Information about Cuba

Not only is Cuba a beautiful country, it also has a population that is very friendly and hospitable in spite of the economic difficulties it underwent in the last few years. It's a country of music, poetry, dancing, singing and chatting. People still have time for each other and for their guests. Cuba is like going back in time to the 50's: old cars, a relaxed atmosphere, no hurry. Apart from that Cuba has a nice climate. All year round you can enjoy the beaches, water sports, etc.

See Information about Havana
See Information about Trinidad
See Information about Santiago de Cuba
Calendar of Cuban Events

Since last months... the air in Cuba is different! Be part of this historical change!!!

Our Locations in Cuba:

Cuba is located in the northern Caribbean where the Caribbean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean meet. It is south of Florida and the Bahamas, west of Haiti and north of Jamaica. Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean, and the second-most populous, with over 11 million inhabitants.

Prior to Spanish colonization in the late 15th century, Cuba was inhabited by Amerindian tribes. It remained a colony of Spain until the Spanish–American War of 1898, which led to nominal independence as a de facto United States protectorate in 1902. As a fragile republic, Cuba attempted to strengthen its democratic system, but mounting political radicalization and social strife culminated in the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista in 1952. Further unrest and instability led to Batista's ousting in January 1959 by the July 26 Movement, which afterwards established a government under the leadership of Fidel Castro. Since 1965, the country has been governed by the Communist Party of Cuba. A point of contention during the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States, a nuclear war nearly broke out during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.

Culturally, Cuba is considered part of Latin America. It is a multiethnic country whose people, culture and customs derive from diverse origins, including the aboriginal Taíno and Ciboney peoples, the long period of Spanish colonialism, the introduction of African slaves, and a close relationship with the Soviet Union in the Cold War. Cuba is a developing country with a planned economy that is dominated by the exports of sugar, tobacco, coffee and skilled labour. It ranks highly in some metrics of national performance, including health care and education.

Cuba has tripled its market share of Caribbean tourism in the last decade; as a result of significant investment in tourism infrastructure, this growth rate is predicted to continue.

 

Information about Visa:

To enter Cuba every tourist needs a passport (that's still valid for 6 months after arrival) and a tourist card that normally can be purchased together with the flight. This tourist visa is usually valid for 30 days.
At the immigration office one extension of 30 days can be made (approx. Euro 29). After a total of 60 days the student will have to leave Cuba for at least one day to enter again on a tourist visa.

Insurance (Mandatory)

All travelers, foreign and Cubans living abroad, coming to the island shall take out a medical insurance policy. To meet such requirement, travelers shall have a travel insurance which covers medical expenses or a policy for medical expenses with coverage in Cuba. The insurance policy should be taken out at the home country of departure. Travelers, who, exceptionally, do not have insurance at arrival, could take out a policy of insurance and assistance from Cuban insurance companies at the airport, port or marina. Travel insurance from Cuban insurance companies and most international insurance companies receive travel assistance services in Cub a from Asistur S.A, available 24 hours all year round.

Residents in the United States traveling to Cuba will have to take out their insurance policy at their home country of departure from Cuban insurance companies. The arrangement shall be made through agencies associated with Havantur-Celimar Company. US insurance companies do not provide coverage in the Cuban national territory.

Airport Tax

Please note that on departure approx. 25CUC (USD 25) has to be paid at a special counter at the airport. This is to be paid in cash.

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Information about Havana

Havana, city of faded glory but just as much the city of unbridled high spirits. A city where little is allowed but much more is possible. After years of undeniable decline, this impressive metropolis, now included in the UNESCO list of World Monuments, is rising like a phoenix from its ashes.

Havana is a city one has to learn to appreciate. It is a melting pot of cultures and races, an open-air museum under the strict direction of Castro. Apart from the picturesque inner city, the “Playas del Este” and the famous Malecón (the immense boulevard that is considered to be the living room of Havana) you should take some time to get to know Vedado. This is the part of Havana where the host families live and where you find many art deco buildings that would be considered national monuments in many countries.

Our location in Havana: Vedado
All of our lessons and accommodations are arranged in Vedado. This nice and residential neighbourhood is considered the current Havana downtown, the area of business, commerce and nightlife. Vedado contrasts Old Havana with its cosmopolitan and lively style. The district is very diverse, with a number of cultural centres, restaurants, theatres, parks, boulevards and night clubs that guarantee plenty of entertainment options for a comfortable stay during a language program and during holidays as well. Also, most banks, airlines and travel agencies are located here which together with the several hotels and stores available make the whole area the most convenient of the city. The distance to Old Havana is just 10 minutes by car or coco-taxi and 30 minutes walking. Some important landmarks in Vedado: Hotel Nacional, José Martí Stadium, the University of Havana, the National Theatre of Cuba, and the Colón Cemetery.

