San Cristobal UK Blog

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A trendy alley in Old Havana

A trendy alley in Old Havana

 El Callejón del Chorro (The Stream Alley) is a 30 metres dead end narrow street hosting an Experimental Graph Workshop and great restaurants in the heart of Old Havana, just next to the cathedral. History, art, music and exquisite cuisine are harmoniously living together in this magic spot.

Eutimia

 

The Stream Alley owns its name to a drainage channel back in the XVI century. This place was the end point of 11 kilometres’ channel, source of water to the entire San Cristobal village (former Havana’s village name) directly connected from Almendares River, the main river of the city (called La Chorrera back in time). This alley was the right place where people living in this part of the city came looking for a plentiful water supply in the Swamp Square, today the magnificent Cathedral Square.

But many years had passed since then. Today El Callejón del Chorro is a perfect spot to chill out and enjoy the greatest pleasures of Havana. An interesting mixture of live music, art galleries and Cuban flavours… literally! In this small area are placed one of the most popular restaurants and cafes in Old Havana. Names like Esto no es un café, restaurant Doña Eutimia and Bianchini Pastry Shop are vastly known in the city; in the first one you’ll probably enjoy one of the most spectacular cocktails in whole Cuba, in Doña Eutimia you´ll try the very best traditional Cuban cuisine in its top level and at Bianchini’s you’ll find one of the best breads and pastries in Havana. Plus, attractive artistic venues as Victor Manuel Gallery and the Experimental Graph Workshop.

Doña Eutimia

Dona-Eutimia

This enchanting, private and personal paladar is the perfect location to sit down and relax in front of the Experimental Graph Workshop. Selected by the American magazine Newsweek as one of the best restaurants in Havana; this “hidden spot” is a very trendy place to go these days, so a massive tip: do your booking before going, at least 24 hours earlier or give us the chance to arrange it for you! Doña Eutimia has a very modern design with comfy sofas, cushions and a really nice background music. This is the right place to taste the creolle Cuban food; not too sophisticated but believe me, delicious as you can imagine! Highly recommended are the tasty croquettes, malanga fritters with honey and the house roasted chicken. This is not a cheap place but not too expensive though; price and quality relation is very well balanced.

Esto no es un Café

Esto no es un cafe

Thematic and multifunctional, this popular private restaurant offers a very interesting experience: Cuban, international and fusion food. You can breathe a young aroma, contemporary environment and the mixture of artistic influences in food. Also the design is really suggestive. Not a big place, smaller than Dona Eutimia yet totally relaxing. The first time I went here was recommended by a friend and she said: you cannot miss a Daiquiri. She was totally right! The best daiquiris (you can have strawberry, banana and lemon) that we, relative young Cuban people ;) have ever tried! Highly recommended are the lamb stew with blue cheese and the Cuban ripped beef. Very affordable, locally trendy and a nice atmosphere will take you back again…and again. They are also famous for their poster: “no stalker at the corner” because you’ll see many people in the entry of the alley trying to get you in any of the restaurant of the area. But none of them working for this restaurant and yet, you’ll never find it empty! 

Bianchini Pastry Shop

Bianchini

One of the best pastry confectionary in Havana will delight you if you give them a shot. The smell of fresh homemade bread, crunchy pastries and luxurious Cuban dark chocolate cannot be missed. At least for a cup of tea and a muffin…this is a compulsory visit for sweet lovers.
Nearby the alley you have important and attractive places to go around as Casa de la Obrapia, the Colonial Art Museum, restaurants El Patio and Bodeguita del Medio and really nice hotels like Tejadillo and Marques de Prado Ameno. For more informations contact us: www.scuktravel.com

Top Western Cuba beaches

Top Western Cuba beaches

Cuban beach
Many visitors claim they want to see the real Cuba: get in touch with people, listen their music, eat their food, feel as a local and not only get the beach resort experience. Well, the truth is that greatest assets of the country are not placed in its coasts; however, you cannot dismiss the fact that we love beaches, Cubans and foreigners. We couldn’t live without dip into the sea in summer near to 34 degrees!

