Majestic and mouldering, just like the iconic photos show the city, this is the real deal.
The city is divided into three main precincts:
Habana Vieja or old Havana, the UNESCO listed inner city which is in the process of being renovated. A fund (Huabanex) was created by a local historian and the funds received from tourism are funneled into restoring the old buildings.
Habana Centro, west of the old city where there is limited development by the Cubans that live here – 170,000 people crammed into 3 sq K. It’s home for the first 5 nights after we arrive, so that we can get our sea legs after the long journey and a whirlwind stop in Mexico City.
Vedado, the ‘commercial’ centre, which used to be the hub for mafioso, louche rich and other generally unsavoury characters until Fidel rolled into town and took over the Hilton Hotel for his headquarters.
He promptly dispatched the filthy capitalists and closed down the casino and other loose establishments.
East and West of Havana are the beaches, particularly on the strip named Varadero, a low-rise Gold Coast for foreign tourists. These are mainly Europeans and Canadians flying in like migratory birds when the winds of winter finally drive them south.
Our trip took us around the north-western part of the island, ten days in Havana, and then 14 days on a round trip: Vinales, Playa Larga, Cienfuegos, Trinidad, Santa Clara, Remedios, Varadero, Matanzas.
Photos, as always are at www.photodelmundo.net/Cuba