Direct Flights between Toronto and Havana.

Fifty years ago during the days of the Cold War, the United States broke off relations with Cuba because of that country’s alliance with the Soviet Union. Of course, this created a great deal of confusion and the problems that come with such a move.

Where earlier, US and Cuban relations had remained cordial with businesses and tourism flourishing between the countries, thee now remained this vast gap between two countries that are essentially next-door neighbors.

Canada, however, although not a Communist country, continued to maintain relations. Relations reached their zenith during the seventies and eighties during Prim Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau’s reign. During his term in office he visited Cuba, spending three days developing a lifelong friendship with Fidel Castro. Trudeau’s visit marked the first visit by a Western Nation since the United States broke off relations in 1960.

Although the United States and Canada have always remained close ties and a warm friendship, objections to the Helms-Burton Act sparked controversy. Although Canada, like all civilized countries, shares the same objectives in the improvement of human rights all over the world, it was strongly felt that the Helm-Burton Act made the wrong inroad into this touchy situation. The Helms-Burton Act passed in 1996 only strengthened and continued to worsen conditions concerning its embargo inhibiting foreign companies to trade with Cuba, and going so far as to penalize foreign companies they believed to be cooperating sub rosa with Cuba.

During half of the Twentieth Century, casinos owned, or partially owned by US interests in Cuba had created a playground for tourists, not only from the United States but from all over the world.

Always a friendly people brimming with life and famed for their hospitality, the Cuban citizens had to see all their former prosperity fade away as the embargo put an end to tourism.

Today, with newly restored and improved relations in place, embargoes gone and Cuba free to act unhindered by trade restrictions, most countries have quickly reorganized their air travel routes to include Havana.

Toronto as well, is now booking empty leg flights passing over Florida to land in Havana, already a booming tourist mecca catching up for all those lost years.

Celebrities are already visiting and praising Cuba and its people while several television shows have gone to Cuba to entertain viewers with this colorful and friendly country.

Visiting Havana today has much of the flavor of stepping into the past as visitors watch what we would call vintage automobiles roll up and down the boulevards. Due to the long embargo Cubans have had to make do with the cars they had up until the fifties. Most of these are well-maintained, still running beautifully and in themselves create an exciting vintage auto show as visitors sip a drink at a sidewalk cafe.

Now different airlines are fiercely competing with ever more attractive pricing between Toronto and Havana, about a six hour non-stop trip.

Prices are presently under $500, often way under that figure.

Try a fun visit to Havana for your next outing. You’re sure to have a great visit!