Month: March 2016

Coming Soon: New York City Closer to You

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It’s often said that the nicest cities are built on the water, whether it’s a river, a lake or the sea. And there’s no water city like New York, with the Hudson River and East River running through it.

Seeing a city from the water offers an entirely different perspective than seeing it from its streets. The skylines are what people remember more than the bustling streets.

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Disappearing Cars

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As the freeze of relations between Cuba and America continues its thaw, Cubans look forward to being able to profit from their old cars. Conventional wisdom is that these vintage cars will disappear once Cubans are free to sell them to American collectors who are waiting in the wings salivating to get them. Whether this happens we’ll have to wait to see. But these cars have a story to tell.

Most of the old cars were purchased more than 50 years ago by relatives of the current drivers. When Cuba turned to communism, it decided if everyone couldn’t own a car, no one should. But an exception allowed people who already owned cars to keep them. Ingenuity and necessity taught Cubans how to keep these cars running and looking shiny and new well beyond their intended life.

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Cuba–Not Ready for Prime Time

101_3490cropped        Cuban Obama Supporter with Cigar

“I wanted to see Cuba before it changes.” That was a common refrain from everyone I asked about why they were visiting Cuba at this time. And the Cubans can’t wait for a McDonald’s to be allowed to open. Since 1960, the American embargo imposed as a result of the Cuban revolution has kept Americans from doing business there or visiting without a license from the U.S. Even though America recently re-established diplomatic relations, things are changing slowly. Visiting as part of a group is the easiest way. The group gets the license and visa, and also arranges flights and accommodations. At this time only charter flights go directly from the U.S.

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Playing the Frequent Flyer Game

In 1981, American Airlines was the first to start the now widespread trend of awarding points for flying that airline, what is generically called a frequent-flyer program. Since that time, most airlines and many other businesses have adopted this customer reward concept.

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Rum, Old Cars and Cigars

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Rum, old cars and cigars — that pretty much sums up the best of Cuba.

Cubans love all of these. If you do, you’ll love Cuba.

But Cuba still has a lot of kinks to work out.

During just 2 days at one of the reputedly best all-inclusive resorts on Cuba’s esteemed Varadero Beach, the “four-star” Memories Hotel, the restaurant ran out of dishes during one dinner and ran out of coffee mugs for one of the breakfasts — a not so pretty sampling of the track record of inefficiencies of government-operated hotels.

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