Arriving in La Habana
We recommend students to take a taxi to go to our meeting point. The distance from the airport to the meeting point is about 25 km. By taxi it will take approx. 30 minutes (approx. 30CUC). Our team will bring you to your host family which will be at walking distance or the student will get the address of his/ her host family and the student has to travel to the host family him/ herself.

**For American students, Cuba is accessible from Mexico (Mexico City or Cancun to Havana), Nassau to Havana and Holguin, Jamaica (Montego Bay or Kingston to Havana), Toronto to Havana or Santiago de Cuba (charter) and a new service from Miami via Nassau.

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Information about Trinidad

Trinidad was the third Spanish settlement in Cuba after Baracoa and Bayamo. It used to be a very important harbour and apart from tobacco, sugar was the most important agricultural product. In the 19th century Trinidad was a wealthy town but all this changed during the two wars of independence. Now, Trinidad is a “museum town” (but surprisingly lively!) of about 50.000 inhabitants. This c ity is the best preserved Spanish colonial town in Cuba and therefore offers a wonderful atmosphere. Most evenings live traditional music is presented in several bars.

Trinidad is an exceptional destination in Cuba. This charming town has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and once you are there it is easy to understand why. Its colonial atmosphere, crafts, rustic streets, shows and historical roots transport you to a different time. The town is also close to the beautiful Ancon beach, sugar plantations and the Valle de los Ingenios. At night the town becomes very festive with performers of the social-cultural centres like Casa de la Trova and Casa de la Música.

Our location in Trinidad
All our lessons and accommodations are arranged downtown. Our program is conveniently located within walking distance of the most beautiful and important attractions of the city. Colonial buildings like Iglesia Francisco or Palacio Brunet are accessible in mere minutes. The city center is the departure point for excursions to Valle de los Ingenios or Playa Ancón.

How to arrive in Trinidad
Most students arrive to Havana and then take a bus to Trinidad.
* Arrival by bus: The journey will cost approx.35CUC and takes around 5 hours. Please look at www.viazul.com where you find detailed information about bus schedules and prices, but please note that they are subject to frequent change!
Bus terminal in Havana: Avenida 26 and Zoológico, Nuevo Vedado, Habana
Bus terminal in Trinidad: Viro Guirnart e/ Antonio Maceo y Gustavo Izquierdo # 224

* Arrival by plane: Aerogaviota and Aerotaxi airlines arrange light-aircraft flights to Trinidad. There are two airports in Havana, upon arrival students should contact the information desk to ask from which airport the flight to Trinidad will be leaving. In Trinidad, the airport Alberto Delgado is 2 kilometres south of the city. We advise students to take a taxi to our meeting point in the city. The price will be around 10CUC.

* In case students have to stay one night in Havana prior or after their trip to Trinidad, they can stay with a host family we recommend.

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Information about Santiago de Cuba

With 420.000 inhabitants Santiago de Cuba is Cuba's second largest city and a strong rival to Havana in literature, music and politics. Santiago de Cuba lies in a partly submerged valley of the Sierra Maestra and the city's large natural harbour has made it an important port for almost five centuries.

During the 19th century French settlers arrived and contributed to the melting pot of Haitian, African and Spanish influences that have made this Cuba's most Caribbean city. Santiago de Cuba has a thick Spanish colonial air without the American high-rise buildings from the 1950`s one finds in Havana.

Visiting the “warm lands” is a must in Cuba. Santiago de Cuba represents the origin of all that Cuba means today: revolution, ho spitality and music. Santiago is the birthplace of many artists and popular “heroes”. Also, it is bordered by the Caribbean Sea and the Sierra Maestra Mountains and offers visitors the most diverse activities of the whole island, combining adventure, trekking and diving with ecotourism.

Our location in Santiago de Cuba: Reparto Sueño
All of our lessons and accommodations are arranged in REPARTO SUEÑO. “Reparto Sueño” is a
residential area within walking distance of Céspedes Park, the heart of Santiago de Cuba. In the same area is the city's largest hotel allowing tourists to access the most important amenities (mail, exchange, internet, etc.) and enjoy a refreshing afternoon close to the swimming pool. Also, you can find the Heredia Theater, sports house and Ernesto Che Guevara Monument.

