The most esteemed cigars in the world are made in Cuba. While smoking may have gone out of fashion lately, older travellers have a range of options it they want to holiday in Havana, which lends its name to the world’s finest cigars.
The premium tobacco isn’t actually produced in Havana itself. Plantations grow tobacco in the western region of Pinar del Rio, before shipping elsewhere. But in Havana, you can sample any number of factory tours that will give an insight into the manufacturing process. Not to be missed for cigar aficionados!
The music of Cuba
Produced by a distinctive fusion of Spanish guitar and African drums, Cuba’s music is a unique and world-renowned export. From Afro-Cuban jazz to timba, and chachachá to rumba, the rhythmic delights of the island are virtually endless. Where better than Havana to stop in a bar and enjoy a trova musician while sipping on a cocktail? Speaking of which…
Cuba’s national spirit was good enough to become one of Ernest Hemingway’s favourites, so there’s no reason why you shouldn’t fall in love with Cuban rum too. Home of ever-popular cocktails such as the Cuba Libre and the mojito, Cuba is also where popular drinks brands Bacardi and Havana Club were both born. The latter is enjoyed on Havana’s beachfront by local and traveller alike.
The new revolution (in restaurants)
One major way Cuba was already changing before the Obama-Castro meeting was the remarkable revolution in restaurant cuisine. Since the turn of the decade, the state has increasingly allowed more and more private owners to open eateries, creating a scene that is now packed with innovative alternatives to state-run outlets.
These privately owned restaurants – called paladares in the local language – are found all across Cuba, and some of the finest necessarily find themselves in Havana, the island’s biggest city. These outlets are where you can find a more diverse range of sumptuous cuisine, including Cuban Creole, contemporary Cuban, Spanish Basque, Italian, international fusion and more.
The unique history
Havana was Hemingway’s home for 20 years. The city has one of the world’s largest ice cream parlours dating back to the American embargo of the 1960s. City-dwellers use vintage American (and Russian) cars thanks to Fidel Castro’s ban on imported cars. Cuba and its capital were both major sources of Caribbean trade and targets for piracy in the 17th century…
With all those facts and more, Cuban history is rich and many faceted. Whatever your interest – food, politics, nature, pirates – a trip to Havana holds more than enough potential to inspire any heart.
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