“Havana is pure adventure – and a journey back in time to the 1950s.”

From above, Havana looks like a wounded beauty: destroyed buildings, industrial chimneys, torn roads. In addition, the first successes of years of restoration work, and highly polished American road cruisers from the 1950s. I love Havana because, despite the socialism that still exists, the people there have a zest for life that simply carries them away.

Business Transportation

Instead of renting a US Tourist Oldtimer, you should take one of the “Colectivo Taxis”. These are also 1950s sledges, but offer far more local color than the tourist cars. Just ask for the route, squeeze in with the Cubans and explore the city.

Business Stay

EsIt doesn’t always have to be the Nacional. For quite a time the “NH Capri” has been re-opened. The legendary Mafia-Hotel of the American gangster Meyer Lansky was completely renovated and has still kept its charm.

Or look for a “casa particular”: Cubans are allowed to offer private accommodation in the course of the slow political opening. These now exist throughout the country. The German journalist Jochen Beckmann, for example, rents a small apartment with two rooms and a charming family connection in the heart of Havana (www.casa-amistad.net).

Business Food

Those who, like me, were in Havana for the last time more than 20 years ago will be astonished: while chicken, rice and black beans were the main ingredients at that time, today there is an almost culinary atmosphere of new beginnings. This is due to the “paladares”, private restaurants that are now open everywhere. In contrast to the old state inns, in the “house restaurants” you are served by ambitious chefs in their apartments. In the “San Cristóbal” (San Rafael No. 469, Centro Habana) one sits in the living room, in the bedroom or in the patio of the family of Carlos Valdés. On the walls there is a bundle of family history, and typical local delicacies come from the kitchen.

And then, of course: rum and cigars … Just walk past the world-famous Hemingway Bar “Bodeguita del Medio” (Empedrado Street, Old Havana). You won’t get in anyway, it’s full of Japanese travel groups. Moreover, the quality of the famous Mojito has decreased a lot. If you like beer, you can find it in the newest beer hall at the harbour. Using Austrian brewing technology, three types of beer are brewed in the “Cervecería Antiguo Almacén de la Madera y el Tabaco”.

Wherever they are, the Cubans’ joie de vivre is contagious. Friendly, helpful and full of hope that the future will be rosier than the last 50 years.

Kai Böcking …

loves Havana, because the city offers much more than the clichés of vintage cars, rum and cigars generally suggest. Just drive there and see what can change, what will change and what hopefully will stay.

Fotos: © iStock.com/mbbirdy, © iStock.com/B&M Noskowski