Avoid Touts Who Recommend Casas in Santiago De Cuba.
We arrived in Santiago and went straight to the Casa which was recommended in our guide book. It was central and had a balcony. Unfortunately it was not available.
As we left we were approached by a tout who told us his Tia had a casa close by - Casa Vivian, with a terrace and great views.
We were wary of recommendations by touts as it always hikes up the price by at least 5CUC. He was insitent and we hot and weary from out journey so we agreed to have a look. Situated in the Santa Lucia/Corona area close to Padre Pio, down a steep hill the terrace views of the ocean and mountains were indeed beautiful even if the room was very basic.
The following morning we met an elderly French man on the terrace entertaining his Jinetera, He was about to depart for Haiti on boat he informed us. That afternoon an elderly Italian - Gennaro checked in. Must have been at least 70, his Cuban friend no more than 15. Within 30 miinutes we hear her sobbing in the hallway. He had not paid her. Though she 'was not a Jinitera" she informed us. She needed the money for the journey home.
Gennaro promptly leaves and returns with yet another lady of the night whom he'd picked up in the Calle outside. We were stunned. He had offered her 10 Euros and a shirt her son.
By now we were becoming increasingly uneasy with the constant flow of traffic so had a word with Madam Vivian who seemed very angry and would not believe that Gennaro had been entertaining non stop. She shouted at us and refused to refund our money. The cockroach skuttling across the kitchen floor and the maid asking if she could shower in our room which was the final straw.
We packed our bags and left.
A lesson leart. Never listen or be guided by a tout. They are all on commission and you're not likely to end up in decent acommodation.
We had read good reports of Santiago being a 'cultural jewel'.
We found it to be hot, smelly, and overfilled with rubbish and jiniteras with their elderly sugar daddies.
Everywhere we went we saw fat elderly Germans and Italians cuddled up to girls young enough to be their grandaughters.
The Cuban govt. really needs to clean up it's act, and put a stop to the exploitation of it's young women.
We were happy to depart Santiago for Holguin, a clean and cultured city with friendly people and best off it was tout free.
Fondest memory: Sala De Dolores. Teatro Oriente, View of the mountains from our terrace.
Plaza de Dolores and all of it's crazy eccentrics, performers and hustlers.
Cuba is full of monuments to the revolution and Santiago is no exception! This one is very close to the Viazul bus station along Avenida de Los Libertadores. It's absolutely HUGE!!! They were built when Russia was providing above average market prices for Cuba's sugar. I think with the current shortage of building supplies they might rethink the enormity of future monuments.
Fondest memory: The monuments are a free attraction in Cuba and some are very impressive!
After ten years without coming back to Santiago,the nicest thing I can remember is the vew of the Santiago Morro Castle and the bay when last year I went around with some friends from VT.
Fondest memory: All the other info will be posted soon!!
Blackouts and brownouts are common throughout Cuba so bring a flashlight!
Fondest memory: It was very peaceful relaxing on the rooftop listening to the sounds of the blackened city.
Favorite thing: This is Cayo Granma in the Bay of Santiago de Cuba. You can see this view from the Morro.
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