Wine & Travel

Snooth User: Really Big Al

Cuban Vacation; yes, there was some wine included...

Posted by Really Big Al, Dec 14, 2016.

This is just a teaser to start, as I only arrived home a few hours ago after about nine days in Cuba without Internet access.  That was tough, but you know what was tougher?  The lack of quality wine.  In fact, there was a lack of most everything we are used to in the USA, but I'll elaborate on that later - manana as they say in Cuba.  

First thing to pass along was almost the last piece of vacation, the plane out of Havana to Miami.  I was seated next to a middle-aged woman and we started up a conversation to pass the time of the short flight.  Turns out she owns a vineyard in Dry Creek Valley.  Turns out she supplies the grapes to Ridge!  Her vineyard is what they use to produce East Bench Zinfandel.  Can you believe my luck?  She gets several cases of the wine as part of their contract.  I didn't even ask her name, but she was headed home to San Francisco following a short business trip in Cuba with a business partner (who was actually sitting in first class).  Small world.

Teaser pictures - just a few for now:

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Replies

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Reply by rckr1951, Dec 14, 2016.

Welcome back and keep them coming.

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Reply by EMark, Dec 14, 2016.

Excellent start.  Meeting that lady was amazing.  

What do you want to bet that Outthere knows her name?

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Reply by vin0vin0, Dec 14, 2016.

Been looking forward to your report(s), hope you had an excellent experience!

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Reply by dvogler, Dec 14, 2016.

Too bad you were limited to what you could do.  Canadians have had the fortune of going there always.  I have friends that go.  I believe we have much more freedom than Americans, mainly I suspect because your visas are very restricted.  

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Reply by Really Big Al, Dec 15, 2016.

We saw a few Canadians but we didn't talk to any of them.  It's true they have been coming to Cuba during the US embargo and many items are imported from Canada.  Our visas cost $100 USD each and we were restricted to an 'educational tour', with a Cuban tour guide taking us to many places.  We did have some time to ourselves, for example the dinner picture below (beer before dinner of course) was taken in old Havana at the Havana 21 restaurant, a few blocks walking distance from our National Hotel.  There were a few Christmas trees and holiday lights in some windows.  You feel safe walking the streets and I don't think any of our tour group suffered an item being stolen.  I was more worried in Spain, especially Madrid, regarding safety and the concern of pick pockets.

The house picture is actually Hemingway's house (Finca Vigia) in Cuba, and you can only look through the open windows to see inside.  He was an avid hunter, and all the furniture was custom fabricated there at the house.  Tons of books in the book shelves.

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Reply by dvogler, Dec 15, 2016.

Hopefully relations will normalize and their economy will improve, but that is dependant on what course Raul takes.  Too bad about the wine though!

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Reply by dmcker, Dec 15, 2016.

It's definitely possible for Americans to do more than take guided 'educational' tours. A dozen years ago traveled all around the island in a group of five Americans without guides, doing some diving underwater as well is in nightlife dive bars. All of us were well experienced travelers, to put it mildly. Didn't even have to pull out a Canuck passport....

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Reply by JonDerry, Dec 15, 2016.

Care to share a good short list of rules experienced travelers tend to follow?

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Reply by Really Big Al, Dec 15, 2016.

I know I can recommend one thing - have a backup ability to get Internet access that doesn't cost an arm and a leg.  Our rental phone ($50) was basically useless - could only find a network in Havana, and then you couldn't even get a text message out.  Four of five bars (good signal) and yet it chokes.  I could have turned my iPhone wireless on and paid about $2 per hour for access too, but with similar, though not anywhere as extreme, data access.  Their infrastructure for communications in Cuba is still stuck in the 1970's.  We did hear that Google is supposed to be contracting with them soon to help fix the current situation.

Here's another teaser, the quality of the white wine provided free with some of our included dinners.  The white was decent, but the red?  No so much.

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Reply by Really Big Al, Dec 15, 2016.

Did someone call for a taxi?

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Reply by EMark, Dec 15, 2016.

Almost looks like a converted "Tilt-A-Whirl."

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Reply by MJET, Dec 15, 2016.

RBA-thanks for sharing but with so many amazing countries to visit in the world I am a little perplexed why anyone would vacation in a communist Cuba........... Maybe because I live in South Florida and my parents had everything taken away from them by the same government that is reaping the benefits of your tourism dollars........ I hope you enjoyed the dictated or dictator educational tour provided..... 

Cuba does not make my long list not to mention my short list....... It will be a very long time before I even consider.......

Sorry, I tried to refrain from posting but this hits a little too close to home. Nothing against you RBA and if you are ever in South Florida you have room, board and wine at my place. I also have plenty of family and friends that can share lots of the REAL history of Cuba. THANK GOD MY PARENTS CAME TO THE GREAT UNITED STATES OF AMERICA IN 1960 AND I WAS BORN AN AMERICAN! CHEERS! 

 

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Reply by rckr1951, Dec 15, 2016.

MJET - BEING A VET - RIGHT ON - SAY WHAT YOU WILL!  I feel the same way about Taiwan and Hong Kong.  I will temper those feelings about Cuba with this - the people of that country deserve better and I hope to God that the US can do do something to positively influence that outcome.

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Reply by outthere, Dec 16, 2016.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xGi6j2VrL0o

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Reply by Really Big Al, Dec 16, 2016.

I understand the feelings MJET, and I do believe communism will slip away to free enterprise over the next few decades in Cuba.  Your parents were lucky to get out before it became impossible.  

Here's an example of recycled art.  Still working on the web page by the way, or more like I'm just getting started.

 

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Reply by Really Big Al, Dec 17, 2016.

Another cool car, a 1957 Chevy Bel Air.

 

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Reply by MJET, Dec 17, 2016.

RCKR-Thank you for your service Sir! 

RBA-I do appreciate the pictures. Thank you. It continues to amaze me how they keep those American cars running with limited supplies and resources.  

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Reply by outthere, Dec 17, 2016.

Al, that's a '55 Bel Aire. Just sayin'

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Reply by rckr1951, Dec 17, 2016.

I used to own one of those in the sixties.

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Reply by Really Big Al, Dec 18, 2016.

It's a 1955 Bel Aire?  Damn.  I should have looked closely at the tail lights.  Back then you could identify the year in the part number on the lights.

Ok, here's another one - see who can identify it first!

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