San Cristobal UK Blog

Blog for travelers

London is bringing Cuba to you

London is bringing Cuba to you!

Soho

The Cuban rum company Havana Club is hosting Casa Havana, a pop-up bar in Soho where you can experience the truly scent of Cuba in London’s most exciting area. There will be cocktails, music, dance, food even exclusive artwork. A not to be missed event; what best that a good Mojito on a sunny afternoon at Soho?

Havana Club is being always our most famous rum. Usually is the one Cubans like to use when preparing cocktails. 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.

Casa Havana will be taking place from 18th to 20th of August. For booking, time and dinner prices check their website. At Casa Havana they are showing genuine Cuban stuff, and a Brand Ambassador has created rum cocktail pairings to be enjoyed alongside the gourmet food and learning a bit about Cuba’s unique rum producing heritage. Location? This guys are placed at 15 Bateman Street, Soho, W1D 3AQ; closest tube station is Tottenham Court Road.

Delicious Cuban food in London

There is a wonderful place in London, well…two of them, one in Waterloo and other in Smithfield that are serving really nice Cuban food, drinks and also hosting cool events with live music. A place named Cubana; the one in Waterloo is located at 48 Lower Marsh, London. The other is in Smithfield at 59 Charterhouse St, London.

cubana

Trying to preserve original Cuban food yet taking the best of UK their mains and sides courses are made by prime 100% British beef. Their menu includes traditional, slow-cooked Cuban dishes alongside tapas, Latin American specialities and barbacoa dishes prepared on out robata grill – plenty of vegetarian choices too. They also run regular tastings and master-classes at Cubana Smithfield, including Mojitos, Cuban Cocktails, Coffee Roasting & Tasting, Sourdough Breads and Latin-American Patisserie

So, if you love Cuba, all of it: food, drink, music, dancing…and environment, then these places are a must if you are currently living in London. A good advice from your travel agency San Cristobal UK.

Just walking in Cuba

Just walking in Cuba

Far away from stressful Western civilization’s ties, a place where you cannot have Google Maps to find your way out (or in) it’s for more than a few people the perfect location for self-discovering tourism. If you are an adventurer soul and want to enjoy at most your trip to Cuba, then here you’ll find some tips about getting around the island and getting in touch with local people.

havana walking

What a better way to knowing a different country than walking around. I believe there are two main types of tourists those looking for a relaxing break while enjoying the best assets of the destination and then those wanting to discover the truly essence of a country: their people. If you aim to be the second type and if you are in Cuba, no better way doing it than getting “lost” in Havana’s peculiar streets or taking unique shots of countryside life.

You can think in lot of negative aspects related to Cuban infrastructure: lack of top quality services, overbooking hotels or lack of internet access. But instead of seeking solutions you can take advantages of those. Cuba has unique opportunities for walkers and restless minds; main cities and remote towns give you the chance to get in touch with local people and rural life.

hav
You must be aware where you are all the time; is highly recommended to have a Map and a guide book (and yes, those from Lonely Planet are quite good), also a pen and a notebook to take notes is a wise thought. In big cities as Havana, Santiago or Cienfuegos is easier to visit them and get orientated by tour guides and locals almost everywhere in the main tourist locations; but in smaller towns it might be a bit harder.
Walking in the island brings you into contact with nature, places you couldn’t imagine to find in here and authentic sceneries. Cities are crowded and full of life; people always talking and laughing and singing! You’ll be surprised how many guitars and street singers you are going to find without looking for them. But getting deep in the countryside, close to the mountains is a priceless experience. Small villages surrounding caves, mountains, rivers and lakes are fountains of joy. You will pass farmers and you’ll see how they do waves and smile; how grandmothers take care of their little grandchildren usually yelling at them if chasing a ball on the road or climbing a guava tree.

baracoaBaracoa city

Cuba is also quite active setting up and taking care of national parks. Many of them are breathtaking (we can recommend Parque Humbolt in Baracoa in Eastern Cuba); if nature and wildlife if your thing you are in the right place then. From Pinar del Rio, where waterfall and light climbings in places like Soroa, Viñales or Las Terrazas (in this last you can have a canopy ride) are amazing options to East Cuba where you find the biggest mountains and also climbing opportunities. Sierra Maestra’s mountains and El Pico Turquino, the highest mountain of the country and also part of the Cuban Revolution history is the perfect match if you want to feel the truly creole Cuban roots. Places to go in Cuba, there are many; and you’ll be surprised how different they can be. Contact us in www.scuktravel.com and we can help you arrange the perfect holidays, in a country where history, music, rivers and beaches are mixed as one.