Placed in the middle of the Caribbean, Cubans are always boasting about having the best beaches in the area. I couldn’t say how right are they or not, but what I can do is to assure you we do have incredible beaches all around the country. White sand, clear blue water, endless beach lines and terrific water temperature are some of the features you’ll fall in love with.

Western Cuba
The northern coast of Pinar del Rio (West Havana) is a paradise of clear turquoise waters and coral islands. Also known as the land of cigars, Pinar del Rio is certainly one of the best places to go around for a while. Here you’ll find beautiful beaches and breath-taking mountains. Here you won’t find long beach lines yet small cays (Cuba has more than 4000 small cays and islets) are strongly recommended. Places you cannot miss are Cayo Levisa and Cayo Jutia.

Cayo Levisa

Cayo Levisa

 

Cayo Levisa is a small coral island ideal for snorkeling and diving with plenty space on the beach; not many hotels but tons of palm trees and sunbathing spaces. Cayo Jutia, also in the north coast, has a narrow but long beach perfect for a day visit if you are staying in Viñales (there is no hotel here), however you’ll be delighted with the food served in a beach bar, fresh seafood in a hidden spot where you won’t need more than your swim suit and sunglasses.

Also highly recommended Guanahacabibes area is a must if you are in this side of the country; hard to pronounce (even for Cubans I must said) this is a truly world gem. If you look in the map you’ll see we are talking about the very Western land of Cuba. A UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, this region of open landscapes will give you a different perspective from the rest of the country. Peaceful and mind-blowing, natural and spotless, green and blue…touches of heaven in Earth. You have two places to stay here: Maria La Gorda (ideal for snorkeling) and Cabo San Antonio the truly border between the island and the Caribbean Sea; any of them really worth a try.

Jibacoa

Jibacoa

Just 60 km from Havana, on the east side, Jibacoa is an excellent option if you are short of time to visit a nice white sand beach. Here you can find private local options to stay and some hotels as well. Very popular within local people, this beach might not be the best in the island but has a unique attractive: the closer coral reef from Havana. Plus, tasty food served in local restaurants, a long white sand beach and really nice people around might get your whole attention.

Varadero

Varadero
Then we must talk about one of our national treasures: Varadero, our most famous beach resort. Located in Matanzas province (just next to Havana by the east) Varadero is a touristic engine; packages sold from all around the world offer a fortnight at the beach, not even a single Havana visit. I don’t believe at all this is the way to know Cuba, if you do this then you’ll only get a small piece of what really matters, a really small one; yet this is a highly recommended place to go for two or three nights if you are beach crazy lover. One the best white sands in the world are here: warm, extra-clear and many shade waters might be the perfect solution to a very stressed life. World class hotels to stay will make this journey even better; more than a hundred of them and top brands as Melia, Blau and Iberostar are more than pleased to get you in a 5 star all-inclusive experience. This isn’t paradise just for visitors; is very common people from Havana going to Varadero every year and stay a few days as their perfect holiday break, so you’ll probably find more Cubans that you might expect in this piece of heaven.

Contact us! We’ll happy to help you book your next holiday!!!

Cuba, hedonistic yet hard to understand country

Cuba, hedonistic yet hard to understand country

American cars

When meeting foreigner visitors around Cuba or when a Cuban is abroad, is really hard not get into deep cultural, politic and social talking. We still being a peculiar country in Western civilization surrounded by beaches, breathtaking landscapes, intoxicating music and different people. A good friend one day asked me, what is that your people have that makes Cuba such an intriguing country? Even when I still don’t know how to answer that, I can give you some hints.


On holiday in Cuba you’ll certainly have the feeling of travelling back in time: vintage American cars from the 50’, decay banners claiming socialist Soviet style thoughts and enchanting (sometimes crumbling) architecture will be your first impressions. But let talk about our roots and history, it may help you understand us a bit.

