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CUBA

Inside Cuba: An In-Depth Island Journey

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Road Scholar
Program #20612RJ
16 Days | 15 Nights
ACTIVITY LEVEL: Active
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Discussion Board

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Barbara Wright Mar 15, 2015 at 07:37 PM

While on the 2/20/15 trip, I noticed a few items to suggest as gift items to take for our hosts at our "people-to people" friends. Scissors have been mentioned but I heard not donated often. No problem in your checked luggage. The hospital needs the sanitary latex disposable gloves that are so light-weight and inexpensive. I noticed the art students were sharing a stub of an eraser and the grammer school kids had no erasers on their pencils. In addition to pencils, a few erasers:stick-on, art gum, any kind, are small, light-weight and easy to pack. The children were using every line of every page of their spiral, 3-ring binders. Fit as many of those as you can into your suitcase!


Margaret Reek Mar 14, 2015 at 04:24 PM

RS lists clothes "suitable for dress occasions" -- did you really use them, or is this overpacking?
Pat Thompson Mar 15, 2015 at 08:48 AM

I just took one pair of very lighweight t linen pants, jacket and top whcih I wore repeatedly at night mroe to change from grubby day clothes than to dress up. Just add a scarf or piece of junk jewlery. Mostly in havana if you go to a nice paladar. Otherwise, 'dress' clothes not needed.
Barbara Wright Mar 15, 2015 at 07:15 PM

I agree with Pat. One pair of lightweight pants with different tops and a scarf and/or jewelry suffices for "dress occasions".


Margaret Reek Mar 13, 2015 at 09:33 AM

We are on the March 20 trip. Anybody been there really recently -- how are the mosquitos? Did you treat your clothes?
Margaret & Ken Reek
Richard Hannegan Mar 13, 2015 at 03:10 PM

We were there late January...no mosquitoes at all.
Judy Dunahugh Mar 14, 2015 at 06:36 PM

Margaret; I was there 2-20 to 3-8 and no mosquitos or any other bugs.


Ernest Johnson Mar 13, 2015 at 08:42 AM

Thanks, Linda and others, there's a lot of good information here.

Is there any provision for getting daily U.S.- and world-news headlines? Surely no USA Today, but BBC shortwave or something?

What kind of artwork is available? Seascapes, abstract, or what? What might $50 buy?

Was reliable laundry service available at each hotel? At a reasonable price?

Thanks!
Donald Schoengold Mar 13, 2015 at 12:55 PM

I guess that you could bring a short wave radio but seems a bit much just to get the news.
Donald Schoengold Mar 13, 2015 at 12:56 PM

Didn't realize that this ws going to post so fast. Re the laundry - in one hotel the maids did laundry for a fair price but basically your options are to do your own laundry in your sink.
Richard Hannegan Mar 13, 2015 at 03:13 PM

You will be ble to get some US news on the television in your hotel. Its not like you're totally cut off from the rest of the world.
Linda Lindert Mar 13, 2015 at 04:01 PM

We left laundry at the desk of every long stay hotel (more than one night) as soon as we got there. Reasonable cost, no issues with it. The rest, we washed out ourselves. Just about anything in art. I didn't buy the cheap stuff. I got mainly more abstract scenes and portraits, but they are not realistic portraits. News: I never turned on a TV the whole time I was there because we were so busy so I don't know if there was CNN. I somehow doubt it. We never saw any U.S. news and it was refreshing, frankly, to think about something else for 2 weeks. I was able to get 3 copies of "Granma." (I speak and read Spanish) They are sold only by subscriptions and contain very small articles. Most of the art I bought was about $60 each. But articles in the NY Times stated that Cuban art has been discovered and prices are rising.
Barbara Wright Mar 15, 2015 at 06:59 PM

Most of the hotels had several channels in English including CNN, ESPN. I even watched the Oscars live!


Dottie Marban Mar 10, 2015 at 03:12 PM

Thanks, Linda and Judy! Is it a problem to exchange the large $50 or $100 bills? I'd rather not carry a bunch of $20. How much would a meal normally cost in a paladar? Did you have to take a taxi to get to them?

Do they do laundry only in the large hotels? Is the charter flight strict about the 44 lb. limit "including" the carry-one bag? And what would you consider a "small" handbag? RS doesn't really answer these questions clearly.My program is the 13-28!
Linda Lindert Mar 10, 2015 at 03:27 PM

Charter plane is modern, no restrictions, at least on the one we had. It was large and I haven't heard of any such restrictions from other travelers but it is still good to travel light. I had two carryons. No issue with changing $50 or $100 bills. I mostly took $50s because I didn't want to change a lot at a time. Laundry is best done where one stays the longest and give it to the desk as soon as you arrive. I also washed out a bit in my room. I took extra soap bars with me for this task.


