Outside of Santiago de Cuba

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If you make it as far as Santiago de Cuba, don’t stop there. Two must-see sights are roughly 10 and 20 kilometers from the city, respectively. Castillo El Moro This World Heritage Site is a Renaissance-style castle with medieval elements that was built by the Spanish in 1638 to protect against raids from pirates, the [Read more …]

Santiago de Cuba

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Santiago de Cuba was the nation’s first capital. It was “demoted” in favor of Havana, which was named capital by virtue of its port and its larger economy. While it is no longer the capital, Santiago de Cuba is, however, the most heterogeneous city, with a vibrant mix of virtually every nationality and race. This [Read more …]

Sierra Maestro Mountains and Bayamo Cuba

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As we started heading east on the Cuban island, we entered the Sierra Maestro Mountains, the tallest of the country’s three major ranges. Its peaks of about 6,000 feet, are clearly visible to the south of the town. We, however, went directly into Bayamo, the second oldest village in the entire country. You would never [Read more …]

Camaguey Cuba

Cateral e Nuestra Senora de la Candelaria

Camaguey Cuba is the capital of one of the country’s largest provinces. Like Havana, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The residents moved the city’s location from its original location by the coast to escape pirates and restive Indians who continually and fiercely resisted Spanish control. Unlike most Cuban cities, Camaguey is not laid [Read more …]

Sancti Spiritus Cuba

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Sancti Spiritus Cuba was founded in the same year (1514) as Trinidad, by the same explorer (Diego Velasquez). Although we only drove through and made a couple photo stops in the city, it is a gem with which even our guide was not particularly familiar. The most historic site is the Yayobo bridge, a three-arch, [Read more …]

Trinidad Cuba

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Trinidad Cuba Trinidad Cuba was originally located on a Caribbean harbor a few miles from its current location at a town now named Casilda. But after continual attacks from pirates, the Dutch and the British, the citizens gave up and moved the town inland. The current city’s location was founded in 1514. It maintains many [Read more …]

Cienfuegos Cuba

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Cienfeugos Cuba is a maritime city of roughly 400,000 people and is known as the “Pearl of the South”. The French who fled Haiti after the Haitian revolution established the city in 1819 in the middle of what is now known as the Main Square. This lovely square has the obligatory Jose Marti statue, a [Read more …]

Exploring Central Cuba: Zapata Peninsula, Santa Clara and Remedios

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Cuba is a small island. Yet it has many interesting places. We left the Vinales Valley heading southeast toward Cienfuegos. After passing south of Havana we reached the Zapata Peninsula, named for the landowner to whom Spain granted the property in 1639. Largely swampland, the area is only sparsely populated. It is, however, one of [Read more …]

Vinales Valley

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Vinales Valley West of Havana is the Vinales Valley. This area is doubly blessed: It is renowned as the best (or at least one of the very best) and most productive tobacco-growing regions in the world. It is, therefore, the foundation of the country’s premium cigar industry, accounting for 64 percent of the country’s tobacco [Read more …]

A Subjective Tourist’s View of Life in Cuba

Bodega la caridad - government store

While we were in Cuba on our last trip in 2012, we heard a lot about the rationing of food and supplies. We still remember sitting in a classroom with a teacher explaining the educational system to us and her comments about having a severe headache. As aspirin was difficult to buy in Cuba due [Read more …]