|Subject: Re: Cuba|
Your CDN Visa will be accepted in Cuba for tours, hotel tab/purchases etc. I recall that once we had to pay a small surcharge for a tour -- equivalent to what Visa charged the merchant, but any bar/meal tabs etc. at the hotel weren't topped up. Take Visa or Thomas Cook trav. cheques in small denominations. We were able to persuade the desk at our hotel to give us US$ when we cashed a cheque, but what you should get is Cuban pesos. I'm assuming that would be what Frances is referring to as tourist dollars. When you make a purchase using US currency you will get pesos in change.
We found $20 denominations the best so you don't have a lot of pesos left over. Also take a wad of $1 bills for tipping -- it's hard to get small US bills once there and in our experience they were truly appreciated as tips. I was chuckling over the 10% guideline -- probably for Canuck visitors as I suspect our penchant for being rather conservative in our tipping practices may have been noted. Unless things have changed dramatically, it's a two pocket tipping system, so if there is someone who you wish to personally reward for service try to find a discreet private moment. Also, as Frances says have $20US per pax cash tucked in with your tourist card for exit tax.
Can't advise much on food in Havana only to say that we found off-resort meals quite palatable and healthy, but very bland. I'm sure that Cuban ingenuity has extended into culinary exploits but we didn't eat at those restaurants!
I'm anxious to read about your trip and your impressions of Cuba. I'm particularly interested in hearing how the restoration of some of the beautiful historic buildings in Havana is progressing.
Anne Burlington, Ontario