Cuba is a blend of cultures: Spain colonized us back in the 16th century bringing slaves from Africa to work on plantations; then more than a few English, French and Chinese people came during the 18th and 19th to the island seeking freedom and a wealthier life. In the begging of the 1900’ the Americans got in, and until 1959 Cuba, mainly Havana, was known as Hollywood playground. One of the biggest casinos, cabarets, oak bars, stylish mansions and French boutiques “naturally” flourished in every corner of the dazzling city. Then Fidel Castro, Che Guevara and the rebels came from Santiago de Cuba mountains proclaiming the Revolution and the whole story changed: Americans were kick out and a different country was born on 1959. Free education plus one of the best health system in the world but also a controversial economy and tough political lines raised. Few years later the Soviet Union came in, giving us another version of East Europe life style. So, here it goes again: Spanish, African, French, American and Russian people mixed with Cubans. No wonder why we claim to be an exciting country!

Walking on the streets you might find old people discussing about baseball (the national sport) or latest news, then beautiful “mulatas” (mixed race Cuban ladies) dancing in the middle of Old Havana streets, with no idea of what’s happening in Cuban foreign politics but they are happy as they can be just hearing salsa music and inviting you to dance. Then you’ll see Cuban from all ages queueing in any shop trying to buy food or first aid amenities, not an easy task to do most of the days. They won’t be happy to talk about the government, although we always end doing it. But you will also find brand new private restaurants almost everywhere in Cuban main cities, where locals owners are trying to build serious business under a capitalist management. And later young people, a mix head issue; no-one knows about politics, they don’t want to know. Why? It’s seems a waste of time for them, at the end they were born and raised in the current system and also their parents, changing something seems pretty unreal. However, they are well integrated in society, in their own ways. Cuba is vastly known for its musicians and artists; there are easy to find: galleries, street performances, theatres or just sitting in a park with a guitar. You’ll see young Cubans hanging out at any time, I believe is our favorite thing to do, just meet with friends. If there is not enough money for a couple of drinks, then it’ll be just one; but an easy talk and a chill out timing is compulsory. Cuba is changing, and we want to change a lot of things. The question will be, where that change will leave us?

havana

An island who feels continental
We love to talk, make jokes and laugh (sometime from ourselves) and a decent plate of food and a well-made cocktail are the perfect match; that could come from Spanish people. We want to live and think like Americans, and that’s a truly reality; and also exist an endearing attraction to do things in a massive scale, like our dearest Soviet fellows.

An island who feels continental, that’s Cuba. A hard to understand, but a relaxing and a different place to discover; and who knows, with latest news like Chanel fashion house doing world-exclusive catwalks in Old Havana we might add new flashes of identity! Do more than read about Cuba, come and visit us, we can promise a unique experience. Contact us: www.scuktravel.com

May in Cuba: French catwalks, Hollywood furious racings and local art fairs

May in Cuba: French catwalks, Hollywood furious racings and local art fairs

lagerfield

In Cuba, May is a very special time of the year to celebrate. The second Sunday of the month is the chosen date to celebrate Mother’s Day, a big one for us. It’s the day all families get together to enjoy themselves: nice food, music, old stories and of course, bunch of flowers to our moms, grandmas or aunties. Usually that’s the main topic in May first weeks but this year, let say Mom has a strong competition.

Every year the fifth month starts with huge marches celebrating the May the 1st, the international worker’s day. As every year, 2016 wasn’t different: thousands of Cubans went to main squares to make the traditional walk. However, Havana is being already revolutionized: Hollywood trucks are placed in every corner of Havana shooting the next movie of one of the biggest box-office hits in history: Fast and Furious. The great Van Diesel is in Havana, Charlize Theron and all the staff too. Cool American cars (and not the old ones) are challenging Malecon avenue pavement and local people is going wild. Youngers (and not so young) can’t avoid queueing to see just a piece of a car racing. Traffic is being diverted in Central and Old Havana, it gets really hard to go anywhere these days in Cuba’s capital without facing a massive traffic jam.

