CUBA

CUBA

CUBA

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Name: Museum of the Revolution
Location: Havana, Cuba
The Museum of the Revolution is located in the Old Havana section of Havana, Cuba. The museum is housed in what was the Presidential Palace of all Cuban presidents from Mario García Menocal to Fulgencio Batista. It became the Museum of the Revolution during the years following the Cuban Revolution. The building was the site of the Havana Presidential Palace Attack (1957) by the Directorio Revolucionario Estudiantil.

The former ''Presidential Palace' was designed by the Cuban architect Rodolfo Maruri and the Belgian architect Paul Belau who also designed the Centro Gallego, presently the Gran Teatro de La Habana. The 'Presidential Palace was inaugurated in 1920 by President Mario García Menocal. The building has Neo-Classical elements, it was decorated by Tiffany Studios of New York City.

The museum's Cuban history exhibits are largely devoted to the period of the revolutionary war of the 1950s and to the country's post-1959 history. Portions of the museum are also devoted to pre-revolutionary Cuba, including the 1895-1898 War of Independence waged against Spain.

SOURCE: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Museum_of_the_Revolution_(Cuba)
Name: Old Havana
Location: Cuba
Old Havana is the city-center (downtown) and one of the 15 municipalities (or boroughs) forming Havana, Cuba. It has the second highest population density in the city and contains the core of the original city of Havana. The positions of the original Havana city walls are the modern boundaries of Old Havana. Old Havana is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Havana was founded by the Spanish in 1519 in the natural harbor of the Bay of Havana. It became a stopping point for the treasure laden Spanish galleons on the crossing between the New World and the Old World.

In 2008, Hurricane Ike destroyed many structures in Old Havana, overturning years of conservation work directed at the iconic antiquated buildings of the area. Not only did it damage historic buildings, but it forced many of Old Havana's residents to flee for safety.[4] The threats that hurricanes pose adds to an already tenuous state for Old Havana's many historic buildings. Age, decay, and neglect combine with natural factors in a complex set of threats to the long-term preservation of this historic old town.

SOURCE: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Havana
Name: Viñales Valley
Location: Viñales, Cuba
Viñales Valley (Spanish: Valle de Viñales) is a karstic depression in Cuba. The valley has an area of 132 km2 (51 sq mi) and is located in the Sierra de los Órganos mountains (part of Guaniguanico range), just north of Viñales in the Pinar del Río Province.

Tobacco and other crops are cultivated on the bottom of the valley, mostly by traditional agriculture techniques. Many caves dot the surrounding hillfaces (Cueva del Indio, Cueva de José Miguel). The conspicuous limestone cliffs rising like islands from the bottom of the valley are called mogotes. They can be up to 300m tall.

In the valley of Dos Hermanas, we can find the Mural of Prehistory, which is painted on a stone of one of the elevations. This mural shows the evolution of life in a natural sense of Cuba. The Mural of Prehistory is located in the mogote called Pita. Viñales is a major tourist destination offering mainly hiking and rock climbing. The local climbing scene has started to take off in the last few years with many new routes being discovered resulting in an increase in local tourism.

SOURCE: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viñales_Valley
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COUNTRY INFORMATION GUIDE
PLEASE SEE BELOW FACTS, USEFUL US GOVERNMENT TRAVEL LINKS AND BUSINESS VISITOR ACTIVITIES, FOR TRAVEL TO CUBA.
FACTS:
Official Languages: Spanish
Currency: Cuba Peso (CUP) / Cuba Convertible Peso (CUC)
Time zone: CST (Cuba Standard Time) (UTC−5) / CDT (Cuba Daylight Time) (UTC−4)
Drives on the right
Calling code: +53
Local / up-to-date weather in Havana (and other regions): BBC global weather – click here
US GOVT TRAVEL LINKS:

For more useful information on safety & security, local laws / customs, health and more, please see the below official US travel.state.gov web link for Cuba travel advice. NB: Entry requirements herein listed are for US nationals only, unless stated otherwise.

You can also find recommended information on vaccinations, malaria and other more detailed health considerations for travel to Cuba, at the below official US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) weblink.

BUSINESS VISITOR ACTIVITIES*:
Activities you may undertake on a business visa / as a business visitor:
PERMISSIBLE
ATTENDING MEETINGS / DISCUSSIONS: TBC
ATTENDING A CONFERENCE: TBC
RECEIVING TRAINING (CLASSROOM-BASED): TBC
NON-PERMISSIBLE
AUDIT WORK: TBC
PROVIDING TRAINING: TBC
PROJECT WORK: TBC
*This information does not constitute legal advice and is not an exhaustive list. For a full legal assessment on business visitor activities, please revert to your internal company legal team / counsel.
TRAVEL INFORMATION**
It is highly recommenced that you access the above official US travel.state.gov web link and read all safety & security information prior to making your travel arrangements / planning your trip.
PLEASE CLICK / TOGGLE BELOW FOR USEFUL TRAVEL INFORMATION TO CUBA.

