Sunday, February 27, 2011

Cuba Travels - Havana

Calle San Lazaro, #1018, Entre Espada y Hospital, Centro Habana

From the get go, I knew we weren't in Kansas anymore when we arrived in Havana. A city of intrigue, grit and very colourful characters. 

A rough, vibrant city like Havana is something you have to swallow in one gulp and the ability to have no access to the outside world makes it very obvious that you have entered a form of twilight zone. 

The first night was filled with restless sleep, first from Olga - the owner of the Casa Particulares I was staying at  - who had an assortment of Cuckoo clocks chiming every hour, alongside waking to the chaotic horns and breaks in the traffic and a man throwing up in the alley beside my bedroom window. 

Havana is a rude awakening in every which sense of the word. 

The second day was more inviting in Havana. More accustomed to the town we decided to do a guided tour of the city. We learned of the various invasions from the Spanish, English and American, the perspective of its modern history of revolution and learnt of the cities idiosyncrasies - its love of baseball against the backdrop of revolution and 900 terrorist attacks in its socialist history. 

I learnt so much about the Cuban people that day. My preconceptions of a gritty, dirty and rough city replaced with a more empathetic understanding of its people and their tough exterior. I very much felt like an outsider and their were no reservations made as we walked the streets and were stared at time after time by the locals.

However looking back, how do I come to understand a country that could never have freedom or the choice to leave? 

Monday, February 7, 2011

Down the laneway

It’s 2011 and my confidence is restored in the festival scene in Sydney with the St Jerome’s Laneway festival.

I'm hesitant to publically blog about it given this little jewel of a Sydney Festival seems to be getting bigger and better (I want a ticket next year!). The likes of Jenny and Johnny jammed with some country-tinged rock, Beach House with their teen dreamed tracks and if that wasn't enough Two Door Cinema Club and the Foals to end the day event.

What really through me about this festival is the laid back and totally chilled nature of the event. There are very few festivals to date like it. Markets selling everything from Rose coloured sunglasses to books on "the art of petty theft". Rice paper rolls from Miss Chu's in Darlinghurst and fake tattoos and fairy floss.

The venue is perfect for the occasion. A former psychiatric hospital turned art school screams “indie-rock” louder then the shreiks of Ariel Pink. Complete with demonic clock tower, chimneystack and sandstone Victorian buildings - simply fitting for the gathering.

What totally blew my geek fuze was the iPhone app designed for the event. With the full event line-up, maps and ability to build your custom schedule. Take that crummy paper schedule we've gone digital on your sorry ass!

I have a new found respect for the festival. Thanks laneway for restoring the faith.