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A Visit to Cienfuegos Cuba

A Visit to Cienfuegos Cuba

CARIBBEAN, CUBA, DESTINATIONS

When my cousins in Cuba asked me if I wanted to go visit some friends in Cienfuegos, Cuba,  I signed up right away!  I wasn’t going to pass an opportunity to go sightseeing in a city that in spanish means 100 fires.  When I think back to my last trip to Cienfuegos two things come to mind.  The  Statue of Benny, which sits in the middle of the Paseo de Prada and the Malecon.

Who was Benny?  Benny Mode was a legend of Cuban music, admired by Cubans for his talent as singer, composer and bandleader.   Most tourist and visitors that pass through Cienfuegos stop and have their picture taken with Benny.

 

The statue of Benny Mode in Cienfuegos, Cuba
The statue of Benny Mode in Cienfuegos, Cuba
Cienfuegos, Cuba
Cienfuegos, Cuba
The Statue of Benny Mode in Cienfuegos, Cuba
The Statue of Benny Mode in Cienfuegos, Cuba

 

Cienfuegos, is known as the Pearl of the South “Perla del Sur”, it’s located on the southern coast of Cuba on Caribbean Sea, 250 km east from Havana and 83.7 km from Trinidad.   If you keep heading south on the main road called Prado, the street becomes the Malecón as it cuts alongside one of the world’s finest natural bays, offering exquisite views. Like all sea drives (Havana’s being the archetype), this area comes alive in the evening.

 

El Malecon of Cienfuegos, Cuba
El Malecon of Cienfuegos, Cuba
El Malecon de Cienfuegos, Cuba
El Malecon de Cienfuegos, Cuba

 

Cienfuegos was built on a rectangular pattern with wide streets, numerous parks and promenades, and attractive buildings. The historic city centre was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2005.

 

Arc de Triomphe, Cienfuegos, Cuba
Arc de Triomphe, Cienfuegos, Cuba
Plaza Jose Marti, Cienfuegos, Cuba
Plaza Jose Marti, Cienfuegos, Cuba
Plaza Jose Marti, Cienfuegos, Cuba
Plaza Jose Marti, Cienfuegos, Cuba
Parque Jose Marti, Palacio de Gobierno, Cienfuegos, Cuba
Parque Jose Marti, Palacio de Gobierno, Cienfuegos, Cuba
Streets of Cienfuegos, Cuba
Streets of Cienfuegos, Cuba
Antique Car on the street of Cienfuegos, Cuba
Antique Car on the street of Cienfuegos, Cuba
Colorful Buildings on the street of Cienfuegos, Cuba
Colorful Buildings on the street of Cienfuegos, Cuba

 

After walking around the center of town in Cienfuegos we decided to get something to eat.  Someone told us about this restaurant that was the best seafood restaurant in Cienfuegos, famous for its’ Spanish paella at the very end of the Paseo de Prado street called Restaurante Covadonga,

The restaurant had pretty painted murals all along the walls of pictures of the town of Cienfuegos.  One of the pictures caught my attention.  It was a picture of Fidel Castro with a lady.   The people at the restaurant said it was the former owner of the restaurant in the picture with him.   She left Cuba after Fidel took over and he tried to persuade her to return and re-open the restaurant.  She never did…

 

Restaurante Covadonga Mural, Cienfuegos, Cuba
Restaurante Covadonga Mural, Cienfuegos, Cuba
Restaurante Covadonga Mural, Cienfuegos, Cuba
Restaurante Covadonga Picture, Cienfuegos, Cuba

 

We sat at a table which was nicely arranged with a table clothe, plates were laid out and cloth napkins.  I was a little surprised to see this, especially, in Cuba.   It was seven of us and only one menu for the table to choice from.  Since we had heard that the house speciality was the paella, six of us decided to order paella.   I had an upset stomach so I asked the lady to make me a plain fish meal with white rice.    Once she took our order,  she started to collect all the plates including the cloth napkins on the table.   When I asked her for napkins for the table, she told me they didn’t have any.   Can you imagine a restaurant without any napkins?   Good thing I kept tissues in my pocketbook at all times.  I pulled out  my tissues and gave each person one.

