For our last days in Cuba two more stops were planned before returning to Varadero, Santiago de Cuba and Santa Clara.
Santiago has its own urban motorway, unfortunately depicted so cryptically in our map that we ended up in a completely different part of the city than initially planned. With me being finally completely confused it was great fun to search for a place to stay! Our hosts in Camagüey had organized a Casa for us, but the house at the address they had given to us rather looked abandoned than like a nice place. Our travelguide suggested a Casa with a bar quite close, but this one was already booked out and the lady sent us to another place… which turned out to be a very good choice!
(Including two very good home made dinners.)
On the rooftop:
Santiago is a city full of places of interest and has a great nightlife. Unfortunately, we were tired of being tourists and therefore stayed home during the evenings and visited only a few places in the city.
A very central place of interest is the square Parque Cespédes surrounded by four important buildings including a cathedral (under construction of course), the town hall with the balcony from which Fidel gave his first speech to the nation, and the house of Diego Velázquez, the Spanish conqueror, one of the oldest houses in Cuba. Close to Parque Cespédes you can visit the prison in which Fidel stayed after the first attempt of a coup against Batista. Because all guides were gone – “Se fue!” -we had no chance to visit it.
Catedral de la Asunción:
Casa Diego Velázquez:
Not far from the city an old castle/fortification can be visited. We found the place by chance while we were – again – searching for something like a boat trip. I don´t know if that´s just my feeling, but every time I visit a city with a harbor I want to have a look at the city from the waterside too…
Castillo del Morro was an interesting place and I am glad that we found it, even if they charged 4$ entry and another 8$ !!! to take pictures. Due to my refusal to pay that money I now present you my totally illegally taken ones.
Castillo del Morro:
Through the “window”:
View from below:
In this picture nobody has a sunburn:
Another must see is the central cemetery of Santiago. In this place you can find quite a number of graves of famous/important people like for example the grave of the Bacardi family that emigrated to the USA after the revolution. A huge mausoleum reminds of the national hero José Martí, containing a statue of him. Due to the design of the top of the mausoleum, sunlight is shining on the statue the whole day (reportedly he wanted to be buried facing the sun). In front of the memorial an eternal flame is burning and the grave is guarded by servicemen that change every 30 min including a pompous ceremony.
Grave of Emilio Bacardi:
Mausoleum of José Martí:
The area surrounding Santiago is quite mountainous and our travel guide suggested a trip to a huge monolith “La gran Piedra”. So we decided to go for that trip before leaving in the direction of Santa Clara. It is possible to climb the rock and the view from the top is just breathtaking.
On the way:
A lot of stairs to take:
La gran Piedra:
More of it:
Move on! Route to Santa Clara and Varadero (including a 1 night stopover in Florida):
The distance between Santiago and Santa Clara is too big to manage in one day, so we had a stop in Florida on our way, but there´s nothing much to report about that. Our days in Santa Clara were: wet. It was raining continuously and all the museums we would have liked to visit were closed. But we visited the places nevertheless to get an impression about this historically very important city of Cuba. Santa Clara was the scene of the decisive battle between Che Guevaras Movimiento 26 de Julio and the governmental troops, were he managed to derail a train delivering weapons “Tren Blindado”. Therefore his grave including a huge mausoleum, a museum, and a parade ground is located in Santa Clara.
Officina de la Provincia and estatua Che y Niño:
Mausoleum Ernesto Che Guevara:
Wearing only half way dried clothes we found a fantastic place for dinner were we had “Ropa vieja”, a local speciality. I found a recipe online:
Tome Coca Cola bien fria:
Finally we headed back to Varadero, were our journey started. It was a great adventure and I think we will come back some day…
Nos vemos, Cuba!