June 21st, 2018

Your Travels: Cuba is rich in culture and vintage cars

By Medicine Hat News on September 2, 2017.

Ernest Fode

Upon arriving in Veradero, Cuba after a four-hour flight from Calgary, the sight of old vintage cars from the 1950s and aged horse-drawn carriages got me wondering if I had landed back in time after a trip in an H.G. Wells time-machine.

This was the start of a seven-day all-inclusive vacation at a 3.5-star Veradero Beach resort, my first visit to Cuba.

I decided on a day trip to Havana to visit Pulitzer and Nobel Prize-winning author Ernest Hemingway’s downtown hotel which is still in operation.

The Ambos Mundos Hotel is where, in 1939-40, over 15 months, on the fourth floor, Hemingway wrote “For Whom the Bell Tolls.” In 1942 Hollywood turned this novel into a movie starring Gary Cooper and Ingrid Bergman.

My other highlight was a visit to the infamous Al Capone house overlooking Veradero Beach.

After a short walk down Kawama Avenue from my resort alongside the Laguna de Paso Malo canal, I came upon a replica of Capone’s black 1920’s car.

This house, which looks more like a mansion, was converted into a restaurant in 1980.

This elegant restaurant now goes by the name of La Casa De Al and has aptly named menu entries such as Ensalada “Godfather” salad, Mafiosa “Mafious” soup, Langosta “Al Capone” lobster, and “Lucky Luciano” filet mignon.

With his connections to the sugar cane and liquor factories, he shipped his illegal cargo during the U.S. prohibition era 150 kilometres to Miami.

I spent the rest of my week browsing handicraft markets, riding the Hop-On, Hop-Off bus and enjoying poolside pina coladas and Bucanero Beer.

Despite their embargo, the Cuban culture, historic sites and vintage cars made my visit educational and fascinating.

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