Robaina's plantation

Saturday, 13 April 2019

El Baturro Restaurant (Habana Vieja) An Ancient Eatery

                    You might ask yourself, after having read other restaurant reviews that I've posted on this Blog.....Why this place? I've always been fascinated with this restaurant, not that I would ever come here for a meal but because of it's historical value. I came here a few times during my last trip to Havana just to have a beer or two and chat with the bartender. They had the coldest beer in the city.
                    It's situated on the fringe of the tourist area, not far from the Cuban Central Railway Station. Fomualdo Lalueza, a Spanish wholesaler and importer, lived in the house that was this building in 1919. He used the space as a warehouse, coffee shop & diner that he called "El Baturro". In 1944 his business imported Spanish wines, liquor and other products. At one time it was a Spanish Style Tavern serving up good quality traditional Spanish food but today it's more Cuban and not very good. I never see anyone having a meal in this place, nor does it invite you to come in and try, especially with all the options available today and within walking distance....I feel bad for the bartender-waiter, another reason why I came here a few times. If you happen to be walking by, you can't miss the huge sign, pop in for a cold beer and give the guy a little business. Don't be afraid, it's safe and maybe a little interesting.

Restaurant El Baturro
Egido (Monserrate) #661 e/ Jesus Maria y Merced
La Habana Vieja (Old Havana)
Tel: +53 7 8609078  +53 7 8624539
Open noon-midnight

Thursday, 11 April 2019

Avenida de los Presidentes (Havana) 2019

Avenida de los Presidentes (Havana)
                Havana is the most beautiful city in the Caribbean despite the fact that a large portion of it is crumbling due to very little or no maintenance to it's buildings. Many people don't know that Cuba was once a rich country and with that richness Havana benefited with the construction of some beautiful Boulevards: Prado, The Malecon, 5ta Avenida and The Avenida de los name a few.
                The Avenida de los Presidentes is located in a beautiful and safe neighbourhood as are the streets that run through. Commonly known as G Street to Habaneros (streets that run east-west in this part of the city are numbered, while streets running north-south such as this one are lettered), this is one of the main arteries running through the Vedado District of the city. There are many huge, palatial homes on either side of the street but many of them need work. The street's named after the fact that it's lined with statues and monuments of Cuban and Latin American Presidents and war heroes. It starts at the Malecon and runs all the way to the Plaza de La Revolucion. It has a wide pedestrian median running though the middle, tree lined with patches of grass. They actually take good care of it, I've always noticed how well the trees are manicured. The pictures I'm showing below are in no particular order and they encompass the strip between the Hotel Presidente, up to the Jose Miguel Gomez monument. The monument dedicated to Gomez is massive, you can't miss it....located on Calle 29. There used to be a huge Monument dedicated to Calixto García (August 4, 1839 – December 11, 1898) at the bottom of the Avenue on the Malecon but they had to remove it because of constant flooding. It will not return to this location, it's been decided it will be moved to 5ta Avenida e/ may already be there.
                          I can't tell you the history of this street or when the first asphalt was spread because I couldn't find anything on the internet nor do I have any literature regarding it. It doesn't matter, it's a nice walk with lots of photo opps, set aside 1-2 hours if you don't stop in any of the bars or restaurants along the way.

José Miguel Gómez y Gómez (July 6, 1858 – June 13, 1921) was a Cuban who was one of the leaders of the rebel forces in the Cuban War of Independence and President of Cuba from 1909 to 1913. This work was done by the Italian architect Giovanni Nicolini & was inaugurated on May 18, 1936.

José Eloy Alfaro Delgado (June 25, 1842 – January 28, 1912) was an Ecuadorian politician who served as the President of Ecuador from 1895 to 1901 and from 1906 to 1911. This statue was inaugurated in 2006, created by the Cuban artist Andrés González.

The Hotel Presidente was opened by the then President of the Republic of Cuba, Gerardo Machado, on December 28th 1928

Benito Pablo Juárez García (21 March 1806 – 18 July 1872) was a Mexican lawyer and the 26th president of Mexico. This statue was donated in 2000, by senators from the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) of Mexico. 

Simón José Antonio de la Cruz Santa Maria Trinidad Bolívar Palacios Ponte y Blanco (24 July 1783 – 17 December 1830), generally known as Simón Bolívar & also colloquially as El Libertador, or the Liberator, was a Venezuelan military and political leader who led the secession of what are currently the states of Venezuela, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Panama from the Spanish Empire. This work is a replica of the one that exists in Caracas and was donated by the Venezuelan government. 

Salvador Guillermo Allende Gossens (26 June 1908 – 11 September 1973) was a Chilean democratic socialist politician and physician, President of Chile from 1970 until 1973, and head of the Popular Unity political coalition government; he was the first ever Marxist to be elected president in a country with liberal democracy.  This monument to Salvador Allende stands here since 2003.

Omar Efraín Torrijos Herrera (February 13, 1929 – July 31, 1981), more commonly known as Omar Torrijos, was the Commander of the Panamanian National Guard and the de facto dictator of Panama from 1968 to 1981. Torrijos took power in a coup d'état and instituted a number of social reforms and his regime was considered socialist.

Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Hector Luis Prieto and his 'Quemado de Rubi' (farm) Pinar del Rio

Hector Luis Prieto Tobacco Plantation (San Juan y Martínez - Pinar del Rio)

                  Of course I can't visit my friend Salvador without seeing my other good friend Hector Luis who's farm is practically across the street and also part of the 'Ruta del Tabaco'. I haven't know Hector as long as Salvador, I met him in 2009, just one year after he won the coveted Hombre Habano award in 2008, the youngest man to have ever done so at 36. He was a lot younger then, full of hopes and aspirations which I believe he has attained over the years by the looks of his prosperity. His already abundant spread has been converted into something almost unrecognizable with busloads of tourists and aficionados spilling onto the property on a daily basis. Regardless of what he's become, Hector and his wife have always made me feel welcome and Hector always takes a little time out of his busy schedule to sit and have a smoke with me, he's an avid smoker. A couple of years ago the Hector farm built a space to accommodate several people for overnight stays and on this trip I took advantage and spent a night here with a good friend....the room can sleep up to 4 people comfortably (25cuc per person per night). It has it's own bathroom and a balcony overlooking the tobacco fields....too bad there was no tobacco in the fields on any of my visits, I'm sure the view would be quite spectacular during the winter months. The space itself is rudimentary but if you're a cigar nut and don't mind roughing it, the experience is phenomenal. Just to let you know, the air-conditioning works like a charm. We had a dinner when we arrived and breakfast the following morning, both were good country meals at a fair price.
                 Miquel, the ever animated house roller, is still there and still rolling some of the best cigars on this side of the island. I met him before he worked for Hector while he rolled cigars for another farmer. You can't pay a visit to one of these places and not have one of their house specialties...I always have several, I smoke 6-8 cigars a day when I'm in Pinar.
                As I said, no tobacco was in the ground yet but thanks to few friends I was able to get permission to use some of their pictures that were taken when I was not there. Thank you Hector, Emzo and Angel.

Courtesy of Hector Luis

Courtesy of Hector Luis

Courtesy of Angel

Courtesy of Emzo

Courtesy of Emzo

Courtesy of Hector Luis

Courtesy of Hector Luis