Oceanside Chamber member, Sally McKay, owner of MG Travel, is currently traveling in Cuba and will be sharing her experiences via this blog. We hope you'll enjoy.
Thursday, August 25th
Why I like Ya’lla Tours…………
YA’LLA sends out these lovely blue document holders that are easy to see because of their color……..
The document holders are filled with so much information about the trip and then we were briefed on a phone call as well – to ensure that there were no questions left unanswered and that everything is covered to make this trip go off with the ease of a seasoned Cuba traveler…….Just what each travel professional should be doing for their clients.
The purpose of this trip is Humanitarian – people to people.
Questions to have answers to before departure:
* What is People to People? It means we are able to interact with the people and share ourselves.
* How much free time will I have? We will have early AM and after return time – free time
* Medications? Pack an adequate supply. Need to show proof from the doctor prescribing listing the medications.
* Cell Service? Cell phones will not work in Cuba. Wi-Fi is available in the hotels we are staying in.
* The only messaging you can do is through IMO.
* What can I bring back? $400.00 in merchandize. $100 of that can be alcohol or tobacco.
* 87 Cuban Peso’s for $100.00 USD
* Bottled Water - $1.20
Ya’lla Tours President Ronen Paldi says: We are proud to offer our premium quality service with the special Ya’lla Touch. The Ya’lla Touch reflects standards of personalized service that have been perfected and fine-tuned since our vision in the USA first began in 1993. We roll-out the red carpet for you as we welcome you to our home. Your safety and the fulfillment of your dream are our main concern.
If your travel professional isn’t advising you prior to your trip – you are not getting the very best service. YA’LLA TOURS USA prepares the agents that do business with them the knowledge and tools to provide tours to their clients to ensure not only the very best value for the trip of their dreams, but a life changing experience. I am one of those agents that is embarking on a trip with Ya’lla as well as a workshop at the end hosted by Ronen Paldi. For additional information regarding a Cuba trip or any other trip that Ya’lla offers, please contact me – after September 7, 2016.
Sally M. McKay, CTIE, CTA, MCC, ACC
Owner, MG Travel firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday Night 08/27/2016
A special welcome dinner tonight at the prestigious San Cristobal Paladar, one of the most unique, privately-run restaurants, as much a museum and art gallery as a restaurant as the one where president Barrack Obama dined with his family during his visit to Cuba.
Our hotel, MELIA COHIBA, is one of the best 5-star hotels in Havana, overlooking the famed Malecon promenade, 3 miles from Old Havana. All 462 rooms have 2 double beds, air-conditioning, satellite TV, in-room movies, internet access, safe deposit box, minibar and hairdryer. Facilities and services include an outdoor pool, meeting rooms, gift shop, sauna, Jacuzzi, fitness center, beauty salon, 1 buffet restaurant and 4 a la carte restaurants, 4 bars and 24-hour room service. www.solmelia.com/hotels/cuba/havana/melia-cohiba
Today in Cuba. My post will be for yesterday as we were without internet last night. Our guide has an amazing history of everything Cuba and she explained that the government rebuilds the buildings but it is a slow process and they only work on the outside of the buildings and the inside of your apartment for instance us your responsibility. Doctors make about 47 dollars a month. Taxi drivers make more as they get tips. The beautiful old cars they keep as pristine as possible as they charge people to have their pictures taken in them and they give rides as well. However car parts for these old cars are very scarce.
This is Christopher Columbus cemetery however he is not buried here!
Cuban food is very mild. Great cooking class with Lobster, shrimp, pulled pork, Chicken. Amazingly wonderful flavors.
Today we are on our way to Trinidad passing the Bay of Pigs (Playa Giron) today there are resorts for Cubans to enjoy. Another hour past is Cienfuegos, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city was founded in 1819 as a colony Fernandina de Jagua. The first inhabitants came not only from Spain, but also from a number of French colonies, as well as Bordeaux, Louisiana, Philadelphia, and Guarico.
We then continued 1.5 hours on to Trinidad staying two nights at Iberostar Grand Trinidad which us a 5 star otitis hotel located in the center of Trinidad. It has 40 rooms (36 standard 4 junior suites) and is for adults only (15 and over).
Trinidad Lunch today at a Paladar which is owned by a private family and not government run. Today we walked around the city and toured the oldest church and the square. Lots of different kinds of music here.
This isn't Albertson's, VONS, or Costco. If you are a citizen in this community you take your ration card in and you are allowed to purchase the amount accorded to your family. Milk is given to people with babies to 7 years old. And then it isn't allotted and very difficult to come by.
Trinidad is famous for hand embroidery work. They sell tablecloths and blouses as well as dresses for children. We made our way back to Havana stopping by Santa Clara and stopped to see the Ernesto (Che) Guevara mausoleum. He was an Argentinean Commanders who fought with Fidel Castro in the war against the dictatorship of Batista in the 1950's.
He is the youngest man in the world to receive the Habano award in 2008 & 2008. He is the Habano -Man
September 4 at 8:11pm . Havana, Cuba .
My last evening in Cuba - it rained, thundered, and lightening - great send off to those of us who became a new Ya'lla family. Our Asian dinner was magnificent, the stories around the table were heartfelt and heartwarming.
The certificates we earned with Ya'lla Tours USA was incredibly thoughtful as well as the gifts from President Ronen Paldi. His staff and the hard work that went into making this trip one that was far more in depth than I ever thought possible. The impossible does happen. This trip was all about immersion into a culture that has been unattainable for over 50 years. When you come here it is like you step back in time.
We (USA) went forward and they (CUBANS) were unable to progress. People were caught in the middle over things they had no control over. I am truly humbled to have been given the this opportunity. When you come here and are greeted with such friendly smiles and warmth, you don't see the political situation as it no longer matters. It isn't who they are. They are a people who managed to survive when they were cut off. For example the cars from the 50's. They had to learn how to find parts to repair and rebuild and that is just one way of survival for over 50 years to sustain their daily lives. This trip was truly a "trip of a lifetime". New friendships, beginning of relationships in this country, being able to give where help was needed the most.
We were able to visit Cuban communities even with their small amount of resources, are able to turn their situation into something positive by helping one another and staying close as not just family, but as a society. There is freedom of religion and many are practiced here. If you want to more about Cuba and how to go there and navigate through all the legal process, please phone me and I would love to sit down and share with you what I have learned, how I got there, all the parameters you have to navigate through to ensure you are compliant with the regulations.
The Tour Company I use exclusively has been doing this for a long time, has earned the respect, and does it right the first time. There are many other companies out there, but none that I would entrust my clients with as my clients trust me to do the best job in ensuring they are safe, have the experience of a lifetime, and that what they experience is the real CUBA. Cuba is such a vibrant country with art, music and entertainment around every corner. This company is committed to exceptional quality touring and offering the very best, most interesting and fulfilling experience possible.
A deep appreciation for cultures and a passion for travel are the basis of the tours. If you travel once a year, have a life changing experience - you are truly living. I invite you to attend one of my client appreciation nights.
The next one will be held October 27, 2016 and we will have a representative from Ya'lla Tours USA there to present as well as I will have some comments from my own personal experience. Please phone if you are interested: 760.754.7081. Sally McKay, Owner MG Travel