TRAVEL

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TRAVEL

CUBA


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TRAVELING WITH ANYWHERE

As a travel agency, our goal is to customize an experience that matches

your interests and aligns with your expectations. We have arranged

thousands of trips in many different countries and take pride in our

ability to thoroughly know our clients and plan enjoyable, stress-free

trips. We believe good planning and organization an important aspect

to getting the most out of a trip to Cuba. With that said, there are some

JOSE PARRONDO

Vacation Planner, Anywhere Cuba

jose@anywhere.com

things we want everyone to know about Cuba. Having an accurate

understanding of what to expect in Cuba will help to ensure that you

+1-888-456-3212 ext. 701

have a pleasant and smooth trip.

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SAFETY

Cuba is an extremely safe country. Nearly every Cuban is friendly and

welcoming. Taxi drivers might offer you to have a coffee at their house, and

people you meet throughout your visit will engage with you and want to share

their time. However, there are some Cubans that earn a living by hustling

visitors on the street. They might sell cigars, usher you into their restaurant, sell

souvenirs, or offer tours. They may come across as sincere and genuine, but

ultimately they will want something from you — maybe a drink at a bar, or a tip

for the information they offered. In some cases they can be helpful, but at other

times the experience can be rather off-putting.

Petty theft is likely to occur when opportunities present themselves. Keep cash

in your wallet, and your wallet in your pocket or a closed purse. Don’t leave

items unattended in restaurants or forget them in taxis. Most Cubans would

not steal your possessions, and if you left them behind they would attempt to

return them.


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PRIVATE BUSINESS

The entrepreneurial spirit has been

alive and well in Cuba for years.

However, much of it has been “on the

left” or outside of the “legal system.”

Many Cubans have had to hustle to put

food on the table for their family and

there have been many lean years here.

Recent changes have created a legal

framework for some businesses to be sanctioned by the state.

However, this is still very new and many Cubans are nervous that these

changes will not be permanent.


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POLITICS

Nearly all Cubans enjoy a light discussion of politics, but it is important to allow them to initiate the

discussion. Many Cubans are aware that they have paid a dear price for living under a government

that has neglected investment in the country and limited development for most of its citizens.

However, the issue is nuanced and it is important to not project a value system upon Cubans when

you have not experienced what they have been through. Although many people will tell you what

their experience has been like and share their opinions, hopes and dreams for the future, they will

often stop short of direct criticism of the government and of Cuba’s political system. It is important

to be respectful while traveling in Cuba. A good rule of thumb is to listen more than you talk if

politics comes up.


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ARRIVAL TO CUBA

As airlines continue to expand flight options to Cuba it will gradually get

easier to coordinate travel. Direct flights arrive to Cuba from Mexico,

Canada, The Bahamas, Miami, New York, Germany, England and

dozens of other countries. Before you will be allowed to board

your plane you will need to purchase a Visa for around $30.

Cuban customs requires a fairly standard amount of paperwork and

declarations, and your airline will provide you with all the necessary

documents.

We recommend that you try to avoid checking bags on your flight to Cuba. It is

common to wait more than 1 hour for bags to arrive in the baggage claim area —

if it shows up at all. If your bag does not arrive in Havana it is unlikely you will see it

for the rest of your trip.

1950 Buick

AIRPORT PICKUP

We will have a driver waiting for you at the arrivals terminal holding a sign with your name on it. If your

arrival is in the afternoon, we recommend getting picked up in a classic car and taking a cruise through Old

Havana and having a beverage before being dropped off at your hotel or casa particular. We can also

arrange for you to be picked up in a normal car.


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TIPPING

Most Cubans earn a very basic salary of approximately $25 per month, while doctors, lawyers and

scientists make around $50 per month. Therefore many extremely over qualified Cubans seek to

work in the service economy so they have the opportunity to earn tips. Your taxi driver might be

a chemical engineer or a history professor and driving a visitors around is their best opportunity

to provide for their family. They depend on earning tips to supplement their very low salary, and

your generosity is greatly appreciated.

However, at many government restaurants (about 95 percent) chances are you will not get

very good service. The years of being poorly compensated have reduced motivation.

When you tip, keep in mind that you are most likely providing much-needed funds to an

underpaid worker.

