MY HAVANA – with travel writer Claire Boobbyer
I’ve been in the UK for a large part of this summer so at times my lovely Havana home has seemed a world or two away. What with smoked salmon from Sainsbury’s, visiting old friends and family, a London Oyster card, the chocolate box coastal towns of Cornwall and the lush gardens of Devon’s Dartington Hall, it’s perhaps not too surprising. So meeting up this week with my good friend – Cuba expert and travel writer, Claire Boobbyer, was very timely. No matter if she is in Hereford or Hampshire her head and heart are in Havana. Here – in no particular order – are her top 7 reasons to love the Cuban capital.
REASONS TO LOVE HAVANA
1. Its architectural beauty – from whimsical Cuban baroque to fabulous art deco. The Maya interior extravaganza of the art deco cine-teatro Sierra Maestra is one of Havana’s most fascinating buildings.
2. The accessibility of so much culture – salsa at 1830, jazz at Café Miramar, and singer-songwriters at the Fábrica de Arte Cubano.
3. Visiting Havana’s art galleries for changing shows: Galería Habana and Factoría Habana, among others.
4. Exploring Havana’s new bars, cafés and private restaurants. Favourites include La Cocina de Lilliam, Otra Manera, Café Maimané, Café Dandy, La Guarida’s new rooftop bar and 304 O’Reilly.
5. Riding the fixed taxi routes in old American cars (as communal taxis) with top-volume salsa blasting out of the back seat speakers.
6. Wandering the sea road esplanade, the Malecón, at dusk.
7. Browsing the second-hand book, curios and memorabilia market under the shade of the trees in the Plaza de Armas.
Claire and I reminisced, huddled in a London suburb café, sipping hot tea and sheltering from a classic chilly, English midsummer downpour. After she left I suddenly realized I was ready to pack up my bags, hand in my Oyster, swap hot tea for a cold beer or mojito and happily head home. Ah, La Habana: City of Dreams.