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MandyD

Somehow I am going to Havana?

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Two years ago today I landed in Havana and spent 3 weeks traveling in a small group(10 people). We set off to Baracoa stopping along the way in Cienfuegos, Trinidad, Camaguey,(one of my favorite places), Santiago, (too noisy and my least favorite place), Then flew back to Havana and went to Vinales, back to Havana and home. And everywhere there is a constant stream of photo opportunities. The country is still operating on technology from a half a century ago and changes are happening in the most haphazard ways. The people are the most well educated in the world and a delight to speak to. However tourism is their only way to get hard cash now so you will pay out for everything, including photo opportunities, but it is very cheap. We stayed in Casas particulares, their version of B&B, and were very well looked after, there are shortages of certain foods, but plenty of eggs! The music is fantastic, the range of transport is staggering and their inventiveness has even kept medieval machinery working(well it seems that old when you're from the wealthy first world!)

Take care and have lots of fun!:)

Phil

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I've been going to Cuba once or twice a year for a couple of weeks in the last few years. It's still a lovely country to travel around, and safer than many other Latin American destinations, with very friendly, warm people. In terms of stock photography, sadly it seems to be mostly the cliches that still sell in terms of travel photography, but don't let that put you off exploring the non cliches and off the beaten track areas, especially in Havana. The old town is very, very touristy (but much better off-season), and it's unsurprising that all those picture perfect cigar ladies are these days licensed photo models with a badge from the tourism authority. I'd charge, too, if I was asked to pose 500 times a day. Ditto most other 'picturesque' locals. Don't be offended if they ask for a CUC or two.

 

The only area I would avoid like the pest is Varadero, unless you fancy being in a little tourist-only enclave with chain hotels, loads of package type holiday makers and very little else - you may as well save your money and go to a Florida resort or one of the Spanish Costas.

 

I tend to always stay in Havana for a week at the front or back of a trip and then go round. The overland buses are good and cheap, but not always practical when you are trying to get somewhere for a specific time. If you travel with companions, hiring a driver and car is often the best option for longer journeys (or hire car if you're confident enough to drive) as it's the most flexible and they can take you to the places you actually want to explore. Casas particulars and hotels are happy to recommend reliable drivers and you negotiate a rate for the length of your trip (i.e. 3 days, 5 days...) The state run tourist buses are not my cup of tea, very hit and miss in terms of quality and very, very touristy cattle truck type itineraries. Getting across to the East is a bit of a pain (I've personally avoided the Cubana internal flights of late) but it can be done comfortably in a car with stop overs, or overland buses if you're on a budget. I've never had a bad experience with car/driver combos (don't believe the scare mongering, especially from those who want to sell you commercially organised tours). Plenty of good standard hotels these days in the major cities if you prefer that, and lots of casas particulars (often very clean, pretty and with friendly owners) are on AirBnB, Tripadvisor etc. 

 

You can always combine cities like Havana, Cienfuegos, Trinidad, or the cities further east like Hoguin, Santiago and Baracoa and then do a few days on the coast or in one of the many pretty cayos for some leisure/diving/relaxing. The Bay of Pigs area also has some great dive sites. 

 

Hope you'll have a lovely trip! 

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14 hours ago, Sultanpepa said:

Betty's comments are a reminder to us all that this is a worldwide community we have on this forum and it's easy to inadvertently cause hurt when talking about worldwide issues. We should always be careful not to upset or annoy. Having said that, I'd be lying if I said anything other than you have as your president one of the most unlikely, arrogant, misogynistic, and least presidential characters ever to grace the oval office. The US could do much much better than that. I should add that our leaders are no better and that's why many of us Scots are pushing for Independence.   

 

If you guys vote for and get independence I may move there.

 

Being here on a Swiss passport, I feel a little unwelcome here these days since Brexit vote. 

 

The scottish seem a lot more forward thinking :D

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30 minutes ago, chris_rabe said:

 

If you guys vote for and get independence I may move there.

 

Being here on a Swiss passport, I feel a little unwelcome here these days since Brexit vote. 

 

The scottish seem a lot more forward thinking :D

 

You're not the first person to say that. :)

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10 hours ago, John Mitchell said:

 

Ditto. The homelessness and drug problems in Vancouver are shameful. Canada's indigenous people have been -- and still are -- treated horribly. Our environmental record sucks. Definitely not perfect here...

oh yes..ALOT wrong here..ALOT, but I am speaking in terms of MY comfort level and MY safety.

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6 hours ago, Phil Crean said:

Two years ago today I landed in Havana and spent 3 weeks traveling in a small group(10 people). We set off to Baracoa stopping along the way in Cienfuegos, Trinidad, Camaguey,(one of my favorite places), Santiago, (too noisy and my least favorite place), Then flew back to Havana and went to Vinales, back to Havana and home. And everywhere there is a constant stream of photo opportunities. The country is still operating on technology from a half a century ago and changes are happening in the most haphazard ways. The people are the most well educated in the world and a delight to speak to. However tourism is their only way to get hard cash now so you will pay out for everything, including photo opportunities, but it is very cheap. We stayed in Casas particulares, their version of B&B, and were very well looked after, there are shortages of certain foods, but plenty of eggs! The music is fantastic, the range of transport is staggering and their inventiveness has even kept medieval machinery working(well it seems that old when you're from the wealthy first world!)

Take care and have lots of fun!:)

Phil

thanks! I have been warned about the food, but it's hardly a hardship and I live on eggs anyways. 