havana

Today, May 3rd the French fashion house Chanel is also making history: Karl Lagerfeld is in Havana showing his cruise collection in an exclusive catwalk placed Havana’s main core. The iconic designer has transformed the “old city”. Paseo del Prado, one of the main avenues in Old Havana is ready to become history; refurbished during last weeks, Prado’s glamour seems to be back. After the eagerly awaited event, an after-party will rock Havana; the chosen location cannot be other than the beautiful Cathedral Square. Surrounded by old and historic buildings, the first country in Latin America to be visited by the French house will eclipse everyone, that’s for sure! But Lagerfeld is going further, he will also unfurl an exhibition of his photography.

Photos

Factoria Habana is hosting “Work in Progress” until May 12 as part of a month long celebration of French culture in Cuba organized by the Alliance Française. The 200 photographs are to be grouped according to the subjects that catch Lagerfeld’s eye most — fashion, architecture and landscapes — and reflect his use of a host of cameras and printing techniques. So Havana is getting more than trendy dresses from Chanel.

All these events are making the country vibrate but those are not the only ones. Celebrating Mother’s Day traditions, an art fair is being opened. Cuban artists and exclusive designers are currently showing their latest work at Pabexpo, one of the biggest exposition centres in Havana. It’s the right place to go and buy a spectacular gift for a wonderful mom; highly recommended! Another important fair is about to start: International Tourism Fair. The location is the emblematic Morro Cabaña fortress and It’s the biggest annual tourism event in Cuba.
We’ll talking about it in next articles; until then keep an eye on Cuba, the small island in the Caribbean making real it’s dreams. Contact us at www.scuktravel.com we’ll be glad to help you!

Baracoa, the most exciting Eastern Cuba city (Part II)

Baracoa, the most exciting Eastern Cuba city (Part II)

If you are looking for a unique experience in Cuba, a bit different from Havana’s enchanting narrow streets and late night clubs or Varadero’s white sand beaches, then Baracoa is a must. This small town, geographically placed in Guantanamo province, feels like a different piece of land in the Caribbean country. And a fabulous plus, you’ll be nicely surprised by the stunning local food.

baracoa
People from Baracoa are one of the greatest things of this town. Friendly and charming, are there to make you feel like home. Interesting, Baracoa was the first town in Cuba supported by tourism; almost everyone here works in the tourism industry: private houses, car rentals, excursion guides, “paladares” or private restaurant or musicians performing in the main square. So, people grow up with the gift of making their hometown a pleasant place for those coming from the “outside”; doesn’t matter if they are foreigners from Europe or Australia or people from Havana. A curious thing, when you ask people about their province Guantanamo, they say they aren’t not from Guatanamo, they are from Baracoa! They don’t mess with their town here.

As almost every private house in Cuba, they will offer more than a bed to lay down. The owners will give you the opportunity to have dinner at home, or making you breakfast in the morning. Based on my personal experience it’s a good option to arrange breakfast at your “casa”, so you won’t spend too much time going out in the morning to find a decent meal, plus breakfasts are usually really nice. A tip, fill yourself properly in the morning, because days here are long and you will need strengths to go up in Baracoa’s mountains.

Mountains

If you decide to enjoy an eco-tourism experience then you have to try any of this trips: climb the Yunque (you can rent bikes in the city centre and go to base of the mountain riding, and later…get ready for big steps!); another option is go to the biggest natural reserve in Cuba: Humbolt National Park where you’ll find the most exotic birds and flowers and stunning views. Once in Humbolt Park you’ll find there are different paths to go around the park. The hardest but also the most exciting is the one that takes you to a viewpoint called “Balcon de Iberia” including the most relaxing waterfall that you can imagine in your way down. While you are in this kind of daily trip, find food won’t be easy, but if you are prepared is not a big deal. What you will find very handy will be those ladies on the roads selling chocolate bars and coconut cones, the most famous local food. A pure dark chocolate bar will revitalize you anywhere in this city.

