Am really excited about the trip. Be good to know who I'm going with and share Cuba tips!
We're on this trip the week before you Weejo; have you gleaned any tips from elsewhere on how much cash to take (and in what currency) and the availability of ATMs around the island?
Hi there sam_bo. ATMs are around in Cuba, but believe me you wont have time to stop at one! The itinarary is tight. I strongly suggest doing what I did, take all your spending money ( I tokk £500 and came back with £240) in sterling, and change it at the airport when you get picked up for your first night in the Occidental Miramar. When you get off the plane at Havana, you go through bag check security and customs (nothing to declare always) and then as you go out through the airport doors right there in front of you will be a big crowd of people waiting to get their money changed. The Cadeca (money change place) at the airport offers a very good rate on your GBP-CUC.
If your tour leader/guid and in too much of a hurry to get your to the hotel and settled in for the night, dont worry the Occidental Mirramar has its own Cadeca, with a good rate but not as good as the airport. But you are only talking around a couple of pence.
DONT do what some , stingy Brits do and try to buy the Cuban National Peso, its their own money and us tourists us the CUC, the National Peso is only used for the locals to buy their goods and groceries with. I heard of one story where some brits insisted on using the CNP - so they could get more for the GBP... losers!
Good luck and you will love it, its a brilliant trip with excellent tour guides and services, you are looked after well and always feel safe and ease.
We're actually going out a few days earlier to acclimatise and play some golf at Varadero with some mates flying in direct from Canada. Any tips on best way to get there... taxi/bus/train?
After the cycling we've a few more days to spend in Havana - hopefully to see the cultural stuff. Haven't booked anywhere yet but thinking of a casa particulares in the old town.. any tips in this respect?
You were obviously quite taken with the place... going back anytime soon?
Varadero is about 200km from Havana, and it takes about 3 hrs (ish) to get there from Havana by bus. Taxi will cost you in the region of 150cuc... best and cheapest way get yourself an internal flight from Baracoa Playa airport to Varadero via solways, they offer transfers included in the cost of the flight. Take you about 20mins to fly and it cose about £70 maybe less if its one way.
I stayed in the Telegrafo (check out tripadvisor reviews) on the last night of my last trip over, in Aug this year. Casa are the best for price, if you want you can privately message me I maybe able to give you some insider tips about Casas (via my fella)...Old town Havana is great, bustling and full of fun, music and culture. I would definately recommend going up to the fort and watch the cannon fired one of the nights every saturday night at 9pm.. it was good, the ambience was good and it scared the c++p out of me when it when off!!
You wont need much acclimatising, if you are going Dec its nice and warm, however the part where you go into the mountains Sierra Maestra can be chilly at night, but you can either take a couple of sweaters or warm up on the good old Cuban rum! I dont like the stuff - yurk!
I hope to go back soon, not sure when as my fella works very hard for the company that do these tours in Cuba, you may meet him. Dont want to compromise his professionalism though so if you want any further info please email me on email@example.com.
I have a very large favour to ask, if anyone would be so kind to take a pair of trousers and some socks over to my fella when you travel to cuba? The trousers are lightweight cargo pants he needs for walking and some sports socks. I have them here, but need someone to take them over for me. I dont go out until Feb 2012 and would like him to get them for his walking trips with Exodus. If anyone is willing to do this for me, I would be most grateful. If you email my email address on my profile, I can send them up to you in the post before you travel. I'll include his Christmas card in there too as mail takes about 3 months to get over to Cuba from the UK and sometimes its opened by the mail authorities. I had a friend that used to go over but she got her fella here in the UK and I dont think he is returning to Cuba anytime soon!! He loves the UK. If he is not your Exodus guide when you get to Cuba it doesnt matter as if you give it to your Exodus/Cubanacan tour guide who will be english speaking they will know who to give them too.
Many thanks in advance.
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