Category Archives: Fun Stories

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This Is What Would Happen If Pitbull Ran Miami (You’d Want To Go)

His nickname refers to its area code. He’s held the key to the city for years. But what would happen if Armando Christian Perez, better known as Pitbull, were put in charge of his native Miami?

Fans of the spicy singer/rapper may get a taste of Pitbull’s favorites soon, as “Mr. Worldwide” was recently named an ambassador for Visit Florida, the state’s tourism group. But while we wait, here’s what would happen if “Mr. 305” is put in charge of making sure the party never stops in his hometown.

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“Globalization”

With warm weather and famous sightseeing and people watching at its beaches and hotel poolside lounges, Miami might actually be too beautiful to be a rabid sports town. No longer. With the help of “International Love” and with support for sometime-collaborator Shakira, Mr. Worldwide scores the coveted World Cup for his city, one of the first under FIFA’s new leadership and one that cements Miami’s location as a melting pot of cultures.

The event helps drive interest in the city’s still-young MLS team, owned by icon David Beckham, and for the city’s up-and-coming baseball and football franchises. As part of World Cup: Miami, Pitbull hosts a two-week non-stop party across the city anchored around the Fontainebleau Miami Beach’s half-dozen pools.

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The arts shake it

A longtime fan of dancers who can move their bodies like magic, Pitbull takes on the arts in new mediums after showing a special interest in classic movies like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, which he references in “Shake Senora.” The Miami Symphony Orchestra experiments with using the prompt “Dale” as a companion to a conductor’s baton.

At theaters like the GableStage at the iconic Biltmore Hotel and the rotating fare of the City Theatre, tourists get the chance to see Shakespeare told through Latin hip-hop as Pitbull takes visitors “Back in Time.”

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Climate hero

Pitbull gets climate change—he even named a 2012 album “Global Warming” to acknowledge the shifts in temperatures and sea levels around the globe. So with some reports warning that Miami could face major flooding crises in the not so distant future, Pitbull would be the first local leader to really take an active role on the climate.

“Shut it down.” The classic Pitbull single becomes the cornerstone of a new energy-efficient approach for Miami, with the city’s fleet of designer Tesla autonomous cars transforming downtown taxi rides into a unique entertainment circuit with installations from the Art Basel show each December and room service—another subject dear to the city’s guardian—from a consortium of leading hotels such as the Setai and the Mondrian. The Calle Ocho-Miami Carnival includes a celebration of the engineering project Pitbull successfully funds to protect Little Havana from rising sea levels.

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And ever sensitive to the heat, Pitbull introduces a water-absorption system called “Sticky Icky” to handle flooding, developed originally for his own perspiration during concerts.

Eventually, Miami challenges New York City as host of the nation’s leading New Year’s Eve party. Mr. Worldwide performs with guest stars from around the world, who fly in for the megawatt broadcast live from the 305.

 

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My Life-Changing Trip to Kazantip

party_at_nightWhen I told my friends in Ukraine that I wanted to come see them next summer, they suggested going to Kazantip along with them. That wasn’t the first time when I heard about this strange festival, the so-called “Republic of Kazantip”. Since I’m a big fan of techno music and love pretty girls in bikinis, I agreed without hesitation. I arrived in Ukraine at the beginning of August and soon my friends and I headed to Popovka, a sleepy resort town on the Black Sea coast where Kazantip is held. Once arrived, we first got settled in a small hostel, bought our tickets for the festival that are called “viZas” and went to look around the town. Although I came there for the first time, my Ukrainian friends had showered me with stories about wild parties on the beach, non-stop music played by the world’s best DJs and of course hundreds of beautiful girls in bikinis (and without).

on_the_beachThe next day, when we were hanging out on the Kazantip beach lined with dozens of bars and dance floors, I noticed that some girls had their viZas of different colors. Unlike most visitors like me who had the red cards, there were girls with green and white passes. My friends told me that the green viZas are given to the girls who are specially hired to promote various parties and events during the festival. It’s no problem if you approach, talk and drink with them. However I was warned to stay away from the girls with white passes, not even try talking to them. Those were the most beautiful girls, true super models. They came along with VIP guests, the richest Russian oligarchs, who have their own private, strictly guarded areas at Kazantip with own bars, swimming pools and other facilities. In short, if I dared to bother one of those goddesses, I could have been immediately kicked out of the festival.

