Buena Vista! We’re going to Cuba! I’ve been meaning to travel there for a long time now & I’m betting it’s on a couple of bucketlists as well. Not surprisingly, given its history. For whoever likes to travel back in time – I do – & whoever wants to indulge in a unique & warm culture this is the place to go.
Traveling to Cuba ain’t something you do without making curtain preparations. Here is your Cuba prep list:
Most countries require a visa – or Tourist Card – to enter Cuba. You can get yours pretty easily, through your local Cuban embassy or online. Sometimes it’s included with the plane ticked. We’ve got ours online.
A travel insurance is obligatory. If you don’t have one on arrival, they make you buy one at the airport. Don’t wait for the airport option! Rumor has it that you’ll be over paying big time.
Cuba has 2 currencies: the CUC & the CUP. The CUC – Cuban convertible peso or ‘Cuban dollar’ – is aligned to USD and is the one that tourists must use. The CUP – Cuban national peso – is worth around 1 CUC = 22 CUP and only meant for the local Cubans.
A trick to keep them apart: the CUC has only monuments & buildings on it, while the CUP is covered with cultural heroes / figures. It’s important to be able to distinguished one and another, there are warnings about getting the wrong change – and therefore overpaying – but if you know the difference you should be fine.
We’ve booked all of our nights at a Casa Particular. A Casa Particular is basically a house where a Cuban rents rooms to tourists. It’s the perfect way to get a look into a Cuban’s home and to really absorb its culture. It is very similar to a Bed & Breakfast and ideal for a short stay.
Another pro for a Casa Particular is it’s price. One night can easily be booked for less then 40 CUC while you’re staying at a colonial residence in the middle of Old Havana.
If your more in for adventure, you can go to Cuba without booking beforehand. Casas Particulars can be recognized by a small sign with two blue triangles against a white background – see image above – most people refer to it as the blue anchor.
I do recommend booking, so you have insurance of a nice place to stay & it is a lot of fun picking out where you wanna stay while you’re in Cuba. We’ve booked our casa’s for Havana & Trinidad at http://casaparticular.com/
If you’re considering going to Cuba, just do it! There are some preparations you should consider, but all of them very easy & most of them a lot of fun. I’m excited & can’t wait until we get on our plane. For now we just have to do with our homemade Havana Club mojito’s while we’re listening to Buena Vista Social Club.. can’t wait for the real deal!