Dual currency system:

There are two currencies circulating in Cuba, Cuban convertible pesos (CUC) and Cuban pesos (CUP). Wide circulation of US dollars in Cuba ended in November 2004.

Cuban convertible pesos are referred to by locals as kooks and is the currency most tourists will use in Cuba. The CUC is primarily used for the purchase of tourist and luxury goods such as hotels, official taxis, entry into museums, meals at tourist restaurants, export quality cigars, bottled water and rum. The CUC is pegged 1:1 to the US dollar and conversion into CUC can be done at Casa de Cambio’s or Cadeca’s (exchange houses) which are located in many hotels and in other places throughout the city. Tourists are permitted to import and export a maximum of CUP 100 and CUC 200 respectively at any one time.

Cuban pesos are referred to by locals as moneda nacional (national currency) and mainly used by locals. As of October 2015, 1 CUC buys 24 CUP and 25 CUP buys 1 CUC. The CUP is primarily used for the purchase of daily, non-luxury goods that are sold in agricultural markets, street stalls and local restaurants. This means you can buy things like coffee, bread, fruits, vegetables, fresh juices and snacks at local street stalls with CUP. In addition to this, CUP can also be used at some (non-tourist) sit down restaurants and for the purchase of local cigars known as ‘tobaccos’ or ‘Nacionales’. If you are on a budget and intend to eat mainly local food to save money, it is recommended you obtain some CUP as although peso priced places will accept CUC, it is more convenient to use the local currency, and some government shops will not accept payment in CUC as they cannot provide change. Exchanging currency to CUP can be done at exchange houses. CUP currency cannot be converted to foreign currencies.

Raul Castro, who has long criticised the dual currency system as it generally pays hôteliers and taxi drivers more than medical doctors, announced in October 2013 that the dual currency system would be scrapped in approximately 18 months – however that change has not been made.

Exchanging currency:

Travellers can exchange a range of foreign currencies at Casa de Cambios or Cadecas (exchange houses) which are located in airports, hotels and in major towns and cities. Bancos (banks) also exchange foreign currencies and are located in most major towns and cities. Both exchange houses and banks accept a number of foreign currencies with the most popular being Canadian and US dollars, pounds sterling and euros. Mexican pesos, Swiss francs and Japanese yen may also be accepted by some banks in Cuba. If you are holding US dollars, a 10% exchange tax will be charged in addition to any commissions normally added. If you wish to exchange US dollars, it may be cheaper to convert to another currency before hand (so long as you don’t lose more than 10% in that conversion).

A full list of currencies that are accepted by banks and indicative exchange rates can be found on the Banco Central de Cuba (Central Bank of Cuba) website. If you hold a currency that cannot be exchanged in Cuba, you may have to first exchange your home currency to one that is accepted and then exchange again to the Cuban currency. Doing the first step at at home will probably be the easiest and cheapest option.

Many exchange houses and banks have credit and debit card facilities where they can debit your account and exchange it for cash. U.S.-issued cards will not work at these terminals. In addition to this, many places do not accept MasterCard cards (U.S. issued or otherwise). The terminals at exchange houses and banks often break down or go offline so you may not be able to use any card (until at least the next day when the machine is working again). Some places will not accept cards without your name on it (travel cards for example) even if it has your signature on the back.

When changing currency, be sure to bring your passport for identification (and the address of where you are staying as this is sometimes asked). If you are using a credit or debit card, the name on the card will need to match the name on the passport otherwise they will not accept the card. Be prepared for long queues at exchange houses and banks as well as odd opening and closing hours. Exchange facilities in resorts and hotels will often offer worse rates then banks and exchange houses in the town. Finally, do not change currency on the street as travellers have been defrauded, with fake or local currency.

Currency can be converted from CUC to foreign currencies, but as of July 2016, the currency changers at Havana’s airport only change to euros and US dollars. The currency changers also do not have anything smaller than €5 bills and US$5 bills, so expect to be stuck with a few CUCs that cannot be converted. Currency changers will also not convert any CUP currency.

Traveler’s checks:

Traveler’s checks drawn on American banks are not valid in Cuba, though many have had success cashing U.S. traveler’s checks at major tourist hotels. American Express checks are difficult to cash due to the likelihood that they were purchased with U.S. dollars. For example, Swiss traveler’s checks will be accepted, as long as they are in Swiss francs, even if the checks are made “in licence” of an American bank, as long as the real producer of them is non-American. Visa traveller’s cheques are accepted, though the same caveats about being drawn on an American bank apply. It’s better to bring cash to Cuba; resorts accept euros, Canadian dollars, British pounds, Swiss francs and Hong Kong dollars without any fees.

ATMs:

ATMs are relatively rare in Cuba but they can be found in most larger towns and cities. U.S.-issued cards and MasterCard cards (U.S.-issued or otherwise) do not work at any ATM in Cuba. ATMs do accept Visa (non U.S.-issued of course) and sometimes UnionPay. But although your card may be accepted, ATMs in Cuba often break down or do not have sufficient cash for a large withdrawal (if refused, try a smaller amount). Also, only primary accounts are recognised, so ensure your funds are not in a secondary account linked to the card.