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4 hours ago, imageplotter said:

I've been going to Cuba once or twice a year for a couple of weeks in the last few years. It's still a lovely country to travel around, and safer than many other Latin American destinations, with very friendly, warm people. In terms of stock photography, sadly it seems to be mostly the cliches that still sell in terms of travel photography, but don't let that put you off exploring the non cliches and off the beaten track areas, especially in Havana. The old town is very, very touristy (but much better off-season), and it's unsurprising that all those picture perfect cigar ladies are these days licensed photo models with a badge from the tourism authority. I'd charge, too, if I was asked to pose 500 times a day. Ditto most other 'picturesque' locals. Don't be offended if they ask for a CUC or two.

 

The only area I would avoid like the pest is Varadero, unless you fancy being in a little tourist-only enclave with chain hotels, loads of package type holiday makers and very little else - you may as well save your money and go to a Florida resort or one of the Spanish Costas.

 

I tend to always stay in Havana for a week at the front or back of a trip and then go round. The overland buses are good and cheap, but not always practical when you are trying to get somewhere for a specific time. If you travel with companions, hiring a driver and car is often the best option for longer journeys (or hire car if you're confident enough to drive) as it's the most flexible and they can take you to the places you actually want to explore. Casas particulars and hotels are happy to recommend reliable drivers and you negotiate a rate for the length of your trip (i.e. 3 days, 5 days...) The state run tourist buses are not my cup of tea, very hit and miss in terms of quality and very, very touristy cattle truck type itineraries. Getting across to the East is a bit of a pain (I've personally avoided the Cubana internal flights of late) but it can be done comfortably in a car with stop overs, or overland buses if you're on a budget. I've never had a bad experience with car/driver combos (don't believe the scare mongering, especially from those who want to sell you commercially organised tours). Plenty of good standard hotels these days in the major cities if you prefer that, and lots of casas particulars (often very clean, pretty and with friendly owners) are on AirBnB, Tripadvisor etc. 

 

You can always combine cities like Havana, Cienfuegos, Trinidad, or the cities further east like Hoguin, Santiago and Baracoa and then do a few days on the coast or in one of the many pretty cayos for some leisure/diving/relaxing. The Bay of Pigs area also has some great dive sites. 

 

Hope you'll have a lovely trip! 

thanks! this is so helpful...yes, Varadero and resorts aren't for me. I am a history nerd, I want to explore and see things that are new to me, so resorts are a turn off for me.

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1 hour ago, chris_rabe said:

 

If you guys vote for and get independence I may move there.

 

Being here on a Swiss passport, I feel a little unwelcome here these days since Brexit vote. 

 

The scottish seem a lot more forward thinking :D

1 hour ago, Sultanpepa said:

 

You're not the first person to say that. :)

 

And then again, 17th century religious sectartianism is still rife in Scotland. Not exactly forward thinking guys. 

 

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21 minutes ago, MDM said:

 

 

And then again, 17th century religious sectartianism is still rife in Scotland. Not exactly forward thinking guys. 

 

 

If we had PM I'd be happy to discuss but we don't so no comment keeps the thread on track. :)

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14 minutes ago, Sultanpepa said:

 

If we had PM I'd be happy to discuss but we don't so no comment keeps the thread on track. :)

 

For sure. :lol: 

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1 hour ago, MandyD said:

thanks! this is so helpful...yes, Varadero and resorts aren't for me. I am a history nerd, I want to explore and see things that are new to me, so resorts are a turn off for me.

 

This is a good little book on the history of Cuba if you can find a copy. It's a bit out of date now but still worthwhile.

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13 minutes ago, John Mitchell said:

 

This is a good little book on the history of Cuba if you can find a copy. It's a bit out of date now but still worthwhile.

nice! I try to do alot of reading before I go, but this one came up fast. I went to our brand new fancy library yesterday and snagged a few books to do some planning this upcoming long weekend.

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20 minutes ago, MandyD said:

nice! I try to do alot of reading before I go, but this one came up fast. I went to our brand new fancy library yesterday and snagged a few books to do some planning this upcoming long weekend.

 

There is also this one by the same author. Also a bit difficult to find. Perhaps the fancy new library has one.

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3 hours ago, chris_rabe said:

 

If you guys vote for and get independence I may move there.

 

Being here on a Swiss passport, I feel a little unwelcome here these days since Brexit vote. 

 

The scottish seem a lot more forward thinking :D

With respect I take it you do see the irony in your comment.

I voted for independence for my country (England, Great Britain, the United Kingdom) - although it seems that the political parties who promised to deliver the result of that vote are a little reluctant to do so. 

Why is independence for Scotland a good thing but independence for the UK a bad thing - or is the answer to that in the fact that Scotland has made it clear that independence from the UK means returning to the very EU the UK has voted to become independent from?

One mans independence is another man's shackles.

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Hi everyone

 

Please remember that all posts should be kept relevant to the original topic. 

 

Thanks

Alamy

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17 hours ago, Starsphinx said:



I voted for independence for my country (England, Great Britain, the United Kingdom) -

Which "country" would that be? Those three are all different.

Assuming you mean the UK, it was never dependent. Parliament was always, and is, sovereign, although at the moment it needs reminding of that. Your "shackles" are in your own head.

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I made a road trip to British Columbia this summer and the one thing that sticks in my brain is the difference in Customs kiosks and the borders of the two countries.  We arrive via ferry to Victoria and returned to the U.S. near Aldergrove B.C. on our return.  The woman who greeted us at Victoria was dressed for a normal work day, was friendly, helpful and welcomed us to Canada as was everyone we had contact with while there.  When we returned to the U.S. we were greeted by a very grim man who acted like he was conducting a criminal investigation dressed in full uniform with gun and radio and who knows what else on his belt.

 

Customs in Canada

The Customs Kiosk at the ferry terminal in Victoria, Vancouver Island British Columbia Canada - Stock Image

Customs in the U.S.
 

Seattle WashingtonStock Photo

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