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recaro94 Cienfuegos - A travel report by Cody
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Cienfuegos,  Cuba - flag Cuba -  Cienfuegos
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recaro94's travel reports

One Hundred Fires

  5 votes
Cienfuegos is a beautiful city. When planning our cross Cuba trip I was attracted to it only by its size and fancy name, but having spent two days here this easily became my favourite Cuban city after Trinidad and Havana.

Central Cienfuegos
Central Cienfuegos
Cienfuegos is located on a bay of the same name, though the water is not easy to access from the city. There was a nice park located outside and to the east of the city center along the water, but other than that and the Naval Museum we found very little access to the bay, and what we did find was dirty and hidden. Despite this Cienfuegos remains a beautiful city. Its main square and connecting Pedestrian Boulevard were, at the time in our east-to-west Cuba trip, the most modernized we had found. Cienfuegos still manages to retain its Colonial Spanish charm though. Its provincial government building's towering dome was the most impressive sight, as well as the domes on the church to its north and Palacio to its south. Both the Prado and pedestrian boulevard were a delight to walk down and a great place to mingle with tourists and Cuban's equally. Here in Cienfuegos however, the threat of being constantly heckled and offered drugs, cigars and prostitutes is as prevalent as any large city or tourist destination in Cuba.

Favourite spots:
View from the tower on top of Palacio Azul
View from the tower on top of Palacio Azul
My favourite spot was the top of the tower on the Palacio Azul. Our guide book told us it was possible to climb to the top but when we first entered it, we were scolded by a group of women guarding the stairs and told to leave. I decided to return alone the next day and try again and found just one man at the base of the stairs who offered to take me up for one CUC. I followed him up to the roof of the building were he explained that the mansion belonged to rich fascists (the floor is literally tiled in Nazi symbols) who fled after the revolution and that entering the Palacio was now frowned upon because the tower had been seriously damaged by hurricane Dennis. He let me climb its tower half way up anyway and it offered a spectacular view of Cienfuegos and its main square.

What's really great:
Nuclear plant
Nuclear plant
While Cienfuegos greatly exceeded what little expectations I had for it, I had truly been excited to get to Cienfuegos for what lay outside the city. Both Playa Giron, site of the Bay of Pigs invasion, and an abandoned Soviet plan to build a nuclear power plant are nearby. Playa Giron isn't a very large beach, but it is beautiful. Unfortunately the beach now has a sea wall blocking the ocean so it gets no large waves. The nuclear plant was difficult to find at first, but once you see it on the horizon it's not hard to get to. There are no cooling towers, just one large Taj Mahal-like building. It's easy to see if you take the drive around the bay to see the Castillo de Jagua. We saw these three sites in one day and the nuclear plant was by far the most exciting. There's nothing stopping you from driving straight onto its grounds, though the large homeless population that emerged when we arrived scared my friends away from wanting to explore.

El Prado
El Prado
-Playa Giron
-Castillo de Jagua
-Parque José Martí
-Palacio Azul
-Palacio de Valle
-Arco de Triunfo
-Cathedral de la Purisma Concepcion
-abandoned nuclear plant if you can find it!

Cienfuegos was one of the few cities where we had absolutely no idea where we were going to go or where we were going to sleep. Fortunately the city is laid out extremely simply and well signed, so we quickly found the center and stopped at the first Casa Particular sign we saw. The man there said his place was full but took us across the street to a neighbours place instead, which was beautiful.

Published on Wednesday May 25th, 2011

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Sat, May 28 2011 - 04:33 AM rating by krisek

Very nice, very well written report! Definitely brought some great memories back. It would have been a five star report if there was a bit more information about places to eat, go out at night or hang out, and a bit more personal touch on the sights to see. But I really like your style and hope there will be a lot more from you. Many thanks indeed.

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