Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Cuba: Santiago

I have mixed feelings about Santiago.  I was really looking forward to visiting it thinking that it would be another Havana, in fact, even older.  Maybe it was the false expectations that made it a bit of a disappointment.  There were historical buildings but I was sad to see them in disrepair, even the special museum sites looked like they just got a layer of cheap paint that didn't go on very smoothly.  The Hotel Casa Granda which we would have stayed at were we to do an overnight trip looked like it was barely held together, the "roof" over the internal courtyard dilapidated.  Yet the view from the rooftop garden was spectacular and the building still retained an aura of past splendour.  While Havana was bustling with a sense of renewal, Santiago city centre was filled with people begging and hustling, giving an impression of a city in decay.  Maybe it was just a misconception over a short visit of just a couple of hours whereas we were in Havana for three whole days - I hope I'm wrong.  

A "classic car" jam viewed from the rooftop garden of the Casa Granda

The Cathedral in the Parque Cespede in the city centre

The gracious outdoor dining room in the Casa Granda

The internal courtyard of the Casa Granda (note the roof)

Rooftop garden - Casa Granda

View of the city from the rooftop garden

This building was boarded up - a sneak view through the hoarding but it doesn't look like any work is being done on it.

Another part of the same building possibly the Casa de Cultura is being used as some sort of display gallery.

Museo de Ambiente Cubano, the oldest residential building in Cuba (wish we had time to visit)

Detail from the attractive front of the Ayuntamiento or town hall, originally the site of the governor's house.

Some street life near the city centre

Museo Emilio Bacardi Moreau (see what I meant about the paint?)

Our favourite - the Casa de la Trova

Duo los Cubanitos invited us in and played for us.  We bought their CD - it is extraordinarily good!

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