Russian Tourist Admits Mistakes After Spending a Million Rubles in Cuba: "I Don't Want to Return"

Tuesday, May 14, 2024 by Emma Garcia

Russian Tourist Admits Mistakes After Spending a Million Rubles in Cuba: "I Don't Want to Return"
Auto antiguo de alquiler en Cuba (Imagen de referencia) - Imagen de © CiberCuba

A Russian tourist and blogger who went viral a few months ago for detailing how complicated her 16-day stay at the five-star Varadero Iberostar Laguna Azul hotel was, has now admitted in a recently published article that she spent a million rubles—nearly $11,000—on that trip, which she took with three other family members.

The exchange rate of a million rubles converts to approximately $10,940—at the current rate—a figure many Russians commenting on her post have considered outrageous for a two-week stay in Cuba.

Elena Liseykina, author of the blog "Traveling with a Camera," revisited the topic to reflect on the mistakes she made during her trip. Her reflections, however, are not so much about how she could have saved money, but rather how she could have had a better time.

“You could write that the entire trip to Cuba was a mistake, but that's not entirely true. Despite all the peculiarities of the country and the fact that I really don't want to go back there (at least not on my own dime), I don't regret the trip because Cuba is colorful and unusual,” she began.

However, despite considering the experience "interesting," she stated that she does not wish to return because she was displeased with “the indifference of the locals and their lack of willingness to make an effort and do something.”

Liseykina explained that before the trip, she had calculated the approximate costs of a hotel offering three meals a day for four people and how much it would cost to rent accommodation in a private home and eat on the street. She concluded that an "All-Inclusive" hotel was better since eating on the street would have been more expensive, and she was aware that the markets had no offerings.

However, in light of her failed experience at the Varadero hotel, she now believes it would have been better to combine a week in a hotel and for the rest of the days to reserve accommodations in privately-run lodgings.

One thing she jokes about is how useful it would have been to bring an electric kettle from Russia to make tea, as she doesn't drink coffee and it became impossible to access boiling water in the hotel, incredible as it may seem.

“In a five-star hotel, there was no kettle in the room, and in the restaurant, instead of boiling water, they brought lukewarm water. Apparently, so tourists don't accidentally burn themselves because there are no burn remedies in the pharmacies,” she said ironically.

“I used an interpreter and tried to explain that I needed to make tea and made a gesture: a complete failure. The only decent tea in Cuba, by the way, was when we spent the night at locals' homes. Everything was magnificently resolved there, but in the hotel, it was a complete fiasco,” she assured.

Although the blogger missed some of the paid All-Inclusive days by visiting the city of Trinidad, where they stayed with locals, judging by her experience in that city, they had a better time than during all the days paid for at a state-run hotel.

Time and again, Liseykina returns in her various articles about her experience in Varadero to the questionable quality of service at the hotel.

This time, she revisited the topic of tips, which she previously described as “savage” and to which she admits she did not succumb, something that may have influenced the poor service she received.

“Everything inside me is against giving money and gifts just like that. And in Cuba, it simply doesn't work any other way. Unlike normal countries, where you first receive a service and then thank for it, in Cuba you have to pay a few dollars upfront and then hope to get a clean towel in your room. Or it won't appear,” she assured.

“Naturally, when 90% of tourists follow these rules and bring mountains of chocolates, cosmetics, and other gifts to the 'poor' maids, they don't want to work any other way. And they're always expecting to be given something,” she added.

Would Elena Liseykina tip without thinking twice if she returned to Cuba? Although she doesn't say it clearly, the Russian blogger hints that being more generous with tips would have smoothed her path.

Her expectations about the service were even lower than what she had already been warned about.

“I was warned not to expect any special level of service in Cuba. But it didn't occur to me that in a five-star hotel there would be no fruit and that the carbonated drinks in the bars would run out. They put drinking water in the room, but only half a liter per person. Of course, you can find it, but for that, you'll have to go to a bar,” she complained.

“You can also wait for a response from a girl at the reception for 15 minutes. And this is not because of a queue, but simply because she is 'very busy,’” she added.

On the other hand, the Russian tourist admits that although “people in Cuba are very sociable and welcoming,” her limited Spanish made it difficult for her to move around easily, although she says she cannot say she had major communication difficulties.

“If you plan to travel around Cuba on your own, without using the services of guides, then without Spanish it will be very difficult,” she advised.

“Ultimately, Cuba is special. I know people who are simply delighted with this ‘characteristic,’ but that's not me. I liked the color of the country, the old American cars, the picturesque decay, but I didn't like the indifference and unwillingness of the locals to make an effort and do something,” concluded Elena Liseykina, who says she is certain she won't return to Cuba.

Insights into Elena Liseykina's Trip to Cuba

Here are some frequently asked questions and answers about Elena Liseykina's experience during her trip to Cuba.

Why did Elena Liseykina regret her trip to Cuba?

Elena Liseykina regretted her trip due to the indifference of the locals, poor service quality in the hotels, and the high costs compared to the unsatisfactory experience.

How much did Elena Liseykina spend on her trip to Cuba?

She spent a million rubles, which is approximately $10,940 at the current exchange rate.

What were some of the specific issues she faced at the hotel?

She faced issues such as lack of boiling water, poor service, no fruit, and running out of carbonated drinks at the hotel bars.

Would she consider returning to Cuba in the future?

Elena Liseykina made it clear that she does not plan to return to Cuba due to her negative experiences.

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