It would be fair to say that, when agreeing with Ros that we should go to Cuba on holiday, I did have some doubts. It is, after all, a communist country with a controlled economy, where those opposed to the state are imprisoned on a fairly capricious basis. And given that I am by nature someone who cleaves to the notion of comfort in travel, Havana might not be an obvious destination.
As it turns out, the dictatorship is not entirely what one might expect. Experiments with capitalism have unleashed an entrepreneurial spirit hitherto unsuspected, American television shows are rather more readily accessible than might be expected, and the security on display seems designed to make sure that we get back to our hotel safely. Oh yes, and the mojitos are cheap and plentiful. Mmmm, mint...
We've been for an explore of the old city already, and I've been impressed by efforts to restore the historic centre. Havana is one of the oldest cities in the Western Hemisphere, with a cathedral that dates back to the mid-sixteenth century, and the original core is packed with badly neglected architecture crying out for restoration. And, at last, the government have realised its tourism potential.
There are restaurants and private taxis, there are people in the streets trying to sell you things, and if you didn't know that it was a one-party state, I'm not entirely sure that you would appreciate that it was one. And the mojitos are very good, although I may have inferred that earlier.
So, if you were thinking of coming here but thought that it might be a bit too complex, I would say, "Come on in, the Havana Club, mint and sugar syrup are lovely.".
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