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Re: DD Logo First one fo sho. Adgree that the second one looks like Pintrest.

Although I will say that it's a pity to not capitalize on the two Ds; you yourself described DansDeals as "DD" in the thread title. I think that is very much part of the site's identity.

April 26, 2017, 05:34:40 PM
1
Re: Countries That Have Food Restrictions
I've heard Iceland is extremely strict.  Is that the case? Can anyone give specifics?

I've had zero problem both times, and all other DDFers who've been report the same. Take the "nothing to declare" corridor and viola.

May 01, 2017, 08:36:41 PM
1
Re: Viva La Revolución! Time-traveling to Cuba with Something Fishy, whYME, and CITH
Or we will demand a refund!!

I feel like demanding 1099s ;D

May 01, 2017, 11:00:46 PM
1
Re: The funny/strange/interesting video thread...
Didn't know that there were actual people with the last name of שטינקעוויטש.

ALOL

#DiLetztaGedank?

May 02, 2017, 12:15:13 AM
1
Re: Viva La Revolución! Time-traveling to Cuba with Something Fishy, whYME, and CITH
Some important notes:

- As with the last segment, this one is split it into two parts, with the second half coming tomorrow.

- Due to the amount of pictures, let your browser fully load before you begin.

- All the pictures are by me, except where indicated otherwise.



[Something Fishy] After a good night's sleep, we were out and about before sunrise to watch Havana wake up.

We headed down Paseo de Marti, the main boulevard that runs from the Capitol and the National Theater to the ocean, and is bisected by a pedestrian walkway:








Turning into a side street, we came across a commentary on the revolution graffitied on a wall:



The sky beginning to brighten:



Early to rise:





Photo by whYME:



Setting up shop, under the ever-watchful eye of Fidel:







Photo by whYME:



In Cuba, does Dora teach kids English?



After a some side-street wanderings, we wanted to head to the Malecon to watch sunrise, but we had gotten disoriented. We were back on Paseo de Marti, but we couldn't figure out if we needed to turn right or left (even though the ocean was very near, the boulevard curved on both ends so we couldn't see very far). A pair of security guards were nearby, so we stepped over to them.

Me, pointing first in one direction, then in the other: "Malecon?"
Guard 1, completely clueless: "Malecon??"
Me: "Malecon!"
Guard 2, looking around hopelessly: "Malecon?"
Me: "Si, Malecon!"

Again, only stares. It's as if these two had never heard of the most famous place in their town, and which is literally three streets away from them.

CITH finally takes out his phone and writes it down for them.

Guard 1: "AH! MaleCON, not MALecon!! Malecon, there!"

Imagine you stop a cop in the middle of Seventh Avenue and ask him which way to Teems Square, but he has no clue what you mean because you didn't say Times Square. Yes, that's the level of genius displayed by these two nincompoops.

Five minutes later, we were at the Malecon MaleCON.

Morro Castle in the pre-dawn light:




First light over Vedado:



And on Old Havana:



Photo by whYME:



The tide was low, so we watched both human and animal getting breakfast.

Crab:




Great white egrets:





Humans. Photo by whYME:



Good catch:



Having some Photoshop fun with early morning traffic:



Havana in a nutshell, photo by whYME:



I remember taking this picture for a specific reason, but for the life of me I can't recall just what that reason was. Let's just assume it was something really profound, and keep it at that :D:



A recently collapsed building:



This crane was just backing in to begin the cleanup. Between the Cyrillic on the boom and the Lada taxi passing by, the whole scene had a very Soviet feel:



Early morning cleanup:



Pretty building, way past its prime:



This guy clearly missed the memo that he should be howling at the moon, not the sunrise:



Not everything has an explanation, sorry. Sometime you just need to accept things in life, such as this farm tractor pulling a... circus? Persian carpet display? A something, though the city:



Sunrise over, we crossed the MaleCON and went back to wandering random alleys.

For some uncanny reason, everyone and everything to come through this alley seemed to match the color scheme perfectly:










Except for this guy, which clashed horribly and made my OCD flare up:



Now that it was properly morning, I had one goal: find a new belt. My pants were still slipping and sliding after last night's wardrobe malfunction on the Malecon, and it was driving me crazy. It wasn't long and we found a couple of stalls selling trinkets to tourists, and lo, one had some belts. It was definitely used and had seen better days, but it fit me and had a working buckle. What more can one ask for?

