UW President Ana Mari Cauce was among the first to fly to Havana, Cuba, on a new Alaska Airlines route.

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With rain and possibly some snow in the forecast this weekend, a visit to 81-degree and sunny Havana, Cuba, might sound refreshing.

Alaska Airlines on Thursday began flights to Havana from Seattle (through Los Angeles), the first flights from the West Coast of the United States to the country’s capital.

A trade and educational delegation including University of Washington President Ana Mari Cauce, who was born in Cuba, took the first flight to the island.

Flights to Cuba leave Seattle daily at 5 a.m., with a stop in Los Angeles. Returning flights leave Havana daily at 5:55 p.m. and arrive in Seattle (again, via Los Angeles) at 2:35 a.m the following day.

Alaska’s flights are a long time in the making. The U.S. restricted travel to Cuba in the early 1960s as it tried to overturn the country’s communist leadership.

In 2014, the Obama administration re-established diplomatic relations with Cuba. Last March, the administration removed the last major restrictions on travel to Cuba. Tourism is not technically allowed, but the categories of allowed travel are broad. In July, Alaska Airlines was one of eight airlines to receive approval for flights to Havana.

This summer, reporter Ángel González, who is of Cuban heritage, and photographer Bettina Hansen traveled to Cuba and discovered a colorful, complicated and isolated nation.

Travel to Cuba can be a bit complicated. A visa and other documents are required, hotel space is limited, and U.S. credit and debit cards are not accepted there.