Hugh Acheson, celebrity chef, knows how to travel the world and get the most out of every destination. So his podcast, The Passenger, provides the ubiquitous information about the best food, drinks, hotels, and attractions to see and do, but also informs us about the more practical side to traveling, touching on history, politics, and more. On this episode, he dives into the rich culture of Havana, Cuba, getting into where the best cocktails can be found, the surprisingly good Italian food he ate, and cool marketplaces and party destinations, as well as explaining the two different currencies, the Wifi situation, what the airport is like, and the importance of haggling. He also peppers everything with Cuba’s fascinating and tumultuous history as a tiny island caught between two world powers.
An amusing anecdote about buying overpriced cigars from a street vendor kicks off the episode, and a waterfall of information follows. While there’s a lot of great food to be had there, he warns us that some things are in short supply, which can lead to a lack of options when you go out. He talks about going to a pizza restaurant, operated by a Cuban chef who once had a Michelin-starred restaurant in Italy. The place was deserted when Hugh got there, and he discovered that there was no flour in Havana that day, so there couldn’t be any pizza either. However, the chef whipped up some flour-free offerings for Hugh that were delicious. “Hospitality is what they’re really all about,” Hugh says. “Working with nothing, they’ll still provide something...they’ll give you the shirt off their back.”
He talks about Ernest Hemingway’s favorite bar in Havana, El Floridita, but says it’s something of a tourist trap now, and offers new recommendations for your time. Then he discusses all the classic cars, the daiquiris, the beaches, and the museums and art galleries you can visit. He even laughs about going through customs in Cuba, because the workers are all attractive women wearing fishnet stockings and short skirts, “like something out of a James Bond movie.” And, of course, live music is an enormous part of the culture; they have one of the best jazz festivals in the world there, and bands playing all the time. He even interviews famous Afro-Cuban musician, Erik Inglesias Rodriguez, known as Cimafunk, about his favorite places to get drinks, hear music, and go out dancing in his hometown. When Hugh asks him to tell us why we should visit Cuba in 100 words or less, he says simply, “There are cool people there. You’re gonna enjoy it.”
Hear more about Cuba’s fascinating history and culture, get a solid soundtrack of Celia Cruz hits, and build your dream itinerary for a perfect trip with Hugh’s personal recommendations, on this episode of The Passenger.
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