Category Archives: Cuba

Excerpt from SwitchBitch Book 3: Making the most of two unplanned days in Madrid!

 

On my trip to Havana from Madrid, after completing the Portuguese Coastal Camino in July last year, I was forced to spend two unplanned days in Madrid.  Whilst upset initially, I was grateful for being able to spend the time in a city which I had only briefly met a year before.  Continue reading →

Patrón Perfectionists 2019 SA cocktail competition finals has highest number of female finalists, but won by Cause & Effect mixologist David van Zyl!

On Thursday evening I attended the 2019 Finals of the Patrón Perfectionists tequila cocktail competition at Cause Effect Cocktail Kitchen and Cape Brandy Bar in the Waterfront, after a first part of the event had been held at Foliage in Franschhoek earlier in the day. Despite the largest number of female finalists over the past three years of the South African participation in the competition, the 2019 SA finals was won by David van Zyl, mixologist at Cause Effect Cocktail Kitchen! Continue reading →

My Top 21 recommendations for what to see and do in Havana, Cuba!

I arrived in Havana on 3 July 2019, with no preparation of what I wanted to see or do, except that I wanted to learn to dance the Salsa. I was lucky that a slightly out of date ‘Cuba’ Guide by Lonely Planet was lying in the lounge of the San Lazaro BnB I stayed at. I annexed it for the more than three weeks that I stayed there, and found useful background information in it, but perhaps it contains too much information, not just focused on Havana, my only destination in Cuba, therefore making a large part of the book irrelevant to me. Much more useful was the Guidebook ‘300 Things to love about Havana’ by Heidi Hollinger, focused on Havana, divided into the various suburbs of Havana, with an address, a good representative photograph, and largely accurate in its descriptions, even if published in 2018. 
 

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Ernest Hemingway: an earnest author as well as drinker, a man’s man, who has left his mark on Cuba!

I have a fascination with the late author Ernest Hemingway, referred to as ‘Papa’ in Cuba, but I have yet to read one of his books. In Havana I followed in the author’s footsteps yet again, after having been ‘introduced’ to him in Pamplona in Spain whilst walking the Camino in 2018. My interest in him is growing, and I will look to buy his books on my return. There is no doubt that Hemingway may be equally or better known for his drinking and hanging around in bars as he is for his books!
 

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Cuban Salsa grew from a fusion of other dance styles, no one is too old to dance it!

I decided to spend close to a month in Cuba, to learn to dance the Salsa in the country from which elements of it originated. It was an interesting experience, learning more about Cuban music, that Salsa is a ‘commercial’ overarching name for a dance incorporating steps from a number of other dance styles, and that I had to come to the conclusion that I do not like most Cuban Salsa music. I was told that Salsa has no age limit, one never being too old to dance, it even being used remedially with older persons. 

 

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Restaurant Review: La Guarida in Havana dishes up more than the ‘Strawberry & Chocolate’ Oscar nominated movie!

From my Havana Guide Book as well as recommendations I learnt that La Guarida was deemed to be the best restaurant in Cuba. As I wanted to try out only the best the city had to offer, the BnB Manager Alain booked the restaurant for lunch on the special Cuban public holiday of 26 July, an apt day to celebrate my interesting stay in and imminent departure from Cuba.
 

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Sweet Service Award goes to Fusterlandia; Sour Service Award goes to Hotel Inglaterra in Havana!

The Sweet Service Award goes to Fusturlandia, and its creator José Rodrigues Fuster, for creating the most visually dynamic suburb in north Havana, created with sculptures and tiles, creating a tourist destination that benefits his neighbours in the suburb, who all have tiny shops on their properties, selling arts and crafts. Fuster himself makes his money by selling paintings and some ceramics, not taking an entrance fee. A visual and sensory delight in Havana.  
 

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Casa Abel Restaurante Cigar Bar unique restaurant in Havana, Cuba!

Initially in my 25-day stay in Havana I avoided eating any meals at restaurants, based on what I observed when I walked past many of them in Old Havana  in the main, and looking at their menus. As Abel Exposito is the father of the San Lazaro 115 BnB owner at which I stayed, a few street blocks apart in the same street, I decided to add Casa Abel Restaurante Cigar Bar to my list of chosen three restaurants to eat at in my last week in Havana.   

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