About the Show

Cuba is one of the world's most intriguing islands. Host Don Wildman travels to the island on a mission to investigate a historic hotel used as Fidel Castro's headquarters during the Cuban Revolution. Located in Havana, this hotel reveals a captivating tale of an attempted assassination of the communist leader. Next, Don travels to a small fishing village where famed writer Ernest Hemmingway once resided. In this quiet town, Hemingway's home preserves the memory of the American icon who may have been involved in clandestine activities during his time there. And Don explores the Plaza de Armas, the oldest public square in the city. The Plaza de Armas is a reminder of Spanish might in Cuba, but it is also linked to a daring American escape that inspired a war.

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man leaning on vintage car in cuba
Cementerio de Cristobal Colon

Cementerio de Cristobal Colon

Parked at the entrance gate of Cementerio de Cristobal Colon (aka Colon Cemetery, named for Christopher Columbus) in Havana, Cuba. It’s utterly vast: With 140 acres and 800,000 graves, it’s one of the premier places in the world for eternal rest — if you can find the space. 960 1280

Don Wildman  

Grave Sites at Colon Cemetery

Grave Sites at Colon Cemetery

There are a million interments at Colon Cemetery. It’s so crowded that the deceased spend only 3 years in the tomb until remains are transferred to storage to make way for the new burials. Demand is high. 960 1280

Don Wildman  

El Capitolio

El Capitolio

The beautiful and stately National Capitol Building in Havana, completed in 1929, is currently under scaffolding. The design was inspired by Paris’ Pantheon but looks awfully familiar to any American. Apartment houses next door? Ready, aim ... gentrify. 960 1280

Don Wildman  

Fidel at the Bat

Fidel at the Bat

Not even Cubans believe it, but it has long been a rumor that Fidel Castro was a great baseball prospect before he became a revolutionary. To this day, his vaunted prowess on the diamond is celebrated, as in this mural inside Havana’s stadium (but it’s probably completely propaganda). The Cuban team, however, is awesome. 960 1280

Don Wildman  

Home Club Dugout

Home Club Dugout

Estadio Latinoamericano. Cubans are so warm and generous, they make you feel as though you play for the home team — but I’m not sure Fidel would agree to that. 960 1280

Don Wildman  

Museo de la Revolucion

Museo de la Revolucion

The glorious ceiling mural of the Museo de la Revolucion (Museum of the Revolution), which was formerly Havana’s Presidential Palace. This is where Fulgencio Batista bolted from Fidel Castro’s invading guerilla army in 1959. He left down a hidden staircase not found on building blueprints. 960 1280

Don Wildman  

Flying High

Flying High

If that looks like a very big flag, it is — hanging in the courtyard of the Museo de la Revolucion (Museum of the Revolution). A reminder that 1 governance was replaced by another — and it’s going to stay that way. 960 1280

Don Wildman  

Old Havana Church

Old Havana Church

One of many centuries-old churches in Old Havana, this one is near the harbor. See that empty plaza filled mainly with pigeons? Imagine what it will be like when the American cruise ships begin to dock, and you see the supreme challenge ahead for Cuba. 960 1280

Don Wildman  

Havana Cathedral

Havana Cathedral

Completed in 1777, the Havana Cathedral was constructed largely of coral rock, thus giving it a specifically Caribbean feel. The pope will be paying a visit very soon. 960 1280

Don Wildman  

The Gran Teatro de la Habana

The Gran Teatro de la Habana

The Gran Teatro de la Habana (Great Theater of Havana) is home to the world-renowned Cuban National Ballet, as well as other performing groups. Opened in 1915 and currently under renovation, the building serves as a perfect backdrop for a postcard shot of classic American automobiles. 960 1280

  

The Cradle of the Daiquiri

The Cradle of the Daiquiri

La Floridita advertises itself as “La Cuna del Daiquiri” (the Cradle of the Daiquiri). Ernest Hemingway hung out here and enjoyed more than a few of the distillations. 960 1280

Don Wildman  

Havana Club

Havana Club

Havana Club is the most famous of the legendary rums produced in Cuba. The brand was nationalized by the Cuban government but has since been sold to an international concern. 960 1280

