Monday, March 27, 2017

havana, cuba - day 2 // dame family trip 2017

So, we liked Havana in the rain, but Havana in the sun is a total game changer! The feeling was night and day and so much more lively! Everything looked brighter and everyone seemed happier, including ourselves. We grabbed breakfast with the locals then walked around the city until we booked an hour taxi to show us other parts of the city. We went to the Christ of Havana followed by the Morro Castle. Just being in the convertible taxi in the nice weather was fun enough and watching Florence LOVE not being in her carseat was the cutest. We were planning on going to the revolution museum but Flo was needing a nap so we went to lunch while she napped in her stroller. After lunch, we took another taxi to the Plaza de la Revolution and ended the day at a famous hotel that overlooked the ocean. (I'm really bad at remembering names) We covered a lot of ground this day but enjoyed every minute of it. 

Common questions we've been asked about our travels to Cuba:

Q. What airlines did you take? 
A. We flew from Orland to Havana on JetBlue. Round trip tickets for the two of us (plus a baby) was around $150. 

Q. How did you get your visa?
A. We bought our visa in the airport when we checked into our flight. Visa was $50 each. Travel insurance was included in the ticket and is required for Cuba. 

Q. Since Americans aren't allowed to visit for "tourism," what category did you go for?
A. There are 12 categories and you need to "qualify" for at least one in order to visit. They are extremely vague and no one, not a soul, followed up and asked any questions. We filled out an affidavit that was attached to our flight confirmation email and that was the only time we were required to fill anything out. We went under the category of journalism. We figured since we filmed and took photos (and now blogged) we should be fine. 

Q. Was it hard to get through customs?
A. No. It was just like going to and from any other country. Like I mentioned, not one question was asked and our passports were stamped without any problems. 

Q. How did you budget for the week?
A. The ATM's don't take US debit cards so you need to bring cash. We budgeted around $100 a day for the two of us. (We already paid for our accomadations online) Cuba was actually more expensive than we anticipated. Some of our meals seemed cheap but travel and accommodation was close to US prices. We took out EURO's in the US bank and converted it into CUC's in Cuba. DO NOT covert to PESOS! PESO's are worth a lot less than CUC's. If you convert with US dollars, there is an extra fee and that's why we brought EURO's. 

Q. Was it safe?
A. Absolutely. There was never a moment where I felt uneasy, even after dark. We think it's due to it being a communist country and they dwell on tourism for income. They are held to rules and laws and I'm sure the consequences are bad if they don't abide by them. Or at least that's why we assumed it felt so safe.

Q. Where did you stay?
A. We booked our apartments through airbnb. There were many nice hotels but a little out of our budget. The communication was great and the only issue we ran into was our safe not opening in one of our apartments. We had all of our money and passports in it but thankfully, after a few hours of trying, it opened up and we were able to get our items out. It wouldn't open again after that. 
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