[whYME] One thing that was very different here than other tourist trinket markets I've been to, it seems the things here were actually locally made, not just the same junk imported from China.

Brightly colored necklaces. Photo by whYME:




Bracelets. Photo by whYME:



Nothing goes to waste in Cuba... Have some old cutlery? Make weird bracelets for the tourists!



Another stall sold hats, where I bought a classic Fidel cap, a Che beret, and a seriously ridiculous-looking fedora, and wore all three since I needed my hands to operate the camera (priorities!).

Photo by whYME:



[whYME] In a way this trip was very different from any other I'd been with Something Fishy. In all the other trips, with the primary focus being landscapes, we pretty much came back with pictures of the same things. Other than differences in composition and such, things were pretty similar. Here in Cuba was another story altogether, as there were many many times when we standing right next to each other but got completely different pictures of completely different subjects. 

For example, after Something Fishy bought his Fidel hat and was busy giving his old cap to a local...




...I got one of my favorite pictures of the trip, a kid sitting nearby and pondering life:



Some lovely colors:





Another crumbling interior:



"Mural CDR #8". CDR is the Cuban secret police, Comités de Defensa de la Revolución. This mural depicts the heros of the revolution: Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, and Camilo Cienfuegos, along with the yacht Granma that brought the revolutionaries over from Mexico in 1956 to jump start the revolution:



Lovely colors and patinas on some buildings:









Photo by whYME:



A pharmacy:



Pineapples, anyone?



Back on Paseo de Marti, beautiful birds were up for sale:





Big changes are afoot, no doubt. A year earlier this would have been absolutely unthinkable:





We watched the traffic for a while:









Avocados for sale, photo by whYME:



Quite the random decal:



A local playground, in true Havana fashion, locked and deserted. Photo by whYME:



Photo by whYME:



After that it was off to a shop to stock up on more water, and back to the apartment for shachris and breakfast.

Duly fed and watered, we went back outside on a quest: find a taxi to take us to Vinales. As I've mentioned in the introduction, we were hoping to take a day trip to the beautiful Vinales Valley, around two hours from Havana. The plan was - hopefully - to arrive in the area a few hours before sunrise, shoot some astrophotography, sunrise, and early morning activity before heading back to Havana.

So the search was on for a driver who knew the way, was familiar with the valley, had an air-conditioned car (preferably a classic, of course), and was crazy enough to pick us up at 1 in the morning, all for a decent price. Shouldn't be too hard, eh?

We noticed a lovely-looking 1953 Dodge and hung around to take some pictures of it:




[Cat In The Hat] One of SF's many, yet unadvertised, talents is tripping over his own feet ;D. I managed to catch him in mid-air as he was getting up from shooting the back of the car:



As we were shooting, the car's owner walked over to shmooze and find out if we were looking for a taxi. Well whaddya know, we actually are:

"Si! To Vinales!"

Yes, of course, he knows Vinales. Let's go now!

In our terrible mixture of English and broken Spanish, we tried to impress on him that while we did want to go to Vinales, we want to leave at 1 AM, and we need to discuss a price first. After a lot of back and forth negotiations (which included getting into the car to test the air conditioning
[whYME] And that air condtioner was working great, it was like stepping into a freezer.), [Something Fishy] we had a deal: for 120 CUC, he'll pick us up at the apartment at 1 AM, drive and guide us in Vinales, and have us back home at 1 PM.

Or at least we thought that's what we arranged. We had no idea if we were all on the same page, and it wasn't helped by the fact that he clearly couldn't fathom why we'd want to go in the middle of the night.

So there we were, all standing around awkwardly, neither side being quite sure if they understood the other, when suddenly...

"?וואס טוט א איד און קובה"

What???

This was last thing we expected to hear in Cuba, and with a flawless, hiemisha accent no less. We wheeled around to see an elderly Cuban, wearing a black yarmulka and a huge smile on his face.

"!נא? שלום עליכם"

It was like an angel had been sent from Heaven. Five seconds worth of translating from Yiddish to Spanish and the arrangements with the driver were concluded, and we sent him away to go take a long nap while we stayed to schmooze with our new friend, Lazer Shklar.



