The Flight Deck
Our weekly travel dispatch from the Internet Wasteland
Four Seasons in Havana: “On a sweltering morning in Old Havana, a courtly figure in a crisp gray guayabera shirt weaves through the Plaza de Armas, the city’s Spanish colonial heart, trying not to attract attention. Although none of the foreigners lolling beneath the banyan trees and royal palms recognize him, a ripple of excitement passes through the Cubans, who nudge each other, smile and stare. Perhaps only on this island obsessed with its operatic past could a historian become a celebrity on a par with a Clooney or DiCaprio. Eusebio Leal is the official historian of the city of Havana, a regal-sounding position that brings with it enormous influence and exposure—he starred for many years in his own TV show where he explored Old Havana’s streets—and he is as far from the cliché of the dusty, isolated academic as it is possible to get. In fact, Leal is credited with almost single-handedly bringing Old Havana from the brink of ruin to its current status as the most ravishing and vibrant architectural enclave in the Western Hemisphere.
The whirlwind visit leaves everyone a little dazed. At age 75, Leal shows no signs of slowing his notoriously hectic pace. For the last 50 years, almost as long as the Cuban revolution has lasted, his outsized personality has been inseparable from Old Havana itself. Working within the Communist system, he pioneered a capitalist network that would save the district’s architectural heritage at the same time as maintaining its community life so that it would not become a “living museum” like Venice or Old San Juan. A consummate politician, he combined a deft personal touch with the poorest residents while navigating the high corridors of government and hobnobbing with Fidel Castro. Although he has stepped back from direct power in the last couple of years following a serious illness, he is still regularly loaded with international honors, as both Cubans and foreigners—even Miami exiles—fall over themselves to pile him with praise.” In the near daily cases of not all heroes wear capes, the Smithsonian Mag writes about a HISTORIAN (yes, you read that right) that has become a celebrity for a rare act: The Man Who Saved Havana
Tour De Globe: For most of us, the idea of traveling around the world mainly involves planes and trains (see what we did there), but there are much more…. how do we say this… physical ways of traveling the globe. Ben Page’s cycle across the globe (with a few flights in between) seems ridiculously difficult and unnecessary in the modern age. But isn’t the best part of travel overcoming the difficult, unexpected and seeking the elusive?
“When Ben Page was a teenager, he had an idea. He’d grown tired of racing road bikes—a pastime he had considered pursuing professionally—and began to look at his bike as more than just a tool for competition. He saw it as a form of transportation. His bike was his ticket to the world.
When Ben was 18, he rode his bike from England to the French Alps in one week. The trip involved cycling 240 kilometers (150 miles) a day and it proved to Ben that he was physically capable of long, arduous rides. The only limit to how far his bike could take him was his imagination. “I realized that if you can cycle across a country, you can cycle across a continent,” he says. “And if you can cycle across a continent, you can cycle across the world.”
The seed was planted. After the Alps, Ben cycled through the United States for 10 weeks. By the end of the trip, he was sure: He wanted to explore the world by bike. So that’s what he did.” Ben Page’s interview on Adventure.com: The man who cycled across the world on less than $5 a day.
+ Here’s his travel documentary: The Frozen Road
The Starry Night: “Sky-watchers will get a chance to witness one of the oldest known annual meteor showers this weekend—and conditions promise to be ideal for viewing the shooting stars.
Northern Hemisphere skies will light up as the Lyrid meteor shower peaks late on April 21 and into the very early hours of April 22. This year, the quarter moon will set soon after local midnight, creating dark skies just as the shower kicks into high gear.” Nat Geo giving the people the news that they need: How to See the 2018 Lyrid Meteor Shower
The Circle of life: In our feel good story of the week: 700 green sea turtles have won the wildlife sweepstakes and hatched! (Damn nature! You scary!)
The Business of Travel
Christmas in April?: Expedia is having a semi-annual sale (in April… because… why not..) where you can get some good travel stuff. Now, don’t ever say P+T isn’t for the people.
Yada Yada Blockchain: In a story that was as predictable as snowfall in Canada: Is blockchain the next big travel disruptor? (If you say blockchain three times into a mirror, an angel investor will appear!)
Hand Luggage Only: While the above story demonstrates sometimes the travel world lives on the frontier of technology, the Cape Verde went for a less technological approach to improving the travel experience for their visitors (and it’s a really good idea). Travel Pulse: Cape Verde Airports Give Travelers Extra Time to Enjoy The Islands. (Why don’t all travel destinations do this?)
Ready. Set. Listen.
The Total Collapse| The Journey: “When Dina’s fast-paced life of glamour in New York comes to a screeching halt, she looks for a new purpose in life.” The power of this story isn’t the places that were visited or the scenery that was seen. It’s a story of transformation, a story of the power of overcoming fear, the power of humanity and ultimately, the best of travel stories.
If you have stories about global cycling tours, meteor showers or meditation expeditions, feel free to forward them to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are a blogger, vlogger or even a jogger and you want us to highlight your content in further dispatches, feel free to send us a message as well.