Cuba Travel Guide

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Meet the Mechanics Who Keep Cuba's Vintage Cars Running

Where: Havana, Cuba
August 22, 2013 at 10:35 AM | by | Comments (0)

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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There's Mucho Dinero Heading to Havana's Airport

Where: Havana, Cuba
July 30, 2013 at 9:17 AM | by | Comments (0)

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.

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Volunteer at a Bat Sanctuary to See the (Literally) Darker Side of Cuba

Where: Cuba
January 23, 2013 at 2:50 PM | by | Comments (0)

Spending a Caribbean vacation in a damp, dark cave might not be for everyone, but there is no doubt those who are up for it leave with a new perspective on the region.

The Canadian-based voluntourism organization Animal Experience International is on a mission to help animals around the world by matching clients with animal-related volunteer opportunities at sanctuaries, hospitals, wildlife rehabilitation centers, and conservation projects, including a bat conservatory in the Caribbean.

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Think Traveling to Cuba is Tough Enough? One Woman is Swimming the Distance

Where: Cuba
August 8, 2011 at 10:02 AM | by | Comments (0)

Want to travel to Cuba? Join the club. Despite Obama's January lessening of restrictions for trips to Cuba, a hop down to Havana for mojitos and salsa still isn't an easy feat for Americans. The biggest name in luxury package vacations—Abercrombie & Kent—has just pulled out of their sold-out Cuba trips owing to technical issues, and you may just have to hope for another emergency landing in Havana (thought really, don't).

Of course there's always another option, but it's not for weak of heart or muscle. 61-year-old long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad is breaststroking her way the entire 100 miles that separates Cuba from the Florida Keys, risking sharks and bad weather.

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Cuba Libres All Around! United Flight Makes Surprise Stop in Havana

Where: Havana, Cuba
August 1, 2011 at 8:30 AM | by | Comments (0)


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 detour—to 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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Next Stop, Havana: Eight More US Airports Get Go Ahead to Fly to Cuba

Where: Havana, Cuba
March 9, 2011 at 9:15 AM | by | Comments (0)

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 airports—deemed to have sufficient customs and immigration facilities—can 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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Appreciating Cuba's Clichés: Che Guevara is Everywhere, Everything

Where: Cuba
February 25, 2011 at 11:01 AM | by | Comments (0)

With President Obama working to lessen Cuba Travel restrictions, the island risks getting caught up in a hurricane of clichés. Thinking travelers aren’t generally fooled by the shiny veneer of places plugged in a Lonely Planet, but don’t discard Cuba’s clichés. They’re what make this intriguing country so exotic, so vibrant and so darned colorful. A Jaunted special secret correspondent discovers the best of each, all this week.

They tell you Communists and religion don’t mix, but Cuba has a God. His name is Ernesto Che Guevara and he is omnipresent: on walls, doors, museums, shrines, monuments, galleries, billboards, t-shirts, caps, postcards, on people’s lips. Strange that Fidel, who has never been a shrinking violet, is almost nowhere to be seen.

Che’s arrival in Cuba in December 1956 was less than godly, crashing into the coast on the rickety yacht Granma and stumbling onto land half seasick with the Castro brothers. 60 of the 82 men squeezed on board that 12-person cruiser were immediately caught and killed, while Che ran off wheezing (he had chronic asthma) to hide in the Sierra Maestra mountains, near present-day Guantánamo Bay. There he bumped into the Cuban army, who promptly shot him.

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Appreciating Cuba's Clichés: Rampant Capitalism on Varadero's White Sand Beaches

Where: Cuba
February 24, 2011 at 10:48 AM | by | Comments (2)

With President Obama working to lessen Cuba Travel restrictions, the island risks getting caught up in a hurricane of clichés. Thinking travelers aren’t generally fooled by the shiny veneer of places plugged in a Lonely Planet, but don’t discard Cuba’s clichés. They’re what make this intriguing country so exotic, so vibrant and so darned colorful. A Jaunted special secret correspondent discovers the best of each, all this week.

If you want to go to Cuba without going to Cuba, you have two choices: Guantánamo or Varadero. It's a toss-up for me; Guantánamo gets a bad press, it's true, but I suspect the north coast beach resort of Varadero only gets good write-ups because tourist dollars depend on it.

There's a rumor that Cubans are not allowed in Varadero, but that's not true. There are plenty of Cubans, serving the food and cleaning the rooms in the vast resort hotels plonked side by side along the skinny white sand peninsula that pokes out into the Atlantic like a knobbly twig. The issue is that ordinary Cubans can't afford to stay in the hotels there.