Kazantip really turned out to be a paradise for open minded people like me. I enjoyed in full all the opportunities the festival had to offer: amazing music, swimming, dancing and sun bathing on the beach, drinking beer and Russian vodka with my friends and, of course, lovely evenings spent in the company of cute girls. That was the time to relax and not think, even for a second, about work and problems left at home. Just like for most other people at Kazantip, our day began late in the afternoon. Then we went to the beach and stayed there till sunset. And as the time got closer to midnight, the most interesting part began. There were different parties every night. We wandered from bar to bar, and from one dance floor to another one. When we felt totally exhausted, we just sat down on the sand and looked up at the night sky lit up with eye-popping fireworks, lasers and searchlights. Regardless of how tired you are, you never feel bored at Kazantip!

I’ve been to many festivals, but I have never experienced anything similar to Kazantip. I never thought I would see so many naked bodies, alcohol, wealth, sociability, neon, thunderous sounds of music and happy faces all at one place. While at Kazantip I totally forgot about the normal life. This is one of the main reasons why you will want to return here again and again after having visited it once. To tell the truth, it is much different from a typical festival and it is not for everybody. The Republic of Kazantip “gives shelter” only to the most open minded people without any complexes and taboo. I am proud to say I am one of those freaks!

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Anthony

Anthony Freeman is a travel enthusiast who loves to explore new places and always looks forward to his next adventure.

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The view from our balcony at Magda's casa.

10 Highlights from my First Trip to Cuba!

The view from our balcony at Magda's casa.

The view from our balcony at Magda’s casa.

Hi everyone! I’m Analin Saturria McGregor am very excited to contribute to Oh Hey World as a guest writer. I discovered a new way of traveling 6 years ago when a friend invited me to the beautiful Samaná peninsula in my native Dominican Republic. Growing up during the expansion of the all-inclusive vacation tourism model, I had never dreamed that there could be a more meaningful, engaging and fun way to travel. I’m now an independent traveling convert and have relocated to Shanghai, China with my husband after two years in the Dominican Republic. This first post is about our first big travel adventure together: Cuba!

If you want to go to Cuba, make it happen! Go now, while that charm that has made Cuba famous is still there. The Dominican Republic is an easy place to do it from since travel between the two islands is fairly easy to figure out. If you have the time and the money you can also plan some time in the Dominican and some time in Cuba –two birds with one stone.

10 of my favorite things about Havana:

1) Staying at a casa particular – After seeing how Havana has so many tourist trap places, I have to say staying at a Casa Particular gave us a freedom we would have probably not enjoyed staying at a hotel. Hotels in Havana are, in my opinion, quite overwhelming – you get bombarded with multiple offers from guides, vendors, etc., to do things their way, which usually involves some sort of prepackaged fashion of what they assume is what every tourist should see. We also got to help a Cuban family directly (remember, in Cuba, all hotels are operated by the government through a number of companies established for this purpose. Even the ones who may be operated by foreign chains, such as Melia or Iberostar, are still under a government concession). In our case, Magda has just started with her Casa business and we were one of her first guests. If you want her Casa’s contact info you can message me. We made our own itinerary, took whatever risks we were okay with taking, and were pretty much undisturbed for the whole week. Magda made us breakfast herself every day (even placing the fruit in a happy face shape every morning – adorable), which was an interesting assessment of the food issues most Cubans face. For example, one day there was no bread on our breakfast because bakeries had no flour yet so no one had been able to bake any fresh bread. Also, casas are significantly cheaper than hotels – about half the price than a budget hotel, which allows for spending a little more on attraction fees or nicer dining.

