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Wine replacing rum traditions within the Cuban youngest

Wine replacing rum traditions within the Cuban youngest

Glass of wine

New times are arriving in Cuba and everyone knows about it. More and more tourists, hotels and American dollars are taking place everywhere in the country. Also, slight changes in the society are getting noticed these days. Our drinking traditions may be going in different directions, and you could be amazed when finding many Cuban females not drinking rum cocktails but other spirits and wines instead.

Compared with other Latin American cities we have a “solid” night out tradition, mainly in the capital city. If you are going out with friends in Havana (commonly Friday or Saturday night) then you’ll probably end up in one of many great bars recently opened in the city. Most of them are European style with huge bars, dancing areas and offering a wide range of international drinks. Some of them get so crowded in late night that queues are required; I’ve been waiting to get in some bars almost an hour…at 1 am!

Chanchullero Bar, in Old Havana

Chanchullero Bar

Cuba is without a doubt a rum-loving country. It’s the spirit you’ll find in every celebration, meeting friends, an office party or Christmas festivities. A good friend of mine says it is part of our DNA, and he is probably right! Rum is our national drink: you can’t be in Cuba and not to fall in love with a well-made Mojito or a refreshing Daiquiri. However you’ll be quite surprised if you go with young Cubans on a night out and realize how they are asking for international drinks and wines instead of rum cocktails.

Cuba has received massive European and American influences; even when the island has been held from previous exchanges the people always found a way to get in touch with “the exterior”. They learnt about fashion, gadgets, worldwide tendencies and also drinking culture. Most of the young and “refined” ladies in Havana are not asking for a Cuba Libre anymore. Gin-tonics, Caipirinhas or Apple Martinis are a must in trendy bars nowadays, and the wine culture is also rapidly arriving.

 Madrigal Bar, in Havana's Vedado town

Madrigal bar
We don’t have a proper wine tradition in Cuba, although you can always find a bottle or two at home waiting for a special guest. But in the past few years this has been changing and now the list of wines in restaurants and “paladares” (private owners) is getting longer every day. Most of them are considered low to mid-grade vintages from Spain, Chile and Italy; those usually over-priced in the Cuban market controlled by the government. However you’ll find a very interesting wine list in the top places in Havana.


A bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon is the one that many young Cubans are taking to a friend’s party today; if is not a good quality wine then a bit of fruit juice or Sprite is added making a kind of Sangria, otherwise the bottle would get finished and entirely enjoyed (even in the hottest night of Havana), and this seems to be getting quite popular.

California Wine Symposium in Havana

wines

Last 2nd of February lot of people attended to the first California Wine Symposium in Havana. In a sign of changing times, California's largest winemakers hold a two-day tasting and trade show for Cuban restaurant owners in hopes of developing a new market in the country. Some 50 private restaurants and hundreds of wine waiters (named “sommeliers” in Cuba) and buyers for state-run restaurants attended the conference and they were all really excited with new relations and investments proposed. According to the press, Californian wine should be joining our wine lists in a few months.

Havana’s first Salsa Carnival!

Havana’s first Salsa Carnival!

 Dancing

Looking for some hip movements these days? Good news then! Havana is getting ready to celebrate its first ever Salsa Carnival; top Cuban artists will be joining the festivities on the final days of February. With the government’s approval this carnival seems to be a national joy and a unique experience.


You can easily associate Cuba with some “forbidden pleasures” in life: cigars, rum and salsa dancing. No doubt the last one may be the healthiest and also the most enjoyable for many people but the most difficult to achieve though.

I’ve heard from more than a few European people the expression: “Of course you can dance, you are Cubans”. I cannot deny the fact that we are taught how to dance since childhood but it doesn’t mean we all can dance as a professional. However, only a few Cubans can’t avoid move at least the foot while hearing a proper salsa (or “casino”) song. That’s why you can bet Havana may be the most dancing-crazy city in the whole world in just few weeks when the first Salsa Carnival starts the 25th of February until the 28th; just four days but they certainly deserve our special attention.

Havana

The venue will be the Metropolitan Park of Havana (Parque Metropolitano) also known as Almendares Park (it’s divided by Almendares river) located just 10 minutes by car from Vedado town in Central Havana. The Metropolitan Park will be hosting this massive festivity starting at 5 o’clock in the afternoon with a full list of activities: troupe parades, dancing lessons, small amateur’s band performances, DJ shows and the most awaited salsa concerts. This Carnival is being directed by Maykel Blanco, a world-class salsa musician and also head-leader of the Cuban band Maykel Blanco y Salsa Mayor. During a recently interview he revealed the main goals of the event: to promote Cuban popular dancing music and bring to the youngers the opportunity to get in touch with the different salsa genders of the country.


Tight calendar!

Carnival Logo

Top Cuban bands will be performing: to open the carnival, on Thursday 25th , you’ll find our best ever salsa orchestra Los Van Van and one of the best musicians in the whole Latin America, Issac Delgado. On Friday 26th will be making their concerts El niño y la verdad group and Pupy y los que Son Son band. The next day is time for El Noro y Primera Clase and the popular band Havana D´ Primera. The special closing ceremony on Sunday 28th will be hosted by Maykel Blanco y Salsa Mayor, Elito Revé and Bamboleo group.


A unique event

Keep calm and salsa

This carnival will also bring the opportunity to those toddlers eager to learn the different musical genders of the island to get in touch with those, by professional dance lessons and unique performances. Tickets for the entrance will be sold from Monday 22nd in some cinemas of the city as Payret, Alameda, Lido and City Hall; and also at the main venue: Metropolitan Park.

So, if you in Havana on this dates, you cannot miss such a huge event full of Cuban music, history and origins. Enjoy salsa music and practice those tropical movements it’s not that hard! So give it a try during your days in the capital city.

