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CUBA


Located off the coast of the United States lies a country that remains a mystery to some. Nestled in some of the most beautiful countryside of the Caribbean lies...Cuba. Although deprived of some of life's basic necessities, Cuba is nevertheless blessed with an overabundance of natural beauty; warm, generous people; and above all else, a zest for living. At its pinnacle, the mere mention of Cuba conjured up notions of music, art, and life. Following the demise of the Soviet Union, and subsequent lack of economic support, Cuba has turned to its other allies in Europe and North America to restore its once proud heritage.

Listed below for your reading pleasure are sites of interest, beginning with Destination Cuba and Cuban Postcards, both of which provide excellent background information. Tourism reigns as one of Cuba's leading industries, with Havana as the nation's sovereign capitol and Varadero as the emerging playground of the Caribbean. To this extent, the Sol Melia chain of hotels offers 3 beautiful properties in the country, with the new, modern Melia Cohiba Hotel rivaling any in the world. For those accustomed to more traditional hotels that recall Cuba's grandeur past, there's always the Hotel Nacional. In order to sample some of the finest traditional Cuban cuisine, La Bodeguita del Medio--a Hemingway favorite--is a must. Finally, what would a visit to Cuba be without a sampling of the world's finest cigars at what many consider to be the world's finest cigar shop, La Casa del Habano in Varadero.
 

The Sights and Sounds of Cuba
CigarFriendlyTM.com , in conjunction with Atlantic records, is pleased to bring you the sounds of Cuba. Ruben Gonzalez, the Afro-Cuban All Stars, and the Buena Vista Social Club have long established their musical reputations in Cuba and we are pleased to be able to offer these new compact disc recordings to you. Please click HERE for more information.

The Cuban Music Shop offers a comprehensive selection of CD's and cassettes featuring a wide variety of Cuba's leading musicians. Choose from Latin Jazz, Rumba, Salsa, Mambo, Conga, Bolero, and AfroCuban. Please click here for more information.

 

 

Cuba Links
Cuba News Cubanacan
Cuba Web Granma Internacional
Cuban Postcards Destination Cuba
Melia Las Americas Resort Melia Cohiba Hotel
La Bodeguita del Medio Melia Varadero Resort
Hotel Nacional de Cuba Casa del Habano


For additional information on Cuba and Cuban Cigars, please be sure to visit our Dr. Smoke section of CigarFriendly.com. We provide invaluable information such as factory and date codes as well as the cost of Cuban cigars in....Cuba.

To many, Cuban cigars still represent the benchmark by which all cigars are measured. With this in mind, the following provides our viewers with a listing of reputable direct mail suppliers from around the world who distribute Cuban cigars. Of course, you can always utilize one of the search engines and hope that the suppliers that come up in their directories are reputable....or, you can let the staff at CigarFriendly.com eliminate the guesswork for you. After all, we devote our focus exclusively to cigars and to the merchants that supply them. Please report any abuses to us and/or you may wish to visit alt.smokers.cigars newsgroup or some of the more popular web site bulletin boards for frequent listings of companies suspected of selling fake Cuban Cigars. As an added suggestion, you might wish to visit the Dr. Smoke section of CigarFriendly.com, where we have added a link to "Spotting Fake Cuban Cigars", a wonderful article prepared by Michael Douglas that also appeared in Smoke Magazine.

 

 

 

Mail Order Cuban Cigar Merchants
United Kingdom Europe/Asia
 

 

Note: CigarFriendly.com takes these listings very serious and relies upon input from our viewers. If you suspect any of the above vendors is selling counterfeit product, please let us know. We have already refused to list a couple of well known fraudulent suppliers.  
It is illegal for US Residents to purchase Cuban cigars.  This information is provided for non-US residents who can legally purchase Cuban cigars.

 


Travel To Cuba

 


Tourism is very much alive and prospering in Cuba today. Europeans, Canadians, and even people from the United States have discovered Cuba in recent years and have been coming over in record numbers. The climate and beaches are excellent, the people are warm and friendly, Havana is very much a European city in the middle of the Caribbean, and Cuba is very much a bargain compared to its neighboring islands. If your travels take you to Cuba in the near future, the staff at CigarFriendly.com would like to share the following travel tips with you. CigarFriendly.com

 

Upon arrival into Havana, you will go through a routine immigration office inspection at the new terminal at Jose Marti Airport and be asked to fill out a visa card (cost $15 USD). From there we suggest you take a taxi or rent a car from Cubacar, to your hotel destination. There are a number of lovely hotels to stay at in Havana including the Hotel Nacional, Melia Cohiba Hotel, Chateau Miramar, Comodoro, and Hotel Ambos Mundos. The Hotel Nacional is the grandest and most traditional of all the hotels within Havana and is modeled after the Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach, Florida. The rooms are quaint and the staff is eager to assist; perhaps our favorite part of this recently remodeled hotel is the lobby bar where you will see murals and photographs of famous visitors from the past, including prominent Hollywood stars (from the pre-embargo and current era...sorry to blow your cover Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell) and gangsters (Bugsy Segal and Lucky Luciano). The Melia Cohiba is a very modern hotel and and is also home to our always favorite El Relicario Cigar Lounge, where you can sample some of the finest cigars and have a cup of Cuban coffee or cognac prepared by a lovely and attentive waitress staff. In the old Havana section is the Ambos Mundos, which was made famous by Ernest Hemingway. The hotel has been completely remodeled and is close to downtown tourist attractions such as the Museum of Revolucion, La Bodeguita del Medio, and El Floridita restaurants. In the suburban, upscale space known as Miramar, there is a lovely hotel catering to business travelers called Chateau Miramar. The hotel is smaller than the others mentioned above but has a beautiful location overlooking the ocean with a nice swimming pool. It is also relatively close to Marina Hemingway (about a 5 minute drive) and Miramar's fashionable 5th Avenue - a beautiful street lined with palm trees and mansions, most of which are occupied by foreign diplomats. Recently, Havana has received outside investment from European and Canadian firms, and there has been a lot of new hotel and commercial center development. Examples of this new development in 1998 include the beautiful new Parque Central Hotel located in Old Havana and very close to the Partagas Factory. This property is geared towards the business executive and offers all the amenities you would expect from a world class hotel. The new Melia Habana Hotel opened in November, 1998 in Miramar. It features a spacious outdoor swimming pool and modern comforts like it's sister property, the Melia Cohiba, but is in a more quiet residential neighborhood. Finally, The Comodoro is an excellent place to stay, particularly the Bungalows (please see our review)