How to arrive in Santiago de Cuba
Outside the airport there are minibuses waiting to take tourists to Santiago. You pay approx. 30CUC for the ride of approx. 3 hours. Please ask for the bus or minibus to Santiago when leaving the airport. In case no (mini)buses are waiting, you can take a taxi. This will cost around 86CUC. The (mini)bus will drop you at Hotel Santiago, in Santiago. Here you can walk or take a taxi to our meeting point in Reparto Sueño.

HAVANA AIRPORT
* Arrival by plane: There are two airports in Havana. Please contact the information desk to ask from which airport your flight to Santiago will be leaving. The airports are about 20 km from the city centre. In case students have to stay one night in Havana prior or after their trip to Santiago, they can stay with a host family we recommend.

BY BUS
It is possible to travel from Havana to Santiago by bus. The journey will cost approx.60CUC and takes approx. 15.5hrs. For details please have a look at www.viazul.com

SANTIAGO DE CUBA AIRPORT
Official taxis are waiting outside the airport. The ride takes approx. 15 minutes. The price is around 10CUC. Students can take a taxi directly to our meeting points.

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Calendar of Cuban Events:

January

* Liberation day. * Feria Internacional de Artesanías, Pabexpo, Havana.

February

* Carnival in Havana *Havana International Jazz Festival *Feria Internacional del Libro

March

* Festival de Monogolos y Unipersonales (Havana)

April

Electro-acoustic Music Festival Varadero * La Huela de Espana (Havana) * Festival Internacional de Percusion (Havana)* Bienal del Humor de San Antonio de los Banos. * Festival de Arte Danzario (Havana and Camaguey), * Los Dias de la Danza, Havana, * Semana de la Cultura (Baracoa) * Festival de Arte Danzario (Havana and Camaguey).

May

* Primero de Mayo (Labor Day), Meetings, parades at the Plaza de la Revolution. * Feria Internacional del Disco Cubadisco* Festival de Arte Danzario (Havana)* First week - Romería de Mayo (Holguin) * Festival de Arte Danzario (Havana and Camaguey).

June

* Fiestas Sanjuaneras (Trinidad) * Festival of Caribbean Culture * Festival de Boleros de Oro (Santiago, Havana) * Jornada Cucalambeana * Carnaval in Havana, a parade of decorated cars driving from Hotel Nacional to Calle Belascoain * Half June - Festival de Boleros de Oro (Santiago, Moron, Havana), * 1 till 15 - Encuentro de Bandas de Concierto (Plaza de la Revolución, Bayamo) * End of June - Fiesta del Gallo (Moron),. * Festival Iberoamericano de la Décima (Las Tunas).

July

* Celebration of the National Rebellion * Festival de Titere (Havana) * Last week - Carnival santiago de Cuba, Parade of decorated cars through the streets of the city, music of comparsas and a show of the Tropicana at Santiago. * 25-27 July - Celebration of the National Rebellion, every year in a different city. The official tribute because of the Moncada barrack attacks at July 26 1953. Fidel Castro will always speech at one of the Revolution Squares in a Cuban city. Lots of concerts etc around the country. * Fiesta del Fuego (Santiago de Cuba) * Festival Internacional de Musica Contemporánea de Camaguey, Big festival about today’s music, with concerts, workgroups and discussions about music and composers.

August

* Fidel Castro’s birthday (1926)

September

* Festival de Teatro de la Habana, * 8 - Fiesta de la Virgen del Cobre (Santiago de Cuba) * Metamoros Son (Santiago), Festival of Son. * Festival de Teatro de Camaguey

October

* Day of Cuban Culture * Havana Festival of Contemporary Music Trinidad * Festival Internacional de Ballet de la Habana, * Second half of Oct. - Fiesta de la Cultura Iberoamericana (Holguin)

November

* Semana de la Cultura Trinitaria Trinidad * Salón de Arte Cubano Contemporáneo, Havana * Festejos de San Cristobal de la Habana * Festival Internacional de Coros, Sala Dolores, Teatro Heredia (Santiago de Cuba)

December

* Festival Internacional Nuevo Cine Latinoamericano Havana* Parrandas di Remedios. Popular national party. * First half of Dec. - Fiesta Guantanamera, Guantanamo.

