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US Citizens Travel to Cuba

USA
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US Citizens Travel to Cuba

"You can't get there from here." The dream of going to Cuba is made annoyingly difficult by the U.S. government. And we weren't getting any younger.

When our youngest daughter was studying a semester abroad, we decided to visit her and while there, we would fly to Havana. Seemed simple enough...well, it is when you have help.

After months of researching, much of it on Trip Advisor, I finally contacted "my man in Havana", Jorge at jorgeguide2004@yahoo.es

With his help, we were able to purchase air tickets and rental car, and he made reservations for Casa Particulars in Havana and Trinidad. This required trust on both our parts. In particular, we sent a considerable amount money for the airline tickets for my husband and I and our two daughters. I needn't have worried.

He delivered on all counts. The traveling tips that he gave us were invaluable. While Jorge was unable to be our guide, he set us up with two young men that we were wonderful. Ariel, our first guide, even went night clubbing with our daughters. Alejandro, our second guide went out of his way to make our visit interesting. He didn't falter when we just happened to stumble upon a santeria ceremony complete with the sacrificial chickens.

We stayed in Old Havana at Emilio's casa particular. The facade on most of these old buildings are fading and Emilio's is no exception. But after climbing the darkened narrow steps up to the third floor, it is totally charming. Antiques, paintings (many by Emilio's brother, Jesus Nodarse), simple bedrooms (with AC), a huge airy kitchen and the place is very clean. We ate all our breakfasts there, and one dinner and the food was tasty. Emilio is charming and all the people that help him are wonderful.

Our drive to Trinidad--about 5 hours--was interesting. The autopisto has practically no cars on it. Signs are few and far between so stopping to ask directions is a necessity. We had specific instructions on how to get to our casa particular. Upon entering the town, we were stopped by a man who recognized the name and address and rode a bicyle to where we were to go. What luck! Oh, but our casa particular was full, but they knew another place that had two rooms. Never giving it a thought, we went to our new place.

Trinidad is a charming, colorful colonial town. Our girls rented bicycles, we went to the beaches, and there was always music somewhere day and night.

Our final night in Havana we stayed at the Hotel Seville. Way overpriced, but I was ready for an elevator.

After arriving back at our jumping off country, I received an email from Jorge wanting to know what happened to us as we never showed at our Casa Particular in Trinidad. Well, we had been scammed and we didn't even know it--though hindsight I can see where we might have questioned some things. Nothing dangerous, just people trying to make a living. I did feel bad for Jesus at whose house we were supposed to stay. Next time, Jesus, we will make sure we stay with you.

Havana, Cuba
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1. Re: US Citizens Travel to Cuba

Hi Madge:

Very interesting your comments about the Old Havana house. That one is in the best location possible just 2 blocks from the Cathedral Square.

I agree with you, those who would like to visit Old Havana stay in Old Havana should be ready to “give up” their own views on how buildings should look like outside as to be able to enjoy the architecture out and inside; They also should focus in the tremendous variety of races and inter-social relations we have in the City; the warmth of their hosts local families and all the efforts they make to keep their houses running as good as possible under our difficult circumstances. Those who like to enjoy their vacations in nice Hotels and do not mind spending their money that way have also many options in the Old City as well.

I am glad you had a nice & easy and a very enjoyable stay.

USA
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2 posts
80 reviews
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2. Re: US Citizens Travel to Cuba

As an American, I had wondered whether it was possible or safe to visit Cuba. After reading a lot of articles and posts on the internet, I decided I was ready to take the plunge and plan my trip. Luckily, I had read good comments about Jorge’s private guide services; so I wrote to him for help. Jorgeguide2004@yahoo.es

I totally agree with everything Madge states in her post. It is hard to know who to trust when one takes on an adventure like this. Have no worries with Jorge.

His advice and services made my first trip to Cuba a wonderful, positive experience. He is totally trustworthy and his recommendations are spot on.

Jorge communicated with me clearly before my trip, during my visit and after my return home to make sure everything went well.

NKB
Florida
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66 posts
49 reviews
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3. Re: US Citizens Travel to Cuba

My boss has asked for my help in planning a trip to Havana for 8 ppl (from the Boston area). I know you cannot fly to Cuba from the U.S. Where does they have to go in order to fly to Havana? He mentioned the Bahamas. I'm not sure where to start. thanks.

Havana, Cuba
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4. Re: US Citizens Travel to Cuba

Yes, Nassau (Bahamas) is usually the gateway used by those coming from the East Coast. Nevertheless, you could also consider Cancun, Mexico as a very recommendable option. I am taking for granted that you do know about the OFAC restrictions to travel to Cuba, right?

Cuba’s contribution to a safe untraceable travel will be not stamping your passports but rather the tourist cards (re: tourist entrance visa) you will be required to bring. They can be obtained at the time to check-in your flights at any of the two Airports mentioned above.

NKB
Florida
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66 posts
49 reviews
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5. Re: US Citizens Travel to Cuba

Voyhavana,

Thank you so much for this information. I may have to refer to all the many posts that I see to/from you on tripadvisor.

Thanks again!

nkb

mexico
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145 posts
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6. Re: US Citizens Travel to Cuba

Here is nothr "Ode" to Jorge! The man is magnificent...he is organized, honest, patient and caring! He also set me up at Emilio's and I must admit I was at first put off by the appearence of the door (I have pix) and then the climb. But once arrived (only the second floor...I am lazy) the place was great! Emilio is a very nice person, his staff is adorable...I played dominos with Ahmed anda friend one night....I had different rooms at each end of my stay and both were excellent. They hve little fridges nut he can more than all the cold, safe water that you can drink.

Then on to Cienfuegos for one night and the casa was rally full. I was met by Jose (where I was supposed to stay) and his brother Alfredo. Jose explained that two customer had asked to stay on two more nights so would I mind staying at his brothers. Alfredo and Olga are two of the warmest people I have ever met (and that's saying a lot for Cuba because all the people tend to be very open). I was starving and impertinently asked if I could just have rice with tomato sauce and a fried egg (cheap meal from my student days) Well I never cooked it that well! Delicious. They then cooked lobster dinner for me and two local friends in the patio

On to Trinidad and I DID stay with Jesus. Lovely house, honor bar with beer, bottled water and juices etc, three great rooms with private baths (I insisted on them...what a princess :-) On the roof of his house is a beutiful patio with an avacado and mango tree! And great views.

Jorge called me my first night in Trinidad to be sure that all was okay.

I decided to leave Trinidad after thre (instead of four) days and Jorge to the rescue again! Back to Emilio's at my request.

There is no favor too big or too small for Jorge. If you wish to write me directly please do, but I thnk I have said it all here

Oh, I forgot..my guide Dania.....THREE CHEERS! I booked her two days and she is incredibly interesting having done Russian studies and being left flat after a promising career. So back to the U to study English...all the Cuban History (obviously she had learned it in school, but no sufficient for a guide) was studying on her own. She is a dream.

By all means entrust our fate to Jorge, he willnot let you down!

Cali
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123 posts
15 reviews
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7. Re: US Citizens Travel to Cuba

As an American looking to travel to Cuba in April - what exactly is it that you get Jorge to do for you? Book your accom as we cant use our credit cards there?

Thanks! I am a pretty exoerienced traveller but have never tried to go anywhere I wasnt "allowed" to before!

8. Re: US Citizens Travel to Cuba

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