The FAC phenomenon in Havana

The FAC phenomenon in Havana

FAC
Havana is full of art; a city where you can find a guy playing guitar anywhere or people dancing on the streets, even without music. Dance, music, theatre, photography, visual art, sculpture, fashion...if you want to discover real local talent, then you must stop at Fabrica de Arte Cubano (Cuban Art Factory), where “La Habana moves”. It is more than just a place to have a drink and dance the whole night. It’s a premier cultural institution, hosting art installations, film festivals and theatre performances.

Located in 26 and 11 Street, Vedado, the building housed the former Electric Company of Cuba in early 1900’s. Later, it was the property of Peanut Oil “El Cocinero” Factory for more than 30 years. Today it is property of the Ministry of Culture, who gave the landmark’s management to one of the most recognised Cuban musician of all times: X Alfonso. FAC is an artistic project boosted by the essential need of supporting artistic works within the island taking care of every artistic expression: music, movies, dance, theatre, painting, literature, photography, fashion, graphic design and architecture.

FAC views


This factory of art is located at “El Fanguito” town, considered a rough community to grow up and live. It’ll help the community to get closer to their artists, creating a strong connection between the people and the Cuban artistic movement. Before FAC’s creation there wasn’t any place or project like this in the country; not with the high level of social conscience, quality and artistic acceptance that it has reached so far. Today, it is the main axis of Havana’s artistic life. More than a bar to hang out with friends or a gallery to enjoy top quality art designs, this exotic building is a holy place to enjoy Havana’s truly spirit.

FAC has three big spaces with different functions and a total capacity of 650 people. It has a big auditorium for live concerts and performances, another for theatre and dancing plays and a third one for galleries and expositions; plus six exhibit spaces dedicated to photography, architecture and visual arts. In every room, you’ll find a bar with a wide range of incredible well prepared cocktails and several spirits, as well as some really nice “tapas” dishes to taste during your stay.

Gallery in FAC

FAC hosted the biggest festivals in Havana in the last couple of years (it’s being opened since December 2013) and recently it’s been visited by top worldwide recognised artists as Katty Perry and the iconic Mick Jagger.

FAC for Cuban young people

Stages

FAC is without doubt the most incredibly diverse, fun and cool place to go out with friends in Havana. Fabrica isn’t exactly a hidden underground spot, if you don’t get there before 10 p.m. you’ll be trapped on a long queue to get in. You would find people of every age, from 18 years to…perhaps 60’s? This place is heavenly, eclectic and enjoyable. Even it’s very affordable, the average cocktail is 2 CUC (£1.50) and they are really good drinks. FAC is the first place that I recommend to any visitor on a night out in the warm streets of Havana! To see more details you can go to their website: http://www.fac.cu/

Bars at FAC

 

Is Cuba starting a cruise era?

Is Cuba starting a cruise era?

According to the national press, almost 10 000 visitors arrived in the Caribbean island by cruisers last year. Cuba is certainly beginning a new era regarding tourism industry; Havana’s Bay, one of the most beautiful in Latin America, is getting ready to welcome new curious and adventurer visitors.

Malecon
Nowadays you can find many headlines referring to Cuba in the press: Cuba is getting trendy, new hotel openings or latest political agreements with U.S.A may let you think that the fascinating island trapped in a mid-20th century is going to change in a blink of an eye. No more traditional costumes, cigars, old American cars, white-sand beaches or tropical music in every corner. Well, I have got good news for you….relax; we hardly doubt any of these may ever change. More than a socialist country, we are a cultural nation and Cuban people’s charisma is an endless fountain of joy and happiness and it won’t change by any law or political system. 

Old Havana

Even though no-one can be sure about anything, the truth is Cuba started noticing slight changes in the tourism industry. You may not find any Starbucks in Havana but the whole country is facing new emotions and feelings. The sight of cruisers and yachts in Havana Bay is a fact; local people have to make a quick stop (and take a deep breath) to admire the amazing ships arriving these days...

The biggest names of international cruise companies are already working in the island and building new perspectives and options for those looking for unique experiences in the Caribbean. A cruiser trip will bring the opportunity to those exploring “the island of cigars” to visit more destinations in the area and also enjoy the “sea experience”.

The italian-style MSC Cruises is the first mainstream cruise line to make Havana the home port for one of its ships since last year, and from April 2016 they expect to make regular voyages. MSC is one of biggest cruiser companies worldwide with more than a hundred years of operating history. The MSC OPERA stays two nights in Havana at the start of its Western Caribbean cruises, giving plenty of time to take a tour by vintage American cars, visit the Museum of the Revolution and watch cabaret acts in Tropicana club before sailing on to, say, Jamaica, the Cayman Islands or Mexico.

MSC OPERA

MSC cruise


Also Carnival Corp. (the biggest American cruise company) announced the first cruise journey to Cuba from the States since 1960. Carnival will start operations in next May using the ship Adonia. With a small capacity of 700 passengers it’ll be the first ship coming from Miami’s port and hopefully the first of many others. This particular vessel will have an important social impact; there is a saying in Havana that proclaims: “In Cuba everyone has a relative in the countryside and one in Miami…”

Adonia vessel

Adonia ship

But there are many others cruise ships start to visit the island; the UK based Saga, Voyages of Discovery, Noble Caledonia and Thomson Dream offer different trips around the Caribbean including Cuba. Plus new companies as Capri Cruceros started making connections with tour-operators currently working in the island.

San Cristobal UK already assists cruise passenger coming ashore for visits and transit to and from the airport. We’ll be able in the near future, to offer more of this kind of experiences as well. We’ll keep you posted! For more information visit us www.scuktravel.com.