2) Going to local places to eat – In most local places, prices are quoted in Moneda Nacional, which is a lot cheaper than the more widely used in tourist areas, Cuban Convertible Peso. In many places, you can pay with either (1 US$= 24 Cuban Peso/Moneda Nacional, vs. 1 US$=1CUC). Portions are HUGE. First day out we went to this Chinese restaurant in Centro Habana’s Chinatown. We had to go up some stairs and it kind of looked like a place where small-scale mobsters would eat (at least movie mobsters), but the food was great (just like any American Chinese takeout restaurant) and we had enough leftovers for dinner and a bit of a midnight snack post-drinks. Total bill=something like US$5, including drinks). Another day we decided to go to this cafeteria that we had passed by a different day. The important thing here was that the place was PACKED. My husband, a more experienced traveler than me, always tells me: “pay attention to where the locals go. If there are a lot of locals there, it’s got to be good, and probably cheap”. They had no sitting, just tables you stood around, so it really was packed. It was basically as large as 6 feet of sidewalk. Portions? Huge. Finishing my sandwich was a tough task. My husband was nowhere near finishing his plate of rice, beans, pork and salad. If my memory serves me right we paid about $4.50 CUC for that meal. I might have not looked very happy while we were eating (it was hot and eating while standing up is not the best thing after walking all morning) but it was a cool experience. Couple of things: in Cuba you have to pay for any takeout containers – imported Styrofoam (cringe). Also, since you can’t drink the tap water, you should always keep bottled water with you – but buy it in stores away from the tourist areas if you can. Price of a 1.5 liter bottle of water at the local store: about 70 CUC cents. At the touristy area shops, the same 70 cents will just get you a 10-ounce bottle.

View of Havana from the lighthouse binoculars. El Castillo del Morro, Havana.

View of Havana from the lighthouse binoculars. El Castillo del Morro, Havana.

3) Taking our time with Havana and not overexerting ourselves – Initially we were keeping the option of traveling to other cities in Cuba in the back burner, but the city that we were truly interested in visiting was Santiago (second largest city in Cuba anyway) but decided against it due to distance. Domestic flights in Cuba are not exactly reliable (planes are outdated and often flights are delayed due to missing parts) and my husband has already done his fair share of scary domestic flights in Russia. The other option was the bus, but it’s an 11-hour drive. Didn’t really feel like losing two days to Santiago and back since we just had a week. After I came back I remember talking to a friend who had gone to Cuba not long before with a student group, and her comment about how much she deeply regretted not being able to stay put for longer, and just explore. For a weeklong trip, I would probably limit my trip to one or two locations, tops, due to the potential transport delays you could encounter.

4) Visiting El Castillo del Morro – In my opinion, the best attraction in Havana. My absolute favorite. First of all, you have to take a taxi to go there, so great opportunity to take a classic car. We rode in a ’49 Chevy. You can negotiate on price with them and if you ask, they will wait for you until you’re done and take you back. El Castillo del Morro was built to defend Havana and was an important defense point in the 1700s. It’s kept in wonderful shape and has very good exhibits. No need to hire a guide, you’re pretty much free to roam around the fort as much as you want. Save your guide money to pay for lighthouse access (it does cost extra to go up the lighthouse but it is a wonderful, wonderful point to get bird’s eye views of Havana. Getting the whole view of the skyline lets you see the striking difference between Old Havana and the newest districts in the city (most specifically Vedado). You can also get a pretty good idea of what inner city Havana (or Centro Habana) looks like. Get up here with a camera that allows for taking panoramic pictures – you will not regret it.

El Castillo del Morro - view from the Havana waterfront.

El Castillo del Morro – view from the Havana waterfront.

