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Best ice-creams in Havana: Gelato, Helad’oro and Palenque

Best ice-creams in Havana: Gelato, Helad’oro and Palenque

icecream

Everlasting summer’s temperatures in Cuba can be quite a hard thing to fight. You’ll need to refresh continuously: carry a fan in the purse (one of the benefits of having one for ladies), have a sip of fresh water or even better, a Mojito sip. But what about a tasty, creamy and freeze handmade ice-cream? You cannot deny this might be a piece of heaven while walking in Havana. 

Cubans have always loved ice-cream. I remember when I attended to elementary school, we were all always waiting for the bell to ring and go for an endless run to the nearest cafeteria and buy an ice-cream cone or an ice lolly; not just me but the entire school couldn’t wait for it. Years passed, and later in university things only changed…a bit. We won’t run this time, but there was always time for friends and ice-cream; and I bet there’ll always be.

vintage
If you have been in Havana before and walked around Vedado town, you have seen for sure one of the greatest monuments to ice-cream in the city. Called Coppelia, this spot placed in 23 and L, central core of Vedado is probably one of the few places that I can imagine every single local have visited at least twice: our biggest ice-cream parlor. Sadly, today the quality is not what is used to be in the past (I’ve grown hearing my grandma histories when they use to go there and at least 20 different flavours were offered) and the queue to get in is usually giant.
However, new places are rising in the capital. Italian influences, modern equipment and European styles ice-cream shops can be found during a walk in some areas of Havana. From Old Havana to Miramar, ice-cream still fighting our endless summer.

vogueicecream
Gelato

Named after the Italian word for ice-cream, this place has become one of my very own favorites to go for a cone. Placed in 1st Avenue and 44A in Miramar offers a great product, lots of flavours from Almonds, Nutella, Mojito sorbet, Dark Chocolate, Wild berries, Whisky nuts to the classic Chocolate. The owner is an Italian guy, who brought all the equipment from Italy, also the technique and basic products. Starting from 1.50 CUC (meaning a massive cone) you’ll delight yourself in a quick visit; some yummy desserts and drinks are also offered. An extremely nice environment, spotless tables, air conditioned and open air areas and a very good service are guaranteed. Plus, as part of the same business there is a Sea-food restaurant just next to Gelato and it looks quite promising.

Helad’oro

Imagine yourself walking in Old Havana, its narrows streets, tons of people, unique facades (some refurbished colonial Havana and others just months from being dust and rubble). Then, just couple of blocks from Havana’s cathedral, and barely 200 meters from the iconic Bodeguita del Medio, stands a magic place. Yes, because when you enter, coming from all the sweat and the heat and rough Havana, and get hit by the cold air, and all the smells and colours, it’ll feel like Wonderland. Placed at Aguiar and Empedrado streets I believe is becoming a must when walking around. Top quality ice-cream, not cheap ones, but definitely spot on. From 2 CUC you can choose between different sizes containers and cones, and many flavours. Must recommend are Ferrero Rocher ice-cream, Rum raisins or Almond chocolate; you can try some of the fruity ones, like mango, mamey (a very unique tropical fruit) or lemon, they look yummy.

Palenque

Then we have Palenque! This is a most famous restaurant in Havana, known by Cuban creole food; and now it has a plus: an incredible ice-cream. Located in Playa town, it’s quite far from Central Havana but still easy to get there; lots of important places are around and as mentioned, everyone knows this spot in Havana. The ice-cream place is really nice; cool design and exquisite things to bite! They guarantee at least 20 different flavours and in total produce more or less 40. Their famous Yogurt, Cheesecake and Green Apple are available most of the time. So, if you are nearby…make it happen and give yourself a good treat.

New wifi areas, apps to chat and Pokemons in Havana!

New wifi areas, apps to chat and Pokemons in Havana!

malecon

Just few hours ago Etecsa, the national telecommunication Company of Cuba, announced a full Wifi access through Malecon Avenue, the longest seaside promenade of the Caribbean. Cuba is always being a different country and not only politically speaking. As you’ll see, technology is not our best asset. Public Internet is quite a new topic here in the island. But today is lot easier to open a browser to search, or share some pictures in Instagram or just click in that thumb up on Facebook than it used to be.

There is only one IT company in Cuba, and of course a state owner one. You cannot have a data plan, that service just doesn’t exist for common people here; get connected to the world still possible though. Couple of years ago new Wifi areas start growing all around the country, and mainly in Havana. When you reach an Etecsa Wifi network you go straight away to a site asking you for code and a password, don’t panic! It’s as easy as buying an Internet card, a tinny green card with a code number and a password. Usually these cards allow you 30 minutes of Internet; they cost 2 CUC per half an hour. To buy them can be a tricky issue around the city; the smartest thing is to buy them at your hotel, normally at the reception desk. If they run out of it (not a very atypical thing), then you can buy them in any Etecsa’s shop around the city. You will also find people selling them on the streets; but careful, these are not legal workers and they sell them overpriced, what costs 2 CUC they’ll charge you 3CUC or more; just a piece of thought to have in mind.


