mirrodie
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Has Anyone Here Been To Cuba?

Fri Oct 22, 2004 1:38 pm

My grandmother and a few of my cousins went to Cuba a few years ago in order to meet some old relatives that they had not seen in over 30 years.

I must say, since then, I have been dying to go and visit some of my more distant roots. Also, I think seeing a recent movie, Havana Nights, has increased my interest.

Has anyone here been there? Please share.

[Edited 2004-10-22 06:56:28]
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JeffM
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RE: Has Anyone Here Been To Cuba?

Fri Oct 22, 2004 2:06 pm

I have been there. Not quite the paradise everyone makes it out to be, but worth the trip just for the sake of saying.." been there, done that, got the T-shirt." Having family there would put a different perspective on the trip, and would have definitely made it more enjoyable for me. But my family tree has no Cubans in it.

I will say that the water was incredible. I don't think I've seen water any clearer then there. Like glass, you could see for what seemed like 100 yards under water.
 
Jkw777
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RE: Has Anyone Here Been To Cuba?

Fri Oct 22, 2004 4:00 pm

I went in May (Cayo Coco, which is separated from the mainland with a huge causeway.)

Absolutely awesome place! I second with what Jeff said about the water, it's just fantastic.

I didn't really get to see too much of the real Cuba, for example Havana and so on, but I still saw the place!  Smile

Just a question out of interest, how easy is it to get into Cuba from the US?

Many thanks,

Justin  Big thumbs up
jkw6210@btopenworld.com or +447751242989
 
USAFHummer
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RE: Has Anyone Here Been To Cuba?

Fri Oct 22, 2004 4:11 pm

"Just a question out of interest, how easy is it to get into Cuba from the US?"

You can fly via Canada and Mexico but your not supposed to do it without government authorization for legitimate purposes only (e.g., business, family member visits)...they are really cracking down now on illegal visits, trying to catch those who do visit illegally...

Greg
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XNV
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RE: Has Anyone Here Been To Cuba?

Sun Oct 24, 2004 7:47 pm

I have been to Cuba a couple of times, it is a really beautiful place.

It is very unique because it is one of the only places in the Caribbean not smothered by US influence (due to the ongoing embargoes). They still drive cars from the 50's, and it isn't commercialized to the extent of resorts in Mexico, The Dominican Republic, The Bahamas, etc.

When Castro dies many cities in Cuba will become Montego Bays or Cancuns. The poverty and oppression is overwhelming in Cuba, but the people are wonderful, the culture is beautiful, the history is amazing, and it is truly the jewel of the caribbean. While I do not agree with the way Castro runs his country, when he goes the transition to a more western style economy will be very painful on the people and I fear the outcome. I am glad to have visited it now, I think it will soon change and maybe not for the better.

The US doesn't allow it's citizens to travel there because they are trying to teach Castro a lesson. Well, it's been 45 years and he's still in power, so this little grudge match isn't really working.

See it now if you can... soon it will never be the same.
 
LH526
Crew
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RE: Has Anyone Here Been To Cuba?

Sun Oct 24, 2004 7:56 pm

What? US Citizens have to get governmental approval to visit Cuba? Like the poor people in communist countries had to ask their head opf states when they wanted to travel abroad? Go figure!!
I like the USA ... but that procedure is somewhat strange.

Mario
LH526
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MYT332
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RE: Has Anyone Here Been To Cuba?

Sun Oct 24, 2004 8:31 pm

Yep I've been. I think I went to the same place as JKW777, I think I even saw him once or twice.  Big grin

It really is a great place and what Xnv said is totally right. I thought the people were very nice to us and the place has an amzing culture. We actually managed to visit the mainland for the day, we went to Moron and it was really crazy. I felt like I was in that 1950's town in 'Back to the future' but I was loving it.

I'd probably go again and I'd reccomend it to people who haven't been.

If anyone's interested here's two video's of the t/o and landing at CCC. You can see the Cayo's pretty well in the vids. I made them so don't expect the world.

Plug 1
http://www.tmfy.com/movies/ccc-landing.htm

Plug 2
http://www.tmfy.com/movies/ccc-takeoff.htm

 Laugh out loud
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LVZXV
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RE: Has Anyone Here Been To Cuba?

Sun Oct 24, 2004 9:38 pm

I was planning to visit Cuba back in Easter with some relations but the trip was cancelled at the last minute. I was about to buy my ticket with Cubana (from EZE) and everything, and could practically hear the Il-62 in my sleep. I do feel a sense of urgency about the place, i.e. it is about to change completely, so it remains at the top of my list of places to visit. Maybe next year.

