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About

Havana

  • Cuba is the largest Caribbean island, between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean.
  • Cuba lies 145 km (90 miles) south of Key West, Florida, between the Cayman Islands and the Bahamas
  • The official language of Cuba is Spanish
  • Basic to fair English is spoken in some tourist locations
  • Cuba is actually an archipelago consisting of the main island, and about 4,195 keys totaling 110,992 square kilometers of surface area.
  • The terrain is predominately lowlands and there are four important mountainous areas: the Guaniguanico, the Guamuhaya range, the Sagua-Baracoa range, and the Sierra Maestra mountains.
  • The landscape is diverse, varying from semi-desert to humid tropical forests.
  • Cuba has 5,746 kilometers of coastline that is home to 289 beaches
  • Cuba’s flora is extremely diverse, with more than eight thousand species.

 

HISTORY

  • Cuba was originally inhabited by Ciboney and Arawak Indians
  • After the arrival of Columbus in 1492, Cuba was colonized by the Spanish
  • In the 1600s, European powers struggled to control the country
  • After two wars of independence the Cubans won their freedom from the Spanish in 1899, only to be ruled for another 60 years by governments in the hand of the U.S.A.
  • Independence from the US domination was finally won in the late fifties after more than two years of fighting


FACTS

    Street in Trinidad

    • The population of Cuba totals more than eleven million.
    • Cuba is the most populated country in the whole of the Caribbean.
    • When Christopher Columbus first happened upon Cuba in 1492 he thought he had landed in China.
    • The British captured it for one year in the 1800’s, but lost it back to Spain the next year.
    • The US tried to invade Cuba multiple times from Florida. In 1848, they gave up and offered Spain $100 million dollars for Cuba, but the offer was rejected.
    • Ernest Hemingway wrote “The Old Man and the Sea” and “For whom the Bell Tolls” whilst living in Cuba.
    • Cuba is only 90 miles away from America.
    • The main island of Cuba consists of rolling plains. It has a range of mountains at its southeast end, called the Sierra Maestra. The highest point in Sierra Maestra is the Pico Real del Turquino , which stands at around 2005 metres.
    • Cuba actually boasts one of the best health care systems in the world. The average life expectancy is comparable with that of the UK and one of its most prominent exports is that of medical technology.
    • Cuba also has a thriving health tourism business.
    • Cuba is the birth place of Bacardi Rum, although Bacardi moved to Puerto Rico after Castro’s takeover.
    • The average temperature is 21ºC in January and 27 ºC in July.
    • Cuba has a mixed population, 51% of which is made up of ‘mulattos’ (a term commonly used for people with one white parent and one black parent or who have both black and white ancestry).
    • The birth rate of Cuba is one of the lowest in all of the Western Hemisphere.
    • Cuba boasts some of the best dive sites in the world.
    • Baseball and dominos are national obsessions in Cuba

Avg. Costs

Capitolio, Havana

  • Budget – Approx 25-30CUC each per day
  • If you are sharing costs with a friend, eating street food & staying in Casa Particulars and limiting your excursions, taking public transport.
  • Mid-range – Approx 30-40CUC each per day
  • Going on ViAzul buses (or even getting the odd Taxi here and there), eating & staying in Casa Particulars or Paladares (privately owned restaurant). You are having the odd meal out and going out on day trips, and having the odd mojito.

 

Hotels

  • 75CUC – For a double room including breakfast, mid season, in a mid-range hotel

Casa Particulars – (Home Stay, Guest House, Bed & Breakfast)

  • 25-35CUC – For a room. Rooms can usually accommodate up to 2 adults and 1 child – (not 3 adults).

 

Meal Costs in Cuba

  • Budget -Approx 13CUC each per day
  • This will buy you a good breakfast, (expect to pay about 3CUC) and good dinner (about 8CUC), in a Casa Particular or Paladar, with 2CUC left over for a street food snack at lunch.
  • Mid-range – Approx 20 CUC each per day
  • This will buy you the same good breakfast & dinner in a Casa Particular or Paladar as before, but maybe beef or lobster in the evening and 5CUC for a sandwich or spaghetti at lunch.
  • Top-end – Approx 30CUC and upwards each per day
  • Breakfast in a state-run restaurant will be about 5CUC. An evening meal run restaurant with a starter, dessert and a tip and you’re looking at something in the region of 20CUC. Fancy a sandwich or spaghetti at lunch-time? Add another 5CUC.

 

Drink Costs in Cuba

  • Note that prices in restaurants and hotels are likely to be more (depending on the location).
  • Cocktail – 3-6CUC (with mojitos and daiquiris being more)
  • Half Litre of Water – 1CUC
  • Soft Drink – 1.10CUC
  • Can of Local Beer – 1.50CUC

 

  • Car hire cars start at about 52CUC a day for the smallest Hyundai Atos – to 154CUC a day for an Audi A6.
  • Airport Departure Tax – Don’t forget you must pay a departure tax of 25CUC
  • Internet – costs about 6CUC hour.
  • Museum entrance – costs approximately 1- 5CUC (Many museums and attractions offer a 50% discount for children under 12 years old.)

 

Click here to see The Economist’s Big Mac Index.  It is arguably the world’s most accurate financial indicator to be based on a fast-food item.

Currency

Information is coming soon.

