Dating back to 1559, Plaza Vieja, or Old Square was home to the richest inhabitants of Havana – the residential alternative to Plaza de Armas. Originally called the New Square, then Market Square, Plaza Vieja is surrounded by beautiful colonial buildings on all sides. Originally homes, these are now dedicated to the arts and include numerous galleries, photography and sculptural exhibitions.
Coffee shop – Cafe el Escorial
The reason the guide on our walking tour brought us here seemed to be to visit the coffee shop.
According to my dictionary, Café el Escorial translates as The Dump Café, or possibly the Slagheap Café, which I’m not sure is correct.
Despite the odd name, the inside is very attractive. A mixture of blue tiles and dark wood lend an air of competence to the place.
In one corner is the roasting machine, toiled over by an elderly master roaster. Behind the bar is another older gentleman, taking and routing orders with the ease and confidence of many years of practice.
This distinguished air dissipates when it comes to the waitresses who actually speak to the customers.
They appear disinterested and disengaged, but it must be hell putting up with endless monolingual tourists.
Despite this, the tips jar looked to be very full, and contained far more than an average Cubans monthly income.
The toilets are staffed by an elderly lady with her own tip jar, which she thrust in my face on both the way into and out of the toilets.
Whilst the guide and the other people on the walking tour sat around drinking their excellent coffees we wandered off for a look round the square.
Naked lady sitting on a huge cock
The centre of Plaza Vieja is regularly given over to works by Cuban sculptors. Whilst we were there the main decoration was a giant cockerel, being ridden by a naked girl holding aloft an enormous fork. That’s all I understand about that.