But where can you go to catch a Wifi network? Every hotel has one, so you only need to switch on your phone, tablet or laptop’s Wifi. That’s why you’ll see there are lots of people around hotels with their phone and earphones plugged, that seem to be hypnotized; they are surfing in the Internet through that hotel Wifi (again, once you are connected you need to pay by these cards).

old hav
Every town has an open area with Wifi access; they are usually parks. If you are around Old Havana, as there are plenty hotels the best way is get in one and then search for their Wifi. If you are in Vedado the tips are slightly different though. Here will be easier just go to any access point; the most famous are La Rampa (on 23rd Street), Linea and L park and 15 and 14 park. Plus, any hotel network of course.

Malecon will be also connected!

Just few hours ago was announced a full coverage of Wifi in Malecon Avenue; our greatest and largest one (see our post about Malecon promenade). These are very good news; it means more than 5 milles of Wifi, and a great seat! 

No video calls by Skype, but…

No Skype, WhatsApp neither Facebook video calls works in Cuba. Their platform design is not compatible with ours. But there is one app that runs perfectly; it’s called IMO. You can download it on your phone and use it while in Cuba to video chat with friends and family all over the world, they must have as well; it works for iOS and Android. Another tip! AppStore doesn’t work here; so download and buy all the apps you believe you might need before coming. And if you can get an offline city map…that’ll be genius!

Even Pokemons are around!

Yes! Pokemon Go works in Havana! At least 10 tinny digital friend have been caught in Cuba’s capital; of course you need to be online which basically means connected in some Wifi network. Pikachu was founded at Fabrica de Arte!

Welcome to Fusterland!

Welcome to Fusterland!

fysrter
Cuban artists are known for their unique way to show up their work. From walls painted in any corner in Havana to massive exposition in local artist’s hometown, if innovative and different styles is what you are looking for you must make a stop in a very peculiar place few kilometers from Central Havana.

heart of fuster

 

Jaimanitas is a small seaside town in Western Havana where artist Jose Rodriguez Fuster has built a unique art exhibition named Casa de Fuster (Fuster’s Home) yet today it’s lot more than a private property scenario. The Cuban artist and designer has revolutionized the area; today Jaimanitas is known as Fusterland and every corner exhales a different air.

fusterland

From 5th Avenue (the main Avenue) you can see colourful bus-stops and original houses entrances. A memorial to Gaudi (Barcelona’s famous designer) and a unique Family Doctor’ House are the first creations showed. Not far away, barely 300 metres from 5th Avenue is waiting the open-air exposition made by Fuster. Here you will find a different perspective of Cuban art; full of colours and different shapes this man has shown his very own view of what Cuba means. From national flags to our Virgin of the Charity (our national saint), unique decorations and a massive artwork Fusterland is very interesting cultural spot for those seeking a bit more of deep Cuba.

You can easily spend an hour taking pictures and “climbing” the different floors. When in the top you can have an original view: nearby houses and buildings with a touch of Fuster, even water’s tank placed in the top of a Microbrigada building (buildings built in a specific period of Fidel Castro Revolution famous for they not so good constructive quality) are full of live.

town

Outside the main place you’ll find many small business and people selling souvenirs; also cafeterias and small restaurants. The social impact of this project is very easy to get. It’s been a direct source of new jobs always employing local people and developing new places around.
It has taken more than 10 years to Fuster to create this dreamland. Today Jaimanitas has a different aura, its very own identity. There’s not a place like this anywhere else around. It’s a truly example of what can be done when people has the right willing; still being an inspiration for all the visitors, local or foreigners. A place to have in mind…

Get there is not that easy yet not impossible. You can hire a taxi or join an excursion trip. We can arrange it for you in San Cristobal UK. Just let us know!

 

And September arrived!

And September arrived!

havana

Summer is gone! Well at least that´s what supposed to happens when September arrives. Even when hot days decline to leave us, beach time, kids playing all the time in every corner or carnivals along Malecon are gone for a while. This doesn´t mean fun must end. New projects and things to do will appear soon enough.


If you are in Havana and looking for a good time, live music concerts can be a smart choice to get in touch with local people and enjoy one of our best assets: music and dancing.

Cuban popular music

When in the Caribbean island, you must dance properly! There is no best way to achieve that goal than giving yourself a straight shot of salsa. We’ve been always proud from our musical background and their significance in our own history and culture. When in Havana we can recommend you some live concerts of today’s top musicians in top places. Here we start our list:
At Casa de la Musica of Miramar: here you can choose between Pedrito Calvo (former Van Van singer) on Tuesdays night or Bamboleo (only girls in this group) on Sundays afternoon.
3rd and 8 Street in Miramar: we can find Alain Daniel (one of the youngest promises of popular Cuban music with many hits so far) performing every Wednesday night.
And our last pick is Dos Gardenias where Haila Maria Mompie, one of our biggest singers is gigging every Wednesday at 10pm.

