01/08/13 - San Jose Mercury News - Los Gatos Chamber of Commerce to sponsor trip to Cuba
Cuban cigars and fried plantains will undoubtedly make an appearance
during an upcoming Los Gatos Chamber of Commerce-sponsored trip to Cuba.
The Chamber has booked the March 10-18 trip through Collette Vacations,
with 24 slots open for travelers. A free informational meeting is
scheduled for Jan. 26 at 6 p.m. at the Chamber office, 10 Station Way.
"It's an educational trip with incredible things on it that people haven't
seen," Chamber executive director Ronee Nassi said.
Not many Americans have seen Cuba, since it's been pretty much off-limits
to Americans since the 1959 communist revolution. President Barack Obama
lifted some travel restrictions in 2009 and began allowing cultural
tourism groups to travel to Cuba in 2011.
The Chamber trip qualifies under the cultural heading, with stops at the
Bay of Pigs Museum, the Cuban Fine Arts Museum and the Ernest Hemingway
Transportation will be provided for the locals to get from Los Gatos to
SFO, then the group flies to Miami. From Miami it's on to Trinidad, then
"Jim Edwards from Collette Vacations just came back from Trinidad, and he
told me it's even more stuck in time than Havana," Nassi said. "He said
you see more people on horses than in cars."
Cuba, of course, is well-known as a vintage American car lovers delight
since most vehicles predate the 1959 revolution.
Nassi said there are oddities travelers need to be aware of, so the
meeting is expected to shed more light on those, including the fact that
you can't use credit cards in Cuba.
"So you have to exchange your American money when you get there, and when
you leave, you have to pay a $50 exit tax in U.S. dollars," Nassi said.
"You also have to keep a diary of your daily activities, and you have to
keep it for five years in case the U.S. government wants to know what you
were doing in Cuba."
Nassi, who has already reserved a seat for the trip, expects it will be a
"fun, fascinating adventure."
"March is a great time to go since it's not hurricane season and it's not
hot, sticky and humid, either," Nassi said.
The trip is $3,999 per person for people traveling as doubles, while a
single pays $4,399. Twenty-two meals are included. Trip insurance is
Visit losgatoschamber.com for more information.
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