Linda Lindert Mar 10, 2015 at 12:36 PM

My husband and I each took $700 for the 2 week trip. He had about $200 left and I had about $100. I bought 7 pieces of art--lovely pieces that I am so glad I bought. So most of it went for art. I had to buy quickly because this trip is not for shoppers. A year ago we could not buy rum or cigars to take back to the U.S. A friend bought a bottle of rum and drank it during the trip and I don't think it was very expensive. Yes, I think $2000 is about twice what you need. Beer comes with each meal, and often I could get beer and water both. None of us could get on internet while we were in Cuba (no successes) but we did make one phone call back to the U.S. and that was difficult and expensive. I don't remember how much.

Everything worked out on the trip. Money was easy to exchange, meals in the family dining rooms on our free evenings were delicious, and the whole trip was fantastic. I want to do it again.
Dottie Marban Mar 10, 2015 at 12:51 PM

Thanks, Linda. Is wine available at meals? Is is OK to exchange $50 or $100 bills? How much would you suggest to start?
Dottie Marban Mar 10, 2015 at 12:54 PM

Also, would we need a light sweater, jacket, umbrella?
Linda Lindert Mar 10, 2015 at 01:26 PM

The hotels change money and it wasn't difficult. I exchanged I think $100 to start with. One hotel ran out of money but got it the next day. Best to change money and turn in laundry AS SOON AS you check in. Cuba is a beer and rum drinking country. At some of the private dining rooms there was Chilean wine available. It was good and not that expensive. But in general people drank beer or water with meals provided on the tour. Bucanero is better than Cristal which is like drinking water.
Linda Lindert Mar 10, 2015 at 01:27 PM

Oh, sweater or jacket: and umbrella. Yes. Air conditioning some places can be cool and it cooled off for us in the evenings. It rained three times hard in two weeks but usually the rains are hard for a bit and then stop.
Judy Dunahugh Mar 10, 2015 at 02:50 PM

I just returned from this trip and concur with everything Linda says. The one issue that I'm not in agreement with is the food. With one exception in Havana I found the food to be large in quantity but pretty flavorless. The Cubans do not use much is the way of spices.
Linda Lindert Mar 10, 2015 at 03:30 PM

Agree with Judy about the food except in the paradors. We had fantastic lobster and fresh salads there, especially in Havana. Rest of food is like in Costa Rica, rice, beans, and a protein. Most of us on our bus ordered fish--some days everyone ordered fish.
Dottie Marban Mar 10, 2015 at 03:51 PM

Thanks again, Linda! I am happy to hear that we will be able to eat some seafood. Do you remember, more or less, how much a paladar dinner would cost?
Pat Thompson Mar 13, 2015 at 09:09 AM

We spent 20-30$ per person (inc. drinks) at several outstanding paladars in Havana and Santa Clara. You will find much on the menus beyond typical criollo fare. For Havana, look at the paladar listings on Cuba Absolutely, the essential guide for anyone going to Havana


Ernest Johnson Mar 10, 2015 at 11:43 AM

I'm on the April 17-May 3 trip. Our materials say to bring $1000 per week, meaning $2000+ for the whole tour. That seems like a lot of money when most everything is included. Would anyone be willing to say how much he/she spent and on what? For example, how much is a decent meal out? How much is a decent beer? How much is a bottle of good rum? How much is half an hour on the internet? EH/RS seems unwilling to provide these individual estimates, which would enable travelers to make their own estimates of how much money to bring on the trip. Thanks!
Barbara Wright Mar 15, 2015 at 07:10 PM

I took $1000 and came back with about $200. Most people buy CD's ($10) and artwork ($10 - $30) from local artisans but you can certainly pay more for artwork. I bought a few inexpensive handmade and crocheted tops. Beer is good, Cristal is light, Bucannero the darker, is usually $3. Usually one provided with each meal..There are a few Cuban wines but don't waste your money - UGH! Mostly Chilean or Spanish are $3 a glass. OR buy a bottle for $5-$6. But don't miss the free Cuba Libres or Mohitos given as welcome drinks or with meals. And prices for a bottle of alcohol will be the same in a hotel or any store. Didn't buy but inexpensive.


Dottie Marban Mar 08, 2015 at 10:25 AM

Anyone out there going on the March 13-28 program? It's coming up soon and I look forward to meeting everyone.

It looks like it will be very warm. Would anyone suggest taking a light sweater or jacket? A small umbrella?


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Included
at no additional cost on this date ...
15 nights of accommodations
40 meals: 15 breakfasts, 13 lunches, 12 dinners
5 Expert-led lectures
17 Field trips
25 Hands-on experiences
1 Performances
2 Flights during the program
Visas: 1(out of 1 required)

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