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Cuba (Lonely Planet Country Guides) [Paperback]

Conner Gorry
2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Lonely Planet Cuba (Travel Guide) Lonely Planet Cuba (Travel Guide) 4.3 out of 5 stars (32)
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Book Description

1 Jan 2004 Lonely Planet Country Guides
This travel guide features the best ways to enjoy Cuba's music, food and activities, as well as providing adetailed section on getting to Cuba and accomodations from budget to high-end.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 468 pages
  • Publisher: Lonely Planet Publications; 3rd edition (1 Jan 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1740591208
  • ISBN-13: 978-1740591201
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 13 x 2.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 376,483 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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First Sentence
Havana (La Habana) is the Caribbean's biggest city, with the entire whorl of politics, culture, education and attitude that befits a great urban center. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

2.5 out of 5 stars
2.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars My advice - use another guide book 7 Mar 2006
By Justino
Format:Paperback
I'm a big fan of lonely planet guides and use them religiously whenever I travel outside Europe. Great books. Unfortunately, this isn't the case with the Lonely Planet Cuba by Connor Gorry, and it’s the worst I’ve used.
My advice if you intend to travel round Cuba, and you're the kind of person who finds guide books indispensable, is to buy another guide book.
I travelled round Cuba in December 2005 / January 2006 and bought the Lonely Planet Cuba before I went. On reading the book prior to the trip, I found the author to be really contradictory. In the intro, she raved about Cuba, and all the fabulous places to go, but then she didn't have a good word to say about the same places later in the book! In fact, the author seemed to always focus on the negatives, rather than the positives. Or, if there was a compliment, then this would always be followed by a negative. This was quite frustrating especially when trying to plan my route.
Also, there are quite a few mistakes throughout the book - especially where buses are concerned which is quite critical in trying to get round the country! Distances, costs, bus times, and frequency are often incorrect, so it’s definitely worth checking on the Viazul web site.
Then there was the ferry! According to the book, there is only one boat crossing a day from the mainland to Cayo Levisa - at 9am I think? After a few days spent in Maria la Gorda (fab!), I'd already booked a beach bungalow on the lovely cayo levisa, so, using the book, I basically got a taxi at 4am to get to the dock in time. After a mental journey, I got there and there's a boat which will take you across for 10CUC's per person anytime, so wasn’t best pleased!
The maps are terrible!
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Hopelessly out of date 13 Feb 2006
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Obviously things can change quickly, but this book (3rd edition) is obsolete. Prices are all listed in dollars, which are now useless in Cuba as you have to use the Cuban Equivalent Peso. The cubans have taken this to push prices through the roof, so you'll be paying extortionate amounts of money for things the Lonely Planet suggests are very cheap. Cuba is a hopless ripoff at the moment as a result, and you'll find yourself paying european prices for the most basic and sullen of service.
Also, I found some of the accomadation listed is actually for Cubans only, and tourists are not allowed to stay. Very very annoying when you find yourself forced to sleep in your car in the middle of nowhere.
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54 of 67 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
If you are heading to Cuba for the first time then this book is indespensible. The latest edition (July 2000) has excellent up-to-date information to help you through the Cuban experience. There is a lot to understand about Cuba's rich mix of cultural diversity and turbulent history. This book acts as the perfect guide from the places to see through to the do's and don'ts.
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21 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars not as helpful as I'd hoped 16 Jun 2004
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This edition of 'Cuba' was helpful but not fantastically so. On the good side, there is helpful information about travelling in Cuba (as one would hope there to be). However, on the negative side I felt that the writer made too many value judgements of her own that readers might not agree with (I certainly disagreed with a few). It is also not that easy to follow, partly because the writing is quite small. I have always gone for Lonely Planet guides, after this one I nearly changed my mind. Not bad, but Gorry's writing style annoyed me.
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Amazon.com: 3.4 out of 5 stars  20 reviews
38 of 44 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Dont buy this one ... 25 Dec 2005
By A. De - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
... the following letter was sent by us to LP after using the (then) fresh off the press LP Cuba in July 2004. We still did not hear from them.

-A.

Dear Madam/Sir:

We have been avid travelers for the most part of our lives and cumulatively have entry stamps from over 140 countries to boast. For the past 10 years, we have primarily used Lonely Planet to aid travels around the world (see attached picture of subset of LP library).