(I warned you about that hat ;D!)

He was born in Poland, where the Nazis murdered his entire family in the Holocaust. He came to Cuba as a refugee right after the war, all alone in the world, and had stayed on for the last 75 years. He would like to come to New York, but doesn't think it'll ever happen. He did ask for my address and phone number, just in case... He was as religious as possible under the circumstances, and was very upset about the state of the local Jewish community, which far from being religious, is mostly not even Jewish at all due to intermarriage.

He took out his wallet and showed us a picture of the Lubavitcher Rebbe that he carries everywhere, and which he says reminds him that he'll see his family once again when Moshiach comes.

On that sad note he bid us goodbye, shook hands once more, and slowly walked off.




May 02, 2017, 10:58:49 AM
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Re: Something Fishy's Trip Reports Thread New Cuba installment posted:


This segment was also split in two due to its sheer size. Part 2 will come tomorrow.

May 02, 2017, 11:02:20 AM
1
Re: The funny/strange/interesting/random pictures thread http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destinations/middle-east/galleries/first-colour-photos-of-middle-east/

Fascinating stuff.

May 02, 2017, 12:55:31 PM
1
Re: Viva La Revolución! Time-traveling to Cuba with Something Fishy, whYME, and CITH
WOW! Thank you all for the updates. I see in one of the earlier pictures a bike without a tire?!?

Yup, I remember noticing that at the time. I was not very surprised, considering the state of everything else there.


Amazing Amazing!! Thanks for sharing!!
I felt sad seeing Lazer walk away....   :(

Indeed.


While everything is fascinating, the last bit about Lazer Shklar, is the most amazing.
Anything else about Jewish life in Cuba we can look forward to in next installment(s)?

With Alan Gross having just been released shortly before we went, we didn't feel very comfortable going to the shul, so consequently we didn't have much interaction with the local Jews. We did have someone approach us later that day claiming to be involved in the shul, but he was being uncomfortably pushy and aggressive and we weren't completely convinced that he was who he claimed he was. Lazer Shklar was our only real - and very meaningful - meeting with a local Jew.



May 02, 2017, 05:14:42 PM
2
Re: Viva La Revolución! Time-traveling to Cuba with Something Fishy, whYME, and CITH
WOW!
It doesn't get better than this, particularly the end.
Wow, what a day! Thanks for sharing.
+10000  amazing TR!!
WOW Amazing . such sharp photos .
Stunning! Was worth the wait.  ;)

Thanks!


May 02, 2017, 05:16:21 PM
1
Re: Viva La Revolución! Time-traveling to Cuba with Something Fishy, whYME, and CITH [Something Fishy] Ah, Cuba. The national Capitol, an arguably beautiful building, has been closed for years due to danger of collapse. The Gran Teatro, home of the National Theater and the world-famous Cuban Ballet, is in the same state. Both are set on the main boulevard in Havana, and are themselves surrounded by crumbling buildings.

The Capitol and its environs:




On one side of the street, the Gran Teatro on the left and fancy hotels on the right:



On the other side of the same street, this:





Photo by whYME:



Juxtaposed:



The Capitolio itself:



Photo by whYME:



If the building seems familiar, you're right: the Capitolio is a near-perfect copy of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, but was purposely built twelve feet taller (not that they're bitter, or anything):



We hung around in front of the Capitol for a good while doing some people- and car-watching... Can't get enough of that here.

Photo by whYME:



Cool taxi:



Traffic:





"Kid Chocolate" ice cream:



Photo by whYME:



Chillin'. Photo by whYME:



Some more cool cars:







Selling drinks:



No idea how this got here:



The construction barrier around the Capitol was decorated with old film scenes. This "Brooklyn" one caught my eye:



Photo by CITH:



Photo by CITH:



Photo by CITH:



Photo by whYME:



Popcorn vendor:



Photo by CITH:



Photo by CITH:



We struck up a conversation with a truck driver and some pedicab owners:







Photo by CITH:



They were fascinated by my large shoes; they'd never seen something like this. We were actually attracting a small crowd, everyone wanting to take a picture:



Photo by whYME:



By and by we meandered over to the big taxi area. This is the place where those who own classic American cars in good condition all gather to give tourists a tour of the city (but as mentioned in an earlier segment, rather flag one down on the Malecon and you'd get a far better price).

