Santiago de Cuba
Chris and Penny Manley
Mon 9 May 2016 19:35
Monday 2nd May – Wednesday 4th May
We decided, with Ian and Gerry, to hire a car and drive the 150 miles to Santiago de Cuba on the south coast. The roads in Cuba are not the best,and even the “motorway” had pedestrians, cyclists and horses and carts. It took us 4 hours by which time we were glad to be there.
We had hoped to stay in Roy’s Terrace Inn but he was full but found us 2 rooms around the corner in a casa particulares – a cuban home that rent out homes to foreigners and are relatively cheap. A cuban B&B. The one we stayed in was run by grandma, mum and two daughters. The rooms are clean with en-suite bathrooms and air conditioning. With breakfast this cost us 70 CUC$ for 2 nights, which is about £50 for both of us. The casa particulares owners were only allowed to rent out two rooms, but since Raul Castro came to power he has relaxed many of the old rules, and the casa owners can now let out more rooms.
Santiago de Cuba is where Fidel Castro led a (failed) attack on the Moncada army barracks on 26 July 1953, and was the start of the revolution. In the countryside around Santiago are numerous references to 26 July, plus monuments to the men who died in various rebel uprisings. One of those was the landing of the yacht “Granma” which had sailed with Fidel, hid brother Raul, Che Guevara and 78 other rebels from Mexico. Only about a dozen survived the shipwreck landing and routing by the Cuban Army.
After the success of the revolution in 1958, Fidel gave his victory speech from the balcony of the Ayuntemiento on the northern side of Cespedes park. Also on the eastern side of the park is the Hotel Casa Granda where Graham Greene sought inspiration in the terrace bar – as indeed did we. And it was one of the few places with a wifi signal!
After a days sight seeing and a good meal in a seafood restaurant we made our way back to the marina. We stopped at Palm Soriana for petrol and something to eat. We went into a local cafe where the clients were all to happy to help us translate the rather limited menu – steak and chips or ham and cheese sandwich...