Havana

We had wanted to visit Cuba for some time and it really lived up to expectations. Being about 90 miles by sea from North America, it was so refreshingly far removed from everything corporate and glossy that the USA is known for. No Starbucks! No McDonalds! NO WI-FI! 

Havana was an immediate assault to every sense, the stench of diesel fumes, the neon painted walls, the music emerging from every open window and the friendly locals all wanting to be our personal tour guide – as inhibited Londoners, it threw us completely out of our comfort zone! After quickly acclimatising, we did what all tourists do – a tour of the city in an open top 1950's Cadillac. Cars are a BIG deal in Havana, so much pride is taken in them, even the many tiny Russian cars are pimped up to their very best.

'La Revolucion' plays an enormous part in Cuba's identity, with communist messages daubed all over the walls and the nation's hero, Che Guevara's iconic image is seen on every street corner. The Museum of Revolution was a highlight, not only to learn about the decades of guerrilla warfare that went into overthrowing the regime, but to see how much importance was placed on fragments of debris from the Cuban missile crisis and the Bay of Pigs invasion, and how staunchly anti-America Cuba still is. 

We also noticed an inner battle between the faithful communist party line and the allure of Western commodities, with American shop names, American flags on clothing and of course, the gleaming American cars everywhere. We've never been anywhere so contrary, vivid and raucous before. Cuba, we loved you!