Tag: Communism Travel

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Step Back in Time to 1970s East Germany at These 5 Berlin Spots

November 11, 2014 at 10:22 AM | by | ()

Brandenburg Gate. Alexanderplatz. Checkpoint Charlie.

The 25th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall has done more than just shed a brighter light on some of Berlin's best-known tourist sites; it's wholly reignited interest in the brief history of the DDR (Deutsche Demokratische Republik), aka East Germany. Although the DDR technically ceased to exist upon Berlin reunification in 1990 and East Germany feverishly adapted to Western fashion and culture, the particular details of DDR everyday life continue to fascinate.

A handful of Berlin sites continue to preserve DDR design, and anyone is welcome to visit. Here are five of our favorites:

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Holiday in Ho Chi Minh City: Realities of Visiting a Communist Country

May 2, 2013 at 11:55 AM | by | ()

There's no question that traveling to a country that doesn't share your motherland's political persuasion can be a little daunting, but since when is travel about revisiting the everyday? Our recent trip to Vietnam proved quite the wake-up, even though rocking up to passport control with an American passport is no longer anything to be worried about. Once granted entry, we were officially on Communist soil.

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North Korea Shuts Down 3G Internet Access for Tourists, but the Instagrams Remain

March 27, 2013 at 11:30 AM | by | ()

After little less than a month of 3G internet access for foreigners visiting North Korea, Wired UK reports that the signal has been shut down as the hermit kingdom once again retreats into its usual campaign of warmongering.

Still, for that brief period, a few journalists were able to post tweets and Instagrams live from within the borders and, ever so briefly, skyrocket international cultural interest in a country that's usually only making headlines for their politics. Perhaps the 3G access was cut because of this, these images of a "softer side" of North Korea that's contrary to the propaganda officially proliferated by Pyongyang? We can only wonder as, of course, the last thing we can expect is clarification of any actions taken by North Korea.

If you missed the stream of social media during the brief 3G period, it thankfully all lives on in the internet. Here's where to find it:

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Booking a Flight to North Korea Now as Easy as 일, 이, 삼 (or Is it?)

October 29, 2012 at 9:08 AM | by | ()

If you think your airline is treating you poorly during the hullabaloo surrounding Hurricane Sandy—think again—as there’s one carrier that's much worse on a clear day. Air Koryo is the national carrier of North Korea and they are most famous for being the world’s only one-star airline. Let’s just say they aren’t really known for the in-flight dining options, variety of routes, customer service, or technology. Obviously this isn’t an airline that most are going to use, but now that they’ve entered the internet age we’re not so sure.

Obviously you’re going to need plenty of paperwork for travel to Pyongyang, but if you’re willing to fill out all the forms in advance you’ll be ready to fly with Air Koryo. There won’t be any Boeing or Airbus planes whisking you off to Pyongyang, but if you’re looking for some Tupolev aircraft—they’ve got you more than covered.

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Let's Talk Tallinn: The City's Five Most Bizarre Soviet Buildings

July 12, 2012 at 4:06 PM | by | ()

Who goes to Estonia?! Well, our roaming correspondent John Walton does and, all this week, he'll be filling us in on what's up way up there in this world capital on the Baltic Sea.

Cards on the table: we love Brutalism in architecture. That's the angular, in-your-face, often concrete-formed style popular from the 1950s-70s, which often feels a little bit like a Star Trek: The Next Generation planetary facility. Slightly closer to home, Tallinn has a whole bunch of these awesome buildings. Which shouldn't be surprising—later Soviet architecture just loved the futuristic look of the things, but there are a few other architectural gems from the USSR days in Tallinn.

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Let's Talk Tallinn: 'There is Nothing Here' in the KGB Museum

July 11, 2012 at 4:16 PM | by | ()

Who goes to Estonia?! Well, our roaming correspondent John Walton does and, all this week, he'll be filling us in on what's up way up there in this world capital on the Baltic Sea.

We love hotels, we love museums...but the KGB Museum inside Tallinn's landmark Hotel Viru takes the hideous Soviet-era cake, and it's the best €7 we spent in Tallinn. (The museum, not the cake.)

Back in the days of the USSR, the top floor of the hotel was used as a KGB listening post. While much of the equipment was spirited away when Estonia became an independent state, there's still a fascinating amount of stuff up there.

It seems odd to be talking about a smell being part of history, but wait until you sniff the "Soviet Smell" as you walk into the old "photocopying room," which now holds all kinds of fascinating memorabilia from the days of the USSR. Don't miss the Complaints Book and the identical death notices for Andropov and Brezhnev.

