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Back from our independent, non-resort trip!

Stockholm
Level Contributor
65 posts
9 reviews
5 helpful votes
Back from our independent, non-resort trip!

Me & my husband just got back from one of the best trips of our life. We flew from Sweden to Havana, rented a car and during 15 days went to Varadero, Santa Clara, Trinidad, Vinales and finally back to Havana again.

We mainly stayed at casas with great families, but ended with a few hotel nights in Havana.

I absolutely fell in love with the country and we have already started saving up for our next visit!

If anyone has questions about driving around Cuba, I'd be happy to share our experience.

/Sofia

Arctic Bay, Canada
Level Contributor
2,939 posts
38 reviews
85 helpful votes
1. Re: Back from our independent, non-resort trip!

Good for you Sofia glad you and the husband had a blast.....Trinidad was well worth it wasn't it?

Safe travels...jimmy

Havana, Cuba
Level Contributor
5,355 posts
2. Re: Back from our independent, non-resort trip!

In the light of the recent thread about the guy who had a terrible time in Cuba, I am glad your thorough research paid off, and that you had a great trip. Always interesting to hear from someone who asked lots of questions.

Newton Aycliffe...
Destination Expert
for Cuba, Rafael Freyre, Guardalavaca, Holguin
Level Contributor
107,442 posts
61 reviews
84 helpful votes
3. Re: Back from our independent, non-resort trip!

Really pleased you enjoyed your trip. As DonTomas said it shows that if you research it properly, as you did, before you fly it really pays off.

Incidentally did you heed my advice and not pick up any hitch hikers or were you more adventurous?

Germany
Level Contributor
146 posts
10 reviews
1 helpful vote
4. Re: Back from our independent, non-resort trip!

Hello Sofia,

we make a Trip with Rental Car and Casas/Hotels in November this year.

My Question: How was the Condition of the Rental Car, wich Company was this and have had you problems to get petrol?

Thanks

Ellon, United...
Level Contributor
2,063 posts
17 reviews
36 helpful votes
5. Re: Back from our independent, non-resort trip!

Sounds like you had a great trip Sofia! I'm sure you will get plenty questions about driving around Cuba as there have been quite a few discussions about this on here recently.

Just out of interest, was there any particular part of the country that you preferred whilst on your travels? We have been to Cuba several times, but always stay in the same area - although have always wanted to take a trip to Santa Clara and Trinidad.

EGAA, DK
9 posts
6. Re: Back from our independent, non-resort trip!

Hej Sofie from DK

I would like to ask you, if you got any local help to arrange the great trip.

Hilsnar

John

Stockholm
Level Contributor
65 posts
9 reviews
5 helpful votes
7. Re: Back from our independent, non-resort trip!

Hey,

Sorry for my late reply.

Bellagio: we meant to take your advise but ended up picking up hitchhikers a couple of times, which turned out great since they could help us find our way. We had a blast in the car as well, listening to our new cuban CDs. :)

Chefbr: The condition of the rental car was good, it had a few bumps and we had to sweet-talk it to get it up the hills on the mountain roads, but the AC worked and it was in good overall condition.

AmandaABZ: We LOVED trinidad. But I heard from a guy in Havana that it gets really crowded during high season.

Vinales was great, layed back gorgeous countryside, although there's not a whole lot to see and do there. I'd say Trinidad and Havana were our favourites. Next time we're planning on going to the southern parts of cuba as well.

John: we had help from Jorge, who was great. He booked our casas (mainly friends and family of his) and the rental car. I think his address is jorgeguide2004@yahoo.es.

Toronto
2 posts
2 reviews
5 helpful votes
8. Re: Back from our independent, non-resort trip!

HelloSofia.

My husband and I are thinkng of going to Cuba this winter, after the new year. Although both of us have been in several islands in the Caribbean, this would be our first time in Cuba.

We will be there only for one week and are most interested in Havana/ old Havana.

I am very interested in the casas and there appear to be a fair number that are popular. Unfortunately we have no idea how to go about booking at any of these casas. I see that some use the internet as they comment on some of their guests compliments, especially one lady who operates Casa Lourdes.

1 How does one go about booking ahead?

2. I read about some people's rooms no longer being available when they arrived, even though they booked in advance. Is this a common practice?

My husband and I are both seniors - well, he is - and we wouldn't be keen on arriving in an unfamiliar country with no place to stay.

Thank you for taking the time to reply.

Lenora

Calgary, Canada
Level Contributor
19,743 posts
2 reviews
9 helpful votes
9. Re: Back from our independent, non-resort trip!

Dear Lenora,

It is possible that a "confirmed" reservation at a casa can disappear by the time you arrive. This happens because there is no way to put down a deposit and truly confirm the reservation. Casa owners are plagued with no-shows ALL the time so they are sometimes forced to take the "bird in hand."

That said, any respectable casa owner or any casa arranged by a reputable local travel agent or guide will always have a back-up casa available so the switch is no big deal.

For a first time visitor sometimes a better plan is to reserve a cheap hotel for the first night or two, then visit a few casas at your leisure (it's a great excuse to tour around the city) and book one for the remainder of your stay.

Here's a few casa suggestions for Havana: cuba-junky.com/havana/havana-casa-particular…

Have fun.

Cheers,

Terry

PS The best investment by FAR you can make right now is a decent guide book like Moon, Rough Guide, Lonely Planet, etc. Havana is covered fairly well in all these guides.

Edited: 7:17 pm, December 14, 2010
Calgary, Canada
Level Contributor
19,743 posts
2 reviews
9 helpful votes
10. Re: Back from our independent, non-resort trip!

By the way, there are wicked January deals on Westjet right now between Toronto and Varadero. That's not as convenient of course as Air Canada direct into Havana, but if budget is an issue it's something to consider...

Cheers,

Terry