Just left what may turn out to be the hottest destination for well heeled tourists in the near future - Havana. I went there expecting very little and have become a new convert! I still don't smoke cigars! I don't smoke, period! Nor do I drink well- aged Cuban Rum. Errrr.... I don't drink Rum. And there is nothing to shop for, apart from Che t-shirts, caps and mugs ( I bought! I bought!). But I did discover a very proud people. Proud of their identity. Proud of their nation ( just 12 million Cubans). Proud of their culture ( what music!). And generally unafraid of what the world thinks of them. That's confidence. The Cuban peso is nearly as strong as the Euro. And nothing is cheap here, least of all those coveted cigars. And no, the magnificent Cohibas ( grand fathers of all great cigars) are not rolled on bare female thighs as rumoured!
The cuisine may not be too sophisticated ( very basic and tasteless, actually), but a couple of outstanding restaurants are worth a visit. Particularly, Le Chansonier, which I was told was the big favourite of our Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif while they were shooting in Havana recently. Then there is the outstanding La Guarida in an old Palador ( residence), which the NYT rates highly. It is virtually impossible to get a booking there. It is also the locale for that delightful movie, ' Like water for Chocolate'.
Since we have always enjoyed a 'Hindi- Cuban' bhai bhai relationship with the country, I wasn't surprised to see a statue of Mahatma Gandhi in a beautiful park encircled by gigantic Banyan trees. More in my next post. Gotta run. Flight leaving for Genoa, Naples in a few minutes.
Ciao for now!