Once you have become situated within Havana, you're certainly going to need a good meal. There are a number of outstanding state supported restaurants such as El Floridita, El Tocorroro, etc. that offer excellent meals. Our favorites include El Aljibe - famous for their chicken - and El Ranchon - which is a new restaurant that is adjacent to the La Casa del Habano in Miramar and offers excellent seafood dishes at surprisingly affordable prices. As an alternative or supplement to the state restaurants, you should also try some of the privately owned paladares. These are typically family-owned businesses and serve fewer than 20 people. Some of our favorite ones are El Bistrot - overlooking the Malecon and serving excellent seafood and meat - and Osteria dei Fiore - a few blocks away on Avenue K and the home of excellent Italian food from the Milan born chef. Oddly enough, both of these eateries are within walking distance of the US interests section. Cost for a complete dinner with beer and coffee is less than $20 USD.

 

In terms of transportation, its possible to rent cars, taxis, or private drivers. We personally recommend taxis - many of which are modern Mercedes Benz and are reasonably priced. Many people mistakenly believe it is cheaper to hire private drivers but we found that their services are not much cheaper, if at all, and their cars are not as dependable as state supported and licensed taxis. The other option is to rent a car from Cubacar where you will have a wide selection of cars to choose from. This would be particularly useful and economical if you intend to take day trips to Playa del Este, Varadero, or the Pinar del Rio.

 

Tropicana

Nightlife is synonymous with Havana and there is definitely a lot to choose from. The Tropicana (about $60.00 US) is a must visit for the first time traveler to Cuba. Dancers and performing artists abound on stage while Cuban music fills the air. There are also a number of outdoor entertainment venues at hotels - don't be surprised if you are asked to join the performing artists on stage - as well as places such as La Maison, that feature a fashion show with some of Cuba's most beautiful and best models as well as an all-female group that performs afterwards. Price for La Maison, excluding dinner, is an amazing $10 USD. Other options include the Habana Cafe inside the Melia Cohiba Hotel, - this is Cuba's version of the Hard Rock Cafe - and Cafe Cantante, where I had the pleasure of seeing legendary Issac Delgado. Discos have always been popular within Cuba and the Havana Club, inside the Comodoro Hotel, the outdoor 1830 nightclub are excellent choices to dance the night away. (Editor's note: please consult with the hotel concierge regarding the status of the discos when you arrive; as of December 1, 1998 many of the discos were temporarily closed due to the suspected use of drugs, normally not a problem in Cuba).

During the day, you'll be busy visiting the Partagas Factory for a cigar tour (Also, please be sure to read the wonderful article prepared by William Gallagher entitled "Buying Cigars in Cuba"), La Casa del Ron, where you will have a chance to purchase and sample many delicious rum based drinks, including the famous Mojito, and the Hemingway Museum. We definitely suggest you find time to visit the brand new La Casa del Habano in Miramar (please see our review of this establishment) which is arguable the nicest cigar lounge in the world and features a beautiful smokers lounge. Other popular options include visiting the Playa del Este beach towns of Santa Maria and Guanabo and for the yachting enthusiasts, you must make it over to the Marina Hemingway and recently renovated Club Havana (formerly Havana Biltmore).

These are only a few of our suggestions and are for Havana only. We certainly encourage you to visit the other areas of the country, including Varadero, Vinales, Cayo de Coco, Trinidad and Santiago de Cuba. In fact, our good friends from Cubanacan can help you with all your lodging, dining,and rental car needs. Keep in mind that tourists are treated like gold in Cuba, the US dollar is an accepted currency in Cuba, the Cuban people are very friendly and warm people, and there is very little crime. We hope you have a wonderful time on you next visit and please be sure to share you experiences with us. In addition, we also suggest you visit our good friends from 1Click2Cuba.com who provide a comprehensive listing of the finest 4- and 5-star resorts and hotels on the Caribbean's largest island, Cuba. Also information on Havana, Varadero, museums and art galleries, music, nightlife, dining, and more.

Still thirsting for more information on Cigars? CigarFriendly.com, in association with Amazon.com--the world's largest bookstore, is offering a number of best selling books ranging from Cuban Cigars to Cigar labels. Please be sure to visit our Marketplace page where you can view our complete selection. Makes a great last minute gift.

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