Santiago de Cuba to Baracoa

map santiago to baracoa

A fairly easy drive to Baracoa, out of Santiago on the "motorway" then just followed the coast road until we turned to climb over the mountains to Baracoa. The US Guantanamo base is on the way, but well shielded from prying eyes, and apart from the odd "no photography" notice, you would not have known the Americans and their detainees were there.

We discovered later hat a Hurricane Thomas was on the way (he arrived three days later) and the sea was churned up by high winds as we drove along the coast. The mountain road, called La Farola. to Baracoa. Until the road was completed in the 1960s, Baracoa was only accessible by boat.

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Along the south coast of Cuba ..beginning to be battered by high ..winds. But the sea did go blue Then we started up La Farola
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-up and over a high mountain ..range. The road twists and turns, and is well engineered. And we drop down to Baracoa

We stayed at the El Castillo Hotel in Baracoa. The town had originally been defended by 3 forts, and this was the site of one of them. Little remains of the fort, but the position is outstanding. The hotel is a "new" building in the sense that it is not an old colonial building, but does show the signs of lack of maintenance that you see everywhere in Cuba. Our bedroom window had light showing all the way round, and on closer examination we saw that the window frame itself was rotten - and rain came in in torrents when it rained.. However our room looked out over the town and it was comfortable. Think I would stay there again if I ever went back to Baracoa - vary little choice of other places!

We ate in the hotel the first night, but as happens in Cuba, they shut the restaurant without explanation, and our food was served in the pool bar. I had a creole shrimp dish that was perfectly acceptable, but nothing special. And the surrounding militated against it being a good place to eat, as Hurricane Thomas was only 2 days away and the weather was closing in.

The second night we walked down to the town and ate at a paladar, Casa Colonial Baracoa. As with all things Cuban, this was an interesting experience. We were the only guests, and when we arrived a dozen of the owners extended family were sitting on rocking chairs on the casa's balcony. He did not seem too pleased to see us, but we were seated in the front room, complete with colonial decor and a fan. We chose he fish (as expected it was fresh - should have been as we were only yards from the sea).

The service was typically Cuban - in other words indifferent. The food is plonked in front of you without really acknowledging your presence. In the end we got the bill, were overcharge as is normal in paladars, paid and left.

Oddly this may be your best bet for eating in Baracoa. It was better than the Castillo hotel dining and there did not appear to be many other options in town!

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The El Castillo Hotel is on the ..site of an old castle, high above ..the town. with a magnificently ..sited swimming pool.
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Part of the old fort. The hotel suffered from poor maintenance. But Chris enjoyed ..the pool.

We walked round the town a few times - it is very small and you just wander to get the atmosphere. The church is being "restored", but has been reduced to such a wreck, with so little work being doe, that one wonders if it will ever reappear from the rubble. In addition to the town, we did try to drive the 20 kms up the coast to the recommended beaches, but gave up after about 10km - the road had by then degenerated to the wrong side of acceptable to me, and I did not fancy what would happen if it got any worse.

They have managed to grot the place up with 60's high rise along the front. Badly built in the first place, they were hit by a hurricane some years ago, and now some of them have been abandoned and the rest are semi-derilict - an eyesore.

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View from our room window Wreck in the harbour Main street Getting married
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Baracoa itself is, as most Cuban .towns, a curate's egg. One does ..wonder if the church will be ..restored eventually.

Baracoa to Holguin

Our Cuban Holiday