07.03.2015 - 13.03.2015 26 °C
Next stop is Cienfuegos, further south. We share a taxi with a couple from Quebec, at least we thought it was a taxi, it turns out to be just a guy with a private car who takes us about 1hr away and then we swap cars for the remainder of the journey as he does not have a licence which allows him to go to the next region. We eventually get there though!
Cienfuego is a large town and supposedly the 'pearl of the south'. They said if Cuba had a Paris, this would be it. It is certainly the most restored city I saw and not just thanks to UNESCO money. Cienfuegos is located around a large bay with a shipyard, a thermoelectric plant and it is also the centre of Cuba's shrimp-fishing fleet.
We stay here just one night and visit the town and go to a cabaret/show.
About an hour away from Cienfuegos, we continue our journey in a beaten up old american car which we shared with a polish couple. No handles on inside for doors or windows, the roof is exposed metal, the seats are patched up with packing tape. I did check the tyres before I got in and they were ok and we do make it to Trinidad without problems. A really pretty little town (quite touristy) with lots of hidden gems behind a simple door.
Whilst walking around, we come across a kind of community hall in a lovely old colonial building, there's a band playing and lots of local people dancing. I can't help but stop and look through the door at all these lovely people of all ages having a great time dancing. It's not long before I get spotted and dragged along for a few dances with this lovely old boy. I think he looks great!
Trinidad is all cobbled streets, people are friendly without being pushy (in tourist shops) and there is music at every street corner. They have an area called 'Casa de la Musica' which is just above some large steps from the square where there's music playing all the time. It is a great place and always full of people just having a drink and listening to the music or dancing. There are also a lot of artists selling their paintings, many of which I really liked.
I loved walking around and watching people, I took one of my favourite photos of Cuba here.
Only a few streets away from the centre though you can see some real poverty with houses in a bad way. As I was walking around, a lady came to me and asked me if I had any soap or shampoo or cream. I felt so terrible that I went back to my hostel and got as much stuff as I could manage without and went back to give it to her. She was so delighted!
The next day we take a taxi to Playa Ancon, a few miles away and our first beach in Cuba. The sea is warm and the beach is not at all busy. It is very hot though, in the 30s.
I then say goodbye to Simon who has more time than me in Cuba so is able to travel all the way to the south. I spend the day looking a little more at the art shops and in the evening I meet two girls from Brittany who have also spotted the little place selling 'crepes' lol We spend the evening together chatting sitting on the steps and listening to the live music.
Situated about 140Km east of Havana, Varadero is one of the largest resort town in Cuba with a peninsula consisting 20 kms of white sandy beach. After checking into my casa, I take a walk around and check out the beach, there are hardly anyone there! This is meant to be the most touristy area of Cuba! In fact the 'luxury' hotels (still by Cuba standards) are located at the end of the peninsula quite far from the town so I expect that is where all the Canadians and Italians are (they are the most common tourists in Varadero). So it is great for me, a beach almost to myself!
It is my last few days before going back to Havana and then home and I spend much time looking at the art shops, I love their art and have ended up buying quite a few paintings as well as a couple of crochet dresses made by local women.