On a historical note, I am truly amazed by Castro's political longevity--he's already outlasted Franco, Stroessner, Peter the Great--name it! Is he the longest serving political leader (excluding constitutional monarchs like Queen Victoria or Queen Elizabeth II) in modern times?

Some cousins of mine did visit Cuba in April, and they absolutely fell in love with it. What they told me was similar to what Xnv said, that Cuba was definitely no paradise but beautiful nonetheless and inhabited by remarkable people, though they added that there was a sort of "wind of change" in the air.

I look forward to seeing for myself...

Regards,

ZXV

How do you say "12 months" in Estonian?
 
Qb001
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RE: Has Anyone Here Been To Cuba?

Sun Oct 24, 2004 11:21 pm

Been there twice, Varadero and Gardalavaca (keep the cow !) Nice place, beautiful people, good cigars, excellent rhum (although I've discovered that en enjoy my Montecristo #4 with a glass of brandy rather than with a glass of rhum). Beaches are superb, but forget the waves, at least the places I've been. Food was okay. I visited the Old Havana (Spanish colonial period) and I was a bit disapointed; but maybe I had too much expectations.

Rented a bike for a day once and I was free to go wherever I wanted to. Met the people face to face and it was a really nice experience. Basically there not too happy with the current regime, but they are quite aware that they are better off than the Dominicans, the Haitians and most people of the Carabean region. So they see their glass as being half full. Considering that it used to be empty, they feel it's somewhat okay. But they would welcome a regime change.

I wish I go again soon.
Never let the facts get in the way of a good theory.
 
Jkw777
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RE: Has Anyone Here Been To Cuba?

Sun Oct 24, 2004 11:46 pm

Yep I've been. I think I went to the same place as JKW777, I think I even saw him once or twice.

You ball breaker!!  Laugh out loud

I second with what nobby (Myt332) said about it being great, I would also encourage anyone to go. It has such a nice feeling out there.  Smile

Lovely beaches!

Nice!

Can I go back?!

Hot Hot Hot!!

Ok why did I just do that? Now I wanna go back!  Sad

Cheers,

Justin  Big grin
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KYIPpilot
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RE: Has Anyone Here Been To Cuba?

Mon Oct 25, 2004 1:16 am

I have not, but one of my prof's was there, and she said it is one of the last places in the Caribbean that has beautiful uncrowded beaches because there are no huge resorts yet. Although, nowhere is tourism growing faster than in Cuba. I would love to go, but it seems like too much hassle for an American. You can't use your credit card anywhere, just cash.
"It starts when you're always afraid; You step out of line, the man come and take you away" -Buffalo Springfield
 
MYT332
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RE: Has Anyone Here Been To Cuba?

Mon Oct 25, 2004 1:19 am

Ahh yea KYIPpilot but it's American cash.
One Life, Live it.
 
Jkw777
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RE: Has Anyone Here Been To Cuba?

Mon Oct 25, 2004 1:26 am

But they give out the small change in their currency.. Which I threw in the bin!  Big thumbs up

Cheers,

Justin  Big grin
jkw6210@btopenworld.com or +447751242989
 
mia
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RE: Has Anyone Here Been To Cuba?

Mon Oct 25, 2004 1:32 am

I have been. I have family in Varadero and in Vedado. If you go as a tourist and you do the touristy things it is the paradise it is cracked up to be. But I go to visit family and stuff and while I have an awesome time when I go its not the same. Cuba is changing though, for the better. You can travel from anywhere all you need to do is buy the 20 (or 15) USD 'visa' that is a little piece of paper you buy so that they dont stamp your passport.

The funny thing about living in America, the fabled home of the free. My father cannot goto Cuba to visit his 90 yearold aunt, his oldest living relative. Isnt life grand.
"Like all great travelers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen."
 
mirrodie
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RE: Has Anyone Here Been To Cuba?

Mon Oct 25, 2004 6:25 am

I just got off the phone with my cousin who lives in MIA.

She, my grandmother, my aunt and 3 otehrs went in 2000. I just called to ask her how tough it was. She said Thay going through Bahamas was almost a given and it was no problem. Thy did not stamp her passport yet, when returning to US Custons in MIA, she told them exactly where she was. No problems.

