Dec 23, 2015
The day starts by going to the Viazul station to make a pre-reservation for the journey to Baracoa in two days.
Then going to Park Ferreiro with a bicitaxi. It is a long way and it is uphill. The driver will only ask for 5 CUC for the ride. Not having the change on 20 CUC, he says he will take the 4.80-ish CUC!
From there, a walk to the centre of the city. The first monument is the cuartel Moncada. There is a guided tour and the guide answers lots of questions I had on Cuba history. The visit is made with a stick, like the teachers have. The rest of the cuartel is a school. This might explain why.
A stop at the Plaza de Marte, where there are statues of four famous people who made Cuba. In Aguilera, going down to the centre, a stop at ARTex, which has very good cocktails and live music. It is filled with Cubans, which is nice. The museum of the carnival is just in front of it. The carnival had a role during the beginning of the revolution as it was supposed to help Fidel Castro hide after the attack of the cuartel Moncada.
A few blocks down is the Park Cespedes. Here is the building of the province, the cathedral and the Gran Hotel. From the Gran Hotel is a very nice view on the square and the cathedral but there is no good view on the South-East. It's 3 CUC, with 2 CUC as a credit for drinks. However, from the right tower of the cathedral, there is a nice view on the whole city.
On the waterfront, there is a small Malecón, but nothing particularly interesting. There is a brewery though.
In the neighborhood of the casa, is the natal house of Antonio Macéo. The visit is very interesting and gave a lot of details on the Cuban history before the revolution.
On the walls of the city, there is a lot more inscriptions about the revolution and the PCC as Santiago is the place where it all started with the attack of the cuartel Moncada.
In the evening, night out at the casa de la Trova and then la Claqueta. For the casa de la Trova, only a very drunk person gave the proper direction. For other directions, different people tried to redirect to other places. It was shallow.
It's a rather short day today. Visit of the casa of Franck Pais, who was a hero of the revolution.
Then, on the Parque Cespedes, there is the casa de Diego Velasquez. The house itself is Spanish style, with windows in Moorish style. Lots of furniture from the 16th century to the 18th century. Adjacent to the museum, is another house of French inspiration. One of the guides asks for money, saying she had her house destroyed by hurricane Sandy, so she needed money.
In the museum Bacardi, the guide made a French/English tour. The museum covers from the pre-Colombian immigration from South America to year 1958. Lots of pieces from the different times.
There is no bicitaxi in the centre as it is on the side of the hill. This explains why it was difficult to get a bicitaxi the day before. The bicitaxi only rides on flat areas, which are along the water. Moving in Santiago is sometimes suffocating due to the pollution. Lots of vehicles are throwing huge clouds of smoke! It can happen that a street is hazy because of that.
To conclude the day, I'm going to the Iphigenia cemetery where lots of the famous people of Cuba are buried. Heroes from the war of 10 years (1868-1878) against the Spanish, the war of three years (1895-1898) where the American intervened, the four years of American colonialism (ending in 1902), and finally the revolution (1956-1963). There is Cespedes, Martí, Macéo, the people who where tortured by Batista and the ones who died during the revolution. Each of them have a special mausoleum. There is also Bacardi and Cumpay Segundo. There is a lot of marble tombs everywhere, either from the famous people area or in the older part. In front of the cemetery, is a huge road, much larger than what is on the street just outside, most likely due to the state celebrations being held here. Due to the rain, there won't be a military ceremony in front of the Mausoleum of Martí. Also, when Fidel Castro dies, he will be buried next to him. While Martí has died way before he revolution, he's considered the father of the Cuban nation, as the one who inspired the ideas that Fidel Castro used to do the revolution.