Robaina's plantation

Tuesday 7 July 2020

Pinar del Rio (A Pictorial) July 2020

                     I've held some of these pictures for several years, some are from a trip in 2013. I never get tired of coming here, if you ever get the chance you should make the trip.

Monday 6 July 2020

Calle Mercaderes (Habana Vieja) Havana

               I've been gathering pictures for this post for years as I walk along this street at least once on every trip I take to Havana. One of my favourite La Casa del Habano's is located in the Hotel Conde de Villanueva on Mercaderes and it's a must that I visit my friend Reinaldo who runs the place. Mercaderes usually tends to be busy, almost as much as Calle Obispo, and both these streets are devoid of cars as they are pedestrian only thoroughfares. It links two of the major Plazas (Squares) of Havana, Plaza Vieja & Catedral and you can spend more than a day visiting the many attractions located along the way.
              Restoring this street has been the job of the City Historian’s Office since the early 1980's and has since been fully restored. The list of many of the attractions along it's route will be listed below. The pictures or walk begin from O'Reilly and go to the end of Plaza Vieja at Muralla. I have omitted several places, restaurants...for sure, but you get the idea, taking a walk along Calle Mercaderes is an optimal way to slice through Old Havana and see enough to more than fill the day.

Leaving Calle O'Relly behind, to your left is the back of the Palacio de los Capitanes Generales (Plaza de Armas) and you are approaching Calle Obispo

Once you get to Obispo you will find the Hotel Ambos Mundo across the street and to your right, at the corner. The hotel was built in 1924 on a site that was previously occupied by an old family house. It's a popular tourist destination because it was home to the writer Ernest Hemingway for seven years in the 1930's. Today, his hotel room, No. 511, is presented as if the author might have left it and has been converted into a small museum with tours given during the daytime.

At the other corner of Obispo & Mercaderes, across from Hotel Ambos Mundo, you will find the Haberdashery 'Mercería La Muñequita Azul.

Around the corner from the Haberdashery, in the same building, facing the Ambos Mundo, is a book store I visit every time I'm in Havana, Librería Boloña. Corner of Calle Mercaderes and Obispo.

Next door to Ambos Mundo is the 'Maqueta de la Habana', where you will find a miniature model of Old Havana and the surrounding area. Calle Mercaderes #116.

A little further along on the opposite side of the street you will see the 'Mercado del Oriente', here you will find a selection of herbs, incense, hookahs and other Asian products. Calle Mercaderes #109

               'Marco Polo – El Camino de las Especias' is a good spot for herbs and spices.
Calle Mercaderes #111

The Tobacco Museum is a small space displaying objects related to cigars and tobacco. Calle Mercaderes #120

Here at the 'Perfume Museum' you will find a collection of bottles, ingredients, and historical artifacts related to perfume. Calle Mercaderes #156 at the corner of Calle Obrapia.

Next to the Perfume Museum you will find the 'Casa Simon Bolivar'. This is a museum dedicated to Simón Bolívar (1783-1830), a Venezuelan known as the “Great Liberator”. It's within a colonial mansion that was built in the early 1800's. Bolívar stayed in this house while visiting Cuba during 1799. Calle Mercaderes #156

Plaza de Bolívar in front of the 'Casa Simon Bolivar'.

'Museo Armeria 9 de Abril' (Armory April 9 Museum) displays a collection of firearms and bladed weapons from the 18th to the 20th centuries. Calle Mercaderes #157.

Hotel Conde de Villanueva is located on the next corner. This is a Boutique Hotel that used to be the former residence of Claudio Martínez de Pinillos y Cevallos, the second Count of Villanueva and a Spanish merchant. A very comfortable hotel that happens to have one of the best Casa del Habanos in the city. Calle Mercaderes #202.

Opposite corner from the Hotel Conde de Villanueva is the 'Hogar Materno Infantil - Dona Leonor Perez Cabrera', an active maternity hospital clinic. Great piece of architecture. Calle Lamparilla #12, at the corner of Mercaderes. 

A little further down you will find the 'Paladar Los Mercaderes', a privately owned restaurant that serves an array of dishes to wandering tourists. I myself have never eaten here. Calle Mercaderes #207.

I have been to this Restaurant a few times and enjoyed it. 'La Imprenta' is located at Calle Mercaderes #208.

The Ceramic Museum (Museo Nacional de la Cerámica Contemporánea)....Casa de Francisco Aguilera Basabe, is a great spot to spent a little time. It displays Cuban Pottery of important artists from 1950 to Present Day. Calle Mercaderes #211-213.

At the corner of Calle Amargura & Mercaderes you'll find a 'Banco de Credito y Comercio' where you can get cash from an ATM.

The 'Chocolate Museum' is more of a Cafe than a museum, although it does have some artifacts related to the making and consumption of chocolate. There's almost always a lineup to get inside. At the corner of Calle Amargura & Mercaderes.

Moving along you will come across the 'Mesón de la Flota'. It looks like a restaurant, and it is, but it's also a small boutique hotel. I've stayed here a couple of times and found it quite comfortable. The restaurant puts on a flamenco show twice a day (lunch & dinner) and the food is passable. Calle Mercaderes #257.

Entering Plaza Vieja

'Cafe Taberna' has been around since 1772 but not without some restoration. This is a drinking and eating establishment that gets busy with tourists at times. Nice live music but I don't know if I would recommend the food. Calle Mercaderes at the corner of Teniente Rey

Upon entering the Plaza Vieja you will find the 'Cámara Oscura' on the first corner to your left. This is the Gómez Vila Building completed in 1909 and on the top floor you can get 360-degree views of the city in real time through a sort of periscope. Great views from the roof. Corner of Calle Mercaderes & Teniente Rey.

A couple of buildings over is the 'Fototeca de Cuba' in what once the Casa de Juan Mata. Contained within the building is a photographic archive of Old Havana starting from the early 20th century to present day, Cuba's largest collection. Exhibits extracted from this collection along with others are showed daily. Calle Mercaderes #307

At the furthest corner of the Plaza is where you will find one of the best coffees in the city, at 'Café El Escorial'. Great place to have a coffee, the patio spills onto the Square. 
Calle Mercaderes #317