Trova music

Trova is one of our favorites rhythms; there are very few things you cannot do with a single guitar and a marvelous voice; one thing I love about it is how people believes in it and follow their artist almost anywhere in the city. Performances like the one Ivette Cepeda offers in Hotel Telegrafo every week on Fridays and the composer Ray Fernandez in Diablo Tun Tun on Thursdays are quite remarkable with a deep touch of Cuban flavor.

dancing

Different events around the country

Habanarte
Habanarte will be held from September 11 to the 21st; is an event that involves the participation of artists of all kinds offering special performances added to the usual cultural program in Havana. The main goal: bring to light a true picture of what is happening in Cuban culture today, from the traditional to the most innovative art performance.
This year the event includes a Special Exhibition at Centro de Desarrollo de las Artes Visuales presenting performances by dance companies as Rosario Cárdenas, Ballet Español de Cuba, Danza Abierta and Conjunto Folklórico Nacional; musical performances by Aldo López Gavilán, Interactivo, Gerardo Alfonso, Polito Ibáñez, Raúl Torres, Frank Delgado, Van Van, Bamboleo, Charanga Habanera, among others.

International Photography Contest

topes

From September 12 to 17, at Topes de Collantes (in Central Cuba) barely 20 kilometres from the beautiful Trinidad city will be held the 5th International Nature Photography Contest. This area, easily one of the best of Cuba has unique landscapes and a rich biodiversity: rivers and streams, mountains, exotic nature and fauna, crystalline natural pools, waterfalls…all you ever dream. All contestants will be looking for the best landscape picture. Want to join them? I bet it will be more fun and relaxed that a competitive event, even when top Cuban photographers will be there for sure.
These are just some of the most exciting things to do around the island this September; so if you are aiming to a fun and unforgettable trip, pick one of them, you won’t regret it!

5 Esquinas Trattoria: a piece of Italy in Old Havana

5 Esquinas Trattoria: a piece of Italy in Old Havana

trattoria

Italian food is being always one of the greatest, and Cubans know the fact very well. Even when you are not in Italy, and the typical thing when abroad is to try local food, you can give yourself an unforgettable experience one day while walking Havana’s narrow streets. From creamy Risottos to fresh seafood grills, this restaurant placed just in the core of Old Havana town is an excellent option to enjoy an excellent plate of food and an unequal environment.

There is an area in Old Havana called La Loma del Angel (The angel’s hill), a mystic one. In this “hill” was born the greatest novel of XIX century in Cuban literature by the author Cirilo Villaverde. The Cuban writer was once seduced by this girl: Cecilia Valdes; according to the local people he saw this beautiful lady just walking around. His heart was caught immediately and seduced quick enough to create one of the best novel of Cuban literature. Today the place still breathing Cecilia’s aroma: a bronze statue reminds everyone passing by that this piece of land in Old Havana will be always hers.

 

But today, Cecilia is sharing her charms with a couple of new places. New and interesting places that are bringing a different aura to sometimes decay buildings in town. These places are top qualities, and I cannot think in any others just like these. Best quality food, smart people, unique designs and a mystic aroma make them a must in today’s Havana.

Seductive setting

 

In this week will be talking about 5 Esquinas Trattoria (5 Corners Trattoria), an Italian cuisine restaurant that arises as one of the best places in the city. A seductive setting: wood chairs, huge colonial windows, nice lighting and rustic kitchen design are some of the features hard to forget; and yes! Literally five corners!

oventrattoria
Through fresh pastas, wood ovens baking extra thin pizzas, mushroom risottos, seafood meals and of course, an exclusive Italian wine menu, you can easily be transported to any corner of Italy in a blink. Many different types of fresh pasta and sauces, also lasagnas and Ñoquis, are exclusives in this restaurant. One of the famous dishes are the firewood pizzas; according Italian chefs: the flavours and texture are magnificent.

tiramisu

But surprises and delicious meals are not meant to end yet; desserts cannot be others that tiramisus, chocolate tarts and cheesecakes. All of them perfectly handmade. I tried one of the best tiramisus of my life here, so very recommend it! A small family business, run by a really nice dude that is always around the place, serving and putting all the effort to make clients happier as possible, reminds us how you must work to manage a successful restaurant in Havana.

trattoriaatnight

 

Open for lunch and then, until midnight. You can eat inside the place, enjoying the flavours from the very beginning, admiring the wooded oven and chefs making art pieces; or you can go outdoor where softly lighting and unique views of real Havana and its historic surroundings will go deep into your mind and take you back hundreds of years, when if Cecilia Valdes was walking around, she’ll fall in love with this little slice of Italy in her own Old Havana.

A piece of advice from your travel company San Cristobal UK, only working for you to have an incredible time in Cuba. Contact us www.scuktravel.com or follow us in Facebook as Tours to Cuba, we’ll keep you posted!