 

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Visit our Schools:

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Cuba Info:

-Country name: Republic of Cuba
-Capital: Havana
-Language: Spanish
-Area: 110,922 km2
-Population: 11,263,429 (2.1M Hav.)
-Independence: 20 May 1902 (from -Spain 10 December 1898;
administered by The US from 1898 to 1902)
-Ethnic groups: mulatto 51%, white 37%, black 11%, Chinese
1%
-Religions: nominally 85% Roma
Catholic prior to CASTRO assuming: Protestants, Jehovah's Witnesses, Jews, and Santeria are also represented.
-Administrative divisions: 14 provinces (provincias, singular -provincia) and 1 special municipality* (municipio especial);
Camaguey, Ciego de Avila, Cienfuegos, Ciudad de La Habana,
Granma, Guantanamo, Holguin, Isla de la Juventud*, La Habana, Las Tunas, Matanzas, Pinar del Rio, Sancti Spiritus, Santiago de Cuba, Villa Clara.

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Holidays:

January 1: Liberation Day
March 8: Int. Women's Day
March 29: Semana Santa
May 1: Labour day
July 26: National Revolution Day
December 25: Christmas

Classes will not be provided on these days & classes will not be made up (except one-to-one).

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Sports:

Possibilities for:
- Recreational water sports (including diving and snorkeling, mainly at the big hotels at the beach)
- Horseback riding
- Swimming
- Trekking

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Time:

In Cuba it's five (Great Britain) or six hours (most of Europe) earlier.
From November to April (wintertime, the dry season).

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Electricity:

110volt.

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Weather:

Temperature is around 25ºC. In summertime (May to October) the air is very moist (80%) and you should count on some rainfall, mainly in the afternoon. Temperatures rise to 32-35ºC.

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Daily expenses:

1 CUC (peso convertible)= 1 US Dollar

Just an example:
Transport Ticket: CUC2
Drinks: CUC1-3
Lunch: CUC6
Average meal: CUC10
Luxury meal: CUC18
Hamburger/sandwich: CUC3
Cinema/Theater: CUC5
Disco ticket: CUC5-20
Museum ticket: CUC2
Ice cream: CUC1
Bank commission for cash withdrawal: CUC20.

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Medical:

Tourists have their own medical facilities, provided by the Clínica Internacional. A doctor and a nurse are on permanent duty (35CUC per consultation). The clinic has a modestly stocked pharmacy, an ambulance, and beds in the event that one needs an overnight stay.

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Transportation:

Taxi from the host family:
To the old center CUC4 - 5
To the nearest beach CUC15
Also there are bicycle-taxis, horse-drawn coaches, buses and trains. Car-hire is only possible through Cuban companies. Petrol stations
(called Servi-Cupet) are open for 24 hours a day and can always supply petrol to tourists.
For information about buses, please look at the site www.viazul.com where you can find detailed information about bus schedules and prices, but please note they that they are subject to frequent change!
Viazul Havana: Casa Matriz; Avenida 26 y Zoológico, Nuevo Vedado, Habana
Viazul Sucursal de Santiago de Cuba: Avenida de Los Libertadores, Esq. Yarao.

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Money:

Currency: Pesos Convertibles and Cuban Pesos.

Euros can be changed into the so called "Peso Convertible" (CUC), which is the national currency of Cuba from November 2004 onwards.
USD is no longer accepted. However, it is allowed to import USD, which can be changed at the exchange offices. A local change rate of 10% needs to be paid. You will most probably not have to pay this commission if you buy the Peso Convertible with Euro’s, Canadian Dollars, British Pounds or Swiss Francs.
Banks: Opening times: 09.00 - 15.00 hours, Monday to Friday.
Credit cards: Credit cards are accepted unless issued by US-banks e.g. American Express is not accepted.

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Water:

Tourists should always drink boiled water or mineral water (available for free in all host families).

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Communications:

Telephone, fax: Most hotels offer these facilities. Also there are "centros de llamadas" where students can make calls abroad. In a lot of public telephone booths you can use prepaid phone cards.
Internet: 6CUC/hour approx. Havana: hotel “Colina” or hotel “Habana Libre”. Trinidad: internet-café in the old part of Trinidad, next to Plaza Mayor. Santiago: Hotel Santiago & Hotel Casa Grande.
Post Office: To send a letter to Europe will take weeks! Havana: Oficios #102 Gran Teatro, Central Station. Trinidad: Antonio Maceo #418. Santiago: Aguilera #519
Express Mail DHL: Havana: Calle 20.
Main DHL office: Havana: Calzada #818. Santiago: Esq Heredia y Hartmann .

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