News Headlines

Latest Travel News and Press Releases

Where in the world can you slip back into the past century without trudging around a museum, where every aspect of daily life is still exactly as it was back in the 1950's? The answer is Cuba, the extraordinary Caribbean island that has not only played a pivotal role in global history, but remains a unique preserve of an individual identity still untouched by modernity. On arrival in the charismatic capital, Havana, the first striking impression is of nostalgia, as the streets rumble with the brightly coloured cars of yesteryear, impeccably restored Chevrolets, Buicks and Plymouths, their shapes and size representative of a long ago era in automobile design. To complement the street traffic, the buildings are a wonderful palette of rainbow shades, bleached by the strong sun, a lovely mélange of faded blues, greens and yellows. The buildings themselves have an air of decayed grandeur and hint of the elegance of different times. The Spanish Colonial architecture is imposing, yet crumbly. Broad boulevards give way to tiny cobbled streets and alleyways. Cubans are irrepressible musicians and dancers and the strains of salsa and Latino rhythms flow from every bar, every home, every doorway.

Head to the El Floridita, famed for its patronage by acclaimed writer Ernest Hemingway. In this iconic institution, a bronze statue of Hemingway portrays him in his favourite position, propped at the bar, as he would have done so often in his heyday, most likely with a fat Havana cigar clamped between his lips. Hemingway's tipple was a daiquiri but the other Cuban specialty is the mojito. With a long history of sugar cane production, the scent of rum is always on the air. Take a wander down Obispo to complete homage to Hemingway, as this is where he resided in the Hotel Amos Mundos with his wife Mary. It's a lovely collection of booksellers, little shops and hotels and swarms with musicians and performers. The waterfront of the Malecon used to be the prime destination for flashy American gangsters back in the thirties before Castro came along and brought communism to the island. At the Nacional Hotel you can pay a special rate to stay in a room once inhabited by the likes of Hollywood stars like Ava Gardner.

The other big town is Trinidad, on the opposite coast and to reach it is a five hour drive passing through a landscape as unchanged as the cities, with rusting old Soviet era farm machinery and plantations of mangoes, pineapples and oranges. Trinidad is another delight, with a rich ambience, a beautiful situation on the coast and a nightlife of rumba and salsa pouring from every bar and restaurant. Every place has its own band. The special drink here is Canchanchara, made from honey, lemon, sugar cane and alcohol and it is drunk from small earthenware pots. In the older quarters the only modes of transport are horse drawn carts or three wheeler cycle taxis, adding another layer to the dimension of going back in time.

Whether Cuba will succumb to change in the Twenty First Century remains to be seen, but just in case it should, make plans to go as soon as you can while it is still truly in a tantalizing time warp.

View all articles

ACCEPT COOKIESTo give you the best possible experience, this site uses cookies. Using this site means you agree to our use of cookies. We have published a cookies policy, which you should read to find out more about the cookies we use. View cookies policy.