Santiago de Cuba
With a song on your lips and a salsa in your step …make your own memories in Santiago de Cuba.
SANTIAGO DE CUBA, CUBA
MARUCHY GARCIA casa particular with Jose Cobo Nunez and Maruchy Gayoso Garcia. Jose is a former engineer who once worked for an American company in Cuba and speaks English well. His time visiting with us was appreciated. The up-the-narrow-stairs bedroom offered a double and single bed. The sheets had a nice feel but kept slipping off the mattress. The private bathroom is separate from the bedroom. The room also had a small fridge, air-conditioning, fan, dressing table, hangers and bedside tables with lamps. Meals, good and affordable, were served at the large table in the old style livingroom/diningroom where the always-closed shutters kept it cool but gloomy dark. There is a very old, smelly dog in residence. (Some of the negatives might be changed by the time you reach Cuba.) Address: San Felix (Hartmann) No 313, e/Trinidad y Habana, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba Phone: (53-22) 626861
HOSTAL DONA MARIA ELENA PONCE FAVERO (Casa colonial en el Centro de la Ciudad) We did not stay here but it is a casa particular which can arrange stays with themselves or other casa particulars. San Felix (Hartmann) No 213, e/Maceo y San Mateo, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba 90100 Phone: (53-22) 651299
SIGHTSEEING IN SANTIAGO DE CUBA
Touring GAP Adventures has a number of tour options for Cuba; the longest being their 15 day Colonial Tour. Many of the historical city centers are small so we encourage you to tour on your own by walking and/or using bicitaxis and cocotaxis. It can be more affordable, more flexible and more fun than an organized tour. Take a Lonely Planet guide book with you for detailed information about the sights to see. Remember to take some time, tuck the guide book away, and just enjoy watching citizens going about their daily lives. We found most of central Santiago de Cuba doable by walking.
FOOD & DRINK IN SANTIAGO DE CUBA
For decades Cuba has been criticized for its bland and unimaginative food. Other than street pizzas, pastries, etc, Cubans tend to eat at home … mostly for economic reasons. When Cuba reopened it’s doors to tourists in 1997 and began allowing casa particulars (similar to B&Bs), visitors to this country now have an opportunity to enjoy home cooked meals. Some of Cuba’s best and most reasonably priced meals can be enjoyed in casa particulars. For dinner and lunch the choice is usually chicken, pork, fish or vegetarian.
Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner:
In Santiago de Cuba we ate all breakfasts and two dinners at the casa particular.
Casa Granda is a good place to have a drink or light meal on their terrace if you can get a railing side table and like to watch the action in the main square. The menu does not necessarily reflect what is available to order; it took us three orders before we hit something they actually had and then it wasn’t as described … but this is part of being in Cuba. If you are thinking of staying at Hotel Casa Granda, first check the reviews on TripAdvisor.
Address: Heredia No. 201, e/ San Pedro y San Felix, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba
Water: Drinking water in Cuba for visitors should be bottled. Most Cubans boil the water they use. Having ice cubes is usually safe at hotels, restaurants and casa particulars which cater to tourists.
Drinks: Cuba is famous for it’s rum. Individual purchased drinks are tourist priced. Buying bottles of rum and mix at a bar or mercado and mixing your own is common in Cuba. Beer brands ‘Bucanero’ and its lighter version ‘Cristal’ are the two most popular beer offered.
Snacks: Pop, chips and cookies are luxury items and are sold in Cuban convertible pesos (CUC$). If you have national pesos (CUP) you can buy local goods like street pizza for approx 45¢ US, a loaf of bread approx 12¢, ice cream cone approx 7¢) and a glass of sugar cane juice approx 8¢.
“Coppelia” is a Cuban institution – terrific ice cream, incredibly low prices (at least for foreigners when paying in CUP) and usually long line-ups. Different line-ups depending on where you want to sit (ie: shade) or sometimes what flavour you want; although some days there is just one flavour available. Foreigners can jump the lines if they pay in CUC. Walk away from the centre of town to Coppelia La Arboleda at the corner of Avenida Victoriano de Garzon and Av de Los Libertadores.
GETTING AROUND SANTIAGO DE CUBA
An easy, comfortable and inexpensive way to go between most cities in Cuba is by ViaZul Bus. These buses are equipped with toilet and air conditioning. Buy your ticket ahead to avoid disappointment.