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Blexie Tour Guides

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9 hours ago, EatonDoolittle said:

All is well with Blexie, we are touring with him on Thursday. Thanks to reading here, I emailed yesterday to confirm again.

 

They have moved the meeting place to  across the square and 3 blocks to the corner of Cuba St. Evidently the government does not want free enterprise at the St. Francis square, so they now have a separate spot for them to meet their guests.

 

He’ll send you a little map to get to the new spot, I can’t attach it, but it seems simple enough. 

 

Ill report back back if there is anything different. 

This is good to hear. I emailed Blexie yesterday about my concern I haven't heard from him yet do you think I should be concerned? I hope I hear back from him soon.

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9 hours ago, EatonDoolittle said:

All is well with Blexie, we are touring with him on Thursday. Thanks to reading here, I emailed yesterday to confirm again.

 

They have moved the meeting place to  across the square and 3 blocks to the corner of Cuba St. Evidently the government does not want free enterprise at the St. Francis square, so they now have a separate spot for them to meet their guests.

 

He’ll send you a little map to get to the new spot, I can’t attach it, but it seems simple enough. 

 

Ill report back back if there is anything different. 

Good to know. He hasn’t responded to my e-mail yet to confirm our tour, but I’m sure he will soon.

 

Interested to hear how your tour was. Just curious are you planning to add any stops to your itinerary? 

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Posted (edited)

I emailed him as well as we are touring with his company next Thursday.  We got the response with the new meeting place - walk straight West through the park and up three blocks to Cuba Street (Calle Cuba).

IMG_2246.jpg

Edited by Rewind

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Is the Blexie tour a combo of 3 hr walking and 3 hr car or is it a 6 hr car tour?

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We heard back from Blexie and our tour is confirmed. Jorge will be doing our tour. Our meeting area was moved as well.   The first part of our tour is walking.  The second part is a car tour. 

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His standard tour is 2 walking and 4 in a classic car, however he will do what ever you want. They are very flexible.

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Posted (edited)

Our tour with Blexie isn't until May 15th.  When I heard about the missed pick up I emailed him with my concern.  He hasn't responded to my email yet has anyone heard from him that has a tour booked that far out (4 weeks)?

Edited by Lorey2007

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I received an email yesterday  from Blexie advising that the meeting location has been changed.  Our tour is scheduled for the end of this month.  All should be good.

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On 4/9/2019 at 9:41 AM, EatonDoolittle said:

All is well with Blexie, we are touring with him on Thursday. Thanks to reading here, I emailed yesterday to confirm again.

 

They have moved the meeting place to  across the square and 3 blocks to the corner of Cuba St. Evidently the government does not want free enterprise at the St. Francis square, so they now have a separate spot for them to meet their guests.

 

He’ll send you a little map to get to the new spot, I can’t attach it, but it seems simple enough. 

 

Ill report back back if there is anything different. 

 

On 4/8/2019 at 12:46 AM, 2112 said:

I booked Blexie Tours for a tour last week and the tour guide never showed up. It turns out she, along with around 15 other tour guides, were arrested for not being properly licensed. Prior to this, all of my communications with Blexie were professional. I did receive an apology and explanation after the fact. Luckily, we found an excellent tour guide on the plaza across from the dock from Free Havana Walking Tours who gave us an outstanding 3 hour walking tour for tips (we gave her $60 for 3 of us) and then we hired a classic car (convertable) for $80 for 2.5 hours, so it all came out the same money wise.

 

On 4/8/2019 at 10:41 PM, 2112 said:

I was told that the guide was held until about 3 pm and that she was really freaked out. Not sure how that will translate to the possibility of this happening again or not. Blexie also said he sent a driver to meet me, but I had already left.

 

On 4/11/2019 at 3:42 PM, molole said:

Is the Blexie tour a combo of 3 hr walking and 3 hr car or is it a 6 hr car tour?

 

We had booked Blexie for April 4th when we were in Havana for the day.  I found our guide, Laura, by chance in the park across from the terminal as she was trying to flash the paper with our name on it without being obvious.  Fortunately, I was standing about five feet from her when I saw her pull our name from her bag.  It turns out that two or three of her fellow guides were detained by the police that morning in the same park as the government is trying to squash the independent guides.  The government tries to control everything and the only guides they sanction are the government licensed guides that you will see on the ship 's shore excursions.

 

We felt bad for the guides that were detained as well as the passengers who thought they were "stood up".  Fortunately, with Blexie's guides, you pay them at the end of the day.  Our guide Laura was marvelous.  We waked the old city for about 2 1/2 - 3 hours and then met up with our driver and his 59 Ford Customline which was in beautiful condition.  It even had air conditioning which was fairly unusual for cars in that era.  We drove to numerous sights and went to a paladar for a great lunch.  The little family restaurant was about 20 minutes out from the center of the city in a quiet "suburban" style neighborhood of smaller homes.

