Until 2011 a new car could be purchased only with a state permit, so before 2011 only those cars were exchanged between locals that were in the country before the 1959 Revolution.
Most tourists come from Canada and Europe, but each year at least 30,000 Americans break the US laws and travel to Cuba despite being banned. With President Obama's 2016 support, direct flights have been restarted, but you must have a good reason to buy tickets.
The cheapest way – 1 or 2 CUC - to go around Habana is by bicycle taxi. The "bicitaxis" as they called, are propelled by muscle power alone, there is no electric motor help for the driver. Behind the bicitaxis, the 300m² mosaic mural depicts 67 outstanding figures in the history and the arts in Cuba.
Balconies – either with or without railings – good for rest. Some districts of Havana resemble a ruined city, the heartbreaking remains of the American art deco style buildings tell about the beauty of the past.
All bookstores – with new editions or second-hand books – are full Cuban politicians’ works and portraits. The Rolling Stones is the great exception because of their free outdoor concert at the Ciudad Deportiva de la Habana sports complex, which was attended by an estimated 500,000 concert-goers.
The everyday life among the dilapidated streets is a bit surreal.
Havana is slowly evolving; new economic rules on private ownership are allowing ordinary Cubans to open their own stores and businesses.
Cuba has promoted Che Guevara as a symbol of revolutionary virtues inside and outside the country since his death. Guevara remains a "beloved national hero" in Cuba. His romanticized portraits appear in school rooms, workplaces, public buildings, billboards, and money with his image.
The Stars and Stripes could be spotted across T-shirts and bandannas and all kind of clothes. You could barely know if it is just fashion or a statement.
Cubans care about how they dress. These days you can see every kind of clothes bought from the state-run stores and the state-ignored secret stores. The price is around the same (from 20 to 40 CUC), but in the latter, the styles are far trendier.
Luxury cruiser at the harbour of Havana – and the new Cuban elite: smartphone, joy-riding in their restored Chevrolets of the 1950s, rock and roll blaring from the car speakers. It seems the whole of Havana's young people comes out at night. Malecón, the avenue that runs along the north coast of the city, beside the seawall is crowded after sunsets.
It seems the whole of Havana's young people comes out at night. The street lights are very weak, the Carribean night is full of mystery.
Havana with a European eye is a miracle! There is no angry word at all on the crowded streets, no a naughty remark, but a lot of laughter and music. No fear even by night, the faces are nice and the eyes are smiling. But there is a lot of poverty. The shops are almost empty, the fruits-carts are dragged along with a donkey or handwheel through the surrounding streets. Some districts of Havana resemble a ruined city, the heartbreaking remains of the American art deco style buildings tell about the beauty of the past. On the large walls, on the pavements of the roads, you can see huge portraits of Fidel Castro, Che Gevara and José Marti and can read their quotes alongside with various Cuban slogans. The traffic of the capital is similar to a dreamy European Sunday morning’s one, except for the rusty old-fashioned American old timers, which are the favourites of tourists.
Cuba is changing slowly. You already see some mobile phones in hands, here and there is a weak internet connection, and some private companies are also knocking: because of the huge tourist inflow room rental is allowed and there is Airbnb. And they ask for a good price: in the dual currency system, 1 CUC (the currency reserved for foreigner) is equal to 1 Euro.
It is a strange, closed world, a blend of the old East-European communist past and the sparkling, lifelong attitudes of the Caribbean world.
And it will remain like this until the big, international and American companies return.
Havana with a European eye is a miracle! Ruined buildings, happy people, a lot of laughter and poverty, slowly changing world.