Category Archives: Cuba

JetBlue requests (again) a Boston-Havana route

travel, gay travel, caribbean, old cars, antique carsAlthough it seems like a long shot, last week The Boston Globe reported JetBlue asked the US Department of Transportation to reject a request by Alaska Airlines to give them until January to begin their flights between L.A. and Havana, and instead award JetBlue a Boston – Havana route in its place.

Sergio and I were fortunate enough to visit Havana, and I hope Boston soon gets one of the coveted routes so more people from the area can visit Cuba. If you missed my previous posts you can read all about that amazing trip and see the crazy, cool photos of the cars, architecture, food and of course the people.

Post 1: An American in Havana
Post 2: An American in Havana: The Cuban people
Post 3: An American in Havana: The architecture
Post 4: An American in Havana: Old Havana
Post 5: An American in Havana: The food
Post 6: An American in Havana: The cars

 

An American in Havana: The cars

travel, gay travelI have written a few posts about my recent trip to Havana, Cuba, but it would seem odd not to dedicate a post to the cars you see all over Havana.  While not every car is a 1950s American automobile, there are truly more than you would believe.

gay travel, travel, carCars in Havana fall into one of three categories; vintage American cars, old Russian cars that stick out like a sore thumb (like the one above), and newer cars from Asia and to a lesser extent Europe. The vintage American cars are truly a sight to see and while some look like they are held together by electrical tape, glue and a prayer, many appear to be in great condition. Below I’ve included some of my favorite pictures of the cars of Havana.

gay, gay travel, car

Check out the newer car in the background. Not every car is from the 1950s.

gay travel, travel, car

This vintage Ford taxi was outside the Hotel Nacional de Cuba (Definitely put this place on your list to see when you visit Havana.)

travel, gay travel, car

I felt like I saw this exact model in the Indiana Jones movies. 

taxi, gay travel, travel, car

Havana taxis lined up in front of Cuba’s Capitol Building (which happens to look a lot like a building we have in DC).

Blog posts from this series:
Post 1: An American in Havana
Post 2: An American in Havana: The Cuban people
Post 3: An American in Havana: The architecture
Post 4: An American in Havana: Old Havana
Post 5: An American in Havana: The food
Post 6: An American in Havana: The cars

An American in Havana: The food

food, dining, havana, cubaPrior to arriving in Cuba I kept hearing that the food ranged from bland to bad. And that is exactly how I would describe some of the food we had while visiting, but the good news is there are some really good restaurants. Rather than focusing on the disappointing meals, I thought I’d highlight two of my favorite.

dining, food, cuba, havana, old havanaThe day we spent walking through Old Havana we had lunch at Paladar Dona Eutimia.  The tiny hole-in-a-wall restaurant with a tiny patio in the front had a bit of a wait when we arrived so we gave our names to the host and walked to El Patio Restaurante, (which I would recommend for drinks).  After having a cocktail followed by complimentary shots of Cuban rum at El Patio, we were more than ready for lunch. The good news is that the handsome host / manager took a liking to our table and ended up waiting on us. After he heard our American accents and friendly demeanor more rum seemed to materialize. While I’ll admit I had a good rum buzz, I can assure you the food was as delicious as it was affordable. The majority of appetizers range in price from $2 – $4 and main plates range from $7 – $12.

Unfortunately my ‘rum buzz’ meant that I was too stimulated to remember to take photographs of our meal.  Although as you can see at the start (before all that rum) I remembered to take a picture of the menu (see above). The food was fairly simple – think of it as ‘home style Cuban’ – but it was delicious. I ended up ordering the Suprema de Pollo Grille (grilled chicken breast) for $7.00.  All meals came with large bowls of rice, beans and fried plantains. Needless to say we all left very satisfied.

dining, havana, cubaBy contrast, the next meal I would like to share was much more chic. El Cocinero is located in the Vedado neighborhood and occupies space that was formerly a vegetable oil factory. They have a beautiful outdoor dining room patio on the second floor as well as a small indoor dining room that has an urban vibe. If you climb to the top of the building’s roof deck, you can get food (although it is not the full dining room menu) and drinks under the night sky in Havana. The night we were there the roof deck was full of foreigners and well-heeled Cubans sipping cocktails, enjoying their food and listening to a great DJ. I didn’t take notes on the price of the plates we ordered but dinner which included starters, main dishes, dessert and (lots of) cocktails came out to $30 per person.

dining, havana, cuba

Blog posts from this series:
Post 1: An American in Havana
Post 2: An American in Havana: The Cuban people
Post 3: An American in Havana: The architecture
Post 4: An American in Havana: Old Havana
Post 5: An American in Havana: The food
Post 6: An American in Havana: The cars

An American in Havana: Old Havana

Travel, gay travel, cuba

Cathedral of The Virgin Mary of the Immaculate Conception (A.K.A. Havana Cathedral)

If you’ve traveled through South America or visited San Juan, Puerto Rico, you would probably be familiar with the “Old Town” section of Havana.  The Spanish did an amazing job of replicating their European towns in the New World and Havana is no exception.  It appears as if the Cuban government is trying to revitalize the area by cleaning up and fixing many of the buildings.  This is clearly an important tourist destination. When we were visiting, all of Old Town was awash with tourists from all over the world; many American.