I am still doing research on the subject. Sounds too easy.
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itsjustme
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RE: Has Anyone Here Been To Cuba?

Mon Oct 25, 2004 10:34 pm

I thought the "Trading With The Enemy" Act of, I think 1919 made it illegal for American citizens to travel to Cuba. I know President Carter repealed the law in the 70's but Regan had it reinstated with stronger language than the original act carried.
 
csavel
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RE: Has Anyone Here Been To Cuba?

Tue Oct 26, 2004 7:13 am

I went to Cuba in '79 when for a short time Carter rescinded the restrictions on travel to Cuba, we flew MIA to HAV in a DC-3!

I remember walking along the tarmac at Jose Marti next to Aeroflot and CSA IL-62s.

Lovely place, beautiful country. At the time at least, it was no poorer than other Latin American countries, and while I'm sure the people were on their guard, I saw no overt measures to stop people from talking to me. We were allowed to go anywhere in Havana we wanted even though we were from the US. Frankly most people really didn't seem to care too much, and remember this was '79. I do remember it was a hopping salsa party though.

I think the deal with the restrictions is technically, you *can* go to Cuba, you just cannot spend any money to do it. In fact you can't spend any money that will go to Cuba at all if you are "under US jurisdiction." That is interpreted to mean if I light up a Cuban cigar in Montreal, since I'm a US citizen, I'm violating the law. But if I had a Canadian friend who bought me a vacation in Cuba and spent only his money to take me there, and if I didn't even pay for a cab in Havana, theoretically, I can do it, although I wouldn't try it out in the current US climate.

One of these days, when sanity returns to my country.
I may be ugly. I may be an American. But don't call me an ugly American.
 
canuckpaxguy
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RE: Has Anyone Here Been To Cuba?

Tue Oct 26, 2004 10:20 am

I've been to Cuba, but many years ago. I think I was about 10 or 11, so that would about 18 or 19 years ago. My Mom took my sister and I to Veradero. From what I remember, the resort we stayed at was no different than one you'd find in Mexico or the Dominican.

Friends of mine have been there since and apparently they're really done a nice job in the touristy spots. The areas certainly aren't as wealthy as say Bermuda or Grand Cayman Island, but decent beaches all the same...only usually a lot cheaper.

Havana is acutally a pretty cool old city from what I'm told.

G
 
KYIPpilot
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RE: Has Anyone Here Been To Cuba?

Tue Oct 26, 2004 10:33 am

So for an American to go, is it best to fly Air Canada ( I live about 3-4 hours from Toronto)? Can I fly Cubana? Would I have to pay cash at the Cubana counter in YYZ? If you stay overnight, you just keep paying cash everywhere you go?
"It starts when you're always afraid; You step out of line, the man come and take you away" -Buffalo Springfield
 
canuckpaxguy
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RE: Has Anyone Here Been To Cuba?

Tue Oct 26, 2004 10:43 am

If you want a cheap flight, take one of the charter airlines if you can stand it. Air Transat and Skyservice for example often have much cheaper flights to Cuba than Air Canada.

Have we figured out if Americans are able to travel to Cuba even if through another country? It seems odd that one would need governmental approval....Is that really true?

G
 
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STT757
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RE: Has Anyone Here Been To Cuba?

Tue Oct 26, 2004 11:14 am

"I am truly amazed by Castro's political longevity"

Not being bond by silly things like elections or term limits will help any politician/dictator.
Eastern Air lines flt # 701, EWR-MCO Boeing 757
 
latinaviation
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RE: Has Anyone Here Been To Cuba?

Tue Oct 26, 2004 9:00 pm

Mario,

TACA used to (perhaps still do) operate JFK-HAV as a charter with ABC Charters of Miami. Just fyi, but you would need the US gov't approval to travel on this flight.
 
csavel
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RE: Has Anyone Here Been To Cuba?

Wed Oct 27, 2004 2:11 am

KYIPpilot, Canuckpaxguy

Americans would not be able to pay to go to Cuba, even from a third country. As a matter of fact, US Citizens cannot buy Cuban products in a third country even if consumed in a third country. Technically, I broke the law when I was in Monteal a month ago and bought and smoked a Cuban cigar. There is actually a thread about that!

But, according to the law, you cannot bar US citizens from actually going to Cuba, you can just bar them from spending money. But I'd like to see an American say to the customs man, "Oh, yeah, I just got back from Cuba, but I didn't spend a dime, my rich Canadian uncle treated me to the trip!"

