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SANTIAGO DE CUBA - AGAIN

Baconao to Santiago

sunny 30 °C

Saturday December 21
We left Costa Morena right after breakfast. We had decided to spend the next 2 nights in Santiago de Cuba, even though we disliked the place, probably at the Hotel Las Americas just down from the expensive Hotel Melia

Driving back along the coast, we just couldn’t resist the Valle de la Prehistoria – it’s a huge park studded with giant, concrete prehistoric dinosaurs and other animals. It cost $1 each to get in and $1 to take photos. It was the best maintained place we had seen and was full of school children, dancers in one of the 4 cafes and lots of other people strolling around its hundreds of acres. It was great fun

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The Hotel Las Americas was only $80/night but not that pleasant and right next to a very loud nightclub that was already blasting out its music at 11:30 in the morning. Cubans must spend more money per capita on huge speakers than anyone else in the world

And so we returned to the Hotel Melia, a place we didn’t like that much - but it does have a large pool area, a 15th floor rooftop bar and satellite TV with football and movies and news. No special deals this time - $140 for the 1st night and, because Sunday is the start of the high season, $200 for the 2nd night.- that’s how desperate we were and we’re not even Canadian

We returned the car to Rent-a-Car (next to the hotel) and got a refund for the unused 2 days without any argument

We swam all afternoon; well actually I watched football most of the afternoon and had a very pleasant meal with wine in their “Restaurante Italiano”

Sunday December 22
During the day we did nothing but swim and watch football. In the evening, we were having a cocktail on the rooftop terrace (alone, as usual) when I noticed that one the the nearby main streets looked like it had been shut to traffic. The bar staff confirmed that this was done every Sunday so that a very large street-party could take place. So down we went, and spend a very enjoyable hour or two strolling along about a kilometre of a wide city street, full of food stalls, amplified music, a fashion parade and a micro fun-air for kids

SO WHAT DO I THINK ABOUT CUBA
Only Old Havana and Trinidad are interesting and pleasant enough places to be. If you really want go to the beach and you’re going to Trinidad, spend a couple of days on the Ancon Peninsula, otherwise spend a couple of days at Varadero – the beach is great but there’s nothing else there. Don’t bother with Playa Giron, Cienfuegos, Sancti Spiritus, Ciego de Avila, Camaguey, Las Tunas, Holguin, Bayamo, Santiago de Cuba, Gauntanamo, Baracoa and Maguana. If you hire a car, make sure you get one with a full-size spare tyre because the distance between major centres is much more than the recommended mileage for the mini-spares that a lot of the small cars carry

To be honest, I wouldn’t bother with Cuba at all until the embargo is over

But, the people are really wonderful especially as they have to put up with so much crap from the Cuban government

Posted by kforge 07:29 Archived in Cuba

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