Purchasing on credit and debit cards:

There are generally facilities for making payments with plastic in many hotels and touristy shops and restaurants. As mentioned above, U.S.-issued cards will not work. Visa and MasterCard (non US-issued) cards do generally work however they can only charge in US dollars and will incur a 3% fee. If using a debit card, cards that have a Plus or Cirrus logo may work. As mentioned above, be prepared for the card terminal to not work or be disconnected so do not rely on using your card. Finally, private businesses such as casas particulares and paladares will never accept card, necessitating the use of cash.

BY BUS:

The bus is the most popular way of getting around the island. There are two long-distance bus lines, Viazul, which is generally for tourists and Astro, which is generally for locals. Shorter distances are served by local provincial buses.

Viazul:

Víazul is Cuba’s main bus line for tourists and is the most comfortable choice of public transportation to tour the island. Viazul run modern air-conditioned long-distance coaches with washrooms to most places of interest. The buses are reliable and punctual as there is little traffic in Cuba. The buses sometimes take detours or make pauses along the route, especially at road-side restaurants or local souvenir or food shops.

The buses can be used theoretically by anyone – and they seem to be “filled up” by the Cubans, if there are empty seats by the time of departure (likely for much lower than tourist fare).

Reservations can be made in advance on their website, but this is typically only necessary when leaving from or going to popular destinations in high season. Reservations can also be made at a Viazul ticket office (usually located at or near the place where the buses stop). The reservations need to be exchanged for bus tickets in advance (as of 2015) at the ticket office.

If the bus is full, it’s very likely that you’ll be offered a ride in a shared taxi for the same price as the bus. If there are no shared taxis going to your destination, the ticket salesperson will likely advise you to arrive half an hour before the time of departure and wait for a late cancellation. If there is a late cancellation, you will be allowed to purchase a ticket from the bus driver.

Schedules for Viazul can be accessed on their website. As internet is hard to come by in Cuba, it is recommended you download or print the bus schedules in advance. A useful one-page schedule of Viazul buses can be found on the Cuba-Individual website. Refreshments are not served on the bus but the buses stop for meal breaks at highway restaurants along the way. The buses are often overly air-conditioned, so bring along something warm to wear.

Astro:

Astro is the main bus line for Cubans. Astro has renewed their fleet with 300 new Chinese coaches that are as comfortable as Viazul (without the washroom). Although the new buses have proven to be unreliable and often break down, they are still better than the old buses that Astro used to run. Astro has a much more extensive network then Viazul and tickets are considerably cheaper. Officially, Astro bus tickets can only be sold to Cubans and foreigner students who are studying in Cuba (and have a Cuban student ID card to prove it). However, many foreign travellers have reported being able to purchase an Astro bus ticket. Your ability to purchase a ticket will depend on your vendor, fluency in Spanish and whether the destination is covered by Viazul. Astro buses normally depart from the same place as where Viazul departs.

Local buses:

There are also local provincial buses that serve local destinations such as neighbouring provinces (for example from Santiago you can use these buses to get to Bayamo or Guantanamo). These buses are often overcrowded and are usually old (pre-1960s) Eastern European vehicles. Each town will have a “terminal terrestre” where these buses will depart from and are usually quite easy to find (e.g. La Habana it is found in the Lido whilst in Santiago it is found on Calle 4).

Local buses are cheap with rides never costing more than 1-2 CUC for long journeys (as opposed to 5-10 CUP for locals). Queues are lengthy (it is best to arrive in the early hours of the morning, or alternatively give the chauffeur a tip to allow you to jump the queue) and you should always say that you are a student, as tourists are forbidden from using this transport.

By shared taxi (collectivos):

A popular alternative to travelling by bus is to use shared taxis or collectivos. These consist of either modern or old vehicles that carry 3 to 5 passengers (depending on the size of the car). The main advantage of a collectivo is they will take you all the way to your hotel or casa for a similar price to a Viazul bus ticket. They are also usually faster, stop at cheaper highway restaurants and give you an opportunity to meet locals.

The easiest way of purchasing a ride in a shared taxi is to simply arrive at a long distance main bus station and look for the next available taxi going to your destination. There will be a number of touts trying to sell you a seat in their colleagues taxi so finding a car is fairly easy. The taxi only leaves once the car has reached its capacity so try and find one that already has a number of people confirmed to reduce your waiting time. The best time to catch a collectivo is in the morning as this is when most of the locals travel and therefore will maximise your chances of finding a taxi going to your destination. Prices for a collectivo are about the same as for an equivalent Viazul bus ticket. Be sure to negotiate a price before hopping in the car.

Another option is to reserve a share taxi in advance at a tourist information desk. These desks are usually located near a Viazul bus station and they will reserve a seat a taxi for the day of your departure. These taxis will only run if the taxi is full so be sure to check there are enough passengers confirmed for the transit. If the taxi is not full and you must travel that day, be prepared to pay for the empty seats otherwise the taxi will not go.

