The Cuba Experience : Cuba Holidays
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Know Cuba Like Us

Travel Chronicles of my Cuban Holidays - Part III

I will go to Santiago on the 4th day of my Cuba Holidays.

This promises to be an equally splendid and action-packed day as the rest of the ones that I have lived on these holidays in Cuba.  I have gotten my mind made up to see eastern Cuba and I am as excited as I can possibly be for I have been described an earthly paradise. I pack up again, ride a cab to the Aerocaribbean airport in Wajay and take the first Cuban flight to Santiago de Cuba.
Flying out of Havana, I watch the capital again from the air. The image of this beautiful city from the air is something that I could rarely forget on this Caribbean Holidays in Cuba. The pilot's voice informs through the speakers that we are 23,000 feet high, way over a blanket of white clouds I can make out under the wings of the plane.
There are some 500 miles between both cities. An hour and a half later, almost at noon, I set both my feet on Santiago de Cuba, the Sweltering Land, and the Land of Son. As the plane readies to land, I see a shocking mountain range dominated by the Sierra Maestra National Park and its 17 peaks, all of them over 1,300 meters high. The Turquino Peak -Cuba's highest mountain with 1,974 meters above sea level- takes the cake here. And it is surely on the list of places to visit on this summer holidays in Cuba.
I can almost touch the mountains of El Cobre Sanctuary; a mythical and spiritual getaway presided over by Cuba's saint patron, the Virgin of Charity, crowned by Pope John Paul II. I make another checkmark on the list of interesting places to visit while in Santiago de Cuba during this one of a kind Cuba Holidays.

Deciding where to stay in Santiago de Cuba is a difficult choice.

At the Antonio Maceo International Airport, I quickly get acquainted with a cab driver who steers me to the Hero City. There are plenty of big houses of the epoch that have become nowadays, beautiful examples of the Cuba Hotels like the Arcada Hotel. I am an architecture lover and I want to enjoy my Holidays in Cuba observing the beauties of its houses, balustrades, in door yards so typical from the previous century's architectural tendencies. There are also creations of young and talented architectures that are waiting for me to be admired which have made of the hotels in Santiago beautiful examples of Cuba hotels and that is Melia Santiago. This is a hotel that gathers all the elements to take into account while choosing one place to spend your holidays in Cuba. There you can find quick and qualified services, comfortable and beautiful rooms and the warm of Cuban people. While walking by its corridors you can appreciate paintings of the most important Cuban Painters such as Fabelo, Choco, Sosabravo y Flora Fong. Among an array of hotels to choose from, I take the Casa Granda, across from Cespedes Park and right in the throbbing heart of Santiago's restless cultural life.
I take a panoramic view of the Colonial City, the bay, the surrounding mountains, the Cespedes Park and the oldest buildings in town, like the monumental Cathedral that showcases the island nation's first-ever painting –an artistic board carved in times of the ecce homo. Temps appear to be on the rise with each passing minute. People, though, walk past me with smiles on their faces. They seem to be happy for the fact that people from other countries like me share their time with them as part of our all inclusive holidays in Cuba.

Meeting Santiago de Cuba, the Hero city on my all inclusive Holidays in Cuba.

A two-hour hike around Santiago has been good enough to peek at the oldest house in the Americas, the Municipal Palace with floor-through balconies and parquet ceilings, the Governor's Mansion –now serving as the Museum of Furniture- and the Velazquez's Balcony, where residents, as I was told, set up a dais for president Fidel Castro's first speech to the Cuban people in 1959. Places where its spaces are full of history and tradition makes of my luxury holidays in Cuba an event that enrich my cultural background of this beautiful island of the Caribbean.
I saunter down Aguilera Street in search of other sites and I get to the Bacardi Museum, a place full of historic and artistic glamour. After visiting this Museum I realize that is going to be one of my favourite destinations on this luxury holidays in Cuba. This is so because Bacardi Museum is one of the oldest and most talked-about museums in Cuba, one of the first ones ever founded regarding its grand opening in 1899, and second only to the museum opened in Havana back in 1874 under the sponsorship of the Royal Academy of Medical, Physical and Natural Sciences, and the Museum of Natural History pieced together with the collections of Cuba's well-known ichthyologist Felipe Poey, a remarkable Cuban sciences man of the previous centuries. I am falling in love with Cuban culture and history due to this fact this place will be one of my first suggestion to others friend that are also planning to spend in Cuba their all inclusive holidays.  But despite being the longstanding runner-up in this category nationwide, the Bacardi Museum was the first such public facility ever founded on the island nation and one of the most important of all due to the collections it treasures, this is the reason why I feel that my luxury holidays in Cuba will be completed as soon as I visit this legendary place.
 A little bit further, I stop at the Dolores Plaza, stunned by an array of residential balconied buildings that take up this portion of the burg. I make a necessary pause to have something to eat and I get a welcoming cocktail at the Casa de Don Antonio. I try some Cuban food: congri oriental, seasoned cassava and roast pork meat washed down with an icy Hatuey beer, Santiago's typical lager. The music of a Cuban "Trio" is the golden ingredient of this delicious meal while listening to Cuban songs like Guantanamera and De donde son los Cantantes I have to say that honestly speaking, the food could not be any tastier. It is like my Cuba Holidays there is nothing left to be perfect.