 

Laura was happy to inform us that the detained guides were released later that afternoon.  She said that Blexie was working on a new meeting location as noted in other posts above. I can't say enough about Laura and Blexie's operation.  I have our guide's contact information (email) for future referrals.  She speaks three languages and teaches German as her regular social service government job.  (Women have to serve two years in a social service and men two years in the Army if no college or one year if they go to the university.)  I certainly hope the new meeting location works out for Blexie as his guides are top notch and they are worth every penny in tour fee and tips.

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Just came back this past sat...booked a classic car tour online and got an email stating location had changed because of government crackdown...we used a "password"...worked out fine and glad they get to keep more of the money. The guide told us they get very small portion when booked thru cruiseline.

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On 4/9/2019 at 8:41 AM, EatonDoolittle said:

All is well with Blexie, we are touring with him on Thursday. Thanks to reading here, I emailed yesterday to confirm again.

 

They have moved the meeting place to  across the square and 3 blocks to the corner of Cuba St. Evidently the government does not want free enterprise at the St. Francis square, so they now have a separate spot for them to meet their guests.

 

He’ll send you a little map to get to the new spot, I can’t attach it, but it seems simple enough. 

 

Ill report back back if there is anything different. 

Government does not want "free enterprise" anywhere....travelers need to be aware that these guides are being stopped all over the city....it really has nothing to do with a license...its about the government not liking that they are making lots of money....sometimes $$. Most of these companies are moving underground and shutting down their websites. Sad situation.

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Posted (edited)
On 4/11/2019 at 8:30 AM, Rewind said:

I emailed him as well as we are touring with his company next Thursday.  We got the response with the new meeting place - walk straight West through the park and up three blocks to Cuba Street (Calle Cuba).

IMG_2246.jpg

 

Wow, that's quite a ways to walk to meet them.  For anyone with mobility issues, this might create a problem.

Figures the government is suddenly aware that they are making too much on cruise guests and want a cut. They should be happy to have all that commerce coming into their city in the first place! 

 

Our tour with Blexie isn't until October, so I shall have to keep an eye on this and whether or not he stays in business! 

Edited by Wyoming2010

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Does anyone know if this "crack-down" on independent tour companies is happening in all the ports -- like Santiago and Cienfugoes? 

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There are reports the problem has happened in Santiago de Cuba, too.

 

Whether this is a tax related issue (guides not reporting income) or a free enterprise issue (some elements in the Party don't want private ownership) is unclear

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1 hour ago, Wyoming2010 said:

 

Wow, that's quite a ways to walk to meet them.  For anyone with mobility issues, this might create a problem.

 

 

It's 3 short blocks - 5 minutes maximum.

You will walk much further just getting from the ship and through the terminal to the street. 

If you can't walk across the square and 3 blocks to meet the guide, you certainly will not be happy taking  a tour of the old city - it is all walking, no cars allowed. 

 

And yes, for anyone with mobility issues, the entire city might create a problem: uneven cobblestones and sidewalks, standing water, high curbs, frequent holes in the pavement, and recently, construction and restoration going on everywhere, including the terminal area. 

 

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Posted (edited)

Sailing with NCL in May.  Sent an e-mail Blexie today re our previously confirmed Havana tour, asking him if there are any changes. He responded less than an hour later to advise there has been a change in the meeting point.  It is in another spot from what was mentioned here in an earlier post.  My DH thinks they might be setting up several different locations and keep changing them, in view of what seems to be going on between the Cuban government and private tour operators. Find this to be a bit concerning...hope we won't be in a car that's pulled over during our tour.  

 

BTW, we were given a "confirmation number"...known to only the guide & us.

Edited by Cruzinnana47

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We are booked with Blexie in two weeks. We haven’t asked to see any specific sites -just planned to go with the flow. Are there any specific sites that are a must see that might not be on the typical agenda? Where is the typical restaurant this tour recommends or are there any dining suggestions? I plan to pay in CUC but will they accept usd for tips? Thanks

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On 4/12/2019 at 7:57 PM, Lorey2007 said:

Our tour with Blexie isn't until mid May.  When I heard about the missed pick up I emailed him with my concern. 

Blexie got back with us this past weekend he said all is good.  Our meeting place is changed and is not by the church or  the one that others have posted.  Our meeting place is much closer and we were also given a confirmation number for the driver

We are seniors with slight walking issues but we have customized our tour to be much shorter than the original 6 hour tour.