Some share taxis operate illegally and if the driver is stopped by the police, you may have to get out of the car and you will be left stranded in the middle of nowhere.

BY CAR:

You will find an unusually large number of old U.S.-made cars on the street. Popularly known as “Yank Tanks,” these are pre-revolution imports from the 1950s that have been nursed along for half a century, because the Soviet-made cars available during the Cold War were too scarcely allocated for most Cubans to buy (and other cars remain too expensive today).

In Cuba, all vehicles drive on the right hand side of the road.

Car rental starts from CUC 65 per day (including insurance) plus the cost of a full tank of gasoline. The refundable deposits start around CUC 200. Rental cars are for the most part fairly new, imported European or Asian models. You can rent cars from any Cubacar outlet. Any traffic tickets received are noted on a rental car sheet and are deducted from your rental deposit. If you are involved in a serious traffic accident involving injury or death, you will be detained in Cuba until the legal process sorts things out. This leaves travellers stuck in Cuba from several months to a year while collisions await trial – even if the visitor is not at fault or was just a passenger at the time of collision. For this reason, many countries advise their citizens not to rent cars in Cuba. Beware of scams regarding the cost of insurance. There is only one type of insurance policy covering everything (except for radio and tires) and the price varies only depending on the car type (details in the “Stay safe” section). Attentively check the contract and be sure you have a receipt for every CUC you pay.

Busier roads and city streets are generally of fair (drivable) quality and should not pose much trouble if due care is exercised, however some quiet rural roads are in need of serious repair.

Generally traffic is light, especially away from Havana. Outside of towns and cities traffic is usually very light, with no cars for miles on some rural roads. Be warned – you also share the highways with local salespeople selling cheese and snacks, cyclists (sometimes going the wrong way, and at night usually without lights) and horse-drawn vehicles. The Autopista (the main highway running down the center of the country) is crossed at occasional intervals by railway tracks – take care to slow down before going over to avoid damage to the tires or suspension. Many of these have a stop sign (“PARE” in Spanish) which you should carefully heed – or risk a fine of CUC 30, even if no train is coming.

Roads are poorly signposted (and frequently not at all), so if you plan to do serious driving, it would be well-advised to get a detailed map and ask for directions when not sure.

Many traffic lights, especially in cities, are placed on the FAR corner of the crossing, not where you are supposed to stop, thus appearing to invite you to stop in the middle of the intersection.

Cubans tend not to drive too quickly, and chances are you’ll be the fastest car on the road. In additional to random locations, speed limits are enforced at semi-permanent checkpoints. These are usually positioned at junctions and are signposted a few kilometres in advance. Most will require you to slow down to 40 km/h. Respect this or get fined 30 CUC.

There have been reports of scams involving purposely punctured tires: This can happen when you park your car in a touristic location and someone either punctures one of your tires or places some sharp object close to the tire so it gets punctured once you depart. Within a few hundred meters someone on the street will make you aware of the punctured tire and guide you to a place where other people will help you change the tire and may even offer to replace your tire at an elevated price.

Gasoline costs CUC 1.00/Regular, CUC 1.20/Special and 1.40/Super per litre. Tourist rental cars are not supposed to use regular.

BY TRAIN:

The main train line in the country runs between Havana and Santiago de Cuba, with major stops at Santa Clara and Camagüey. Trains also run to other cities such as Cienfuegos, Manzanillo, Morón, Sancti Spiritus, and Pinar del Rio.

There is one reliable train in Cuba: the overnight Tren Francés between Havana and Santiago de Cuba, which runs on alternate days. It uses equipment that used to be operated on the Trans-Europe Express, and donated to Cuba by France a few years ago (hence the name). There are first class and special first class seats on this train (the special seats are better and more expensive), but no sleepers. If only one train in Cuba is running, this will be it.

All other trains in Cuba are unreliable. The equipment is often in poor condition, breakdowns are common, and when they occur, you can be stuck for the better part of the day (or night) waiting for a replacement engine. There are no services on the trains, so bring plenty of food and water with you. Trains are frequently cancelled. Some trains offer first class seats (don’t expect too much); others have second class seats, which can be very uncomfortable. Schedules are at best optimistic and should always be checked in advance of travel. There are no sleepers on overnight routes.

If you are still thinking of taking a train, other than the Tren Francès, you should know that many Cubans prefer to hitchhike than take the train.

If you are still determined to take a train, approximate schedules are given under the different city descriptions. Foreigners must pay much higher fares (which is still very cheap) than the locals. Tickets are roughly two-thirds what Viazul charges. Theft is a problem so watch your luggage!

BY PLANE:

The fastest and most comfortable way to cover larger distances is on either of the Cuban airlines, Cubana de Aviación or Aerogaviota.

