With the 2015 ease in travel restrictions for US citizens wishing to visit Cuba, Bob Glaser from Smith & Associates in Tampa wasted no time in visiting this amazing country. Bob says:
"Recently, I joined a great group of Tampa Bay locals on a quest to Cuba. The group was led by County Commissioner Janet Long, Dr. Sandra Lilo and Albert Fox along with other Pinellas County Leaders. Although it was a quick visit- just 2 days and 3 nights- it gave me an opportunity to see Havana-life first hand at an amazing moment in history consequential to Americans and Cubans alike.
Like Tampa, Havana enjoys a long esplanade on its perimeter, along their scenic waterfront with the ocean as the backdrop. The city’s architecture, unique to the country, would best described from a Realtors view as Spanish-Moorish. The use of patios, open air spaces, decorative tiles, colonnaded porches, and stained glass windows as well as stained features above doors makes for incredibly eye-catching and beautiful homes.
These residences are surrounded by even more stately and larger Baroque architecture, where you see the Italian influence with a twist to embrace Cuba’s hot and humid climate- gaps large enough to bring in open, flowing air and large coverings for protection from the sun.
The materials used in Cuban Architecture are a bit more of a rough finish than we typically see in Tampa homes. The use of limestone and coral stone was evident throughout and gave the properties a very substantial feel.
The Cathedrals, museums, embassies and stately homes are each individually striving to be more distinctive than the next. They beautifully lined streets in Old Havana that were designed as small avenues, that even today, hold horse carriages, 1950’s autos (mostly used as taxis), as well as the abundant vehicles of modern times.
The Cuban community was extremely courteous and welcoming of the tourists to their country, providing an amazing opportunity in sharing history, culture and their creative paintings and craft to the visitors.
As we had only 2 days to discover the treasures of Havana and inform ourselves of what soon would be open to many, we were saturated with the beat of the city, without even experiencing the countryside and the spectacular beaches. The Havana residents spend their evenings enjoying their waterfront with music, family and the walk ability of their neighborhoods.
As a visitor, you can feel safe enjoying the same luxuries as the locals. You can walk through so many of these architectural wonders and expect an unsolicited docent to tell you of the history and relevance of what you’re about to see.
Havana has begun its restoration of many of the crumbling facades in what appears to be tedious and careful restoration that will take much more private investment to accomplish. The cost and effort needed to bring the treasures of the city current, and in a safe condition, will take years to accomplish.
Of course the real estate person in me wonders how folks will now acquire Real Estate in Cuba as the country slowly opens to the USA. One need only review what the the government provides in the 1993 Foreign Investment Law, which then showed a softening of the socialistic governments stance on economic cooperation with capitalistic societies. In the mean time, ready yourself for the opportunity to take the 55 minute flight to enter a country so deserving of our interest and attention for the next generation to come."