Don Wildman  

Havana Club Bar

Havana Club Bar

Havana Club is the most famous of the legendary rums produced in Cuba. The brand was nationalized by the Cuban government but has since been sold to an international concern. 960 1280

Don Wildman  

Sloppy Joe’s

Sloppy Joe’s

Another legendary drinking hole made new again. Sloppy Joe’s was a hangout through the Roaring ’20s. This was the mojito at noon that put me in a very good mood. 960 1280

Don Wildman  

Don’t Forget the Garnish

Don’t Forget the Garnish

I had the finest drinks of my life in Cuba. They really know their cocktails. 960 1280

Don Wildman  

The Harbor of Old Havana

The Harbor of Old Havana

A panorama of Havana old and new is available a short ferry ride across the harbor. Very soon, you’ll need this hillside perspective to take in the full transformation of this rediscovered city. Watch the cranes take over the skies. 960 1280

Don Wildman  

Havana Street

Havana Street

Habana Vieja (Old Havana) is like any great “old city” of Spain, only it’s 90 miles off the coast of Florida. You’ll get lost and love it. 960 1280

  

Hershey Train

Hershey Train

During WWI, Milton Hershey needed a new source of sugar for his chocolate, so he came to Cuba. But to transport his product, he had to build a new train line. It still operates and is still called the Hershey Train. 960 1280

Don Wildman  

Presidential Palace

Presidential Palace

A must-see at the Presidential Palace (now the Museo de la Revolucion) is the domed ceiling, one of many remains of the previous grandiose leadership. 960 1280

Don Wildman  

Camilo Cienfuegos

Camilo Cienfuegos

Images of Che Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos (pictured) adorn government buildings at the edge of the enormous Plaza de la Revolucion in Havana, where revolutionary government rallies have been held through the years. 960 1280

Don Wildman  

Paseo del Prado

Paseo del Prado

In 1772, the magnificent boulevard Paseo del Prado, reminiscent of Madrid, was laid out from the Capitol to Morro Castle. Walk along it today and see what Havana has been this last century — and speculate where it will be in 10 years. 960 1280

Don Wildman  

cuba, Trinidad, view of Museum National de la Lucha Contra Bandidos
Trinidad and the nearby Valle de los Ingenios

Trinidad and the nearby Valle de los Ingenios

Located in central Cuba, the town of Trinidad and the nearby Valle de los Ingenios (“Sugar Mill Valley”) gained recognition and flourished from the late 18th century through the late 19th century thanks to the prosperity of the sugar industry. The former bell tower (pictured), which was converted into the Museo Nacional de la Lucha Contra Bandidos in 1986, is arguably the most recognizable building in all of Trinidad. The Valle de los Ingenios is now a “living museum,” featuring 75 former sugar mills and plantations. 960 1280

Jane Sweeney / AWL Images / Getty Images  

Habana Vieja (Old Havana)

Habana Vieja (Old Havana)

Full of narrow streets lined with beautiful baroque architecture and neoclassical monuments, Old Havana — or, at the time, Havana — was founded in 1519 along Cuba’s northwestern shore. Encircled by former city walls and dotted with large plazas and fortresses, Old Havana, aka Habana Vieja, made the UNESCO World Heritage List in the early 1980s because of the vast number of ancient structures preserved over the course of several centuries. 960 1280

John & Lisa Merrill / Photographer's Choice / Getty Images  

San Pedro de la Roca Castle

San Pedro de la Roca Castle

Sitting atop a 200-foot-high peninsula at the entrance of the Santiago de Cuba Bay, San Pedro de la Roca Castle was built in 1638 to protect the port of Santiago from piracy because of conflicts between Spain and England. Converted to a prison in the 1800s, the former fortress now acts as a pirate museum and is considered one of many fortresses that helped define Cuba during the 17th century. 960 1280

DEA / V. GIANNELLA / Getty Images  

Parque Nacional Desembarco del Granma

Parque Nacional Desembarco del Granma

Desembarco del Granma National Park may have made the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites because of its pristine coastal cliffs, magnificent marine terraces and many spectacular waterfalls, but it gets its name from the yacht (Granma) that carried Fidel Castro and 80-plus supporters of the Cuban Revolution, including Che Guevara, from Mexico to the Cuban shoreline in 1956. 960 1280

