After a two hour bus ride we arrived at the bus station to a busy, grubby town. We decided to not bother with a taxi as it all seemed quite close to where we were. Armed with a Casa Particulares business card, we started following the tiny map on the back. All the Casa’s have business cards with their WhatsApp, email, a few features of their casa, sometimes a professional photograph of them in all an white outfit and on the reverse, a little city map with some points of interest and a trail back to the casa itself. These have been super handy since Cuba is very short on maps and street signs!
As we battled our way through all the “LADY! LADY! TAXI!? TAXI!!” we were approached by a woman holding a laminated A4 piece of paper. It was a blown up version of the Casa cards. The lady was offering us room in a casa close by for only $15CUC (the standard pricing seems to be $25) so we were happy to at least check it out. Albeit a little apprehensive, we followed her the short distance to her casa. Please try surprised, we were greeted by the Jefa (female boss), Elias. Elias was so friendly and welcoming and seemed so genuinely happy for us to be there. It was quite a narrow building but went up three storeys to a well decorated roof terrace complete with bar, a Cuban parrot and large water feature. We were happy and after dumping our bags we went off to explore the “French” more than Spanish colonised town of Cienfuegos.
View Point Over Parque José Martí @ Cienfuegos
Viewpoint Casa La Cultura Benjamin Duarte @ Cienfuegos
Casa La Cultura Benjamin Duarte @ Cienfuegos
Cienfuegos is home to the countries most beautiful natural bay. It was founded in 1819 by french pirates and named a UNESCO world heritage site in 2005. It’s biggest historic moment, some say, is the infamous day on September 5, 1957 when officers at a local navy base staged a revolt against, the then, Baptista dictatorship.
Most of the City was a bit drab and, unsurprisingly, poor. Around the main plaza- Parque José Martí” and its close surrounds is all beautiful restored 19th century French architecture thanks to some much needed money from UNESCO. Local born black musician and “Mambo King” Benny Moré gave Cienfuegos it’s African soul voice back after its slave era.
We spent the one night and day and half walking around Punta Gorda and Cienfuegos city, climbing to the tops of cathedrals and following the sea line around the port.
Colonial Style Building @ Cienfuegos
That night, the streets went pitch black, the rain hit and the power stayed out for a majority of the night. We stumbled upon, what seemed like, the only restaurant open and able to perform and had one of the most delicious meals of brucetta and some minced beef with raisins and vegetables. Cuba had started to get some flavour!
Over Looking La Malecón @ Punta Gorda
After a short, powerless stay, we grabbed an early coffee at Parque Josi, bid farewell to Elias and jumped in our pre booked taxi to Trinidad!