Monday, 31 October 2016

Visit Havana this winter before it is too late

Get to Cuba this year, people. The BBC informed us this morning that Americans are starting to go there by direct flights. You have about six months at most. Havana is the most enchanting city I've ever visited.

Here is my account of my first visit.

Life in Bucharest has been transformed since the bloody events of December 1989 but three large apartments in a 1960s block in Mihai Eminescu have escaped the changes. Marked only by a discreet  flag and a yawning squaddie on guard they house the Cuban Embassy, a serene place where nothing much has altered since Fidel Castro’s Cuba and Nicolae Ceausescu’s Romania were friendly socialist countries. I was received there recently with immense kindness by the only two members of staff not on summer leave who spent some hours helping me find a cure for cancer.

In six years living in Romania my only regret has been for the Bucharest, ill-lit, somnambulant, other, that I glimpsed on a short and enthralling visit in 1990. That world by the time I came to live here in 1998, seemed one with Babylon and Nineveh, but very occasionally I remembered that that world had not wholly vanished. China and Vietnam might be parts of the global village, North Korea might perhaps be too sad a place evenfor me to enjoy, but there was still Cuba, now a fixture on the tourist circuit.
Romania shot her dictator and turned westward, but in Cuba socialism in one country defies the zeitgeist, despite or because of the  unremitting US blockade. And Cuba fascinated me too for many reasons, including an affection for Graham Greene’s timeless description of expat life in a seedy country in Our Man In HavanaI resolved to go there on holiday but in fact I went at very short notice in the height of summer, which in Cuba is the rainy season, and for an unusual reason. (Continued here.)


  1. Sorry I was there three years ago and I am an American. It's already ruined.

  2. I've long wanted to visit Cuba and while I certainly believe the influx of American tourists and money will make it much less interesting I'd still visit.