A bit of Cuban taste

A bit of Cuban taste

Cuban food

When travelling abroad or discovering new places there is a direct link with local food. Nothing more invigorating than sit on a table and have a delicious meal after a busy hot day walking around Havana city or any other village of the country. You should know then a bit about our history and culinary organization, the one taking care of preserve Cuban traditions when talking about good food. Top places and restaurant are all around the city these days…just give it a shot!

The Chef’s Association of the Republic of Cuba is one of the most relevant entities nowadays when an increasing tourism in Cuba is becoming a real fact. Food quality and a good service are the highlights in today’s agenda of this association. The association was born in 1972 and founding chefs still being top names of Cuban cuisine. In 1981, all Cuban culinary professionals gathered it under legal status of the law unifying in one all the small groups and organizations previously created. The Chef’s Association was also aimed to dignify the profession and take it to a new level of perfection.

Today it still playing an important role. No secret that we must balance international influences with traditional food. The right amount of both sides are the key of success. We are not the Basques in terms of innovations or refined food; however, in the last few years the quality of our chefs and originals courses based on Cuban traditional meals are raising the level and making the modern Cuban food an exciting topic.
A lot of new restaurants, top quality ones, for sure ready to achieve a Michelin star are headed by great Cuban chefs. The quality of our food is already a well-known fact. Perhaps it was a different scenario 15 years ago, but today glamorous and intriguing spots all around the country, especially in Havana, are honoring local traditions and offering unique culinary experiences.

The Fifth Edition of Cuba Excellences Prize 2015, one of the most recognize prizes in the country awarded chef Ismel Navarro Torres with the International Gourmet Prize. This chef is a rising star in the Cuban land, showing an adventurer side of modern cuisine. He was specially recognized for the rescue work of culinary traditions and an exquisite and refined creole food in emblematic places of Havana as the local famous Mimosa, La Flor de Loto, Los Nardos, El Asturianito, El Trofeo and recently opened D’Lirio restaurants just in front of the Capitol in Old Havana.

Restaurants Capitolio

Tons of new restaurants are bringing new options to be delighted with food. Not only creole or local, but international. We can talk about the top quality Italian restaurant Nero di Sepia, located in Miramar town and headed by chef Don Ciccio where the Pope Francis went during his visit in Havana. Another 5-star place seafood specialized is El Litoral with a superb location, in front if the sea in Malecon Avenue; also Nazdarovie Restaurant, a must for Russian food lovers, a unique spot nearby Central Havana in Malecon Avenue as well. The most recognize Cuban cuisine restaurants nowadays are San Cristobal in Central Havana, where President Barack Obama and his family went a night for a meal and Ivan Justo Chef, also visited by American top stars. All of this places deserve a try, but a tip! You should call and make a booking for a table, they are usually crowded.

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

Cayo Santa Maria, a natural resort

Cayo Santa Maria, a natural resort

Cayo Santa Maria

In the north coast of Villa Clara province (Central Cuba) a natural paradise is welcomes you promising an unforgettable experience. Just few years since the first hotel was constructed, still barely touched by man’s hands. Exotic nature and breathtaking landscapes are waiting after almost 50 kilometres of causeway; seagulls and pristine turquoise clear waters will leave you in paradise, literally!

When talking about Cuba or just fantasizing a trip, gorgeous beaches and white sands cannot be missed; and it is, indeed, a must when visiting the island. The North Cays of Villa Clara are getting exciting places to go seeking peace, rest and also top quality services.  Top hotelier brands as Melia, Royalton and H10 are managing the main properties. You can say is kind of a perfect “S” combination: sea, sun, seagulls and service.

Beaches

Good beaches in Cuba, there are many of them; but being in a cay is a different experience: is like feeling in the middle of nowhere but surrounded by virginal lands, nice people around and enough comfort to not complain about it.

x

Beach line of Warwick Cayo Santa Maria.

More than 10 kilometres of white sands in the north coast made this cay a perfect “Sun and Beach” destination. Although the width of sand area isn’t that massive like in Varadero for example, is good enough for a total relaxation. Running on this shoreline is a wonderful experience: feeling the breeze on your face in the early morning and admiring the incredible blue colour of the sea is just priceless. Is not that populous as other destinations which make it very desirable for tourists and locals.

