A couple months ago it was all the rage. U.S. President Barack Obama was at last going to lift the gates on American tourism to Cuba.
Stacks of New Yorkers and Miamians would flock to their local airports and hop on planes to embrace the heady culture of Havana and the endless beaches. Thousands of blenders would be fired up to greet them on the ground with minty mojitos, and tourism in Cuba would skyrocket.
It sounded too good to be true. And I suspect it is. There was a report from Time online yesterday that said a U.S. lifting the ban on American travel to Cuba is, quelle surprise, stalled in the House of Representatives. The bill apparently has cleared one committee but truculent congressmen in two other House bodies might make sure it doesn't even come up for a vote this year.
On a scale of 1-10, I'd have to think Cuba's embargoed status is about minus-173 on Obama's to do list. My goodness, the economy is in near disaster mode down south, he's dealing with the horrible situation in Afghanistan, not to mention Pakistan and a very strident Russia...and now he's trying to put his stamp on the Middle East peace process, and he's gonna worry about little old Cuba and give the Republicans another sword with which to slice and dice his political capital between now and the mid-term U.S. elections in November?
I'm no expert on American politics. I did grow up there and studied political science in university, however, and I still think I have at least a vague idea how things play out with our neighbour to the south. And I just can't see the Obama administration going to the trouble.
The bad news is the lack of competition might not drive down prices the way some thought, although prices are already quite good for a Cuban holiday. The good news is you won't have to elbow anyone from Michigan out of the way at the buffet table in Holguin come January.BRRRR....IT'S HAPPENING, FOLKS....
Saw a tree that was more red than green on a bike ride in North Toronto on Sunday. That's not good. Now comes word that, and I can hardly bring myself to type this, (sniff)...now comes word that 2010/2011 Whistler Blackcomb early bird season passes have gone on sale.
Basking in the aftermath of the Winter Olympics and what they say is 1,025 centimeter (404 inch) snowfall average, folks at Whistler Blackcomb say that from now until Oct. 11 an unlimited Season Pass is available for $1,349; a saving of $350. Unlimited Season Passholders get unlimited access to the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola between Whistler and Blackcomb mountains year-round, both winter and summer.
I've had a chance to ride the gondola twice, and it's a hoot and-a-half. Beautiful in winter, as you can see at left, but also lots of fun in the summer if you get the chance to check out British Columbia next year.ADRIAN BRIJBASSI ROCKS OUT IN STANLEY PARK
I wrote last week about seeing Blue Rodeo, my favourite band on the planet, perform at the Molson Ampitheatre. Naturally, fellow Star Travel dude Adrian Brijbassi was out west and saw them sing outdoors at Stanley Park in Vancouver on the weekend. He, of course, had to trump the travel editor by filing a report on the beauty of it all. I'm not jealous. He did a nice job, as you can see below. I just hope he enjoys that nice two-week trip to Serbia next January for our "Testicle Cooking Festival" special section.
By Adrian Brijbassi
VANCOUVER - The B.C. bud was fragrant as several hundred Blue Rodeo fans helped Greg Keelor
celebrate his birthday on Sunday night at one of the country’s best open-air
venues, Malkin Bowl in Stanley Park. After the crowd belted out “Happy
Birthday”, Jim Cuddy serenaded
his partner-in-rhyme with “Try” (kind of a creepy
choice for the moment, but hey, it’s Vancouver). The highlight was a lengthy jam
on “Five Days in May” as Cuddy again sang better than a white, heterosexual man
should be able. Keelor usually regales the Vancouver audience with “English Bay”
and the story of how he wrote that tune about long-distance love while watching
the waves from the Sylvia Hotel, but this time he did the haunting “What Is This
Love?” Almost thought Sarah McLachlan would walk out on stage at that moment.
Kudos to the crowd who were on their feet a lot – a nice change from many
previous sit-on-your-hands-like-you’re-a-hostage audiences. Another great show
from these Canuck icons!
Now, if Cuddy would only share his favourite travel stories with Travel Editor Jim Byers – that’d be an encore!