Cuba – Day 2 (7.3.2017)

Surprisingly, our jet lag was not so severe and we could sleep almost until the normal rising time.

The second day was dedicated to the visit of Matanzas and the surrounding area. And since we were a group of 7 people, a correspondingly large taxi was ready in the morning.

Taxi Matanzas
Guide for the day was Alejandro, whom our Canadian family already knew from several visits and whom they already regarded as a friend. If any of our readers would like to book guided tours in Cuba (Varadero, Matanzas, Havana): We can only recommend Alejandro! (http://www.cubantripcompass.com). Alejandro was ready to collect the participants and, of course, some shot-chat was done before starting.
Alejandro und Gruppe

The first destination of our tour was a trip especially for Cubans, located on a river east of Matanzas, the Club Nautico Canimar Abajo.

Kubanisches Ausflugsziel
On the other side of the river were camping huts, which reminded me very strongly of the huts in Yugoslavia, where I had also spent a night or two in the 70s.

Campinghütten
The next destination was then the Saturno Cave, a cave on the way to the airport of Varadero. It goes down deeply and then opens to a cave with a water pool, in which one can swim, which was extensively used by three from our group of 7.

Saturno Cave

Before lunch, we had a trip to the Parque de la Libertad in Matanzas. It is the central square in the city and also a hotspot. In Cuba there are few accesses to the Internet. Private access is only coming soon, and if you want to surf, you need access in the open air if you do not want to go to a hotel. A hotspot is visible by people sitting on some benches and staring at their phones.

Hotspot

And this applies not only to mobile phones, but also to computers.
Internet and Oldtimers

We also had a look at the Hotel Velasco, which has, among other things, a wonderful bar.


Bar im Hotel Velasco
But then a lunch break was necessary. Since the restaurant Alejandro had chosen was unfortunately closed, we went to a restaurant nearby and found a seating area right by the sea.

Restaurant am Meer

Everyone had different dishes and we first experienced the (limited) selection of Cuban food. A typical dish is the “Ropa Vieja“, which is the only dish based on beef generally. Ropa Vieja is translated as “old clothes”.

Ropa Vieja

Hanna was exhausted after the meal and we delivered her to our Casa. Afterwards we went back to the central square of Matanzas, where we had been already in the morning. Alejandro always says that Matanzas is the greatest city in Cuba (because he lives there). The Lonely Planet für Kuba has a different opinion: He thinks that Matanzas is uninteresting, with the exception of the old pharmacy. This was our next destination and that was impressive. It is the only pharmacy in the world, preserved in the original state of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Apotheke Matanzas

For example, with the old cash desk.

Apotheke Kasse

Or the drugs that were offered. Note that Cognac and Vino Xeres (Sherry) were among the medications.

Arzneien

Also the “drug kitchen was interesting.

Drogenküche

After the pharmacy, we went to the main shopping street of Matanzas.

Einkaufsstrasse in Matanzas

In Cuba, there are two official currencies: the CUC, which is freely convertible and approximately equivalent to the US dollar, and the CUP, the Cuban peso, which the locals use. However, the supply of goods that can be bought with CUP is very limited, as a visit to a store brought us clearly.

Kubanischer Laden

After the visit to Matanzas we went to a cave, the Bellamar Caves, whose visit I had to leave, because I had considerable breathing difficulties and a rising panic. This was due to the high humidity of up to 98%, an effect, which I had unfortunately experienced a couple of years ago when visiting a hamam in Istanbul. Brian thankfully led me back out of the cave, where I was waiting for the others in the shadow of a ficus.

Ficus

In the evening we went to a simple Italian restaurant near our Casa. Near the restaurant was a store, which mainly sold alcohol and we saw many Cubans with a bottle of rum in the restaurant, which they had obviously brought from the shop. We did not have it, but there was enough alcohol for us. Next to the terrace was a taxi with an open trunk and a blasting stereo, so we had music without the restaurant having to worry about it. And as soon as one of the local guests asked for fire, Brian jumped up and donated one of his many lighters he had brought along. And the service got not only tips baut also a few pens.

Tired and satisfied, we went to bed.

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