Something tells me they'll prosecute first and ask questions later.
I may be ugly. I may be an American. But don't call me an ugly American.
 
photopilot
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RE: Has Anyone Here Been To Cuba?

Wed Oct 27, 2004 3:43 am

Been to Cuba 7 times and the 8th trip is coming up this December 17th.

I travel independently and don't stay at hotels and generally go to Havana. I have friends there and stay in a private home. It's a city that is rundown because of age and lack of funds for maintenance. But it also has super Spanish colonial architecture, wonderful people, great cigars and VERY SMOOTH rum. And it's the ambience, music and charm of the people that keep me coming back.

As to being an American and travelling to Cuba through YYZ (Toronto).

You can either take the TACA flights direct YYZ-HAV or their are Air Canada flights and also Cubans flights. For an American, I would STRONGLY suggest that if you do decide to go through Canada, that you take the Cubana flight. Why you ask? Because due to American anti-terrorism activities, they are now forcing all air carriers to provide full passenger lists to the American authorities. I know that TACA and Air Canada do in fact provide these list to the US government. If they don't, they'll loose their landing rights in the USA. However because Cubana does NOT land in the USA (except for flights hijacked to Key West from Cuba, and they don't count) Cubana does not provide passenger lists to the Yank authorities. So to maintain your anonymity you can see why it's best to fly Cubana.

Cubana flights are Wednesday's, Friday's and Sunday's and leave Toronto just after 6:00 pm. It's CU181 down and CU180 for the return leg.

Travel safe, travel Happy
Steve

 
KYIPpilot
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RE: Has Anyone Here Been To Cuba?

Thu Oct 28, 2004 12:39 am

Cubana flights are Wednesday's, Friday's and Sunday's and leave Toronto just after 6:00 pm. It's CU181 down and CU180 for the return leg.

Do you know how I would be able to pay for it? Cash at the Cubana counter?
"It starts when you're always afraid; You step out of line, the man come and take you away" -Buffalo Springfield
 
JGPH1A
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RE: Has Anyone Here Been To Cuba?

Thu Oct 28, 2004 1:22 am

RE: I know that TACA and Air Canada do in fact provide these list to the US government

The requirement to provide passenger data is limited to flights to, from or with a transit stop at, an airfield in the USA. There is no requirement to provide passenger data on flights flying through US airspace without making a stop. In fact they don't provide pax lists, the US authorities currently have access directly to the airlines' systems to view PNR data.

Re booking Cubana, the toll-free number in North America is 1-866-4CUBANA. You can arrange a Prepaid Ticket to be collected at the airport (although I can't find a Cubana ticket office at YYZ - maybe they are handled by another airline).
Young and beautiful and thin and gorgeous AND BANNED ! Cya at airspaceonline.com, losers
 
santosdumont
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RE: Has Anyone Here Been To Cuba?

Thu Oct 28, 2004 5:38 am

Been there three times. Cuba is a fascinating place that leaves me with a sense of joy tinged with sadness.

What's inescapable is the electricity that the Cuban people give off. Of course, the trick is to find people that are not connected to the Communist Party apparatus. The narcs are the ones who aren't afraid to discuss politics and have a ready-made speech on the evils of the US embargo and the glories of living in the only "free" territory in the Americas (oh yeah, an e-mail account is pretty much a dead giveaway).

The food is delicious, although I prefer caipirinhas to mojitos (local bias, I guess). In fact, the best food I had was at a "paladar," a private home that is licensed by the government to work as a restaurant; not sure if Fidel Castro still allows those....

Cuba has an apartheid feeling to it. If you're a tourist with dollars, you can buy anything (Corn Flakes, beer, "Newsweek,") and will have an open door to decadence and pleasures of the flesh that are very difficult to turn down. All for a price, of course.

If you're a Cuban with no dollars, you're f*cked. You have to wait in line for hours to catch a bus, the stores you're allowed to shop in will have little more than coffee and cigarettes, and you are forbidden from entering tourist hotels.

With such a climate, everyone is hustling something. It's ironic, to have such a capitalistic, free-wheeling environment in a communist country whose regime proudly trumpets the fact that it hasn't gone "commercial" (which of course, is bullsh*t considering where tourist money ultimately ends up).

Cuba is a beautiful place, but you can't help but feel sad when someone will (literally) ask for the shirt off your back.
"Pursuit Of Truth No Matter Where It Lies" -- Metallica

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