Flora and Fauna

Orquid

Photo of an Orchid taken few miles from Cayo Santa Maria.

Cayo Santa Maria is home of mid-size flamingo and seagull’s colonies. The first ones are a bit more complicated to watch but seagulls, they are not shy at all. Sit or lay down on a sun lounger watching the dusk, either at the beach or a swimming pool, and you guaranteed yourself a quite spectacular show. The sound, the sight and emotion attached are hard to describe. You can also find iguana and mollusk’s colonies; different bird species like carpenter, falcon and tocororo birds live in this piece of land. Tocororo is Cuban national bird and they are many reasons for it; it’s a tricolored bird: blue, red and white just like our national flag plus this peculiar animal cannot live in captivity, if so it will die; representing Cubans sovereignty. As the fauna, the flora is quite outstanding here: more than 248 species including 91 medicinal, 72 timber-yielding, 41 decorative species.

A long way from Havana

If you are going from Havana, then the road trip is more or less 6 hours, but they can be more fun than you might expect. To get into the Cay you must go through several small towns of Central Cuba; all of them full of history and good vibes. People around is really kind, a bit different from Havana or perhaps Eastern Cuba. This region of the country is being the best one in agricultural business: the best fruits and vegetables are produced in these lands. A tip! Try the pineapple, its sweetness and smell is unique, and right now is the top of the season. For photography lovers it’s a show just passing by this tiny and full of life towns, so don’t get just the beach and hotel experience, the whole package is the real deal. If you fancy a trip to Cayo Santa Maria or just knowing a bit more about it, contact us at www.scuktravel.com we'll be more than pleased to help you! 

Trendy bars for an unforgettable night in Havana

Trendy bars for an unforgettable night in Havana

Bars

In the last three to four years Havana’s night-out has recovered a bit of that craziness and late night vibe she was so famous back in the 50’s. From university’s students looking for nice drinks to the “cool kids” hanging out with famous artists and singers, more than a few bars had successfully grow up around the city. Main locations still being Vedado town, Old Havana and Miramar. Where to go for real fun? Just keep reading!

Cool places to hang out, good food, nice environment and even better music are today’s top priorities to pick the bar of the night. Despite there aren’t that many, if you compare it with some other big capital cities, private locations to seriously think about it, are getting more and more competitive. Few years ago, and we are talking less than five years, where to go for fun at night was a tricky one. Nowadays things may be changing…for good! From French style Cafés to have quiet chat and good cocktails with friends to those trendy and posh discos for a literally wild night, Havana is becoming a very interesting city to go around in late hours.

Bolabana Bar

Bolabana
Placed at 39 and 50 streets in Playa municipality, it’s quite a trendy place even for local people. A contemporary and minimalist style, white colour and playing one of the best DJ’s in Havana. Bolabana Bar opens its doors to a wide variety of customers. You can go early night for some tapas: sushi and Cuban “tostones” (fried plantain) are famous here while listen nice music with gorgeous cocktails (a gin & tonic highly recommended) in a quiet atmosphere. But if you go after mid-night then you’ll getting yourself into a serious dancing experience. “Cool kids” from Havana will arrived, those wearing seasonal clothes and spending tons of money on their drinks, but also good fun and dancing. Is not for everyone, but if you like having these memories, you will love it.

Espacios Bar

Espacios
One of the favorites of many youngers in Havana, Espacios is a very busy one. Always with a queue if you go late, but fun is guaranteed. Also in Playa town, on 10th Street and Fifth Avenue, Espacios has a nice environment to try; a small location but different spaces: a nice terrace plus indoors wood tables showing a free style deco and stunning bars. Always a good vibe and nice people, usually those really down to earth and aiming a good dance. A tip! If you get “stuck” late at night, and feel like eating an elephant to keep going on drinks, try their homemade Pizza, you can smell it from the oven. Go there for an epic time in Cuba.

King Bar

king bar
This one is a must for those seeking a wild dancing! In the middle of 23rd Avenue in Vedado, King Bar is the right place to free your body by a local DJ. You pay a 7 cuc cover entry to spend it on drinks. It’s a local favorite these days. Huge screens, great music from Billboards Top Hits to Cuban reggeaton and of course, nice bartenders. A tip! Is you wait until midnight, then you’ll get free shots of Havana Club rum. Why not?