BY BIKE:

Calm roads and beautiful scenery make Cuba an ideal country for biking. Its already an incredible popular bike touring destination, both for group rides with bus support, and smaller, independent bike touring. In January – February, you can be confident you will come across at least a few bike tourers. If touring independently, you will have to bring your own bike as bikes suitable for trekking are not readily available in Cuba. Bike touring groups though will have bikes of moderate quality included in the package. Do not under any circumstances rent a bike (i.e. el Orbe in Havana) in Cuba as you will get a Chinese junker or something that will leave your backside raw.

Roads in most places in Cuba are reasonably paved. Large pot holes are common, so always stay alert. There’s also many roads that degrade to gravel in certain sections, so it may be a good idea to bring a mountain bike or bikes with reasonably thick wheels. Make sure to bring all spare parts you might need along the way, since they will not be available in Cuba. As casas particulares are available even in relatively small towns it is easy to plan an itinerary. In denser parts of the country (Central and Western Cuba), you can reasonably assume there will be accommodation every 20 km between large cities. Food for on the road can often be obtained locally for cheap Cuban Pesos, most small towns will have at least a sandwich or pizzzeria stall. Make sure to carry enough food (and water!) though, if travelling through more remote areas. Obtaining bottled water outside the major cities can be a definite problem. Pack iodine tablets as a safe alternative.

Bikers are often met with enthusiasm and interest; when taking a break you will often be approached by curious locals. You’ll get a lot Cubans offering to buy your bike, or asking if it’ll be left behind. It is possible to take bikes on a tourbus, like “Viazul”, to cover larger distances. Some Viazul bus routes will charge an extra 3 – 5 CUC for carrying the bike. It is also possible to take bikes on trains and even to hitch with bikes (wave some convertible pesos to approaching drivers to catch their attention).

For long tours, try and ride to the south-west to have a nice tail wind (for example, Havana to Viñales, a popular ~250 km ride).

BY BOAT:

There are two main island groups to explore along the southern shore of Cuba. Your sailing area from the two main bases, Cienfuegos or Trinidad incorporates the Canarreos Archipelago and the Juventud Islands or Jardines de la Reina Archipelago. Windward Islands.

EAT:

Restaurants are owned by the government and run by employees, and the food ranges from bland to spicy. Generally the spicy dishes are not as spicy as the fiery pepperpot spiciness found on some of the other Caribbean islands. The national dish in Cuba is rice and beans (moros y cristianos), and the best food will generally be found in your casa particular or in paladares (locally owned restaurants in private homes). The tourist areas of Havana and other large cities have many dining options. The fact that an item is listed on a menu does not; however, mean it is actually available.

Black beans are a main staple in Cuban households. Cubans eat mainly pork and chicken for meat. Beef and lobster are controlled by the state, and therefore illegal to sell outside of state owned hotels and restaurants, however special lobster lunch/supper offers are plentiful for tourists. You may see turtle on menus in Paladares, but they are endangered and eating them is illegal.

Paladares are plentiful, even in the smaller towns. Seating is often limited, so you may need to arrive when they open, usually around 5 or 6PM. If you are staying in a casa particular ask your host for recommendations, as the quality of the food can vary substantially between paladares. Only eat in ones that have a printed menu with prices, otherwise you are very likely to pay two to three times as much as you should. Several have taken to printing two different menus, one with local prices and one with foreigner prices. Eating in paladares is perfectly legal, but if you are taken there by a Cuban, you may be charged extra in order to cover commission of the person who brought you. A supper will cost around 7 to 10 CUC per person.

Eating in state owned hotels and restaurants is significantly more expensive and compares with prices in many first world countries. An average supper with soup, dessert and a glass or two of wine could easily set you back 20 to 30 CUC per person. In these establishments, the vast majority of the employees’ income comes from tips (their monthly salary often being less than the cost of one meal), making it a friendly and welcome gesture to tip liberally for good service.

In bigger towns you will also find some state-run restaurants which cater mainly to Cubans and accept local currency. Prices are extremely low (e.g. 10-15 CUP for a sandwich and cooked meals for of 30-60 CUP), but the quality of food, service and ambiance is typically relatively low. You may be able to secure better food by offering to pay in CUCs. Still, this may be an option if you are on a low budget or seeking an ‘authentic’ Cuban experience. If you choose to tip, do so in CUCs as anything else would be an insult to staff.

It is customary to tip 10 to 20 percent in restaurants and bars. A 10 percent service charge is often added to the bill.

Most casas particulares serve their guests a large breakfast for around 2-5 CUC per person if requested (you can tell them what you want for breakfast). However, make sure you get value for money – often you can buy for much less money (in national pesos) the same fruit, coffee bread/omelette, etc., out in the street that your casa particular owner will want to charge you 4 times more for just to present it to you in a more comfortable fashion. However, for money-savers, ‘building’ your own breakfast for national pesos is quite easy. Every little village has sandwich shops where you can get a sandwich of ham, cheese or with omelette for 5-15 pesos depending on the size. Most of them also sell Cuban coffee (sweet!) for 1-2 pesos or a juice for 2 pesos called ‘refresco’.

Some casas particulares may also serve guests large dinners for 7-10 CUC per person.

