5 things to see in Old Havana

As the name suggests, Old Havana or Habana Vieja is the oldest part of the city, founded by the Spanish in 1519 around the Bay of Havana. As an important link in the flow of treasure from the New World to the Old, the city was very rich and the streets and plazas were lined with grand Neoclassical and Baroque buildings. Many of those buildings still stand today, some beautifully restored, some crumbling. Spend at least a few hours here just wandering the narrow streets and people-watching in the many squares. Continue reading

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Angeles del Futuro is a community service project and labor of love created by Odelmis Hernández to teach young people the circus arts, such as dancing, acting, acrobatics and trapeze.

In the 1990s, Odelmis was a student at the National Circus School but was unable to finish his studies after the economic crisis brought on by the collapse of the Soviet Union, a major economic, military and political benefactor of this mystery country.

In 2006, Odelmis revived his dream with the Angeles del Futuro project and today trains more than 85 students ranging in age from 9 to 17 years.

 

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Most Ya’lla tours to our mystery country include dinners and lunches at paladars, like Guitarra Mia. A paladar is a privately owned restaurant, usually family operated and located in a converted home. When we first started selling tours to this country in 2002, food was definitely not a selling point, mainly because of the scarcity of ingredients. Since 1993, the largely state-run economy has allowed the operation of small, private businesses. Relying on black market suppliers, paladars began to pop up gradually in major cities. With further economic reforms in 2010, the industry of small, private restaurants really took off. Today, hundreds of paladars operate across the country, mainly supported by tourists. While it’s not quite a culinary destination, yet, there’s enough variety and innovation here to satisfy the most refined palate.

 

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This national capital building recently reopened after an 8-year renovation.

The Capitolio was built in 1929 as the home of the Congress. After the country’s leftist revolution in 1959, the building, which was loosely modeled after the U.S. Capital building, was neglected as a symbol of imperialism.

Restoration work continues in some areas but the building is open for guided tours. Inside and out, the building is an architectural treasure and not to be missed. The most famous feature inside is a 57-foot bronze Statue of the Republic.

 

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