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Havana’s Malecon, probably the largest and most musical seafront in the world!

Havana’s Malecon, probably the largest and most musical seafront in the world!

malecon

The greatest avenue in Havana, always full of life and fun with more than 5 miles length is for sure our Malecon. The idea was originally conceived in 1819 when Francisco de Albear, the greatest Cuban engineer of the time, presented a project work to solve one of the main issues of the city: what to do with the seafront of Havana?

There are few sacred places in Havana that Cuban people, don’t mess with them; just a few though. But one of them and one of the most emblematic and beautiful asset of our city is “El Malecon”. It’s the place where you can bet, every kid love to walk around, every romantic soul loves to take a picture of a sunset and every single couple in town, have to go and sit at least few minutes in their life-time.
This majestic avenue of six lanes has a unique view of Havana. Starting in the heart of Havana’s Bay, in Old Havana the road goes along the edge between the deep sea and the land. Passing all the way by the always original Central Havana town and then trendy Vedado area; the long avenue is able to link so many different sides of the same city.

Construction works started in 1901 when the Americans installed the Republic after the Spanish government was destitute and end in 1959. The main purpose was to protect Havana from the water, but at the end, it wound up serving more for nighttime promenades by local people, for lovers and most of all for fishermen souls.

maleconi
If you live in Havana, no matter who you are, profession or personality you will end a night sitting somewhere on the giant wall and enjoying some live music by the hand of natural born singers and guitar players. In you are here just for a short visit, you will do it as well; you won’t be able to resist the temptation and live what I’m telling you right now unless you are not looking for the real feeling.

Malecon more than a beauty picture is also where very important places are situated in Havana. Famous and iconic hotels as National Hotel, Melia Cohiba, Riviera and recently opened and peculiar El Terral are placed in the avenue; remarkable buildings like the American Embassy and Hermanos Amejeiras Hospital (one of the best of Cuba) are lucky enough to enjoy unique twilights every day. Lots of monuments can be found along the road, shopping centers and even a waterfall! Yes, a waterfall…not a natural one, but well…it helps to carry on in the hottest summer.

But as we all know, Cuba is changing. Just a bit, but slowly changing. New places are appearing on the esplanade due to economic reforms in Cuba that now allow Cubans to own private businesses. Bars and restaurants of the best quality in town are now in the sea line. Top restaurants like El Litoral (one of the trendiest places to eat nowadays), Chucherias (highly recommended spot with moderate priced but top brands), Castropol and a very peculiar one, Nazdarovie restaurant, the first Russian place in Havana. Also trendy bars like La fluta magica, just in front of the American embassy, 3D or Corner Café (with live music and cool vibes) are located few metres from the main avenue.

There are things that won’t get old fashion; sit with your partner and watch the dawn, hang out with your very best friends having a good time or just look for a piece of heaven and watch the waves of the sea and ease your mind. Priceless moments in an endless seafront of…our favorite bench!

The legendary Hotel Capri

The legendary Hotel Capri

capri lobby

One of the iconic hotels in Cuba, Hotel Capri, is ready for the next high season in Havana. Recently reopened, the historic building still full of histories and big names will be always hidden inside its walls. Elegant and spacious rooms, nice staff and one of the most incredible views in the city make this emblematic spot a very desirable one.

Summer has aggressively arrived in Havana. “Stay cool” nowadays is a quite hard goal to achieve in a city where 32 degrees is an average temperature and high level of humidity won’t let you stop sweating even if you try your best; it’s almost impossible to fight. However, you can fight it a bit classier. If you spend an afternoon watching a gorgeous sunset on the Malecon horizon line, almost 100 feet high then is not that bad, right?

pool

Built in the 1950’ was funded by the Mafia Union of United States of America and officially inaugurated on November 27th, 1957. At the time, it was one of the most luxurious places in Cuba in years where Havana was famous for being American mafia’s playground. This guys rented the royal casino of the hotel the whole year paying 25 000 USD and as part of its “profits” a peculiar place was financed, a place that will become an iconic spot in Havana’s night life: Salon Rojo del Capri (Capri’s Red Salon) that has remained as one of the poshest and “spicy” places to go for night out.

Since the beginning, Capri Hotel has been a trendy location and no-one had second thoughts when risking thousands of dollars in the casino or to getting in a poker game. The world-famous American actor George Raft was the special host, attracting Cuban high-life public and Hollywood stars to Havana. Exclusive names as Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Robert de Niro, Ana Belen and Victor Manuel have walked through its halls. Also important political figures as Salvador Allende and Mario Benedetti were special guests of the hotel.

restaurant

But years and history made deep marks in this extremely well located building, just in the heart of Vedado town. It was closed during years for restorations works and reopened in 2014. A big party welcomes Capri and Havana’s top clientele, bringing back all its histories and myths. In this year 2016, the management has worked in retouches and small works have been made so far. Prices are rising; today a single room costs much more that you may think; but also every hotel room in Havana. The comfort and luxury of its suites will definitely could please any of its former mafia guests. Also top restaurants and bars, including the one on the top floor with breath-taking views of the ancient city, are waiting for more visitors.

Ready to face next high season of tourism in Cuba, this hotel still being one of the treasures of the city and it won’t take any chances; extremely well preserved, breathing the same aura of the 50’s it's certainly adding more stories and names to its exclusive guest list. Contact us if you want to stay in this hotel, we are here to help you! Go to www.scuktravel.com or get in touch via email enquires@scuktravel.com.