(There will be lots of classic car pictures here. You have been warned )



Photo by whYME:







A stunning 1958 Edsel Pacer, one of the most beautiful cars ever produced:













Edsel interior:



1952 Chevy Special Deluxe. This car illustrates a very common fact about these cars: while the outside may be meticulously maintained, the interiors are usually an entirely different story - note the loose wires, the cobbled-on tachometer, the zip ties holding the steering column in place, and the beach chair and hat covering a large hole in the seat :D:









Photo by whYME:



Old Ford:







1958 DeSoto. This particular specimen is a mashup of two different models, the Sportsman and the Firesweep (my best guess is that it was a Sportsman originally). For good measure, the steering wheel was cannibalized off a Mercedes:









Photo by whYME:



The driver insisted on climbing in and posing for a picture:



Late-1950's Ford Fairlane:









Some cute Chevys:



Photo by whYME:







This guy seemed to be running the entire taxi operation:



Discussing something with the DeSoto Sportsman slash Firesweep slash Mercedes driver:



A statue of Jose Marti in the park next to all the cars. Photo by whYME:



Rat on dog. Don't ask:



Photo by whYME:



Having seen enough cars for the day (finally!), we made or way to our sunset location.

I remember the exact moment that I decided I need to go and see Cuba: it was around 2010, and I came across a wonderful picture showing the Cuban Capitol at dusk, from a high vantage point, and the street in front lined with classic cars in all colors of the rainbow. It was as I was staring at that picture that I know that I must go and see that for myself.

So when after many years the trip to Cuba was a reality, I set out to find the vantage point whence that picture was taken, and figure out how to get up there myself. It took many weeks of searching and reading before I had the spot pinned down: Hotel Parque Central. The problem was that rooms here were north of $500 a night, let alone a room on one of the higher floors, which I'd need for this shOot. No way I am shelling that out.

But it didn't take long and I hit paydirt: Their rooftop bar should provide me with the vantage point I need. So long as we act like we belong, we should be able to get onto the roof without anyone asking any questions.

So this how we found ourselves now, sneaking into the rooftop pool and bar of the most expensive hotel in all of Cuba.



We marched into the hotel, and were hit with a literal wall of cold air, and a figurative wall of opulence. For all we know, we could be in the Waldorf Astoria in New York. Poor, crumbling, Cuba was on that side of the door; here is only luxury and comfort for politicians and rich westerners:




We took the elevators to the highest floor, and from there the stairs to the roof. We sat down at a table by the bar, where a smartly-dressed waited appeared instantly and took our orders - two beers and a coke. Needless to say, these were by far the most expensive drinks we had bought in Cuba, but it was absolutely worth it: we now belonged, officially.

CITH and his beer. Photo by whYME:



Fiddler on the roof. Photo by CITH:



And indeed, the view from the top was exceptional.

Parque Central (Central Park) below us, with the Capitolio and Gran Teatro to the right and the Museo de Bellas Artes (National Museum of Fine Arts) on the left:




Capitolio:



Museo de Bellas Artes:



The sun setting over Old Havana:









Twilight:





Blue hour:



Car trouble down below. Photo by whYME:



Looking down into the open-air atrium from above. Photo by whYME:



...and through the skylight into the main lobby. Photo by whYME:



Once it got dark we headed back down and attempted something even more daunting: obtaining an internet card so we can contact the outside world for the first time in three days. Internet access is strictly for guests only, so it took a lot of sweet talking by whYME to get the agent to sell us a 10 CUC card. Eventually she gave in, but clearly stated that she can't guarantee that we would be able to log in, since we weren't guests.

Worth a shot (click for a larger version):




Lo and behold, out of our three phones, we were able to get two connected, and one was even able to make Whatsapp calls. We spent a few minutes in the lobby catching up with news back home, as well as reassuring our very worried wives that we have so far managed to evade arrest (little did we know what would happen that very night ...).

Heading back home, and stopping at a hole-in-the-wall pizza shop (seriously, check out that ceiling) for some cold drinks:




Interesting menu:



And so another day came to a close. We were off to bed early; at 1 o'clock Elvis and his 1953 Dodge are picking us up for a trip to Vinales.

Hopefully.

May 03, 2017, 12:58:19 PM
11