Photo Feature by Irina Pino
HAVANA TIMES – Columnata Egipciana is a beautiful café on Mercaderes Street in Old Havana. In the 19th century, Eca de Queiroz used to go here, the great Portuguese realist writer, who was also a lawyer and Ambassador of Portugal in Havana at the time.
Its interior design comprises pieces donated by the Eca de Queiroz Foundation, and the Amorin company, based in Cuba. You can see a panel of tiles with allegories to this literary figure, his words and several paintings with Portuguese landscapes.
The inner courtyard has a picture of a tram, as if it we were there.
Word has it that this building served as a warehouse centuries ago, as there were lots of businesses on this street, after which it takes its name.
If I’m remembering right, it was a Tea House in the ‘90s. It was a meeting point for homosexuals. I used to come once or twice a week with my friends.
It was a calm spot, and you could talk while enjoying delicious cups of iced tea and sweet pastries. Although one afternoon I witnessed a couple burst in and in a fit of jealousy, and the police were called in.
Then, it closed down, because things got really bad during the Special Period crisis, and things began to disappear from shelves.
They currently sell coffee and infusions, and you can still enjoy a pastry or ice cream every now and again. Although the prices don’t correspond to the product, for example: a herbal infusion costs 25 pesos, and a scoop of ice cream 35 pesos.
But you do have a good time here, and it’s a nice place to seek refuge from the heat.
So, if you’re ever wandering around Old Havana, visit this amenable spot, you’ll at least be able to drink something and imagine you’re in a real Portuguese café.