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7 hours ago, twobeautifulgirls said:

We are booked with Blexie in two weeks. We haven’t asked to see any specific sites -just planned to go with the flow. Are there any specific sites that are a must see that might not be on the typical agenda? Where is the typical restaurant this tour recommends or are there any dining suggestions? I plan to pay in CUC but will they accept usd for tips? Thanks

 

We toured with Blexie in early April and had lunch at a great paladar that was about 20 minutes or outside the central city.  I've posted a couple of photos of the entrance and the bar with a couple of the staff.  The food was excellent and they were busy.  Because the restaurant is outside of the downtown area, you would never find it on your own.

Our tour was about 3 hours walking the old city and then about 3 hours including lunch in the 59 Ford and touring sights around the city that were too far for walking.  I'm sure they will accept USD but the problem with USD is they have to convert them at a bank or other government controlled location and according to our guide, if they have too much $$ they can be questioned as to where and how they got the money.  We used CUC's everywhere except the government run rum and cigar store where they took my USD. 

 

234275050_HavanaPaladarStaff040419.thumb.JPG.f4324d20a97f5246922f9e8aa8e94572.JPG

552945072_HavanaPaladarEntry040419.thumb.JPG.7b9579908c24f62fa83b2c23df8c7154.JPG

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Just returned this Sunday.  Our tour was scheduled for Friday morning at 9am but due to a medical emergency, we didn't arrive until 5pm.  Luckily we were able to get a hold of Blexie and reschedule for Saturday.  The walk to our meeting place on the map was not that far away, it is just three blocks straight out from the port building.

 

We went out with Jorge as our guide and Tony as our driver.  They took us to the National Hotel, Fusterlandia, a cigar factory store (we requested), the statue of Jesus, and a handful of other places that I need to look at my notes to recall.  It was an amazing tour and we had a great time.

 

The story we heard about local tours: 

The Cuban government was running tours and met at the square directly across from the cruise port; the same place the independent tours were meeting.  Both sets of these tours are the walking tours of old Havana.  It turns out the independents were getting all the business and the government didn't like loosing money.  So they kicked out the independents and told some companies that they can either close up or things would be really difficult for them going forward (hence the closure of Fer Tours).  

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2 hours ago, Rewind said:

 The walk to our meeting place on the map was not that far away, it is just three blocks straight out from the port building.

The story we heard about local tours: 

The Cuban government was running tours and met at the square directly across from the cruise port; the same place the independent tours were meeting.  Both sets of these tours are the walking tours of old Havana.  

We received an email from Blexie for our tour mid May and our meeting place is at a different spot only one block away.

Were you still able to do the walking tour?  I am trying to modify our tour to only about 1 hour or less of walking and a couple of hours to see the other sights do you think that is doable? Was your tour the 6 hour one? We have already let Blexie know we want a shortened tour & he is ok with that. 

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8 hours ago, Lorey2007 said:

We received an email from Blexie for our tour mid May and our meeting place is at a different spot only one block away.

Were you still able to do the walking tour?  I am trying to modify our tour to only about 1 hour or less of walking and a couple of hours to see the other sights do you think that is doable? Was your tour the 6 hour one? We have already let Blexie know we want a shortened tour & he is ok with that. 

You can modify your tour and do as little walking as you like 

 

My Mother In Law can’t walk long so we’re doing a mostly driving tour w a lunch/drink stop 

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Our tour ended up being mostly driving - not that we had requested one way or another.  We just said we had heard good things about Fusterlandia and Revolution Square and Jorge and Tony took care of the rest.  

 

We met some great people on our ship who had booked about the same things (Blexie tour, Tropicana, etc) and they went with Raul I believe.  They said they had a great time as well and went to most of the same places we did (we saw each other in passing a couple times).

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We customized our tour with Blexie, turning it into an almost 7 hour day, but he is taking us to every site and house we wanted to see.  I hope it all works out. 

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We had a tour with Alex a couple weeks ago and it was ok but honestly we were not impressed. We’ve done many guided tours in many cities and expected him to be talking and telling us about what we’re seeing most of the time. He was very nice and answered all of our questions, but didn’t really volunteer much info as we were driving. And when we stopped at the various places (National Hotel, Fusterlandia, Revolution Square, etc) he just said for us to walk around on our own. I expected him to stay with us and give us more info, you know, like a tour guide. 

 

And we had told Blexie beforehand and Alex at the beginning of the tour that seeing a cigar factory and seeing fusterlandia was important to us. But when we got to the cigar factory, the tours for the day had ended. So we ended up basically bribing one of the guides to give us a tour. And while we saw fusterlandia, they closed the doors about 5 mins after we arrived. It seemed like he didn’t know the times things were available and we could have easily missed it. Seems like a tour guide should know that info. And our walking tour ended up being 1 hour vs 2. But at that point we were happy to be on our own since he wasn’t giving us that much info anyway. 

 

Overall it was fine, but if we go back I would book someone else. That evening we went out to dinner and found cars waiting down the malecon to the right. We got a driver and nice guide that didn’t stop talking as we drove to dinner. Wish we had him earlier in the day. 

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