Blogs > News-Herald Food and Travel

Food and travel captivate Janet Podolak, who chronicles both for The News-Herald. Get the back story of her three decades of stories here. Guest bloggers and fellow News-Herald staffers also periodically share details of their trips.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Time capsule Cuba ending soon?

Sometimes you need to step away from the everyday to really examine life and how it's being lived.
That's one of the most compelling things about travel as far as I'm concerned, and last spring's visit to Cuba trumped that thought in every way.
Now that Cuba is about to open up and its 53-year embargo ended, that time capsule I visited is about to end. The 90 miles from Key West to Cuba will surely shrink and soon, I fear, Cubans will be just like us.
 I wrote about what I found and the words  here in contrasting print will allow you to revisit the stories published in recent months.. Just click and you will go there.
 Time spent without credit cards, cellphone and internet  was an eyeopener. I met hero Jose Marti, rode in cars from the 1950s, tasted forbidden cigars and rum, got some traditional recipes,  heard music that brought tears, met artists, toured a botanical garden, and did a little birding. I discovered people who were very literate and loved to read,, found out how to best stay hydrated, learned about how the money works, walked through a beautifully restored old neighborhood, and learned about the legacy of the mob in Havana.
I did a series of three stories for the paper that ran last July, August and September and tried to articulate stepping through a window in time, that shook my perceptions and reintroduced me to Ernest Hemingway.
My week-long visit to Cuba was a trip like no other. I will never forget it and I want to go back.

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Monday, December 8, 2014

Find favorite nativities at annual exhibit in Kirtland

In the week before it opened, artist Norbert Koehn constructs an Italian  nativity near the entrance to the Historic Kirtland Visitors Center.

Walking among the many nativities showcased each holiday season is always an interesting experience.  It's the same Christmas story told in hundreds of different ways.

Almost everyone has a favorite. When I heard about it, I  fully expected the Native American nativity featuring bear totems to be my favorite, but it turned out the one I liked best was the one constructed by artist Norbert Koehn just inside the entrance the to the visitor center.

Koehn and his wife live in South Euclid and are artists of great  stature. They've contributed nativities many years, but last year their work was missing from the exhibit.

One of the things I liked best about his nativity this year is that he sourced his figured from Spain. I'm pretty sure he got them in Seville, where an annual street market showcases everything nativity, from lush and detailed figures to fruits and vegetables and even cartoonish characters. When I saw that street market during my visit to Seville last month I thought of Historic Kirtland and its annual exhibit of loaned nativities. I knew that I would be writing about it upon my return to Ohio so as I walked around the nativity market in Seville I carefully checked out the various vendors and what they were selling.

Imagine my delight to meet the very figures I discovered in Seville at the nativity exhibit not far from my own backyard.  Catch the exhibit in Kirtland if you can. It's open every day but Christmas. Before you go browse the gallery of photos posted by News-Herald photo chief  Duncan Scott. You may find your favorite among the photos.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

United to end nonstops to popular Florida cities

Perhaps it's the arrival of Frontier Airlines in Cleveland that has partially caused  it, but United has announced it will end its popular nonstops to Fort Myers, Tampa and Fort Lauderdale on April 7 and nonstops to Dallas/Fort Worth  will end March 5.
Frontier Airlines flights to the popular Florida cities are about $100 cheaper than United's but when you add the $30 fee each way for carryon bags, the difference is much less. I've never flown Frontier and consider myself a loyal United flyer, but if I visit my daughter in Tampa this spring I'll certainly learn more.
Spirit Airlines, another low cost carrier with extra fees for carryon, also will begin flights from Cleveland to Tampa on Jan. 15.
Frontier, meanwhile, has dropped flights to Seattle and more recently announced it will soon end its nonstops to New York's LaGuardia,  Washington-Dulles and Trenton Mercer in New Jersey.
I've fine tuned my packing skills to travel with a carryon almost everywhere and for any amount of time, so now I don't know what I will do.
Near the airport on Maui there's a great secondhand clothing store where you can buy what you need when you arrive and donate it back when you leave. Maybe it's an idea other areas could adopt. And perhaps a rent-a-coat-and boots concession would  be well received in places where winter needs to be considered.
I'm not going to stop traveling and I'll mourn the loss of United flights to Florida but obviously some more new flying tactics need to be developed.