Robaina's plantation

Sunday 31 July 2011

Vedado (no la olvide)

            In all my trips to Havana over the years it wasn't until this last one that I really got to see Vedado. Usually, most tourists with myself included, make a bee-line for Old Havana. It's the postcard perfect little city within a city with everything within walking distance.
            Vedado on the other hand is modern in comparison with a lot of upscale houses. It's a wonderful mixture of old and new with a lot more space. The buildings aren't all stuck together like in old havana, there's space in-between houses. You'll find many good hotels, restaurants and entertainment venues all within walking distance, depending on where you stay. I rented an apartment close to
and went for a walk one day. I saw a great deal within a short time (2 hours), most of which is in the photos below. For hotels I recommend the Hotel Nacional if you want history and character & the
if you want modern.
              For entertainment I recommend 'La Zorra y El Cuervo' where I've seen some of the best jazz & latin jazz, 'Jazz Cafe' where you'll see anything from jazz, afro cuban jazz, rock funk & rythum & blues and finally 'Gato Tuerto' where things start late & end later with a different band every hour or so until 3 or 4am. Here the music is more laid back, Cuban traditional or boleros. All 3 places have a small cover charge and all have mature crowds of mostly tourists. Most Cubans can't afford to go to these places.

Jose Marti

Hotel Nacional

Lennon Park

Famous tree in front of the University

The University

Jose Marti Monument in the Plaza de La Revolucion

Jazz Cafe

La Zorra y El Cuervo

Gato Tuerto

Friday 29 July 2011

Cementerio de Cristobal Colon

                I know, it's a morbid thought, a cemetery. When I started renting apartments in Havana it was in the Nuevo Vedado district. Every day, several times a day, I would drive by the Colon cemetery. The monuments & mausoleums looked amazing. One day I decided to go & I'm glad I did. You pay an extra cuc to be able to use your camera, pay it. It's a nice way to spend 30 minutes or an hour.
                The cemetery was founded in 1876. It's estimated that it holds more than 500 major mausoleums, chapels & family vaults. It contains over 800,000 graves.


Thursday 28 July 2011

Encuentro de Amigos de la Casa Partagás

            A few years ago I started going to Havana. The first non-Cuban I met was Paolo from Italia. I met him in the VIP lounge on the Partagas store in Habana Vieja. After talking for awhile he told me about this gathering of smokers from around the world. They met twice a year in Havana for this festival that Partagas would throw. He said it was a lot of fun and games with like people and a lot of smoking and I had to go. At this point, Abel, the store manager, proceeded to show me a video of a past Encuentro. I was hooked. A few months later, I was back in Havana for my first of many Encuentros. I had a blast.
             It can seem a bit expensive to some people but I think you get your money's worth. It's a 4 day event; the cocktail, beach day, dia del bosque and finally the Gala dinner. All the events include food, activities and/or entertainment, 2-3 cigars and alcohol. The part that I think is the best is the friendships that you make along the way. I still have these friendships today and you can't put a price on that. If you're a smoker, I would strongly recommend this event. Enjoy the pics

Sunday 24 July 2011

Bellas Artes

              The 'Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de La Habana' is, in my opinion, a must see. Up until last year, I did not imagine the quality of art that had been produced in Cuba through the years. Like most tourists, I thought Cuban art was limited to those paintings & statues you see in the open markets or small shops around Havana & your hotel in the all-inclusives. I was pleasantly surprised.
               The new Palacio of Bellas Artes was opened in 1954. There are two buildings, one dedicated to Cuban art & the other 'Palacio del Centro Asturiano' to universal arts. Both are worth a visit but the Cuban is the most facinating for me. You can see the influences through the years. I took a few pictures even though I wasn't allowed. That means I was limited to the paintings I could photograph because of all the guards. Enjoy