I'm doing my first Cuban, Cycling, Solo trip at the end of October and would really appreciate some insider tips from those that have been before or know about the trip. It's a list of questions so don't feel obliged to answer all of them in one go. But any info would be really appreciated. I'd hate to get there and find i'm missed a trick that would have made it easier.
1) Will there be chance to wash cycle shorts/t-shirts etc enroute or do i need to buy a set for every day?
2) Am i going to feel out of place wearing my cycle shorts under normal board shorts that i wear for cycling?
3) Will we be able to buy suitable drinks to keep ourselves topped up while cycling (i get very thirsty)?
4) I've heard it's not advisable to take iPhones or SLR camera's on the trip due to some Customs issue with foreign products. Is that so or just someone winding me up?
5) Will there be opportunities to grab an opportunistic photo enroute or is it a blast from point a - b? If so, is an SLR a bit much?
6) Do we take a personal backpack while cycling to put our junk in for the day (drink. camera, suntan lotion etc).
7) Re leaving gifts for the locals, i see small bottles of shampoo seem well recieved. How many are we likely to need (just roughly). I was thinking of buying a dozen travel size bottles from Boots or similar to hand out as appropriate.
8) Is it true you can only get the Cuban currency in Cuba? If so, i presume we'll be able to queue at the airport to exchange before moving on?
Thanks in advance.
Hi Andy, apologies for the delay in responding to your questions.
Several of the hotels offer laundry facilities should you wish to use them, if you have some cycling gear that is quick drying then you can always give them a DIY wash if needs be. Lots of people choose to wear cycling shorts so it's really up to you and what you feel most comfortable in. As for liquid refreshment, the support vehicle carries plenty of water for everyonewhich you can have at rest stops and fill up a water bottle to carry with you. If you prefer other drinks then you'll have the opportunity to buy some at various points but remember that the choice is limited in Cuba.
I've not heard of anyone encountering customs problems bringing cameras or SLR cameras into the country so i wouldn't worry about this. You'll have oportunities for photography along the routes, as long as the group isn't held up, generally the leaders stop in strategic places and offer time for pictures. Compact cameras tend to be a bit better suited for taking opportunistic style photos whilst cycling but depending upon how much you want to carry in your day bag, you may wish to bring a larger SLR. Leading on to your next question - yes you should bring a small, light day bag to carry your daily essentials. Some people bring a bum bag as wearing a rucksack can get quite hot and sticky.
Your question about giving gifts to locals is a difficult one to answer generally. We certainly don't advise casually handing out gifts to strangers as it can be interpreted in many ways, even if the intention is purely good. By all means bring gifts and when you develop a bond with particular locals then it can be a nice gesture to give them something. A good thing for you to bring is stationary and any supplies that schools can use - your trip to Cuba will almost certainly involve a brief visit to a local school, and if not then our leaders will be able to passon any supplies on your behalf.
In terms of changing money, yes you should bring cash sterling and then change it upon arrival at Havana airport.
I hope that you have a wonderful time Andy, i'm sure that you will love the friendliness of the people and charm of the island. Do let us know how you get on!
All the best;
- Trip Manager
Awesome post! please keep up the great work i would love to hear more like this
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