Sometimes if you ask nicely, your casa particular owner may let you use their kitchen to prepare your own food – in fact, they are usually quite accommodating if for instance you have special dietary requirements, or young children etc.

You can also find small street vendors selling a variety of foods, typically:

  • sandwiches
  • fruits (1 banana 1-2 pesos)
  • small pizzas (10-20 pesos) handed in whatever clean paper is around – usually approximately a 15-20 cm round piece with some tomato sauce and few flakes of cheese. They taste pretty OK and are good as a last resort hunger extinguisher.
  • refrescos (usually various juices)
  • spaghetti in tomato sauce
  • ice cream
  • sweet delights like cream cake

The quality varies from vendor to vendor. Many of these stores are run from people’s living rooms, and buying from them is a good way to help provide some extra income to a Cuban family. While these meals are satisfying and cheap, long lines are common and the vendors are rarely in any rush to see everyone fed quickly.

There are private restaurants that cater for Cubans and are only allowed to take national pesos. You will realize them by a board that states the daily offers and prices. A tasty serving of rice, vegetables, plantains, and pork or beef will cost around 30-50 national pesos. Some places even sell it to you in a cajita [“little box” in English].

Bottled water is sold in CUC throughout the county where one litre will cost you around CUC 0.80 – 1.20. You can by a 5-litre bottle for CUC 1.90 and transfer it to smaller ones.

Havana Chinatown:

Check out the small Havana Chinatown a few blocks west of the Capitolio if you are looking for Chinese-themed restaurants. The food is neither spectacular nor authentic Chinese, but decent enough if you can’t face another serving of rice and beans. Street food can also be a notch better here, try the area around the intersection of Avenida de Italia and Avenue Zanja.

DRINK:

Cuban national cocktails include the Cuba Libre (rum and cola) and the Mojito (rum, lime, sugar, mint leaves, club soda and ice).

If you request a rum in a small country restaurant do not be surprised if it is only available by the bottle. Havana Club is the national brand and the most popular. Expect to pay $4 for three year old white rum or $8 for seven year old dark rum.

Cristal is a light beer and is available in “dollar” stores where Cubans with CUCs and visitors may shop. Cubans prefer the Bucanero Fuerte, which at 5.5% alcohol is a strong (hence the “fuerte”) darker beer. Both Cristal and Bucanero are brewed by a joint venture with Labatts of Canada, whose beer is the only Cuban beer sold in CUC. A stronger version, Bucanero Max is also available – primarily available in Havana.

There are also smaller brews, not available everywhere, such as Hatuey and Corona del Mar. These are sold in CUP.

Similar to restaurants – there are two types of establishments you can go to drink in Cuba: Western-style CUC bars with near-Western prices, a good selection of quality drinks (and sometimes food), nice decorations, semi-motivated staff and often live music, typically found around tourist hot-spots such as Old Havana and tourist hotels. Here you will mostly meet other tourists, expats and a few Cubans with access to hard currency, but don’t expect a ‘local’ experience.

The alternative is to seek out local neighborhood bars where you can choose from a quality, but limited, selection of drinks (mainly locally produced rum by the bottle, beer and soft drinks, very rarely will you be able to get cocktails such as mojitos), cigars of dubious and cigarettes of only slightly better quality, and sometimes snacks. Local bars accept CUPs and are dirt-cheap, although bar keepers will often ask you for CUCs instead – it’s up to you to negotiate an acceptable price. Local bar staff are state employees and (literally) paid a pittance. These bars are also a good way to meet locals who may even open up a bit and talk about their lives after a couple of drinks.

Local bars are not that hard to find despite typically having no prominent signs displayed outside. Decoration is usually scant, and music often subdued. They make for a fascinating experience (especially if you make the effort to speak to some locals), and they provide a good insight into life of ordinary Cubans without access to hard currency. As a foreign visitor, you will be generally welcomed. Discussing politics over a drink is a tricky, and typically lose-lose proposition: speak negatively about the Cuban political system and you may put your Cuban drinking companions into a very difficult position as they may very well be informed on for hanging out with subversive foreigners.

Casas particulares:

If you want to experience something of the real life of Cubans, the best places to stay are casas particulares, which are private houses licensed to offer lodging services to foreigners. A casa particular is basically a private family establishment that provides paid lodging, usually on a short-term basis. This type of establishment would more usually be called a bed and breakfast or vacation rental in other countries. In general, under this term, you can find full apartments and houses, rooms inside people’s homes, mini-apartments or rooms with separate entrance (studio or efficiency-type rooms). The business may be operated either as a primary occupation or as a secondary source of income, and the staff often consists of the house’s owners and members of their family who live there. Most casas have air conditioning and private baths. Many have minibars stocked with water, beer and soft drinks; and televisions. The cost of minibar items is similar to that charged in a restaurant (CUC 1-2 for water, CUC 2-3 for a beer). Some casas also have WiFi.