By VIChapayev at Wikitravel CC BY-SA 1.0 via Wikimedia Commons  

First Coffee Plantations in the Southeast of Cuba

First Coffee Plantations in the Southeast of Cuba

After the Haitian slave revolt in the late 1700s, French immigrants began defecting to Cuba, and Santiago de Cuba in particular. Once there, they set up coffee plantations and built beautiful stone mansions on the land. La Isabelica (pictured), which was named after the owner’s slave mistress-turned-wife, now acts as a museum, housing several pieces of original furniture and various instruments used to cultivate the crop during the 1800s. 960 1280

Christina Hanck / iStock / Getty Images Plus  

The Urban Historic Center of Cienfuegos

The Urban Historic Center of Cienfuegos

Most of the neoclassical buildings in the historic city center of Cienfuegos remain unharmed by human touch, but because of the city’s location on the bay, several of the structures have been damaged by hurricanes. While renovations occur after a natural disaster, the city center is still considered to be the best example of 19th-century urban-planning principles used by the Spanish. The streets are designed to be straight and symmetric, with monumental buildings lining them on each side, including the iconic former City Hall (pictured). 960 1280

Jane Sweeney / AWL Images / Getty Images  

Valle de Vinales

Valle de Vinales

Located in the Pinar del Rio province in the Sierra de los Organos (“Organs Mountain Range”), Valle de Vinales has become a popular tourist destination, thanks to its stunning scenery, vast limestone rock faces for climbing and many hiking trails. Considered to be one of the lushest parts of the island, Valle de Vinales houses some of Cuba’s — and the world’s — best tobacco plantations. 960 1280

Walter Bibikow / AWL Images / Getty Images  

Parque Nacional Alejandro de Humboldt

Parque Nacional Alejandro de Humboldt

Regarded by UNESCO as “one of the most biologically diverse tropical island sites on Earth,” Alejandro de Humboldt National Park is home to several plants and species endemic to the Guantanamo region of Cuba. Because it has such a large number of native inhabitants and a wide range of ecosystems, the park has gained global recognition and is one of the most well-preserved parks in the world. 960 1280

Holger Leue / Lonely Planet Images / Getty Images  

The Historic Center of Camaguey

The Historic Center of Camaguey

From art deco and art nouveau to neoclassical and neocolonial, the historic center of Camaguey is filled with architecture influenced by several different styles from past centuries. The third-largest city in the country is known for its numerous churches, which fill Camaguey with history and Cuban heritage. 960 1280

Jane Sweeney / AWL Images / Getty Images  

The Start in Santiago de Cuba
The Start in Santiago de Cuba

The Start in Santiago de Cuba

“I began the 850-mile bicycle adventure in Santiago de Cuba, on the far eastern side of the island. I didn't have a set route … all I knew is that I needed to be in Havana in 20 days. It was an incredibly liberating feeling to have no itinerary. It was just me, my bike, and the open road.”  960 1280

Ryan Van Duzer  

Adrian

Adrian

“It's very easy to make friends in Cuba. I met friendly and curious people every day who wanted to know all about the United States. There aren't a lot of American tourists, most visitors are from Europe and Canada. I met this guy Adrian on the streets of Santiago and he proudly showed me around his city.”  960 1280

Ryan Van Duzer  

Sunset

Sunset

“The sun sets behind the mountains on the Bay of Santiago. This is the city where Fidel Castro announced the victory of the Cuban revolution on January 1, 1959.” 960 1280

Ryan Van Duzer  

Bike POV

Bike POV

“Cycling in Cuba is an absolute dream. There's barely any traffic and the scenery is stunning. The only thing I had to worry about was having enough water. This Colorado boy wasn't acclimated to the tropical heat.” 960 1280

Ryan Van Duzer  

Coconut

Coconut

“In the States, we pay top dollar for Coconut water, but in Cuba, it's one of the cheapest roadside refreshments. This guy chopped open 6 coconuts and I quickly drank them down. It was the best 50 cents I ever spent.”  960 1280