5) The cafeteria at Sociedad Asturiana – the Sociedad Asturiana is located at Paseo del Prado, the gateway to Old Havana coming from the Malecón. It’s a Spanish-founded cultural venue which holds live music, dance classes, etc. We saw a flamenco rehearsal one day. It was so elegant!). I believe we saw their ground floor cafeteria, Zana, on the way home one particularly hot evening. They sell in Moneda Nacional (Cuban peso), so we could get coffee and a “coffee cake” for about $2 CUC in the end). Those rolls were heaven. Not too cakey and not too bready, sweet, delicious and big. They also made great steak sandwiches (or pan con bistec – I’d call this the Cuban equivalent of a Philly Cheese Steak without the cheese and with thicker steak) and burgers.

6) Multiple transportation options, yet very walkable – Havana is a fairly flat city, so walking is not exactly challenging, and the city is laid out on a pattern that makes it quite easy to find your way. Also, if you’re walking, you’re free to take your precious time and look closely to what YOU think it’s important. The Malecón is a fabulous reference point. When you get tired of walking, hop on a Coco-Taxi. Coco-taxis are the clever and heat-proof way to take a motorcycle taxi: it’s a motorcycle with an circular sort of attachment on the back that seats three. They are open on the sides, so if it rains, you might get sprinkled on the legs, but who cares? These transport tourists and locals alike.

Vintage taxi and coco-taxi strolling down Havana's waterfront.

Vintage taxi and coco-taxi strolling down Havana’s waterfront.

7) The photography opportunities! – Even the tattered buildings have indescribable beauty to them, you will get glimpses into the lives of Cubans you will not get or hear from any tour guide in Old Havana. Our waterfront location granted fantastic picture opportunities all day long. During our first three days in Havana, we took close to 3000 pictures. A building that might seem run-down and not worth a picture might change completely under a different sunlight, or once you bother to discover it.

8) Detouring through side streets in Centro Habana – We had read mixed reviews about Centro Habana’s safety, so we didn’t really walk through side streets at nighttime. During the day, however, it was fun to get glimpses of what Cubans’ lives are like: people cooking, hanging clothes, people-watching on their balconies, drinking and chatting, playing dominoes or music, repairing their vehicles with makeshift parts, playing baseball, watching baseball, coming to and from school. We also walked by some smaller businesses and witnessed long lines while people waited for their rations. Go to Old Havana, and all you see is white people.

9) Smoking cigars at the fancy hotels – Talk about a way to feel glamorous Old-Hollywood style. Sipping daiquiris and smoking our Romeo y Julietas while sitting on the Hotel Nacional’s gorgeous terrace overlooking the ocean…wow…straight out of any 60s TV show episode, regardless of your outfit. The fancy hotels will have either a store (at the basement in Hotel Nacional) or a cart (at the lobby at Hotel Parque Central), all run by very knowledgeable ladies that can recommend the Cuban that better suits the type of smoke you want to have.

10) The bomb shelter/tunnel at Hotel Nacional – This hotel, a National Monument in its own right, is possibly one of the most beautiful buildings in all of Havana. You can walk through their halls filled with pictures of celebrities during their visits to Cuba and world leaders visiting with Fidel Castro. Upon walking on their cliff-side gardens, we stumbled upon a shelter built during the Cuban missile crisis. The shelter includes illustrations of how the Cuban army used this secret point to spy on the American ships stationed facing Havana. We got a walk-through by its friendly guide, who will vividly explain the importance of this shelter over and over during the walking tours of Hotel Nacional – worth doing and better yet, it’s free. Make sure to take some change with you to tip guides.

Check back next week for the 11 most surprising part of my travels through Cuba, as well as tips for planning your own trip!

Analin Saturria

Dominican Republic born. Adopted by the Pacific Northwest. A microfinance enthusiast, now training and managing volunteers for Zidisha Inc., and taking my first steps into teaching. Located in Shanghai, China.