Local food

Baracoa is the land of chocolate and coconut. With this two ingredients, local people can make magical courses. Nights at Baracoa were so pleasant for me, mainly because I knew I will enjoy a tasty meal somewhere. Private restaurants are the big deal in town; there are many of them around the city. They are value for money, perhaps not as cheap as you might expect, but good quality food is priceless, right?

 

chocolate

Seafood is the main issue here: fresh fish, lobster, shrimps and quite exotic ingredients will surprise you more than once. My favorites restaurants were: La Colonial, El Buen Sabor and La Colina. I recommend the fish at the first place, if you like coconut milk then try fish in coconut sauce, a tasty local dish. At the second place you must order a Calalu dish, a vegetarian course, but a lovely one; is another local recipe to prepare steam vegetables gorgeously; and finally at La Colina, enjoy any of their main courses (all stunning) but you must ask for some Daiquiris, because they have the best cocktails in town!

Very nice food, fresh ingredients and charming staff. Baracoa is a small town, everyone here knows these places and how to get there; don’t be shy, people love to help and will show the way to get anywhere with a big smile in their faces. Don’t stay at your room at night, go out, hear the music and feel the Cuban heat…and don’t be scare of Mojitos, they will make you feel like nirvana in this small town, surrounded by mountains and rivers, living the real Eastern Cuba.

 

Baracoa, the most exciting Eastern Cuba city (Part I)

Baracoa, the most exciting Eastern Cuba city (Part I)

Since years I’ve heard incredible things about Baracoa. People always say it’s a must in Cuba; but until now I haven’t actually realized how amazing this town can be, placed in the middle of the mountains.

Baracoa

Located in Guantanamo’s province, Baracoa was the first city founded by the Spaniards in the island. More than 500 years of history and the best cocoa plantations of the Caribbean are hidden in this colourful city. Quite far from Havana: by bus nearly 22 hours of journey, almost 6 hours from Santiago de Cuba and 3 and a half from Guantanamo capital city; however views are just superb. But if you are not a road trip fan then you can go by plane; a two hours flight from Havana using national airlines will get you there. Planes are not the best, but it’s a secure flight and a very pleasant one. The landing is breathtaking: the airport is next to the sea and until few seconds before touch you’ll have the sensation of landing in the water.


First feeling when you arrive is the humid heat, quite different compared with the Western, but no an annoying one. A small airport is waiting for you, and also many taxi drivers outside. Baracoa is a cheap town, a taxi to the city centre costs a maximum of 5cuc. Cars aren’t luxurious at all: most of them are jeeps, later you understand why this is almost a compulsory issue in Baracoa. The first thing that actually got my attention was the people: they are the friendliest people I’ve ever met in the country.

The city centre is all you ever dream about a small and “vintage” town in Cuba: coloured houses in every corner, traditional music everywhere, art galleries open until 2am, a gorgeous boulevard and ancient buildings. However, at first sight it looks like a really small town and you might think you’ll get bored easily. But believe me; you won’t have time for it.

town

Guantanamo province has 27 rivers crossing the region; 21 of them are in Baracoa. So yes, it’s heaven for those looking for countryside experiences like climbing mountains, taking supernatural pictures and then dive into clear and cold river waters. I’ve never been in such magnificent rivers like those in Baracoa: Rio Miel (Honey River), Yumuri River or Toa’s (the biggest river in Cuba). But there are also stunning beaches like Maguana Beach (placed 45 minutes by car from the centre and located on your way to Holguin) and Manglito Beach (this in the opposite side, on the eastern). White sands and blue waters are virginal waiting for visitors. A plus: private houses on the first beach line offer incredible appetizers to enjoy beach time: seafood and tasty tapas will make you feel in paradise.

