Havana Travel Guide
Conan O’Brien made history last night when he aired an episode of his late night talk show that was filmed entirely in Cuba, making him the first American late-night talk show host to broadcast from the country since Jack Paar interviewed Fidel Castro for The Tonight Show in 1959.
O'Brien, along with a small crew, spent four days in Havana, Cuba over Presidents' Day weekend with no real plan, other than trying to meet the people of Cuba and "make friends."
If you've ever wanted to immerse yourself into the sights and sounds of old school Cuba, a la Jay Z and Beyonce, there is a new tour created just for you.
Insight Cuba, the longest running operator of legal people-to-people trips to Cuba, is launching a new six-day itinerary this fall, aptly called Vintage Cuba, for those who want to go back in time on a journey through the country’s colorful and complex history.
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We’re not sure if there’s a tourism boom taking place down in Cuba, but there must be an influx of cash from somewhere. That’s because the country’s main airport—the one over in Havana—is scheduled for quite an upgrade, as it looks like officials are getting ready to shell out around $10 million to upgrade, improve, and update the airport.
The main international terminal—Terminal 3—over at Jose Marti International Airport is the one scheduled for the facelift and renovation. New airport goodies include around eight new footbridges for boarding, and they’re even adding a whole bunch of new parking spots outside the terminal. More check-in capabilities, better air conditioning, and some energy saving features round out the renovation plans.
Too bad the United passengers missed this action
Weird smells. In-flight drama. An emergency landing in Cuba. These three elements sound like the basis for a Weekend At Bernie's-sort of movie, but instead it was reality for 135 passengers onboard United Flight 931 this weekend, when their Washington-Dulles to Cancun, Mexico trip took a detourto Havana, Cuba.
The cause of the unscheduled stop? CNN reports: "The crew detected a burning smell, saying it was in the cockpit," and they landed the Airbus A320 on Castro's turf just to be safe.
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Oh wow. Steps towards the re-opening of Cuba are coming quicker and quicker now, and the latest advance is a huge one: Eight new US airports have been given permission to operate charter flights to Cuba. It was only back in January that Obama and Congress re-allowed educational and religious groups to travel to Castro's island, but their departure points were limited to NYC, Miami and Los Angeles.
With the news that eight more airportsdeemed to have sufficient customs and immigration facilitiescan now begin their own travel agency-arranged flights, you can expect to see many more "My Cuba Trip" photo slideshows from your neighbors. The new airports are: Chicago-O'Hare, Baltimore, Dallas-Fort Worth, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, Tampa, Atlanta and San Juan, Puerto Rico.
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Rumors are swirling today that Fidel Castro is no longer on death's door and could even return to lead Cuba.
Is it a coincidence that Castro's alleged phoenix like radio appearance coincides with the 9th Habano Cigar Festival, taking place in the Havana Convention Centre from February 26 to March 2? Doubt it.
Raul Castro, the current number one in Cuba, is rumored to dislike cigars--the horror.
This year's festival will launch a new line of cigars for the island's signature Cohiba brand known as Maduro 5 or Mature 5, which are finished with a wrapper leaf that has been aged five years. Wrapper leaves represent the final stage of cigar-making and are essential to how well a cigar burns.
Participants include Havana cigar smokers from Russia, Belgium, Netherlands, Switzerland, Sweden, Japan, China and England who are scheduled to visit tobacco plantations and cigar factories in the island, but there are no known celebrity attendees to generate cigar buzz. Luckily, it looks like Fidel will handle the buzz generation all on his own, thank you very much.
It's not enough to be a beauty queen these days. Now pretty ladies are becoming super-sexy international women of danger and intrigue, ideally coming ot the big screen soon. You're not making it any easier for guys to pick you up with this behavior, ladies.
Miss Czech Republic 1999, Helena Houdova, spent her recent trip to Cuba photographing the conditions of poor and sick in the Havana slums. Four days into her trip, Houdova and her friend were arrested and detained by the secret police. Houdova hid her camera's memory card inside her bra and claimed that she had erased the pictures.
After about twelve hours of being questioned about their guide, with the secret police repeatedly demanding they admit to "counterrevolutionary activities", Houdova and her friend were released . The photos she took are now being exhibited at the Langhans Gallery in Prague.
This story combines many of our favorite things: Models, digital cameras, and handcuffs. Where can we send her next?
· Pluck and Luck Save Smuggled Photos [Prague Post]
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Finca Vigia (Lookout Farm), the Havana-area compound where Hemingway lived from 1939 to 1961, is falling apart, with an estimated restoration cost of $3 million. Even though the house isn't on American soil, Finca Vigia is nevertheless on the National Trust's 2005 list of most endangered structures. To date the U.S. government has nixed any substantial material or financial help from American conservationists: by the government's lights a restoration would be promoting tourism, which is forbidden by the trade embargo against Cuba, rather than pursuing an educational or humanitarian goal, which is not.
· Embargo hampering restoration effort of Hemingway villa in Cuba [Sun-Sentinal, via Hit & Run]
· Hemingway Preservation Foundation [Official site]