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Right Now is Not the Best Time to Day Trip to the DMZ

December 19, 2011 at 8:15 AM | by | ()

So, North Korea's "Dear Leader" Kim Jong Il died this weekend—at 8:30am local time on Saturday, to be specific. According to NK state media and CNN, the cause of death is heart attack. The sudden news will start this week with uncertainty, as North Korea enters a period of mourning (until December 29) and South Korea holds emergency government meetings.

Naturally we're thinking about how all this will impact travel, and while weekending in Pyongyang isn't exactly around the corner, the tense situation between North and South Korea will almost certainly end visits to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), at least temporarily.

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Delta Direct to Havana is a Real Thing

November 8, 2011 at 10:32 AM | by | ()

Unfortunately the flights aren’t searchable or bookable through your favorite travel site just yet, but there is another new option for those looking to head to Cuba. It sounds like Delta is the latest carrier to get in on the Cuba travel craze, and they’re working with a Miami-based travel agency to help you get there.

The airline is partnering with Marazul—that's the travel agency—to get passengers the necessary paperwork, passports, and other stamps and seals to get to and from Cuba. Some flights had already been available out of Miami last month, but now there’s plans to do a nonstop flight from New York-JFK right into Havana. If all goes well there will also be an Atlanta option—obviously—beginning this December. If you’re interested, the airfare from New York will set you back around $659, and the flights departing from Atlanta start around $599.

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This is What North Korea Calls a Cruise Ship

September 12, 2011 at 10:18 AM | by | ()

Bad news: it now sucks more than ever to live in North Korea. Why? Because the good ol' DPRK just launched their first cruise ship, the Mangyongbong (pictured above). About the only thing it has going for it is that it floats, plus okay also the fun-to-say name. Technically having the option of taking a cruise should mean life is tad bit better, right? Well, the ship is so sad that North Koreans are better off without it.

Want to "cruise" on the Mangyongbong? Be prepared to board from a dirt-covered dock from a town near the border with Russia, leave your cell phone behind, bed down on bare-bones mattresses in a communal space and soak up the sun from plastic lawn chairs that'll probably be blown overboard by the wind before you can get to them. What a cruise!

Luckily it's not a very long cruise; the ship only does a 1-night journey from North Korea to the the special tourist zone of Mount Kumgang on the South Korean border. It's a beautiful place, but it's also the focus of a constant ownership tug-of-war between North and South Korea, so what we're saying is this is a cruise where you should definitely opt for the extra travel insurance.

Check out more photos of the inaugural cruise here.

[Photo:AFP/Daily Mail]

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Cultural Exchanges Now Departing Florida, Destination Cuba

August 16, 2011 at 3:47 PM | by | ()

We've been covering the loosening of Cuba travel restrictions for years now. There was a Congressional bill floating around in late 2009 but, as we explained at the time, it had zero chance of passing. So then President Obama tried to take things into his own hands, promising to open up travel channels. It took several more months before anything happened, but in 2011 the administration announced that "purposeful travel" would be allowed for Americans who could get visas to the island nation.

All of which brings us to this week's news, which is that People-To-People trips are again departing from Florida to Cuba. Booked through Insight Cuba, the cultural exchange program is one of several on the horizon.

There are no less than 35 organizations angling for the US Treasury Department to approve their purposeful travel trips, which have to involve "meaningful interaction between travelers and individuals." Hipster travel snobs will be especially pleased to know that Treasury distinguishes between being a Cuba "traveler," which is allowed, and being a Cuba "tourist," which is not.

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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 | ()

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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Chernobyl is So Hot Right Now: Nuclear Disasters Pique Tourist Interest

Where: Ukraine
March 21, 2011 at 8:21 AM | by | ()

On April 26 this year, Ukraine will remember the 25th Anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. No one knows exactly how many died as result of the radioactive fallout and the story of what exactly happened to cause the plant's explosion is so riveting that we can easily get sucked into reading just the Wikipedia page and links for hours. Thus, it's no surprise that Ukraine has opened the Chernobyl site to tours; it's in our nature to be curious about such macabre places.

As it turns out, the recent tourist focus on Chernobyl couldn't have come at a better, if tragic, time. With the situation at Japan's earthquake- and tsunami-damaged nuclear plants (especially Fukushima) having reached frightening disaster status, the public is reading up on nuclear energy and the history thereof, including tragedies like experienced at Chernobyl.

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