Old Havana

Many tour guides and drivers also earn most of their income from tips. It’s common for drivers

to not own their vehicles, so earning a tip often generates most of their compensation. A good

rule of thumb for tipping is 10-15 percent, and if you get really good service you should give more.

Many Cubans are aware that they have paid a dear price for living under a government that has

neglected investment in the country and limited development for most of its citizens, but they

have also suffered the consequences of more than 50 years of US embargo.

Centro Havana


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ACCOMMODATIONS IN CUBA

Casa Particulares:

Casa particulares are apartments and rooms owned by Cubans that are available for travelers to rent.

The owners generally live next door or in the same building. They are often are quite spacious, and may

range widely in terms of comfort and amenities. Most rooms have

private bathrooms, and many include a TV, mini-fridge, and fan and/or air

conditioner. Often the decorations are dated, simply because it is hard to

get nice furniture in Cuba. The beds and pillows are basic, with mattresses

that range from firm to a dense foam. They are all sleep-able, but do not

expect a modern pillow-top luxurious bed in casa particular. The beds

tend to be singles, but some rooms may have double or queen-size beds

as well.

Hotels:

All hotels in Cuba are owned by the government, although some are operated by a 3rd party or foreign

business. The hotels may lack regular maintenance. A significant percentage of the rooms are often unusable

—for example, even though there might be 200 rooms in a hotel, only 30 percent are in a condition that can

be rented to travelers. The U.S. has discouraged people from staying in hotels and has tried to push visitors

to stay in casa particulares. This helps provide Cubans with income and supports the emerging private

business market.


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TELECOMMUNICATIONS & INTERNET IN CUBA

Currently it is expensive to communicate and connect in Cuba. It costs $0.39/minute to

make a cell phone call and between $2-4/hour to use the internet. Our excellent planning

services eliminates the need to communicate excessively with our team in Cuba. However,

we will give each client a cell phone and a phone number that they can share with their

friends and family in case they need to be reached. The phone also allows our clients to

communicate with our team on the ground, and will come stocked with $10 worth of credits.

We will also provide a single 1-hour internet card per person. This is just a small way to reduce

one source of stress and frustration while traveling in Cuba.

If you want to get online, it’s best to do so at a hotel. Nicer hotels usually have Wi-Fi that both guests and

non-guests can access, as well as computers that are available for use. Aside from hotels, travelers can use

internet at state-run ETECSA offices and at public WiFi spots. These offices may have long lines, especially in

Havana.


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CURRENCY EXCHANGE

The currency in Cuba is the CUC.

Officially it’s tied to the dollar, but in reality

$1 USD will buy you about 0.87 CUC. In Cuba,

lines for money exchange, ATMs and banks

can be frustratingly long and stressful. If you

are coming from the U.S., or rely on the U.S.

banking system, bring cash (USD & Euros

preferred) to exchange upon arrival in Cuba.

We reduce the burden of our clients needing

cash by pre-arranging and paying for many

services in advance—that way, you won’t need to wait in line to get money

as often. We can also help you estimate how much cash you should have in

order to pay for meals and other common travel expenses.


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WATER

The tap water in Cuba is not drinkable, but it is safe for showers and tooth brushing. Most Cubans

boil their water at home because bottled water is quite expensive—generally, water costs about

$1 for 0.5 L and $3 for 1.5 L. Water is, however, more expensive at restaurants. The stores are

sparse and can run out of water. If you plan to rent a car and drive in Cuba, it’s a good idea to stock

up on water before you hit the road. You don’t want to run out of water in a rural area. We require

each casa particular owner to have one 1.5 L of bottled water in the fridge for our guests. They will

also sell you additional water as needed. Alternatively bringing a water bottle and SteriPen will give

you the most reliable access to purified water. http://www.steripen.com/Aqua


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EATING IN CUBA

Many of the restaurants in Old Havana are owned by the

state. These restaurants are generally clean, but all offer

variations of the same

basic menu. At these

restaurants, the service

tends to be slow and the

food mediocre. You will

occasionally encounter

street food while walking

around, and unlike some

places, we do not

recommend trying it. It is very easy to get sick from

food in Cuba and street food presents an unfortunate

risk to travelers. Bringing along Pepto-Bismol and other

antacids can help protect the stomach from discomfort.

