The state-owned ice cream parlor.

Heladeria-CoppeliaLA COPPELIA
I’d read about a state-owned ice cream parlour so we decided to give it a go. La Coppelia is actually a huge flying saucer-like building taking up a whole city block and has been a Cuban institution since 1966. We wandered round the open air building on the ground floor, were accosted by a guard who tried to get us to go to the tourist section (where you’ll be served the same but will pay the same in CUCs as you’d pay in MNs so 25x the price) but I told him in Spanish that we had some local Cuban pesos so he allowed us to go to the main part. I’d read there were lengthy queues at weekends so being a Thursday night it was less busy but we still had to queue…..there were several different ones so we chose one and waited and watched what to do. There was an old sign showing what was on the menu- basically three flavours of ice cream, vanilla, strawberry and pineapple, in different combinations, although in reality there was only one flavour available and the people I saw were all served the same five vanilla scoops in a plastic oval platter. It came to our turn in the queue and we were sent up a spiral staircase and seated on a table with a mother and her 7 year old daughter.

They’d come here for a treat after the daughter’s dance class before getting the bus back to the suburbs. Looking around, it seemed we were the only foreigners but it’s a great way to meet and chat to Cubans because everybody shares a table……pack ’em in and serve everyone the same! We ordered the ‘ensalada de helado’, (as suggested in the Compass Guide) and added pasteles (cakes), not really having a clue as to what might appear!

photo Cubaabsolutely

We chatted with the mother ; her daughter, Amanda, was quite shy but did tell us she loved her dance classes. The glasses of tap water arrived (I drank the water with no ill effects though we did drink mainly Cuban bottled water.) The 4 large bowls of ice cream arrived, 5 scoops per person, together with a plastic dish of plain sponge cake chunks. The ice cream melted quite fast in the heat but it was creamy and tasty.


We told the mother we’d like to pay for their ice creams so the the server bought the bill and we couldn’t believe it- $30MN ….equal to 75p. Total for four people.
The first and last time we were overcharged?
We then strolled back along the Malecón, people-watching and taking in the atmosphere, stopping for a mojito in a bar overlooking the sea. We sat on the terrace, enjoying the music coming from inside the bar, when a group of musicians stopped by and sat at the next table and proceeded to play their guitars and small drum over the other music! This is also the one place I think we were overcharged- we hadn’t seen a menu but had simply ordered mojitos; then, rather than ask for the bill, we just asked how much we owed and the waiter said $9CUC which we paid. Throughout the trip the most we paid for a mojito was $4CUC each and that was in a very nice hotel bar. This bar was fairly run down so, in retrospect……… however, the equivalent of £2.95 is a small price to pay for  a cocktail in any currency so no hard feelings!
And so to bed…….
 Next edition……missing museums and a Cuban ferry ride to buy water….

One thought on “The state-owned ice cream parlor.

  1. MOJITOS – because after reading this you’ll want one….
    1½ limes, cut into wedges
    20 fresh mint leaves
    2½ tsp granulated sugar
    handful ice
    65ml/2½fl oz white rum
    splash soda water, to taste
    fresh mint sprig, to garnish
    Preparation method
    Place the limes, mint and sugar into a sturdy highball glass and ‘muddle’ or mash with the end of a clean rolling pin, to bruise the mint and release the lime juice.
    Add the ice and pour over the rum.
    Add soda water to taste and stir well. Garnish with a mint sprig and serve.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s