Casas particulares are cheaper than hotels (average CUC 20-30/room high season; 10-15 low season) and the food (breakfast CUC 4-5, dinner CUC 8-13) is almost always better than you would get in a hotel. Casas particulares are plentiful even in small towns; they are somewhat more expensive in Havana than elsewhere. Any service offered by a casa particular other than accommodation, such as driving you to the bus station, will be added to your bill, regardless of whether this is stated up front. Items such as bottled water supplied with your meal will also have a charge. Always make sure that you talk to the owner about what things will cost when you arrive to avoid unpleasant surprises later. These houses are under a lot of restrictions by the government, so make sure that you are staying at a legal “casa”. A legal house will have a sticker on the front door (often a blue sign on a white background), you will notice these as you walk past houses. Upon arrival, the houseowner will need to take down your passport details and how long you will be staying for. Some Cubans do offer illegal accommodation and although they are cheaper, the quality of the food and service is generally lower. If found, the Cubans will risk a large fine and it is best to avoid illegal casas completely.

If travelling around the island, it is recommended to ask the casa owners if they have friends or family in the city you are going to. There is a network of casas and the family will gladly organise for you to be met by their friends off the bus at your next destination. Because most casas particulares are small, rarely with room for more than about 5-6 guests, it is advisable for anyone wanting to stay at a bed and breakfast to make reservations well in advance of their travel date. Many casas particulares belong to associations, have a web presence, and are described in various books and travel guides. You can arrange your accommodation in advance, either by asking your host to recommend someone and by using a casa particular association (the party making the introduction will almost always receive a commission, which you end up paying as it will be included in the accommodation price). Some will let you book accommodation over the internet before your trip, and will go out of their way to arrange accommodation for you while you are there. You can make a reservation by calling ahead using either the casas phone or a public one. Alternatively, you can use a site specialised in vacational accommodation in Cuba like Casas de Cuba wildcaribe.com or BB Inn Vinales that let you search a house that suits your needs, check the availability of rooms on the dates that interest you and confirm your booking. Since mid-2016, the US government has permitted Airbnb to list accommodations in Cuba.

For the best rates just arrive in a place and knock on a door to see the room and ask for the price. If you do not like either of them go for the next door. Every city and every village has way to many casas for the few tourists that come. Due to the taxes the casa owners have to pay to the government the lowest price for a room is CUC 15 in high season; 10 in low season. Some might ask you to have at least one meal at their casa to give you a cheap room price. If traveling by bus you will be sometimes welcomed by casa owners at the bus station that will present you with pictures of the room they offer. Those will most likely accept room rates of CUC 15, even breakfast for CUC 2 and dinner for CUC 5. Agree on a price and then go with them as all casas have almost the same standard. But beware of jineteros (hustlers) trying to lead you to a casa, where they will get a commission and you will be charged the extra. Make sure you talk to the casa owner.

Cubans hosting foreigners for free is illegal and risk a large fine if caught. Some will bend the rules, but be cautious if you choose to take up the offer (e.g. don’t walk out the front door if you see a police car nearby, especially if you look obviously foreign).

In some Cuban cities and tourist resorts, like Varadero, Playa Santa Lucia and Guardalavaca, local authorities determined that casas particulares would represent a threat to the hotel industry, and passed some legislation placing regulations and limits on the industry forbidding the operation of these establishments.

Accommodations may state that they provide wifi, but an internet token must be purchased. See “Connect” section.

Hotels:

Most small cities and larger towns have at least one state-run hotel, which is often in a restored colonial building. The prices range from around CUC 25 to CUC 100, depending on what you are getting. Resorts and high-end Havana hotels can be significantly more expensive.

As in any developing country, most of the merchandise available is designed for tourists to take back home. The biggest Cuban exports for tourists are rum, cigars, and coffee, all of which are available at government-owned stores (including the duty-free store at the airport) or on the streets. For genuine merchandise, you should pay the official price at the legal stores.

Cubans also do well in creating music such as salsa, son, and Afro-Cubano. You can purchase CDs or tapes anywhere, but paying the average cost of 20 CUC assures you of quality.

If you’re tasting rum (ron in Spanish), there’s more than just Havana Club, even though it is ubiquitous and probably one of the most easily accessible products. Other tasteworthy rums include Legendario, Ron Varadero, Ron Cubay, Ron Santiago de Cuba and Ron Santaria. For the allegedly authentic Cuban experience buy rum in a 200 ml tetrapak carton, available at small grocery stores aimed at local Cubans, but don’t expect to be blown away by the taste.

If you are planning to take big quantities (several boxes or more) of cigars with you, be sure you have purchased them officially from an approved shop that gives you proper purchase documentation. Foreign nationals are allowed to export up to 50 cigars (generally 25 to a box) without special permits or receipts, but the export of more requires official receipts. If you buy cigars cheap on streets and you don’t have official purchase invoice then your cigars may be confiscated. Also, any purchase of Cuban cigars outside government-approved stores (even in resorts) has the potential to be fake, and that the “cigar factory worker who steals from the factory” does not exist in any appreciable quantities. If you find a “deal” from a street vendor, it’s highly likely you are getting fakes, some of which may not even be made of tobacco. Always ensure, no matter where you buy, that the Cuban government origin warranty stamp is properly affixed to the cigar box. Since 2014, licensed U.S. visitors to Cuba were being authorized to import $400 worth of goods from Cuba, of which no more than $100 could consist of tobacco products and alcohol combined. These restrictions were further relaxed in 2016, but bringing back cigars or rum for resale remains prohibited. As the situation is changing, it’s best to verify current limits in advance.