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One of the Best Overheard Quotes Ever

Not even sure what to say to this one…

Put us in touch with the non robotic blow job guy

– Anonymous traveler

Drew Meyers

Drew Meyers is the co-founder of Horizon & Oh Hey World. He worked for Zillow from September of 2005 to January of 2010 on the marketing team managing Zillow’s API program and various online partnerships. Founder of Geek Estate Blog, a multi-author blog focused on real estate technology for real estate professionals, and myKRO.org, a blog devoted to exploring the world of microfinance. As passionate as you get about travel.

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One Last Cliff Sighting in Santorini

My last night in Santorini was on Wednesday evening — so sad for my Santorini summer to be over, but I’ll write another blog post recapping the best summer ever. It was only fitting that our favorite dog Cliff, who is extremely awkward and dumb, made a guest appearance at Beach Bar to hang out with me on my final night on the island.

Me and Cliff chilling at Beach Bar

Cliff even managed to dance!!

I’ll miss Cliff – I hope he makes a few guest appearances in the event I make it back to Santorini at some point next summer!

So, have you been “cliffing around” recently?

Drew Meyers

Drew Meyers is the co-founder of Horizon & Oh Hey World. He worked for Zillow from September of 2005 to January of 2010 on the marketing team managing Zillow’s API program and various online partnerships. Founder of Geek Estate Blog, a multi-author blog focused on real estate technology for real estate professionals, and myKRO.org, a blog devoted to exploring the world of microfinance. As passionate as you get about travel.

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More Awkward Cliff Moments (our dumb dog friend here in Santorini)

There have been two additional Cliff sightings recently — and he’s still the dumbest dog on the island. Two two moments demonstrate just how dumb and awkward he really is:

  1. Amidst a huge selection of food scraps that other dogs were eating after raiding a garbage can, Cliff is camped out munching on — a PLASTIC tupperware container
  2. The other night Cliff was spotted barking endlesslessly outside of Atlas — all the while staring at a WALL

Can you say dumb or what? Again, I ask — have you been “cliffing around” recently?

The random joys of island life are still in full effect.

Photo taken by Brooke

Drew Meyers

Drew Meyers is the co-founder of Horizon & Oh Hey World. He worked for Zillow from September of 2005 to January of 2010 on the marketing team managing Zillow’s API program and various online partnerships. Founder of Geek Estate Blog, a multi-author blog focused on real estate technology for real estate professionals, and myKRO.org, a blog devoted to exploring the world of microfinance. As passionate as you get about travel.

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Coining a New Term – “Cliffing Around”

“Cliffing around” = to wander awkwardly doing absolutely nothing for extended periods of time

Greece is full of stray dogs; everywhere you look they are roaming around. In Athens, they have more rights than people in many cases. My friend got denied of entrance into the Acropolis with coffee because it could stain the limestone — while less than 10 feet away, there were stray dogs pissing on the limestone. Anyway, the back story on this specific term is that we’ve somewhat adopted a dog named “Cliff” here in Santorini this summer. I’m not quite sure why, but we think he is the dumbest, most awkward dog on the island.

It started because we found Cliff on the beach, gave him water, and then he proceeded to eat the water dish we were using — and hence we could not give him any more water on an island where there is no freshwater whatsoever. Not a smart move on his part. Since then, we see him wandering around the island, always looking dumbfounded as to what he is doing and generally not doing much of anything at all. Hence the term, “cliffing around” was born this morning over breakfast at yet another Cliff sighting at Atlas Bar in Perissa.

And even though we call him the dumbest dog on the island, the fact is we’ve all really taken to liking him. He’s the only dog we’ve nicknamed, which is a sign of our sincere affection for him.

The joys of island life and the things that never cease to entertain…have you been “cliffing around” recently?

Update: For more on “cliffing around”, check out Brooke’s post.

Drew Meyers

Drew Meyers is the co-founder of Horizon & Oh Hey World. He worked for Zillow from September of 2005 to January of 2010 on the marketing team managing Zillow’s API program and various online partnerships. Founder of Geek Estate Blog, a multi-author blog focused on real estate technology for real estate professionals, and myKRO.org, a blog devoted to exploring the world of microfinance. As passionate as you get about travel.

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