Friday, 12 February 2016

Cuba and Spain 2016: Travel Update 2


So, you may have been wondering where the promised updates have been. I have a confession to make: I am technologically illiterate. Whilst out on Spain I tried to get onto Blogger and my emails. I got a message stating that the location that I was trying to access from was unfamiliar, (no shit), so they needed to check that I was who I said I was. So, they would send me a text to my mobile. Except that I had no mobile with me, and thus, I was locked out.

And so here, several weeks late, is my travel update from Cuba and Spain.

1). Madrid

I spent three days in the Spanish capital and rather enjoyed it. My first visit to the city, the highlights were the Prado, Atocha Station, a day trip to Toledo and the tapas.

That though, was only the aperitif and the main course was even more fun. It was onto Cuba on an Air Europa flight (possibly the worst airline that I've used in a decade) where I landed in Havana. The map below shows the route that I took:

So, I started in Havana, a beautiful city full of atmosphere and history. If this is an American city then I want more! I explored the Museum of the Revolution, old Spanish forts, the old city and the newer districts as well as walking the Malecon, sipping daiquiris and mojitos and experiencing orisha dancing as well as meeting some friendly Canadians and, of course, Cubans. Perhaps the highlight though was my first ever baseball game at the Estadio Latinoamerico.

After Havana it was onto the beautiful old colonial town of Trinidad, which would have been brilliant... had I not been ill...

Then I went to the cradle of the revolution, Santiago de Cuba, a fine city of revolutionary heritage with a stunning Spanish fort worthy of being visited by Captain Jack Sparrow and a gorgeous island with traditional wooden architecture. Thanks to Manuel Rodriguez and Nancy for making this bit special.

Onwards, past Guantanamo Bay, (yes, that is in Cuba!), over the spectacular La Farola road (one of the great achievements of the revolution), to Baracoa, the alternative chill-out capital of Cuba where I soaked in the crystal clear waters, lazed on the roof terrace of my private apartment and delved into the pre-Spanish Taino culture.

Then, over unmade roads and through thick jungle it was a very bumpy bus ride to Holguin, a provincial town built around sugar plantations.

Next up though was perhaps my favourite Cuban city, Santa Clara, the city of Che where the great guerrilla won a battle against all the odds, blew up a train and was later buried after his death in Bolivia. I also managed to tour a cigar factory which was a rather interesting break from the revolutionary sites.

And then finally, back to Havana where I experienced the highlight of the entire trip. i took the Hershey train out to Matazas, met a fascinating Dutch chap who'd also toured North Korea and, best of all, was invited to drive the train itself. Such is why we travel!

Keep travelling!

Uncle Travelling Matt

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