Cuba’s private restaurants, known as paladares, are

sprinkled around the city in converted apartments and

houses. The service at these privately-owned restaurants

is typically much better, the menu more diverse, and the

setting more interesting than the state-owned restaurants.

Many of the best paladares do, however, require

reservations—we can make these for you when needed.

Private

Mariscos /Shrimp

Street Food


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VEGETARIANS & VEGANS

Cuba is not particularly vegetarian or vegan friendly. Nearly every standard dish is

served with a meat or dairy product. However, we have made arrangements with

owners of casas particulares and paladares that can accommodate all dietary

requirements. With a little bit of planning and coordination we can easily

accommodate dietary restrictions.

SUPER MARKETS?

Finding a convenient store to walk in and find everything you need and discovery

many others that you want is just not a reality in Cuba. The stores are government

operated and have a very limited selection when compared to almost anywhere else

in the world. Basic staples like rice, beans, canned food, oil, frozen meat, juice, soda,

alcohol and sometimes eggs are available. Getting fresh fruits and vegetables can be

pretty hard depending on where you find yourself. Some neighborhoods get deliveries

and have an open market with potatoes, melons, pineapples, onions and whatever

might have been delivered that day.


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MEDICAL TREATMENT

There is lots of talk about Cuba's medical system. Healthcare is free for all Cuban

citizens and there are more doctors per capita than in most countries in the

world. The public hospitals, however, are not in very good condition. Should you

get sick or injured during your trip you will be brought to a private hospital

intended for foreigners. The treatment you receive will be top notch and

inexpensive compared to most places in the world. For example, a consultation

with the doctor, blood tests, an antibiotic shot, and prescription medication will

take about an hour and set you back about $75. The facilities are clean, but are

not cutting edge or modern. The medical personnel is very capable and

professional.

SMOKING

There is no smoking ban in Cuba, so it’s very likely that you will be around people smoking cigarettes or cigars – this

is Cuba, after all! Not all restaurants allow smoking, and generally if you are indoors you will not encounter smoke.

However, if you are on a patio or balcony you are more likely to be exposed to secondhand smoke. Travelers with

children will want to take this into consideration when planning a trip.


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THE NEIGHBORHOODS OF HAVANA

Old Havana is beautiful and is studded with plazas, churches, and art deco buildings. It is

one of the primary attractions in all of Cuba, and has received a significant amount of

investment over the years. That said, the streets can smell, it can be crowded, and some

buildings are in poor condition. Even so, staying in this area is ideal if you want to be in the

heart of Havana. It’s a great place to stroll through the streets and soak up Cuban culture.

Vedado is one of the nicest neighborhoods in Havana. About 2.5 miles (4 km) from Old

Havana, Vedado is much quieter and the casa particulares are more spacious. This

neighborhood is where many of Havana’s middle and upper class families live. The treelined

streets are home to an interesting mix of mansions, foreign consulates, and rundown

apartments.

Old Havana

Centro Havana is the closest neighborhood to Old Havana. This neighborhood does sport

some good casa particulares, but it’s mainly recommended for more adventurous visitors. It’s

completely safe here, but it may be outside the comfort zone for many travelers as far as

noise, smells and decaying infrastructure go. Still, it is within walking distance to Old

Havana, is right alongside the Malecon, and may be a good option for some travelers.

Centro Havana


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DRIVING

Classic cars are classic, but the tradeoff is that the exhaust can be suffocating and the engine loud. Non-classic cars are

generally in pretty rough shape as well. Due to a very limited supply, cars are extremely expensive in Cuba. Russian cars from

the 80s and 90s that might fetch $500 in other parts of the world are worth more than $10,000 here. Due to the high cost of

cars and fuel, the price of transportation is also frustratingly expensive in Cuba. Taxis may charge $15 to go a few miles and it

can be hard to negotiate cheaper rates. What’s more, renting a car can set you back hundreds - and sometimes thousands -

of dollars.

MICRO TRANSPORT

Throughout Cuba, particularly in Old Havana, you will find lots of short-distance transportation options. There are bike taxis,

horse-drawn carriages, and the adorable Taxi Coco, which is a micro-taxi shaped like a coconut. After hours of sightseeing

and being on your feet, jumping into one of the micro-transport options is convenient and affordable. Tip your driver for

their effort and you will help sustain these friendly ambassadors for Cuba.


PLAN YOUR VISIT

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