Mountain time

All this things are great, but they are far away for being the best thing to do here, in the middle of nowhere. The mountains are the greatest attribute of the city: climbing the Yunque Mountain is one in a life time experience. More than 2 and a half hours of hard work to get to the top, natural made paths, exotic nature, tons of cacao plantations, plus a marvelous waterfall when going down are literally heaven in Earth. The view of all Baracoa and pretty much all the region will leave you speechless; and the sensation worth the effort of going up more than 575 metres over the sea level.

SCUK can make a perfect trip for you!

These are just few things about Baracoa. In coming articles, will give you more details and experiences in Baracoa: a gem of Cuba, believe me! If you want to live this unique experience, contact us in www.scuktravel.com or email us to enquires@scuktravel.com 

Top places in Central Cuba

Top places in Central Cuba


Placed in the middle of the Caribbean, Cuba as a big picture can be divided in three main regions: Western, Central and Eastern Cuba; each one with their own particular characteristics but all sharing the charisma of their people. Central Cuba is a very special one; not having Havana or Santiago de Cuba don’t make it less exciting. If you are looking for history, stunning ancient villages and wild nature, then you must stop here.

From Santa Clara to Camaguey, Central Cuba hosts magnificent colonial towns as Trinidad. The region is divided between the beautiful mountain range called Sierra del Escambray to the south with its tropical vegetation and sugar plantations. Agricultural plains in the north are quite famous its dairy farming and fruit plantation. Plus the stunning cays in the north side and marvelous white sand beaches in the south.

Trinidad town

Trinidad
I read once Trinidad is the loveliest example of a colonial town in Cuba; it’s probably a true statement. Founded by a Spaniard conqueror as a base for gold mining in the heart of Sierra del Escambray, it was not until the beginnings of 18oo’ that this charming town became one of Cuba’s most important centres for sugar plantation and of course, slaves. History is and beautiful constructions are the core of this town.

Its colourful buildings and colonial mansions will make you fall in love with this land; cobbled streets will make you feel like waliking in the 18 century movie. Today Trinidad is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a well-deserved honour. Central squares and streets have been restored and local homes have been brightly painted. Music has flourished like nowhere else and seems to govern every street; from musicians who stand up almost anywhere when ther aren’t playing at a bar or in the famous Casa de la Trova. As a plus, on the Trinidad side of the range stands Topes de Collantes. It’s a mountain resort built at the height of Russian influence. It’s worth a curious look and is perfectly situated for long walks.


Cienfuegos City

Cienfuegos
Did you know Cienfuegos was founded by French immigrants from Bordeaux? Its boulevards have French elegance all around them, and you can note the architect difference with other Spanish founded cities. One of the main attractions is the Jose Marti Park, a wide square with a triumph arch surrounded by palm trees. Also the Palacio Valle shows an extraordinary European influence style; a Moorish palace facing the stunning city bau, nowadays a fine restaurant.

Santa Clara
Founded in 1600’s last decades by citizen of Remedios trying to escape from pirates this city is today one on the main cities in Cuba. The last battle of the Cuban revolution, back in 1958 took place at Santa Clara headed by Che Guevara. Locals fell in love to the revolutionaries and until today remains a very passionate city. If there is something you shouldn’t miss by any chance is the Che Guevara Memorial; the huge bronze statue of the Guerrillero stands heroically above the Museum of the Revolution is a must: a Cuban hallmark.

Remedios

Remedios
Founded in the 16th century this wonderful town rises in the road between Santa Clara and Cayo Las Brujas (north coast). Much of the city was destroyed by a fire and nowadays most of the constructions date from 19th century. Nevertheless, his unique neoclassic streets worth a moment to admire; it also has two of the oldest church in the Caribbean. Simply beautiful, this city may stole your heart; not few visitors have return over again to breathe and feel this town spirit. 