Officially you’ll need permission to export paintings that are larger than 70cm/side. When you buy artwork from approved shop then they’ll give you also the required document, that consists of one paper and one stamp that will be glued on back of your painting. Serial numbers on the stamp and paper must match. Cost of the document is about CUC 2-3. In reality, it is possible that no one will be interested in your paintings.

**All travel information has been sourced from wikivoyage. However like wikipedia, wikivoyage is an open platform editable by any member of the public. Therefore, although very useful, all above information IS INDICATIVE ONLY and must be verified prior to personal use. Moreover, if you wish to see more information please visit: https://en.wikivoyage.org/wiki/Cuba
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Name: Museum of the Revolution
Location: Havana, Cuba
The Museum of the Revolution is located in the Old Havana section of Havana, Cuba. The museum is housed in what was the Presidential Palace of all Cuban presidents from Mario García Menocal to Fulgencio Batista. It became the Museum of the Revolution during the years following the Cuban Revolution. The building was the site of the Havana Presidential Palace Attack (1957) by the Directorio Revolucionario Estudiantil.

The former ''Presidential Palace' was designed by the Cuban architect Rodolfo Maruri and the Belgian architect Paul Belau who also designed the Centro Gallego, presently the Gran Teatro de La Habana. The 'Presidential Palace was inaugurated in 1920 by President Mario García Menocal. The building has Neo-Classical elements, it was decorated by Tiffany Studios of New York City.

The museum's Cuban history exhibits are largely devoted to the period of the revolutionary war of the 1950s and to the country's post-1959 history. Portions of the museum are also devoted to pre-revolutionary Cuba, including the 1895-1898 War of Independence waged against Spain.

SOURCE: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Museum_of_the_Revolution_(Cuba)
Name: Old Havana
Location: Cuba
Old Havana is the city-center (downtown) and one of the 15 municipalities (or boroughs) forming Havana, Cuba. It has the second highest population density in the city and contains the core of the original city of Havana. The positions of the original Havana city walls are the modern boundaries of Old Havana. Old Havana is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Havana was founded by the Spanish in 1519 in the natural harbor of the Bay of Havana. It became a stopping point for the treasure laden Spanish galleons on the crossing between the New World and the Old World.

In 2008, Hurricane Ike destroyed many structures in Old Havana, overturning years of conservation work directed at the iconic antiquated buildings of the area. Not only did it damage historic buildings, but it forced many of Old Havana's residents to flee for safety.[4] The threats that hurricanes pose adds to an already tenuous state for Old Havana's many historic buildings. Age, decay, and neglect combine with natural factors in a complex set of threats to the long-term preservation of this historic old town.

SOURCE: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Havana
Name: Viñales Valley
Location: Viñales, Cuba
Viñales Valley (Spanish: Valle de Viñales) is a karstic depression in Cuba. The valley has an area of 132 km2 (51 sq mi) and is located in the Sierra de los Órganos mountains (part of Guaniguanico range), just north of Viñales in the Pinar del Río Province.

Tobacco and other crops are cultivated on the bottom of the valley, mostly by traditional agriculture techniques. Many caves dot the surrounding hillfaces (Cueva del Indio, Cueva de José Miguel). The conspicuous limestone cliffs rising like islands from the bottom of the valley are called mogotes. They can be up to 300m tall.

In the valley of Dos Hermanas, we can find the Mural of Prehistory, which is painted on a stone of one of the elevations. This mural shows the evolution of life in a natural sense of Cuba. The Mural of Prehistory is located in the mogote called Pita. Viñales is a major tourist destination offering mainly hiking and rock climbing. The local climbing scene has started to take off in the last few years with many new routes being discovered resulting in an increase in local tourism.

SOURCE: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viñales_Valley
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...WHO ARE WE?

...WHO ARE WE?

…WHO ARE WE?
…WHO ARE WE?

My name is Manny and I would like to personally welcome you to Global Visas.

Our team is dedicated to providing a consular service which focuses on attention to detail, delivering a personal approach and with a high focus on compliance. Feedback is very important to us, therefore any comments you provide about our service are invaluable.

Our team is dedicated to providing a consular service which focuses on attention to detail, delivering a personal approach and with a high focus on compliance. Feedback is very important to us, therefore any comments you provide about our service are invaluableI have provided some of my own personal testimonials over my years in immigration below; working and leading on very large projects...

I have provided some of my own personal testimonials over my years in immigration below; working and leading on very large projects.

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We look forward to working with you and meeting all your expectations.

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