Safety

Havana Cityscape Night

  • Due to its strict and prominent policing, combined with neighborhood watch style programs, Cuba is generally a very safe country.
  • Even so, a certain degree of common-sense and caution is advisable, especially in major cities.
  • Tourists are generally advised not to involve themselves in the following three areas: politics, drugs, or prostitution.
  • It is common for women to receive a lot of attention from men. Avoiding cleavage and short skirts will lessen the attention; although by no means stop it. Do not get annoyed by the whistles or hissing sounds, as Cuban women often acknowledge and welcome the attention.

 

Click here to see Canadian Government Travel Reports and Warnings on http://www.voyage.gc.ca/.  Travel Reports offer information on safety and security, local laws and customs, entry requirements, health conditions and other important travel issues.

Climate

Tourist Train

  • Cuba’s climate is moderate subtropical.
  • The Cuban territory grazes the Tropic of Cancer, and due to its long and narrow configuration, on an east-west axis, it receives the refreshing action of the trade winds and the sea breezes.
  • During the short winter, it is cooled by masses of cold air from the North
  • The day and night temperatures differ less in the coastal regions than inland.
  • The eastern part of the country has a warmer climate than the western part.
  • Average temperature 24.6º C (76.3º F), Summer average 25º C (77º F), Winter average 22º C (71.6º F)
  • Cuba has two seasons – The dry season, from November through April, and the rainy season, from May through October
  • The average annual precipitation is 1375 mm.
  • The hurricane season officially runs from July to November, with most storms historically occurring in October and November

Places to See

Vinales Valley

Old Havana

  • Havana is the center of Cuba
  • Havana is a fascinating city with a swinging nightlife
  • American novelist Ernest Hemingway, who lived in Havana for the last 22 years of his life, said in terms of beauty, only Venice and Paris surpassed Havana’s charm.
  • Havana has been the capital of Cuba since the 16th century.
  • It is a bustling and lively city by the sea, uplifting and unprejudiced and yet knows how to lead its own inner life.

View Map

 

 

 

Santa Clara

  • Visit revolutionary Santa Clara, and the monument, museum and mausoleum of Ché Guevara.
  • Ché Guevara’s body was only returned from Bolivia in 1997, 30 years after his capture and execution.
  • In 1959, he and 300 rebels defeated 3,000 of Batista’s troops here, leading to the dictator’s flight just days later.

View Map

 

 

 

Trinidad

  • Feel the history in colonial Trinidad, founded in 1514.
  • Locals ride horses down cobbled streets, past houses painted in pastel colours.
  • Elegant mansions are now museums in this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

View Map

 

 

 

Museo de la Ciudad (Museum of the City)

  • The stately Baroque residence of Cuba’s colonial governors and former Presidential Palace
  • The Palace of the Captains General built in 1791, stands as an impressive sight on the Plaza de Armas
  • Now the repository for the city’s museum collections
  • The museum’s displays and exhibits tell the tale of Havana
  • There are also exhibits relating to archaeology, folklore and weaponry, and an art collection that includes porcelain, paintings and furniture of historic value and great beauty.

Etiquette

Communication Etiquette:
– Shake hands when greeting one another
– Cubans tend to be direct and loud
– Favor direct eye contact
– Place a lot of emphasis on the people and relationships
– Not to schedules and agendas
– Train and bus schedules are not always on time
– Showing up to a party late is common

Business Etiquette:
• Dress is informal for both men and women
– Men – A guayabera shirt with nice pants may be as formal as you need
– Business casual for a warm climate
– Women – Pair of pants and nice shirt
– Jeans and casual business attire are usually accepted
• Titles are very important
– Address using their professional title and their surname
– Have one side of your business card translated into Spanish
• Arriving on time is very important – even if you have to wait a half hour before actually meeting them
• Allow the host to start the business discussion

Contributions (3)

  • Laurie says...

    I have now heard from many customers that the Cuban airport sells the convertible peso at much better rates than the resorts.
    Also, I had a customer tell me yesterday that Continental offers a better rate on buying back the peso than Cuba does.

    Posted on Friday, April 20th 2012 at 12:11 pm

  • adam says...

    Make sure you take Canadian Dollars to exchange for the Convertible Peso, you will get a much better rate than using US Dollars as most exchanges charge an extra 10% on USD.
    If you love your condiments, it is a good idea to pack your own traveler sized ketchup and mustard, as the condiments available to you on the resorts have a significantly different taste than what we are used to.
    Be sure to order a few “Cuba Libres”, this is where Rum & Cola started and the Cubans know how to mix good one!

    Posted on Friday, June 22nd 2012 at 12:15 pm

  • Markham says...

    In Varadero, Cuba, if you decide to get the CUC at the airport, you need to go to the departure side to get it, as they do not have a currency exchange on the arrival side. You can get the CUC at the resort (at the lobby usually) and the rate will change everyday. Make sure you bring your calculator with you to know what you’re really getting, the hotel staff tried short change me. Be sure to bring more CAD to visit Cuba if you are planning to go on excursions. The resort I stayed at had an Air Canada rep (I flew with Air Canada vacation) everyday that helps arrange any excursions that you want to take. For visiting around Havana from Varadero (1 day tour) + tropicana show, it costs 99 CUC per person. If you really like Bacardi and you don’t like paying Canadian prices, apparently the Santiago de Cuba is the equivalent to the Bacardi.

    Posted on Tuesday, August 14th 2012 at 1:30 pm

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