Friday, June 5, 2015

Guantanamo to Santiago de Cuba - A Big City and a Battlefield

I heard that the ride from Guantanamo to Santiago de Cuba was not all that interesting. So I decided I would fold up my bicycle and take a bus. I arrived  at the bus station early and was told that the next bus would leave in about two hours. So I waited. I waited and eventually caught a bus without any issues. 
When I arrived in Santiago de Cuba I rode my bicycle into the center of town (historic district) and looked around for a casa particular. I eventually found the house of Casa Idania at Calle Cornelio Robert No 117. 
The house was located in the historic district and indeed appeared to be a classic period house. The place was furnished like mid 19th century house. 
The bedroom had two beds and some period piece wood furnishings. At times I felt as if I was living in a museum. 
Outside my window I could watch a ferocious game of street basketball being played by the local kids on a backboard hung on a wall above the sidewalk. 

I walked down Enremadas Street, on of the main shopping streets, to take in the atmosphere. At one little pocket park there were some fierce games of chess and dominoes being played. Someone challenged me to a game, but I declined. These guys looked like pretty serious players.  
I found a little cafe along Enramadas street which quickly became my go to restaurant in Santiago de Cuba called Fonda Sabor Tropical.
The cafe served complete plate meals of a meat like chicken, pork, fish or shrimp with a side of rice and a salad of cabbage and tomato. A complete meal might cost 25-30 pesos or $1 to $1.25. 

I walked the distance of Enramadas street which ended at Parque Marti.
One day I took an excursion to a memorial site dedicated to the battle of San Juan Hill. The building above is the San Juan Hotel built on the sight of the memorial. 
The battle was an instrumental battle fought by Cuban and American soldiers against Spanish soldiers during the Spanish American war. The battle was significant for the United States in defeating the Spanish and because the Buffalo Soldiers and Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Ridders fought in the battle. There were a number of memorial statues and plaques dedicated to the different battaliones that fought in the battle. 
A one far end of the site there is a memorial call the Arbol de Paz (Tree of Peace).
At night I walked around the Parque Cespedes which seemed to be the place to be at night. Along one street there were some bars, restaurants and art galleries. At another corner of the park there was the Casa Grande Hotel with a top floor balcony from which I took this photo.

I spent a few days in Santiago de Cuba, but quickly got bored of the city life. I wanted to get back to the countryside and ride. 

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