Ryan Van Duzer  

Best Way to Get Around

Best Way to Get Around

“Bicycles are the main form of transport for most Cubans. They're simple, easy to fix and a safe form of transportation since there isn't much vehicle traffic on the roads.” 960 1280

Ryan Van Duzer  

Bike Taxis

Bike Taxis

“Bike taxis rule the streets in every city on the island. They cost a few pesos and can carry a few people.” 960 1280

Ryan Van Duzer  

Cuban Host Family

Cuban Host Family

“Lourdes and Alexi were my host family in Guantánamo. I never stayed in hotels. I preferred to rent rooms in Casas Particulares. Many Cuban families supplement their meager incomes by opening their doors to tourists. It's a great way to get to know the locals, and if you're lucky, they'll prepare a tasty meal for you.” 960 1280

Ryan Van Duzer  

La Farola

La Farola

“The eastern side of the island is home to the Sierra Maestra, the highest mountain range on Cuba. The jungle clad hillsides are a beautiful sight, and a challenging ride if you’re on a bike.” 960 1280

Ryan Van Duzer  

Rice and Beans

Rice and Beans

“Luckily, I love rice and beans, because this is pretty much what's available. Food is pretty simple, as they're limited to eating only what's grown on the island.”  960 1280

Ryan Van Duzer  

Cool Off with Ice Cream

Cool Off with Ice Cream

“After cycling for hours in the heat, I always searched for the ice cream man, it was my favorite way to end the day. People set up shop outside their homes and sell these tasty treats for one peso (about 10 cents).”  960 1280

Ryan Van Duzer  

Horse Parking

Horse Parking

“It’s not uncommon to find valet horse parking in the colonial city of Trinidad.” 960 1280

Ryan Van Duzer  

La Boca

La Boca

“La Boca, a tiny fishing village south of Trinidad, is a great place to jump into the warm Caribbean water. This is also where I attempted to even out my horrific tan lines.” 960 1280

Ryan Van Duzer  

Local Pizza

Local Pizza

“In addition to rice and beans, I ate a lot of these tiny pizzas. Although not quite as tasty as a Chicago-style deep-dish pizza … they did the job.”  960 1280

Ryan Van Duzer  

School Children in Old Havana

School Children in Old Havana

“A trio of kids walk to school on the streets of Habana Vieja (Old Havana). Cuba is the safest Latin American country I've ever visited, and the streets were always full of kids playing games.”  960 1280

Ryan Van Duzer  

Dominoes

Dominoes

“My favorite time of day in Cuba was when the sun went down – it's when the streets come alive. Kids play baseball, vendors sell food and the Domino players come out in full force.”  960 1280

Ryan Van Duzer  

Ché Guevara

Ché Guevara

“The revolutionary Ché Guevara is admired all over Cuba. Locals pay homage to him on billboards and artistic murals. He can also be found on souvenirs in shops everywhere if you want to take him home.” 960 1280

Ryan Van Duzer  

Jo Garcia, A Friendly Local

Jo Garcia, A Friendly Local

“Cuba is not a place where you'll ever feel lonely. The locals pull you aside and strike up a conversation everywhere. This is my buddy Jo Garcia. I sat with him for 30 minutes while he told me all about growing up in Havana.” 960 1280

Ryan Van Duzer  

Traffic in Cuba

Traffic in Cuba

“I shared the roads with many a horse-drawn cart. I swear everyone is always smiling in Cuba. These are definitely my kind of people.”  960 1280

Ryan Van Duzer  

Vintage Car

Vintage Car

“There are not a lot of cars in Cuba, and the ones that have survived are beautiful relics from the 1950s. I felt like I had traveled back in time to my grandparents’ generation.” 960 1280

Ryan Van Duzer  

A Bike for a Gym Teacher

A Bike for a Gym Teacher

“At the end of my ride, I gave my bike to this guy, Yuleti. He's a gym teacher and will use the bike to ride to work. Although there are many bicycles in Cuba, they're mostly old Chinese clunkers. This bike will hopefully last him a lifetime.”  960 1280

Ryan Van Duzer  

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