Robaina's plantation

Friday, 31 January 2014

Conde de Villanueva LCDH (Havana) A Visit

                 This is one of my favourite cigar shops in Havana and I'm not alone. I know many people personally who love this shop and many of my readers have expressed how much they enjoy this place as well. What's not to like....tucked away in Old Havana, it's a true cigar smokers hideaway. Only aficionados in 'The Know' have any idea where this place is. Reynaldo is an amazing host who is always ready with a hug and takes good care of you regardless how much you spend. I've been coming here for years, sometimes I buy and sometimes I don't but Reynaldo has always taken very good care of me. Let's not forget Jorge, the house roller, who rolls some of the best cigars in the city (country). Since Reynaldo's responsibilities have increased, Jorge has been rolling most of the cigars....and what a great job he does. Almost everyone I know that smokes cigars, knows this shop and it's cigars.
                  The building (or house) was built in 1714 and by the mid 1800's was owned by the Villanueva family, hence the name given to the hotel. By the early 1900's the building was sold and performed various functions. In the 1950's the building was transformed into multiple family dwellings and was the beginning of the end of it's deterioration. After that it was turned into a warehouse. In 1998 the building was restored and turned into a hotel with the idea to cater to cigar smokers. The 9 rooms have been named after tobacco plantations and the paintings and photography that hang on the walls mostly depict cigar life. Of course let's not forget the amazing cigar shop.
                  This is a must visit for any cigar aficionado but the architectural value of the property itself is also very pleasant. There's also a restaurant on the ground floor. I ate there many years ago and remember enjoying my meal but can't comment on how it would be like today. I can tell you that the decor and feel of the place is very nice. I took my meal in the courtyard rather than the restaurant...very enjoyable with the house peacock walking around.
                  Pay them a visit upstairs in the cigar shop and please let Reynaldo know that I say hello. By all means please try one of their cigars but be aware that there are a couple of blends. If you don't like your cigars too strong make sure to let them know, the original blend was a 'kick you in the butt' but they have since created a milder one for guys who couldn't handle it.

Conde de Villanueva LCDH
Calle Mercaderes 202
Habana Vieja
tel. 07 862-9293

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

El Templete (Havana)

                    Have you ever walked by this monument and asked yourself what the hell it a nutshell, Wikipedia says:

                    "El Templete is a monument in Havana that pays homage to the place where the foundation of the town of San Cristóbal de la Havana was celebrated in 1519. The monument consists of bust of Christopher Columbus and three canvases painted by Jean Baptiste Vermay. It is a Neoclassic building, typical example of colonial architecture. Close to the Templete, there is a column which replaces a silk-cotton tree, under which the first mass and the first Council of Havana were celebrated."
                   The building sits on the opposite side of the 'Palacio Capitanes y Generales' in the Plaza de Armas, Havana Bay and the 'El Templete' restaurant are right behind it. The building isn't that big at all and after entering, it surprised me how tiny it actually was. The building was erected in 1828 with it's interior paintings which show important rituals that took place on this site. The painter's and his wife's remains are kept in a tomb inside the temple. The Temple is an important symbol for the city of Havana and marks the Plaza's beginnings in 1519. The very first symbol was the planting of a Ceiba tree, which has since been replaced. The first mass of the city was held under the original tree on this site. Every November 16, thousands of people come here to walk 3 circles around the tree, as per tradition. They will later toss coins at the base of the tree and make 3 wishes.
                   Well, now you know. Is it worth going inside?? If you're a history buff, I guess it is. If you're just a regular tourist, you might be a little disappointed as I was. I don't know what I was expecting but I thought there would be more. It would have been enough to know what the building represents as I do now. The better pictures are taken from outside.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Milano Lounge Club (Havana)

                    I would like to begin by saying that I haven't had the chance to eat at this new restaurant yet but have been watching it's progress over the last year. I happened to be walking by one afternoon and decided to walk in and take a peek. From the outside it looks very inviting and the inside makes you want to stay. If the quality of the food reflects the look of the place, I would say they have a winning combination. I'm going to have to make a point of eating here the next time I'm in Havana. The menu is small and simple with an emphasis on Italian pasta dishes. They also have a few appetizers and a few main courses that you can see in the picture of the menu below. They also advertise 2 prix-fixe menus (for lunch) at 12 & 16cuc....Menu 1: Bread, Appetizer, Chicken or Pork, Rice or Salad, Water, Dessert and Coffee. Menu 2: Bread, Appetizer, Pasta, Fish Filet, Rice or Salad, Water, Dessert and Coffee....a very good deal but only available between 12 & 4pm. The restaurant is open 12-12 seven days a week and the bar-lounge Thursday-Sunday 10pm-3am. As Cuban standards for tourists goes, this is a little pricier than the average restaurant but I still think it's worth a try. If any of my readers have already tried this place, please let me know what you think.

Milano Lounge Club
Ave. 3ra No. 2404 e/24 y 26
Miramar, Playa
tel. 203-4641