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Oh la la! The French in Cuba.

Cienfuegos, Varadero and bye bye Cuba.

sunny

We had arranged with Taxi Vinales for a pick up from our accommodation. Again it was bang on time. This time it was just a taxi with a stop-over, not a guided sightseeing tour. We got the same driver, the young man suffering toothache, as on the way to Trinidad, but minus the guide. We could not speak a word of the same language and communicated via a translation app on the driver's phone, so he sent us messages like 'What the pineapple you want to go?' And we typed answers which probably translated as things like: 'Full haste to Cienfuegos, my liege.' There were a lot of bewildered expressions on both sides but somehow we made it.

Cienfuegos is known as the Pearl of the South, though the literal translation of its name means City of One Hundred Fires. Cienfuegos was once populated by French immigrants from Bordeaux and Louisiana. The drive to Cienfuegos was beautiful, much of it was along the coast. When we arrived at Cienfuegos, we asked to be dropped at the Plaza de Armas in the city centre. In the centre of the plaza stands Parque Jose Marti, surrounded by many lovely historical buildings such as Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Cathedral, The Theatre Tomas Terry, The Palacio Ferrer with its pretty cupola, the Palacio de Gobierno or Government Palace and the Arch of Triumph. Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Cathedral was opened as a Catholic church in 1833 and became a cathedral in 1903. It was not open when we visited so we just viewed it from the outside. Theatre Tomas Terry was built between 1887 and 1889 in honour of Venezuelan industrialist Tomás Terry. Enrico Caruso and Anna Pavlova as well as many others have performed here. Palacio Ferrer was built by sugar baron, Don José Ferrer, between 1917 and 1918.

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Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Cathedral.

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Jose Marti statue, Cienfuegos.

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Arco de Triunfo.

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The Palacio Ferrer.

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Palacio de Gobierno - Government Palace.

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Lion, Parque Jose Marti.

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The Theatre Tomas Terry.

After looking round the main square, we wandered through a market selling lots of souvenirs towards the malecon or seafront walkway.

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Cienfuegos Market.

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Cienfuegos Market.

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Cienfuegos.

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Down on the Malecon.

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Down on the Malecon.

As our taxi drove down Paseo del Prado we passed a statue of Benny Moré, a famous Cuban singer. We then drove along the malecon to the Punta Gorda Peninsula. There are lots of impressive buildings here. We passed the Cienfuegos Yacht Club and stopped at the Palacio de Valle. The Palacio de Valle is a Moorish style villa built by the Italian architect, Alfredo Colli, between 1913 and 1917. It is now a restaurant. We had a quick look inside then went to the nearby Hotel Jagua for a drink. This seemed like a nice hotel with friendly staff and a pretty rectangular pool.

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Benny More.

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Cienfuegos Yacht Club.

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Palacio de Valle.

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Palacio de Valle.

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Palacio de Valle.

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Wandering along the malecon in Punta Gorda.

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In the Hotel Jagua.

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In the Hotel Jagua.

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In the Hotel Jagua.

We left Cienfuegos and headed towards Varadero - a beach resort area. The journey lead us through areas specializing in the production of citrus fruit and fruit juice. People stood by the roadside trying to sell these goods to passing cars. As we neared Varadero the weather took a turn for the worse. The sky turned black and rain began to pelt down. We thought Varadero looked horrendous, but later discovered it was only the weather that made us see it that way. A similar journey on the way back out in the sunshine was spectacular.

We were only staying in Varadero for one night, which in retrospect was too short. We should have stayed two. Our hotel was called the Sunbeach Hotel. The lobby and pool area of the hotel were nice, but our room was, what is commonly referred to in reviews, as dated. That doesn't normally bother me much, though I was a bit unhappy to discover a sharp spring had worked its way through my mattress. I discovered this rather painfully by touching it in the night. Despite the rain, when we arrived, we went to the swimming pool and to our surprise it was full of people happily swimming in the rain. Our stay at the Sunbeach was all inclusive. We have never gone all inclusive anywhere before. The best food was the freshly cooked food that you had to queue for. There was plenty of other food too of varying quality. The freshly cooked food at dinner was pork. At breakfast it was omelette and at lunch it was fish. ( Just as an aside I am writing this on the 16th of October back in Hong Kong where we are currently being battered by a force ten typhoon - Mangkhut. My windows are rattling and the lights are flickering madly. Power could be going soon.) After dinner it had stopped raining and as the sun was setting we walked to the nearby beach - about five minutes walk away. It was still busy even though it was getting dark.

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Sunbeach Hotel, Varadero.

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View over Varadero from our room.

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View over our hotel pool.

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View over our hotel pool.

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Dinner in our hotel.

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Sunset over Varadero Beach.

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Sunset over Varadero Beach.

In the morning we returned to the beach and went swimming. The water was crystal clear and just absolutely lovely. Then we returned to our hotel for a dip in the pool in the sun. We had to check out of the hotel at 12pm, so our stay in Varadero was really too short. We did not get to see the place at all except the hotel and the beach. After lunch our bang on time Taxi Vinales pick up arrived to take us to the airport.

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Varadero Beach.

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Varadero Beach.

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Varadero Beach.

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Varadero Beach.

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Back in our pool.

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Back in our pool.

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Back in our pool.

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Last drink in our lobby bar.

On the way back to the airport we passed through Matanzas which looked really nice and we stopped to have a look at Bacunayagua Bridge, too. Then it was the airport, which was just as unfriendly and vile as on the way in, and bye bye Cuba.

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Matanzas.

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Bacunayagua Bridge

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Bacunayagua Bridge.

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Bacunayagua Bridge.

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At Bacunayagua Bridge.

Posted by irenevt 17:18 Archived in Cuba Tagged beach bridge cathedral cienfuegos varadero

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