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Inside Cuba: An In-Depth Island Journey

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Road Scholar
Program #20612RJ
16 Days | 15 Nights
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EasyFor people looking to exercise their minds more than their bodies. There’s minimal walking and not too many stairs.
ModerateThese programs get you on your feet and include activities such as walking up to a mile in a day through a city and standing in a museum for a few hours.
ActiveFor people who enjoy walking as much as two miles a day, perhaps to explore historic neighborhoods or a nature trail.
Moderately ChallengingFor hardy explorers who enjoy a good physical challenge, spending most of their days on the go.
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Discussion Board

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Ruth Lawson-Stopps Mar 31, 2014 at 12:05 PM

We returned on March 21st from our trip. I have no opinions on cameras. My IPhone did fine for me.
We had the same bus and driver for the whole trip. I left a polar fleece on the bus, sometimes the air conditioning was a bit cool. You can also leave your donations on the bus. No rest room on the bus but plenty of banos (bathroom) stops. Bring tissue and be prepared with some $ to pay attendant if present. Many public bathrooms do not have toilet seats. I would say that was the worst part of the trip, which is to say that the rest was really great.
The prepared program and stops were varied and great. the opportunity to see such a wide expanse of the country was fantastic. Interaction with the Cuban people wonderful. Be ready for the adventure and try to ignore the things that do not work. You will not have a lot of free time but you will have a reasonable amount. In the towns visit the Casa de La Trova's at night, wonderful music. I was not prepared for how much I would love the art and enjoy the performing arts. If you go to the Sky Ranch enjoy the local guide and the rooster that hops up on his arm. Really, be ready for the adventure adn enjoy it all.

Barbara Rabon Mar 28, 2014 at 12:06 AM

Any thoughts on what camera equipment to take? DSLR D7000 and a 18-200mm lens or a compact Canon point and shoot S110? Are the buses used in transfers during the program equipped with A/C and restrooms?
Linda Lindert Mar 28, 2014 at 09:11 AM

I took my Canon SLr and an 18-135 lens. I didn't need much zoom. I also had a G15 point and shoot but I like the S100 series better as one to hand to others for taking pictures. the G15 has a very sensitive button and is harder to focus. Everyone but me had point and shoots. Very airconditioned, modern buses. Yes. And yes, there is a bathroom in the back. You may want a sweater on the bus.
John Cubit Mar 28, 2014 at 10:30 PM

Take your SLR. I never used my compact, which I also brought. Sample photos are here:
Barbara Rabon Mar 28, 2014 at 11:04 PM

thank you! Nice photos. Would you recommend more than the 18-200mm? I have a 14-24 wide angle zoom and a 50mm.
Barbara Rabon Mar 28, 2014 at 11:04 PM

thank you! Nice photos. Would you recommend more than the 18-200mm? I have a 14-24 wide angle zoom and a 50mm.
John Cubit Mar 29, 2014 at 12:44 AM

As for focal length, I think you would get the most use from the 14-24, followed by the 18-200. However, speed is also very important. Because of indoor, low light situations, the faster, the better. I bounced flash off walls and ceilings and would recommend usinh a flash that can do that. For inside venues, like music events (which are mostly in relatively small spaces) be sure to scope out the best light angle before you take a seat or position against a wall. Many places are the old Spanish style with large, tall windows. Before the performances start, try to get a position where the light coming through those windows is the most advantageous.
Linda Lindert Mar 29, 2014 at 09:47 AM

Yes, the lighting is very tricky with those backlit windows, and sometimes you don't have a choice. With the old cars and some tight situations, I wish I had taken my wide angle lens. I didn't use any flash as I don't like the look and I think it distracts from the programs. I used high ISO and in some cases worked with the blur.
John Cubit Mar 29, 2014 at 10:48 AM

As Linda said, sometimes you don't have a choice. Also note that I said bounced flash, not straight-on flash. Intelligent, considerate use of bounced flash in dim spaces provides fill to the ambient light without glaring off peoples' faces, creating harsh shadows, and being distracting to the performance. You have to wisely choose the few special situations where flash is an asset. I think it is important to engage with the people I wanted to photograph, rather than being stand-offish. I found it easy--and very rewarding--to set up rapport with the musicians and others we were visiting. They very much welcomed friendly, appreciative photography. A genuine smile goes a long way and is always reciprocated.
Linda Lindert Mar 30, 2014 at 10:35 AM

I agree with connecting with people. I speak Spanish so for me that wasn't difficult. I'd ask about their families, how long they practice every day, the pain of toe shoes, whatever. Just a few words made the connections. John, your pictures are a true inspiration. I am still editing and I think it will take a year.

Linda Lindert Mar 22, 2014 at 02:50 PM

The U.C. Berkeley alumni magazine has a writeup of its 8 day tour to Cuba in this spring's magazine. It was written by a Wendy Miller. Or search for it under Wendy Miller Cuba. It comes right up.

