Havana Sights

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Parque Coppelia

Parque Coppelia Review

Named for the 1870 ballet by the French composer Léo Délibes, this Vedado park and its ice-cream emporium are Havana institutions. The Star Wars–type flying saucer in the middle of the square was the Revolution's answer to the many ice-cream parlors that, prior to 1959, were highly discriminatory. This state-owned establishment serves more than 25,000 customers daily. While many Cubans prefer waiting in the long lines and paying with the more accessible 'national' pesos, tourists or those willing to fork out convertible pesos have that option. The parlor once offered a legendary number of flavors, but after the Special Period (the national emergency declared upon the collapse of the Soviet Union, after which Cuba suffered severe shortages of everything from fuel to food) supplies became scarce, and a flavor a day became the rule. While at first glance the fearfully long lineups don't make the place very attractive—especially if a few scoops of ice cream provide the light at the end of the tunnel. But ice cream is only an alibi here. Cubans tend to chatter, mix, and mingle while waiting. Forget Facebook; this is a real-life social-networking venue.

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