The Hairdresser’s Alley: a peculiar spot in Old Havana

The Hairdresser’s Alley: a peculiar spot in Old Havana


The Hairdresser’s Alley (Callejon de los Peluqueros) is becoming a trendy place in Cuba’s capital city to have a good time. Squeezed within Old Havana’s narrow streets, the singular alley is more than a place to have a lovely meal or try a “forbidden” drink; is a vividly proof of Cuban people wishes.

Alley

Located in Aguiar Street, Old Havana just a couple minutes walking from Havana’s Malecon (seaside promenade) and 4 minutes from the Museum of the Revolution; only has 100 metres length but you wouldn’t imagine the life hidden in this singular alley though. Bars, restaurants, art shops, places to admire collectable pieces and famous hairdresser’s salons harmoniously coexists and make this place a unique one in the heart of Cuba’s capital offering more than meals and objects to buy, but showing the truly spirit of the city. It used to be a forgotten place, nothing but dirt in the streets. However, a few years ago it was refurbished with government’s support and local people aiming. The goal was to give life a social project in this community; but today is more than that. 

Nowadays The Haidresser’s Alley receives a flood of tourist and local people. Most of them interested to know how it actually works while others just get fascinated with the colourful alley. The project was born after a private business opening headed by a local guy. The beauty salon also house-museum property of the hairdresser Gilberto Valladares (mostly known by the nick Papito) was the origin. Papito started financing the alley with his business profits by his project Arte Corte; and without knowing it he started a brilliant financial experience in our socialist Cuba. This area in Old Havana named Santo Angel (Saint Angel) became a special one. Bars and restaurants are making more attractive these beautiful scenes. As part of the social aiming, owners employ local people for their business: taking care of gardening and vigilance during night.

El Figaro Restaurant

Places like “El Figaro” are getting very popular to enjoy a good plate of food. Famous for their Lobster in coffee sauce and Pork Fajitas (strongly recommend this last one) is now a trendy location; even the Rolling Stones had been there. Very “European” style decorated is now popular for signing notes or bills and the staff hang them in a cord crossing the bar. The Rolling Stone’s note is already hanged…(so it’s one sign by my friends and myself one night!). The place is very value for money with main courses starting at 6 CUC; also the cocktails are very nice.

Cafe de los Artistas

Cafe de los Artistas

But there is another place I love to go: Café de los Artistas (The Artists Cafe). A high ceilinged, well restored building from the 1880s engaging owner Luis Carlos (the Stage Manager of the nearby National Ballet) serves straightforward menu with a selection of lighter fish and pasta dishes and very refined traditional Cuban food. As well as El Figaro it has reasonable prices and really worth the try! Locals love going here to have a meal with friends; is getting trendy to celebrate birthdays as well. Just a tip: if this is your aim, then you must book a big table first! The staff is really nice, and (if you want another tip), in this place I had one of the best Gin Tonic in Havana. I heard once this that Café de los Artistas is an unpretentious dining spot; that was before going. Now I assure you, the place is just perfect if you are looking for a good time and a piece of heaven in the crowded city.


There is also a place named La Farmacia. No personal experience here, but it’s definitely the next place to go in this magnificent alley. If you are in Havana, well you should give it a try; I bet you won’t regret about it!

Rollling Stones´s rocked in Havana, but who’s next?

Rollling Stones´s rocked in Havana, but who’s next?

Rolling

Have you ever dream watching Mick Jagger rocking all night? Well, that’s quite probably. But did you ever dreamt to see him live in the middle of Havana? Believe it or not, the epic rock and roll band did it last Friday and thousands of Cubans lived it as the concert of their life.

Jagger cried while saying: “This is amazing!” The stage was superb; exclusively design for this performance. The total cost round 7 million dollars, and many in Havana’s narrow streets are wondering who paid for it. According to different sources the Brit band paid most of it. The concert wasn’t live broadcasted in Cuban television; local press said they were asked not to, because the exclusive images will be used to make a DVD.

