 on: November 08, 2019, 02:02:00 AM »
There were plenty of Coke products when I was there.
Check out my site for epic kosher adventures: Kosher Horizons

Offline chuchem

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Re: 36 Hours In Havana, Cuba
« Reply #11 on: November 08, 2019, 05:24:08 AM »
I think you can see a lot in one day if you really plan it well. I don’t recall there being a lot of traffic so you can probably see most of Havana’s hot spots in a day. The airport is 30 minutes away from the center of town and the airport wasn’t busy at all, so getting in and out shouldn’t be a problem. You should try to arraigned the cigar factory tour on the way to or from the airport and also try to arrange transportation in advance. The one thing you may miss out on, if this even interest you, is seeing what goes on there at night with the live music and how the locals play music and dance in the streets.

Food in general is an issue in the Socialist island, they don’t have a single American product. Not even Coke! There are only two places in the entire Universe where you can’t get Coca-Cola (Cuba and North Korea). Another  thing to keep in mind is the visas cost $100 per person and I believe they add on another $75 health insurance fee which Cuba makes you buy.

Thanks for yor reply
Yes will have to make a cheshben if its worth it, as its alot of money. Ticket incl taxes (in taxes there is a 25 usd health insurance fee) with avios is about 150 a person. Visa another 60-80 depending were you buy it. pre arranged tour and all, its quite a expensive day trip, but dont know when we will have opertunity again

Offline moish

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Re: 36 Hours In Havana, Cuba
« Reply #12 on: November 08, 2019, 08:44:41 AM »
Not even Coke! There are only two places in the entire Universe where you can’t get Coca-Cola (Cuba and North Korea). 
When I travel, I rely on Coke for energy. As such, I was starving in Cuba. However, I eventually did find Coke. Almost every hotel has Coke from Mexico, so I would pop in to a nearby hotel every time I needed one. But yes, it's not ubiquitous

Offline chief_mag

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Re: 36 Hours In Havana, Cuba
« Reply #13 on: November 08, 2019, 09:37:41 AM »
Another  thing to keep in mind is the visas cost $100 per person and I believe they add on another $75 health insurance fee which Cuba makes you buy.
Not sure where you bought the health insurance but when I was there, I bought it at a small desk right before passport control.
She asked how long we would be needing the insurance, so we told her we'll get the minimum (3 days), and buy new insurance later in Havana It ended up costing about $20+/-.

Offline Joe4007

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Re: 36 Hours In Havana, Cuba
« Reply #14 on: November 11, 2019, 05:34:31 PM »
I believe Cuba requires foreigners to purchase insurance which is added as a $25 fee to the airfare you pay to fly to Cuba. FWIU, your boarding pass acts as proof of insurance while in the country.