Imagine our surprise and disappointment when we toured Cuba in June with the LP Cuba (2004 edition). We have never been let down more by a travel guide in our entire lives. Of course, things change ... prices go up ... schedules evolve; but never have we seen a guide so off the mark. Here are a few reasons why LP Cuba is simply the worst guide we have ever used:

1/ Biased Politics -

Authors love for Cuba makes them overlook many negative aspects of both Cuban society and travel in Cuba. Neither of us are Americans and we do not support the American government sanction on Cuba or Americans traveling there. However, we fail to see the need to vilify each U.S. government action while simultaneously painting a picture of the perfect socialist State. True, Cuba has some of the best social indicators in the Americas - but please also point out the "Dollar is King" economy, the sad "apartheid" regime, which allows clubs/bars/cafés/restaurants and even whole islands with some of the country's best beaches to be exclusive domain of just tourists. How could the authors marvel at social indicators when you could sit at Hotel Inglaterra's patio, sip a mojito and gaze at the Cubans who cannot enter?

2/ Biased Interpretations of Dangers -

The section on Warnings, Scams, and Travel Advisory is the skimpiest we have ever seen. Why? Cuba still might be the safest destination to be in the Americas, but that's not saying much is it? Both my friend and I (and an informal survey pointed to over 70% of the tourists) were subject to daring robberies by some very skilled "jintero's" (our advice: please do NOT give rides to anyone - other than old people or women with small children - especially if crossing the circumference of metro Havana going from A1 to A4 highway). We never thought it would happen to two skilled travelers - but it did. As our informal survey indicates, our later conversation with many travelers indicated many who had been robbed, mugged, conned, etc. during their travels and almost all agreed to have let their guards down due to the lax coverage of security by the authors. In future editions of LP Cuba, PLEASE do not call "jintero's" as charming Cubans who need to be told off and do not write that the best solution is to become friends with one! Perhaps the author's personal experience(s) with a "jintero" clouded their ability to make rational judgements? "Jintero's" are EXTREMELY dangerous!

Furthermore, the authors fails to point out the many tourist traps in most of the tourist towns - especially in Trinidad.

3/ Biased Interpretation of Bureaucracy -

Why is their no comprehensive section which deals with the level of bureaucracy and corruption that each tourist must face while vacationing in Cuba? In our experience, we were stunned at the need to pay bribes at the airport, at the car rental place (our advice: please plan from before and avoid the Transtur car rental agency in Copacabana Hotel near Miramar or going through Canadian agent A. Nash Travel Inc. in Ontario). After our robbery, we spent many hours in a police station trying to get a report done but it seemed that no one was willing to help. After having spoken to more than 10 officers over the period of 2 days, our report miraculously appeared when a $10 bill was slipped between our passports. I mean, don't get us wrong - from extensive traveling and by the virtue of one of the letter writers being from India, we KNOW bureaucracy and corruption - but Cuba took the game to a whole new level. Again for some reason, the authors were completely off the mark.

4/ General Info, Maps, Prices, Numbers, Layouts -

Prices go up; inflation is a part of daily lives. But how do you explain almost 200% price hikes between what's printed and the reality? These numbers are especially depressing given a/ this edition was hot off the press b/ the official inflation was running below 5-10% band c/ we traveled in low season and the prices listed were for high season. Our hunch that the authors never actually checked the prices and conduct the required background work was confirmed as we asked all the places we stayed at and NONE had the authors visit them in over 4 years!

Worse than prices are phone numbers and access codes. I challenge the authors to call the numbers in the book - I am willing to buy them a plane ticket if calling the numbers gives the right destination more than 50% of the time. I know that's a low expectation rate to give someone a plane ticket, but that is exactly how inaccurate this guide is. E.g. try calling the numbers in Cayo Santa Maria. We asked the Department of Telecommunication if there had been any recent systematic changes in the telephone numbers and they answered in the negative.