Santiago de Cuba: a city full of culture and tradition.

I feel like as snug as a bug in a rug and on my way back to the hotel I walk down the city all the way around down Heredia Street, the most famous and bustling of all, from Calvario to San Pedro. I walk into poet Jose Maria Heredia's well-preserved birthplace house and I flip over the memories of the romantic author of Ode to the Niagara.
In Santiago de Cuba there is a theatre that has its name, The Heredia Theatre and the Dolores Concert Hall are ones of the attractions of a lovely afternoon in Santiago de Cuba, and I have the opportunity of being a witness of the quality of Cuban musician and dancers while being on my Holidays in Cuba at the Hero City.
Up and down that narrow avenue, both pedestrians and cars seem to elbow their way through. What an amazing sight this is! Everybody appears to have the same crossing rights, but the point is that vehicles actually slow down to make it through the swarm of people. At the House of the Troubadour, my visit takes longer than expected and my Cuba Holidays are better than expected too.  Through its wrought-iron gates, I can see people dancing graciously to the beat of the drums and the strumming guitars.

Dancing Conga on Santiago's nights

While being on my Caribbean holidays in Santiago de Cuba I have the unique opportunity of going to the world wide famous Santiago de Cuba´s Carnivals. There I feel in my own blood the combination of the Chinese cornet with the French rumba, and thanks to my holidays in Cuba I could appreciate that this province is also characterized by the hospitality of its inhabitants that has earned it the name of Capital of the Caribbean and birthplace of the Daiquiri, one of the ten most famous cocktails on earth and Hemingway's favourite one. I take advantage of the situation and drink a coolest Daiquiri while dancing with the Cuban famous song "Anoranza por la Conga" (Yearning for Conga) of Sur Caribe a musical group of Santiago de Cuba.
 Night falls and the city takes a different appearance, after a quick dinner at the hotel I take I wonder where to go on this marvellous night of my luxury holidays in Cuba. I ask to the Public Relationship girl of my hotel and she suggests me to visit Tropicana Santiago and San Pedro del Mar night clubs and she assures me that my Cuba Holidays night will be unforgettable at both places.
I decide to go to Tropicana Santiago and I agree with the Public Relationship girl of the hotel this is the best night of my all inclusive holidays in Cuba. I dance until midnight with the best of the Cuban Music, the show was amazing, because of the quality and beauty of the Cuban dancing girls. What I like the most of this beautiful place where the stone dancing girls that cover the whole entrance of the place, in my modest opinion this is a masterpiece of the Cuban art and my camera does not rest any moment like my feet on this terrific night of my holidays in Cuba.

Farewell, Santiago on the 5th day of my luxury holidays in Cuba.

This new day starts and my adventure spirit does not want to rest on this unique summer holidays in Cuba. Yesterday I made arrangements with the Holidays Place Agency to bus my way up to Holguin. Departure time is 1:00 o'clock this afternoon from Cespedes Park. I have already booked a room somewhere in Guardalavaca Beach. That is perfect, so I could see some more about Santiago before my bus leaves.
After a nutritive breakfast on the nice cafeteria of my hotel I take a cab ride to cover the dozen miles spanning the city and the El Cobre Sanctuary. A few minutes later, I am on top of that same mountain I'd made out from the aircraft. It is as early as 8 o'clock in the morning and Mass is already in full swing in the church. I am fulfilling one promise that I made to myself while flying to Santiago the Cuba when I first saw this beautiful sanctuary from the plane. I said to myself that I have to visit this representative place of the Cuban identity on this Cuba Holidays.

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Original painting decorations by cuban artist Sandra Dooley
graphic design Otto Pantoja