Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Ivy Leaguers weather storm in Havana

American study abroad programs are rare in Cuba. Brown University, an Ivy League school founded in 1764, operates one of the few programs that U.S. officials have approved. Brown students got a scare when Hurricane Ike hit. But all turned out well, according to the Brown Daily Herald. And the students got a bonus out of the deal: A short stay at the venerable Hotel Nacional , a historic Havana landmark.
Everyone from mob bosses to Hollywood stars and presidents have stayed at the Hotel Nacional, a magnificent fortress-like building that opened in 1930.
According to the hotel, Johnny Weissmuller, Buster Keaton, Tyrone Power, Errol Flynn, Marlon Brando and Ernest Hemingway are among the famous personalities who have stayed there. Others include such gangsters as Santos Traficante, Meyer Lansky, Lucky Luciano and Frank Costello. And of course there have been political leaders and royalty, including Winston Churchill, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and many other VIPs.
I can verify that the hotel is well built: I rode out Hurricane Michelle there in 2001.

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