Cuba, travel, gay travelWe actually had a fantastic meal while visiting Old Havana at this tiny restaurant at the end of a street, but I’ll talk more about that in a future post regarding the food of Cuba.

While visiting you’d be remiss to skip over Old Havana even if you’ve seen other Latin and South American Old Towns.  Located near the port and by the Malecon it is an easy and popular place to spend the day.  We started exploring this part of the city by taking a taxi to the Arts & Crafts Market located along the port in Old Havana in what appears to have formerly been a warehouse or possibly a train or bus depot.  From there we meandered through the streets of Old Town until we ended up near the Cathedral of Havana.  We stopped for a round of cocktails at El Patio before heading over to a tiny hole in the wall cafe where we had a delicious lunch.

Havana, travel, gay travel

The Cuban Capitol Building is an exact but smaller replica of the  U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.

The Cuban Capitol building and the Great Theater of Havana are by Old Town and should also be visited even if just from the outside like we did.  Interestingly, Cuba’s Capitol building is an exact replica of the US Capitol Building; just 1/3 the size of the US building in Washington, D.C.  This was the most tangible reminder of what was clearly a friendly and close relationship that our countries once shared.  It was surreal standing on the steps of Cuba’s Capitol building – an exact replica of the US Capitol Building – with 1950s American cars whizzing by you.

Blog posts from this series:
Post 1: An American in Havana
Post 2: An American in Havana: The Cuban people
Post 3: An American in Havana: The architecture
Post 4: An American in Havana: Old Havana
Post 5: An American in Havana: The food
Post 6: An American in Havana: The cars

An American in Havana: The Cuban people

travel, gay travel, caribbeanI wasn’t certain what to expect when I visited Havana.  I presumed (correctly so) that Cubans didn’t hold me accountable for the politics that have divided our nations for more than 50 years, but I hadn’t realized how much I would enjoy talking to them. The Cubans we met were fairly open about their frustrations with their government but proud of all they had accomplished in terms of public health, education and contributions to culture and arts.  They live in a society plagued by chronic shortages due to the ineptitude of their government and the US embargo. Despite those barriers I couldn’t help but notice all the trendy Cuban men and women strolling down Avenida 23 and along the Malecon. We were told that consumer goods make it into the general population from family members and friends who live abroad. It seemed like nearly everyone either has a relative or a connection with someone living in the United States or Europe who sends back currency and consumer goods.  It made me realize while our embargo has put a great strain on Cuba it hasn’t stopped the flow of goods nor squelched their appetite for them.

While I thought much of Havana appeared to be crumbling all around me. I did like it’s shabby-chic vibe.  It has that romantic charm and sexual energy all larger Latin cities possess, but it seems more romantic and in some cases tragic with the backdrop of decrepit buildings and 1950s American cars zipping by you.

Travel, Gay Travel, Cuban Art

Public art is plentiful and we met and talked to a few artists while visiting.  I was surprised that I saw very few images of Castro while in Havana; Che Guevara, cigars, 1950s American cars and pop icons are nearly everywhere you look.

gay travel, travel, art, cuban artIf you visit Havana, I recommend checking out the Arts & Crafts Market located along the port in Old Havana. Sure, its is tourist trap and you’ll likely bump into more than a few Americans while you’re there, but it is a great way to see how Cubans are interpreting the world around them before setting out to explore Old Havana.

Blog posts from this series:
Post 1: An American in Havana
Post 2: An American in Havana: The Cuban people
Post 3: An American in Havana: The architecture
Post 4: An American in Havana: Old Havana
Post 5: An American in Havana: The food
Post 6: An American in Havana: The cars

An American in Havana

travel, gay travel, caribbean, old cars, antique carsCuba is approximately 90 miles south of Florida in the Caribbean Sea but the commercial, economic and financial embargo our country has imposed since October 1960 has placed Cuba in a time warp that makes it a unique place for anyone to visit.

As long as I’ve been alive the US embargo has been in place and while it has slowed the pace of change, it hasn’t halted it entirely.  It is amazing to visit a large international city without a single American fast food chain, coffee shop, bank or retail outlet.  In spite of this young gay men and women can be spotted wearing the latest fashion from the US and Europe.

In the posts below I share my experience, visiting this unique destination for the first time, writing about life in Cuba, the gorgeous architecture, Old Havana, the food and of course the cars.

Blog posts from this series:
Post 1: An American in Havana
Post 2: An American in Havana: The Cuban people
Post 3: An American in Havana: The architecture
Post 4: An American in Havana: Old Havana
Post 5: An American in Havana: The food
Post 6: An American in Havana: The cars