After business meetings in the US I added couple of days in Havana, Cuba. I booked the open jaw flight Switzerland to US / Cuba to Switzerland, and once I tried to also book the US to Cuba flight I realized that it might be more complicated that I thought. There was a flight available, but due to the US embargo against Cuba that was just in the recent months tightened by the Trump administration, you're not allowed to visit the island for tourism reason anymore. Reasons that allow you to fly from US to Cuba include, amongst others (see also: https://www.viahero.com/…/people-to-people-vs-support-the-c… ) Family Visits, Religious Activities and the "Support For Cuban People" that allow independent travellers to go legally from US to Cuba (note that even I'm not US citizen, as I was flying from a US airport I was bound by the same restrictions).
Once in Cuba, missing capitalism and the effects of the US embargo were omnipresent:
- Inefficiencies everywhere
- Well maintained old US cars from before US sanctions
- Long waiting lines, for buses, ATMs, postal and telecommunication servies, subsidized food etc
- Two different currencies, the non convertible Peso (CUP) for locals and to pay for basic needs, and the hard convertible Peso CUC (pegged to the USD) for tourists and luxury goods and services
- Very few American tourist, more Europeans
- English is not widely used, some words of Spanish are really helpful
It was a nice experience, like travelling 20 years back, limited Wifi and no 3G/4G (available, but extremely expensive), paying with cash only (also in good restaurants) and no mass tourism yet.
LATEST UPDATE: 10 October 2019