 

Restaurante Covadonga, Cienfuegos, Cuba
Restaurante Covadonga, Cienfuegos, Cuba

 

We asked for bottled water and the only water that was available was tap.  So one of us went next door and bought a huge bottle of water for the table.   The meals came and she served me my plate of battered fried fish with a ball of rice on the side.   When I went to cut into my fish, I noticed the meat looked a little dark.   I took one bite of it and it was a little chewy.  I called the waitress over and asked her what type of fish this was, she replied “Ray”.   My eyes widened and I almost lost it on the table when I realized what I was eating was stingray.    Let’s just say I didn’t eat anything else after that at the restaurant, nor did the rest of our friends who were going to eat the paella, which was also watery and tasted very poorly.   We asked for our check and left without eating anything.  It was probably one of the worse meals I had in Cuba.    I’m sure this restaurant was great at one point, but now it’s just a relic.

 

Restaurante Covadonga, Cienfuegos, Cuba
Restaurante Covadonga, Cienfuegos, Cuba

 

Disappointed and hungry we left the restaurant and started to walked across the street when I noticed these pay phones.  Here in the states we hardly see or use pay phone anymore.  In Cuba they are used very often since most individuals don’t have cell phones.

 

Pay phone in Cienfuegos, Cuba
Pay phone in Cienfuegos, Cuba

 

Across the street we found an architectural jewel called Palacio de Valle hotel located at the end of the Punta Gorda, and reminiscent of Spanish-Moorish art with influences of Gothic, Romanesque, Baroque and Mudejar arts. You can walk up the two flights of stairs and get a bird’s eye view of the area around Cienfuegos. The scene is idyllic, tranquil, and absolutely unspoiled.  Well worth the 2 CUC’s each to wander around this old hotel and then sit and relax on the roof top terrace overlooking the bay.

 

Palacio de Valle, Cienfuegos, Cuba
Palacio de Valle, Cienfuegos, Cuba

 

This visit to Cienfuegos, Cuba was one that I’ll never forgot.   It’s a beautiful city with many historial buildings and waterfront properties.  It’s apparent that back in the day it was a beautiful city to live in.

 

About the author

Carmen Edelson is the Founder and Senior Editor of Carmen's Luxury Travel. Carmen has been traveling the world for over a decade. Our travels allows her the opportunity to pursuit her itch to travel to the best luxury destinations, and experience those first class tastes from around the world.

4 Comments

  1. Jolanta aka Casual Traveler
    February 10, 2015 at 3:02 am
    Reply

    I am so sorry to hear about your awful experience at the restaurant, but it looks like the rest of your visit to Cienfuegos was interesting. Thank you, especially for posting all those beautiful photos of palms, and sunshine, and blue skies! Very nice to look at after watching snow fall for the entire day outside my window. Looking forward to more stories about Cuba!

    • Carmen
      February 10, 2015 at 5:50 pm

      Hi Jolanta,

      Glad to hear you enjoyed my story. The thought of eating stingray was awful. Cuba has many interesting cities to see and this was definitely one of them. Hope the snow isn’t too bad for you.

  2. Ryan Biddulph
    February 13, 2015 at 10:37 am
    Reply

    Carmen those antique cars are just awesome! I’ve been intrigued by visiting Cuba as they seem to be opening things up a bit more and the US is also opening things up too. Nice mix going on. I also feel it’s too mysterious a place to pass up. From the culture, the food and the people, there is so much to see, and so much to learn.

    Thanks for the inspired pictures Carmen and the fabulous post!

    Ryan

    • Carmen
      February 14, 2015 at 7:34 pm

      Ryan, Thanks for the kind words. Cuba is a book waiting to be discovered by most Americans who now have the desire to go. I’m getting ready to go back in a week again and I’m very excited.

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