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Appreciating Cuba's Clichés: In the Steps of Old Man Hemingway

Where: Cuba
February 23, 2011 at 10:31 AM | by | Comments (0)

With President Obama working to lessen Cuba Travel restrictions, the island risks getting caught up in a hurricane of clichés. Thinking travelers aren’t generally fooled by the shiny veneer of places plugged in a Lonely Planet, but don’t discard Cuba’s clichés. They’re what make this intriguing country so exotic, so vibrant and so darned colorful. A Jaunted special secret correspondent discovers the best of each, all this week.

If you haven’t read The Old Man and the Sea I highly recommend you do. It's a bearable 100 or so pages of splashing waves, circling sharks and melodrama giving an easy-grip handle on the strength and defiance of the Cuban character—at least, in the clichéd sense. It won Hemingway the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954, after which he famously remarked that “no son of a bitch that ever won the Nobel Prize ever wrote anything worth reading afterwards.”

Aside from that book, I can’t quite see the Hemingway obsession. But plenty of people do, and there’s a flurry of Hemingway-related activities for you to do in Cuba if you’re so inclined.

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Appreciating Cuba's Clichés: Cigars are Nothing to Be Sniffed At

Where: Cuba
February 22, 2011 at 10:45 AM | by | Comments (0)

With President Obama working to lessen Cuba Travel restrictions, the island risks getting caught up in a hurricane of clichés. Thinking travelers aren’t generally fooled by the shiny veneer of places plugged in a Lonely Planet, but don’t discard Cuba’s clichés. They’re what make this intriguing country so exotic, so vibrant and so darned colorful. A Jaunted special secret correspondent discovers the best of each, all this week.

The only people I saw tangoing in Argentina were tourists and, in the years I lived there, the only people I saw eating frogs’ legs in France were British schoolchildren. So I learned to distrust clichés and genuinely expected that the only people puffing cigars in Cuba would be foreigners.

It took three seconds in Havana’s arrivals terminal to learn that I was wrong; the tobacco smell hung heavy in the air like great thunderclouds. Smoking is banned inside the airport; this was coming from people’s clothes and breaths. Until recently, the Cuban government heavily subsidized cigars and cigarettes for people born before 1956. Read into that what you will. Suffice to say that smoking-related diseases kill around 6,000 people each year in Cuba. Castro himself doesn’t figure in that number, having given up smoking for health reasons in 1985.

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Appreciating Cuba's Clichés: Streets Full of Classic American Cars

Where: Cuba
February 21, 2011 at 9:45 AM | by | Comment (1)

With President Obama working to lessen Cuba Travel restrictions, the island risks getting caught up in a hurricane of clichés. Thinking travelers aren’t generally fooled by the shiny veneer of places plugged in a Lonely Planet, but don’t discard Cuba’s clichés. They’re what make this intriguing country so exotic, so vibrant and so darned colorful. A Jaunted special secret correspondent discovers the best of each, all this week.

Cuba is an automobile enthusiast’s wet dream.

If you are one—a car enthusiast, that is, not a wet dream—then close your eyes and fantasize for a second. Imagine a catwalk of Chevys, Buicks, Chryslers and Plymouths, swinging their giant pink, mint-green or firey-red hips down a street lined with extravagant, crumbling mansions. In any central Havana square you’ll see them posing in the sunlight, radiator grilles pouting sexily for tourists’ cameras. (Off-stage they’re just as narcissistic.) All announce their arrival and departure on the scene with a thunderous drum roll from a thirsty engine and a dramatic puff of thick black smoke. The sight will blow you away, if the smoke doesn’t.

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Cuba, Now: Beyond the Hustlers to the Best Beach on Cuba’s South Coast

Where: Cuba
February 18, 2011 at 10:42 AM | by | Comments (0)

With President Obama working to lessen Cuba Travel restrictions, the focus on future trips to the country is growing wildly. A Jaunted special secret correspondent just returned from a period in Cuba, and she'll be sharing her impressions of the country, the people and their hopes all this week.

I was expecting an “ethereal colonial jewel,” a “sparkling colonial diamond,” a “perfectly preserved Spanish colonial settlement where the clocks stopped ticking in 1850.” At least that’s what I read in the Bible (aka Lonely Planet Cuba), as I rumbled slowly down a desolate six-lane motorway half-built with Soviet funds before the Berlin Wall collapsed. The surprisingly smooth tarmac stops abruptly when the bus heads south—via a pit stop for a Cuban version of a croque monsieur—towards the sparkling Caribbean sea and Cuba’s second-most popular tourist city of Trinidad.

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