Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Cienfuegos, Cuba

A wide sidewalk called the Malecon runs along the Bay at Cienfuegos
After 5 days together in Isla Mujeres on our boat, Larry & Christine and ourselves headed off for two weeks in Cuba. It was an easy trip to the airport at Cancun via ferry and taxi, and our flight went out on time. Our first night in Havana was lovely - dinner outside with an almost full moon beside one of the beautiful squares in the old section. Our casa particular was very comfortable and the host arranged a good early breakfast before our taxi picked us up early Saturday morning. 
After a 3+ hour drive he brought us right to our next casa. Cienfuegos is only 200 years old (compared to Havana and Trinidad which are 500) but it is quite charming - the only city in Cuba founded by the French - immigrants from Bordeaux and Louisiana. It was an important trading port and a battle site in the Spanish American War. Hurricane Dennis visited here in 2005 with winds of 144 miles per hour and gusts up to 177 miles per hour.
We walked all over the city. The anchorage and marina are on the bay with the beautiful historic Yacht Club but the water is rather disgusting - smelly and muddy. There were cruising type boats tied up there but the guards wouldn't let us on the docks so we couldn't talk to anyone. Unfortunately Christine had a stomach virus which really kicked in that afternoon and needed to stay at our Casa for the rest of the day. In the evening Scott, Larry and I walked down to the central square and had dinner with another great band playing. Afterwards we had ice cream at the famous national chain of ice cream stores called Coppelia and got taken. The water presented the bill of $2.50 each ice cream (not fancy or large portions) and we paid it, in C.U.Cs, which was all we had. He took the money and didn't say anything. It turns out that the charge was local pesos - about $.10 each. BIG tip! 
Our host family there were really great people and we enjoyed their company a lot; Elena, Chichi and their son Javier. Their home is over 100 years old with two story high rooms with decorated ceilings and pillars! The next morning Christine was feeling much better and we all enjoyed an excellent breakfast before walking around the city. Fortunately we came upon the Cienfuegos Symphony Orchestra having their weekly concert in the park and thoroughly enjoyed it. Music of every kind is everywhere in Cuba. Before Americans had 5+ hours of TV a day as a steady diet, they too were musicians and entertained each other. 
Our hosts arranged for a taxi driver to take us to Trinidad at 11 am - an easy 1.5 hour drive at first through the foothills of the mountains and then along the coast. Here  we had two nights in our own apartment - 3 stories high with two terraces and a view over the city to the ocean. It's very attractive and right in the oldest section of the town - but rather noisy at night! There are bands at every restaurant and bar and they are all good. I've been eating too much for sure. More on Trinidad later.
Looking into the living room of our Casa Particular from
the dining room.,

The ceiling!

A few of the houses across the street - we loved the flag
decorated terrace on the last one.

Another lovely casa

Our own Casa Particular, run by Chichi and Elena with
their son Javier.

Horse drawn carriages are everywhere outside of Havana
(and some even in the city). These are not for the tourists,
although a few are, but transportation for the locals.

Arcades line the main street and everywhere
there is beautiful wrought iron work.

The main street has a tree lined center park down the entire
length until you reach the Malecon along the bay.

Larry and Scott join our bartender at the Bahia Restaurant
for a photo. We had a great lunch there.

As everywhere young people love having their photos taken
(and not only the young). After taking their photos for them
I took one of them myself. These were Cuban students on
a weekend holiday.
Beautiful homes lined the bay
This one was undergoing renovations.
The Blue Palace (from the back)
Larry and Scott in front of the Cienfuegos Yacht Club. It had three restaurant/bars, tennis courts and a big swimming
pools complex as well as the Marina. Most of the Marina was full of charter boats. About 10 cruising sailboats were
anchored in front. The water in the bay is really disgusting - somewhat smelly and brownish.
Heather poses with famous native son
Benny More - Cuban singer
Restaurants line the one of the Pedestrian streets that lead to
Jose Marti Square.
Here's a view of a section with lots of seats for people watching.
I loved these public phone "booths" and notice the FBI
on the t shirt of the man on the left.
The Cienfuegos Cathedral with the Medici Lions.
The lovely theater
Huge trees cast comfortable shadows across many of the benches
City Hall
Lots of people are frustrating themselves trying to use the
public internet. We certainly had problems.
The "barbershop" trio that played for us during dinner. They
loved to harmonize - more than usual in cuban music.
The view as the sun was setting down the Pedestrian street.
Larry and Scott enjoy their very expensive ice creams!
Next morning Christine was feeling much better.
A shot as we approach the concert on the Prado (the park
in the center of the main street).
A close up view of the right side.
And on the left - no strings so really a band for this concert.
Bicycles are fitted with a wooden seat in front for children.
Generally women sit on the back wheel.
Christine looking lovely and feeling well.
Another pedestrian street lined with souvenir stalls and
waiting for customers.
We all loved these cars and cameras made of
soft drink cans - Christine bought several for
her grandsons.
These last photos are all Christine's and they
are fun! These puffer fish were made into
ceiling lights at the Bahia Restaurant.
I love the textures in this shot
Vintage car and lovely home along the Malecon
The view along the road from Cienfuegos to Trinidad
Our taxi driver to Trinidad and his car.
This is priceless! Great eye Christine.
Street scene in Trinidad
Christine enjoying this great orange car!

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