Outside these 2 main sub thematic issues, the maps in LP Cuba were highly inaccurate. One of our favourite reminders of Cuba was coming across many tourists at major junctions looking at the maps from LP Cuba trying to make some sense. Another was when we were driving through Santa Clara for one hour in search for a recommended wellness/massage place that does not exist anywhere close to where it is marked on the map (actually, none of the Cubans we have been asking has ever heard of the place). Furthermore, the new layout made it VERY hard to find things. Please go back to the old layout - it made more sense. I don't know if other readers had gripes but it was very complex going back and forth as opposed to the ease of the last format.

Our hope from this letter is to encourage Lonely Planet to conduct a systematic review of their guide to Cuba. Moreover, it is to remind to LP that irrespective of their disclaimers, tourists do depend on them and basic expectations warrant the authors to conduct thorough investigations before sending a book to print. If there are any other questions, both of us are available via the internet to answer them. We sincerely hope LP takes our feedback into consideration and incorporates them into the next edition of its travel guide to Cuba.

Warm Regards,

MO, AD
26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I thoroughly enjoyed his upfront commentary on Cuba! 21 Mar 2001
By fdoamerica - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Though David Stanley is a good, informative writer, he still knacks the expression and fire of the Cuban travel guide writer, Christopher Baker (see review). However, Stanley's economic analysis (in the Facts about Cuba section, which is also very good) is the best out in a guide book today.
The strength of this guide, as with most all Lonely Planet guides, is that they are an excellent source for information that is often disregarded in other guides (i.e., paragliding, language schools, how to get a tour bus to transport you at a fraction of what you would pay for a taxi, etc.).
Though I think this guide is ONE OF THE BEST, there are a few areas that, as in the old report card mark stated, N/I - needs improvement. I found this guide more difficult to navigate than other Cuban guides; mainly because of a paltry index. The index DID NOT list hotels or restaurants and this required that I to flip through each section until I found the listing I wanted information on (especially a hassle in Havana). The maps, though plentiful (68), could use improvement by adding color plates and clear/cleaner definition. The best guide book for clear, easy-to-use maps for Cuba are in Michelin's Neos Guides and Moon Travel.
These points noted, I do not hesitate recommending Cuba by David Stanley - 2000. I thoroughly enjoyed his upfront commentary on Cuba - though some anti-Castro individuals will find him politically incorrect, I found his views on communist Cuba and Fidel refreshing. Recommended
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Take a copy of this guide with you 11 Oct 2000
By Jim Hitchie - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Over the last 7 years, I have made many trips to Cuba becauseof the business that I do there. I have a copy of David's guide and Iread it regularly to find out about new places to visit, refresh mymemory about places I missed and to keep track of new developmentsthat are appearing throughout Cuba. There is so much happening downthere right now, that this guide is a must and if you are lucky enoughto visit Cuba in the near future (before mass tourism) make sure youtake a copy of this guide. With it, you can leave the regular touristareas and visit those fantastic out-of-the-way places that still existin this country.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An outstanding work, despite inevitable local restrictions 2 Jun 2001
By Maurizio Giuliano - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
It is not easy to write a book about Cuba, whether it be a book on politics and society, or whether it be simply a travel guidebook. Cuba remains a communist island under the iron fist of a minority, and all research work, all travel, all writing, is closely scrutinized by the central apparatus. Despite the restrictions he must have met in such a situation, author David Stanley has produced a truly outstanding work, a perfect guide for the traveler who may wish to go to Cuba for the most disparate reasons, from sightseeing to good food, from snorkeling to biking, etc. David has truly been throughout the island, getting to know all its cities and places far better than a local. Well done ! It will be hard to replace, with a book, the emotions, the warmth, the spirit of Cuba which can only be found on the island itself. Nevertheless, this book is certainly very close to achieving that, and will be a true companion throguhout your journey to this wonderful Caribbean island, the star of the Caribbean, the biggest of the Antilles, as it has been called on different occasions.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars my impressions after one week in havana sep 05 12 Sep 2005
By T. Schnur - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
In the LP, the layout for Havana/suburbs/outlying areas is very difficult to follow. maps aren't consecutive, and the division of restaurants vs paladars divided by neighborhood and separated by pages of other stuff is hard to manage when you just want to know "where to eat". However, if you're just visiting Havana, i suggest another guidebook: the Time Out Guide. the maps are in color, easy to access (at the back of the book), and there is much more up to date stuff on current events, social attitudes/mores, clubs etc.
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