The massive crowd sang every lyric and lived the historic gig in Havana; the environment was so cool: people waited more than 6 hours to listen Jumpin’ Jack Flash, lying down in the ground just to not miss a good spot; young girls where mixed with old gentleman wearing classic rock t-shirts; not only locals where excited to see Mick that night, a lot of foreigners didn’t miss the unforgettable event neither. I met a Canadian couple; they were dreaming to see the Rolling Stones live performance since years. When they heard the Brits will be playing in Cuba couldn’t resist temptation and booked a holiday to the island. They said it was the perfect picture: Old Havana, gorgeous beaches and hearing Satisfaction lyrics from the one and only Mick Jagger. And they were right though!

Since they came out to the stage the music didn’t stop; not a second! Song after song they seemed to be in their early twenties; was impressive the energy of these guys trying to get the crowd connected. Richard Gere was there…also a lot of Cuban musician. David Blanco was standing few meters from me and the joy in his face couldn’t be faked in a hundred years. A small boy, I could say 5 years, was carried by his father the whole concert and shouting “Jagger!” every time he gets a bit closer in the stage. Girls, boys, younger and not so younger became best mates that night at Ciudad Deportiva (the venue stadium).

It’s been a historic concert, a unique one. I don’t know if the biggest performed by a band in Cuba, but no doubt it’s the biggest I’ve been. The huge HD television screens were magnificent, allowing everyone to enjoy the epic moment. The lighting system was just perfectly synchronized and the audio so clear that you may learn a bit of English that night!

Unique concert

Jagger was really friendly with the crowd. He said a couple of Cuban expressions as “Ustedes estan en talla” (meaning You guys rocks!) and people appreciate it a lot. Many of those shouting “Mick!” barely knew a couple of tracks, but they were so into their rock and roll music and the eclectic sound of a guitar that it didn’t actually matter; I can’t recall a crowd like that in a local concert. People felt blessed that day; and they were. There are already rumors around about bands and musicians wanting to come to Havana: names like U2, Steam and Sean Paul are the most heard. Who knows…maybe Cuba is the next Ibiza in the Caribbean. And we'll keep you posted from Havana!

Obama’s legacy in Havana

Obama’s legacy in Havana

Last few days had been quite crazy in Havana. Main streets were floated with police officers, more than a few businesses and offices just stop working, schools and universities didn’t open their doors on Monday or Tuesday. Everyone seems to be waiting for this moment since ever.

Havana

It was 88 years ago the last time an American president visited Cuba. Many years had passed since then, and the history it’s been twisted more than you can imagine. Cuba and the U.S relations were “frozen” since 1959, and Cuban people it’s being really skeptical with all the American issues in the island. Both countries have strong connections, more than sharing the same continent. I bet you’ll find hard to meet a Cuban who doesn’t has a relative living in America. The true is Cubans love the U.S., always had and I believe they will always do. More than history, politics, families and friends the Cuban people want to feel and live in the American way. 

Obama’s visit to the island proves that the American government wants to get in contact with Cuba, with its people and costumes. Is Cuba changed after Obama’s visit? Well, the answer is not that easy. Cuba still the same and people still wanting the same things than before; but it is the first time a president talk about democracy and human rights in Cuban soil. You can interpret these facts as you want; but the truth is people are a bit shocked these days.

I want to believe positive social changes will soon arrive in the Caribbean island but the main thing is that the people started believing they can actually change the country and improve their quality life.


There is no other topic on Cuban streets today; Obama and his speech are getting deep inside locals. Some friends (not Cuban friends) are asking how Cuba is reacting. Is too soon to know but I do believe, or at least want to believe, things are going to be better for us, for the real people. Obama seems to inspire Cubans, make them want to work for their country, to see Cuba bloomed. More than political speeches, I think the American president tried to make Cubans believe in their own force and the fact that we have been always a country of hope.


So, at the end, is just wait and let time speaks for itself. In the meantime, 27 degrees are waiting for you is this part of the world! We advise you to book your holidays with time so you won’t miss any important place. Contact us; we are more than pleased to help you: enquires@scuktravel.com or through our website www.scuktravel.com