Taking a shared cab in Havana

Taking a shared cab in Havana

More than a few friends, most of them Brits, have been amused when having a “shared taxi” experience during their stay in the city. All of them ask how Cubans, in this case those living in Havana, travel all around the city in a country where having your own car can be considered a luxury. Taking the bus is a risky choice in endless Cuban summer while paying a full fee taxi is too expensive for daily rides. So, we honoured our well-known inventive capability and create our own type of transportation: shared vintage cabs!

sharing cab!

Very peculiar cars are the ones “converted” into shared taxis. Most of them classic properties moving around noisy and crowded Havana; if we add up their ages we could easily get a million years! So called “almendrones”, or classic American cars, had saved many Cuban lives and I believe they will continue doing it at least for the next decade.

How much they cost? Can non-Cubans take a ride? Same fee? Is it safe? How can these 60 years old cars still be working and being value for money? Well, as almost everything in Cuba, the answer is not that easy. You have to be open mind!
The concept of a shared cab comes from the fact that many clients can use the same route in their journey, so they will share the bill. In the real world, it works this way: taxi drivers had design routes, so everyone knows where to find them. These routes connect almost every spot of the city, according the distance covered is the fee of the journey. Every passenger pays same price for the ride, it doesn’t matter if you take the taxi for a shorter ride than the others. When you get out of the car, another passenger can stop the car and take your former place in it.

Every time a new client gets in the car, previously knowing its route, he pays the fee at the end of it. How much for a ride? It depends of the route. But usually they cost 10 Cuban National pesos, not 10 cuc! More or less the equivalent of 0.50 cuc per ride, you can see why it is an affordable choice. The most used route for visitors is the one connecting Old Havana and Vedado for 10 Cuban pesos per passenger. Now, you must know very well where are you going to, so you can ask properly to your taxi driver because there are different ways to go to Vedado from Old Havana (same when doing the opposite journey), and different taxis may take different avenues. You must stop them on the streets, using the typical action of raising a hand, then ask them their “path”; you’ll get a fast response. Don’t be shy and ask them, they’ll pleased to help you.

car

Normally there are five places in a classic American car: two at the front and three in the backside; you’ll be sitting in one of them, the rest will be filled with unknown passengers. But taking these kind of taxis also means getting in touch with different people, sometimes priceless characters! Safe? Yes, just face regular risks of taking a taxi. Perhaps if you are out late in the evening, it’s a better choice to grab a conventional yellow cab, but normally shared taxis are a low-risk choice. Another plus (depending how much you like loudly reggeaton) is the fact that almost 90% of them are considered moving discos: music is guaranteed! If you are going to like it, well that’s another history but certainly it’ll be a truly Cuban experience.

I’ve heard many times the phrase: “I want to experience the real Cuba, where real Cubans live”. Well, this is part of our routine. It’s the way for many people to get to their jobs: doctors, engineers, professors, students, bartender or a maid. Sometimes it is an easy issue, others a tricky one, colourful though; you’ll probably arrive home with new histories or latest gossip on the streets. At the end…that’s the real Cuba: hard but musical.

A Havana Club museum experience

A Havana Club museum experience

museum

Havana Club museum is one of those inexcusable places you must go for a visit in Havana, I can say more, even if you are a local! Rum and Cuba´s history are closely related; it will help you understand a bit more about our roots. Plus, and not less exciting at all, you can enjoy the amazing opportunity to try one (or two) of the best cocktails in the world.

A former mansion constructed in 1780 owned by one of the richest families of Havana at that time, the elegant building has been renovated through the ages yet preserving its exquisite colonial designs. Today property of Cuban government and managed by Habaguanex offices is a must to anyone walking among Old Havana narrow streets or just passing by the restored Havana Bay avenues.

inside

 

Very value for money, the entrance fee includes an English guided tour (you can choose different time) of approximately 40 minutes, where you’ll have a complete tour all over the place and the history of rum. Premium editions of Havana Club bottles from a classic 7 years to a Maximo Extra Añejo filling a majestic Murano crystal bottle are exhibited. A perfect ending cannot be other than a generous shot of Añejo 7 Años, also included in the entrance fee, at the gorgeous bar of the museum.

Today Havana Club is the most recognize Cuban rum; it must have good reasons to win this title in the “isle of rum”. Sugarcane is part of our culture; first introduced in Cuba by Christobal Colombus in 1493, the plantation found in the Caribbean soil a perfect combination of temperature, humidity and fertile valleys. At the beginnings the spirit wasn’t too refined: a very sweet and strong beverage that later on emerged as a Cuban national symbol and one of the most exquisite drinks of the world.

bottle

Worldwide famous characters have been declared devotees of the spirit. One of the most famous was Ernest Hemingway who fell in love with Cuban cocktails. An emblematic phrase of the American wrtiter: “…my Mojito at La Bodeguita del Medio and my Daiquiri at The Floridita”, had glorified these bars all over the time. Part of the museum experience is knowing a bit about different Cuban cocktails: Diquiri, Mojito, Canchanchara, Cubanito, Havana Especial and Mary Pickford. All kind of combinations that won´t let you go before trying one of them.

A totally recommended tour in Old Havana, and not only for those crazy by Mojitos. It´s a piece of Cuba. We can arrange a visit for you, just contact us at enquires@scuktravel.com or go to our website www.scuktravel.com