Gladys Gilliland Mar 22, 2014 at 12:40 PM

Did the hotels have Safe's provided or could you put in a hotel safe?
John Cubit Mar 22, 2014 at 01:22 PM

Some hotels had safes in the room, others had safe deposit boxes at the front desk.
Linda Lindert Mar 22, 2014 at 02:41 PM

I don't remember any safes, but as our guide said, the hotel staff have good jobs and recieve tips. They don't want to lose them. I never felt my things were unsafe in my suitcase. I kept any cameras, etc. zipped up (but not locked) in my backpack or my suitcase. No problems.
Linda Lindert Mar 22, 2014 at 02:44 PM

Oops. John is right. I remember using one, I think at the Meliá. But the rest of the trip I didn't bother.
John Cubit Mar 29, 2014 at 11:11 AM

I have lived and traveled in Latin America, and elsewhere, for many years. From asking and looking around, I found Cuba to be the the most crime-free place I have ever been. I had no worries about being pick-pocketed or having my camera snatched. However, if you are more comfortable locking up your cash and passport, as I am, every hotel has a safe either in the room or safe deposit boxes at the front desk, mostly the latter.

Gladys Gilliland Mar 19, 2014 at 02:48 PM

I am going to Miami on the 25th and would like to take the Miami tour, but the Driver tells me he needs at least two people and I am the only one for March 26th. Is anyone else interested in the Miami tour? Either call him 305-576-2888 and tell him I will call to make the same reservation, or respond to me.
Linda Lindert Mar 22, 2014 at 02:46 PM

It was worth it. We had 8 people from Road Scholar on our tour. David is very entertaining and we all enjoyed the Miami tour. I hope it gets more signups so you can do it.

Virginia Marcotte Mar 09, 2014 at 08:19 AM

Hi, Gladys, I agree $1,000 seemed over the top and I didn't take that much. And brought some home (I maybe took $800 but actually I think it was less than that. I left one CUC for every night I was in a hotel, for the chambermaid. Bought a tee shirt, 3 CD's and spend 10 cucs for a small piece of art really souvenir(at Martha's Jimenez's) maybe a cuc a day total for bathroom breaks, 1/2 cuc each? total of 5 cucs over the 2 weeks for beggars if even that -- I didn't usually give. Buena Vista was 25 cucs --wonderful! I didn't do the Coba Cabana and the dinners on our own probably totaled less than 100 cucs. a few postcards (yet to arrive!?!) Tipped our guides. And of course the money to get out of Cuba, 30 cucs? I now wish I had gotten at least one more CD, another Tee shirt and more souvenir/art work stuff. And I could have done at least those things. I hope you find it as great a trip as I did.
Gladys Gilliland Mar 09, 2014 at 06:30 PM

Were there hotel saves in which to place your money. I've traveled in Central America frequently as my daughter lived there for probably 20 years, but my husband always carried everything inside his pants safety belt. No husband, don't like to carry purse.

Virginia Marcotte Mar 05, 2014 at 04:13 PM

Hi, Linda, I'm so glad you posted that. One of the things I regret not buying was the CD of this delightful couple. Of course going to ITunes means they got not money from me and I should have supported them. But getting hits on itunes is a sort of support.
Linda Lindert Mar 05, 2014 at 04:50 PM

There are several You tube videos of them, as well. I think iTunes pays royalties to the singers. Or at least to the producers of the CDs, in which case the producers should pay the singers. Here is one of my favorite You tube videos of them;
Gladys Gilliland Mar 07, 2014 at 08:15 PM

For those who have made the Cuba trip, how much cash did you need? $1000 seems a little over the top. I'd buy CDs, small family gifts, but no major purchases.
Gladys Gilliland Mar 07, 2014 at 08:37 PM

After reading others comments, I have a couple of questions. How much tipping? did you eat in one of the homes and what was the charge CUC? Where there show other than the Buena Vista Club at the Nactional? Did anyone take a private tour of Havana, or was it needed?
Linda Lindert Mar 08, 2014 at 02:17 PM

You need to tip coins to use a public bathroom (almost every time). Almost every toilet was very clean and usually the attendant has to flush them with a bucket of water. We ate in Paladars. They were only a bit cheaper than U.S. restaurants but we don't usually have a cocktail and a glass of wine for dinner. We hired an old car for a wonderful evening in Havana--$15 CUC each way which included tip. (much more than taxis but how often does one have a chance to ride in 1948 Mercury convertible?) My husband tipped the belboy at the National Hotel $5 CUC for that favor. I bought 8 pieces of art so yes, I probably spent $800.
Linda Lindert Mar 08, 2014 at 02:18 PM

Tipping guides: yes, we did. Just our main guides, not the guides at each historic spot. The American guide does all the tipping for us for those spots. At the end of the trip we discreetly tipped the driver and the Cuban guide. I wish I had also tipped the U.S. guide and will send her a check because she is doing me a big favor on her next trip to Cuba.

Linda Lindert Mar 05, 2014 at 02:51 PM

We are constantly reliving the wonderful 15 day trip from Santiago and Guantanamo City in the east to west of Havana. Fabulous with many wonderful memories. For your information, the music of the Dúo Cofradía (Lía and Pachi in Trinidad whom we visited) can be found on iTunes for all of you who didn't buy a CD (or two). Search under "Dúo Cofradía." There are 3 CDs that they have produced.

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Our Value Promise To You

You won't find a better value.

at no additional cost on this date ...
15 nights of accommodations
40 meals: 14 breakfasts, 14 lunches, 12 dinners
6 Expert-led lectures
18 Field trips
23 Hands-on experiences
1 Performances
Visas: 1(out of 1 required)


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