Sarao’s Bar

sarao
A very modern architecture, you won’t feel you are in Cuba. Spotless tables, a genuinely impressive bar, white walls and black curtains make this place a very trendy one. Visited by locals and foreigners, get ready to see high heels and chic girls going around. A bit pricey, but you can enjoy 4 cuc stunning cocktails though. Live music, young spirit, a bit posh sometimes, but well…is part of the fun! On 17 and E streets, in Vedado, Sarao will definitely show you a different perspective of Havana.

The Magic Flute

A magic location, without hesitation. A top floor bar, in front of the Malecon and the American Embassy in Vedado, the view is just breathtaking. Nice service, smart deco (even a swimming pool!) and live shows make this place a very interesting spot. Watch the twilight while enjoying a Cuban Mojito…that must be a priceless experience!

Havana, why a wonder one?

Havana, why a wonder one?

Havana

In just few hours, on June 7th Havana will be officially claimed as a World Wonder City. The vintage town founded in the XVI century by the Spaniards, the most wanted spot by Americans in the beginning of 1900’ and witness of Fidel Castro’s Revolution since 1959 is now a wonder city. Also the capital of all Cubans this Havana: a mixed, flavoured, confused, ruined, renewed and sexy place is being selected by the New 7 Wonders Foundation as one of the Seven Wonders of the World Cities.

Despite some negative criticisms since the new went out on December 7, 2014 during the third contest organized by the prestigious institution, tomorrow Cuba’s capital will be honoured with this amazing title. A total of 1200 cities from 220 countries were fighting in the contest, but only seven could made it: Beirut (Lebanon), Doha (Qatar), Durban (South Africa), Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), La Paz (Bolivia), Vigan (Philippines) and Havana (Cuba).

How they did it? The vote was totally popular with a worldwide representation. Millions of people around the globe voted by internet or their mobile phones through sms (including Cubans by the way)! The final result recognizes not only the historic value of the cities but their culture and people. Bernard Weber, president of the foundation said: “Havana received this distinction because it represents the global diversity of urban society”.

Nice Havana

This contest recognizes the architectural and idiosyncrasies values as main ones. But well…I can bet lot of cities around the world have majestic constructions and a richer culture than Havana. What is that keep people trapped in Cuban atmosphere? To answer this, I may have to go to our clients and friend’s experiences; it doesn’t feel right saying why from a Cuban born point of view. Is the good quality of the music on the streets, the natural Cuban heat compared with the cold laws of socialism, a superb dancing in any corner, the histories of Afro-Cubans religion trapped in stunning walls of former Spanish palaces, is the unique way Cubans approach to you offering any kind of experiences: from cigars to exciting excursions in hidden places around Cuba.

One a day I heard from a foreigner friend: you can read tons of books about Cuba’s history but nothing gets closer to the reality, you must come here and live it; otherwise you’ll be foolish yourself. That sounds a bit rude, but he might be right. I can’t explain how an “habanero” (Havana born person) feels when he returns to the city from abroad. It is true Havana is a hard one to live, really hard. But yet, it has a special scent. Spicy and forbidden perhaps, but nothing compares the moment while walking by the seaside on Malecon Avenue and watching the sunset you can instantly feel how that massive sun still burns, how people goes and quietly sit at the wall staring the horizon like looking for answers; how kids from rough areas are taking a bath in the dangerous coast but they can’t stop enjoying it or a couple trying to solve any kind of personal issues when in that right moment, an old lady with a big smile approach trying to sell a flower to the gentleman playing Romeo role. Havana is heat and cold, is devil dressed as a beautiful “mulata” sometimes, is the excitement of discover that. Called the non-sleeping city, you can never be prepared for what can happen in the next minute. Is feeling the uncertain all the time in a sexy island.

Paradise for photographers!

Photo

It is also a must for photography lovers. The blue sea, the Old Havana’s architecture, the kids playing in a corner with home-made toys, the colorful shirts of bici-taxis’s drivers or a stunning Daiquiri prepared in…well, almost everywhere here! From the 1200 in the contest, Havana ranked among the 25 most photographed places in the world and was ranked number 21 in the ranking. Don’t wait to see this place. You must come, and we can help you! Contact us: www.scuktravel.com will be honoured!