Cruise ships dock close to the center of town.
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Cienfuegos City is called "The Pearl of the South" because of the impressive beauty of its bay; because of its seductive city which provokes the wonder of all who know it, and because of that innate nobility which characterizes those born in Cienfuegos.
Cienfuegos is a delightful and interesting city with a history largely different to that of the rest of the country. It is a pleasant city which, because of its role as an important port, both domestically and internationally, has a slightly more cosmopolitan feel about it than most other areas in the south. The streets are straight and wide with the Paseo del Prado, which dissects the city and extends out to the peninsula's end, being the most important street. The street extends south through the Punta Gorda area and north along the bay, there are some excellent views to be had from here, especially at sunset when the bay takes on a quiet and brooding appearance.
Parque Jose Marti, on the eastern side of it is the impressive Cathedral de la Purisima Concepcion, which was built in 1870. Also overlooking the park is the Provincial Government Palace, a grand building with great columns and marble floors. Due west of the park stands the Casa de la Cultura.
Taxis are readily available around Cienfuegos. Most rides will cost between CUC$1 and CUC$3.
Things to do in Cienfuegos include ferry to jaguar castle (taxi to hotel Pascaballo), dolphin show at 2:00pm (taxi CUC $10). Strolling the Parque Jose Marti, where there is plenty to see and do.
The Castle of Our Lady of the Angels of Jagua, situated 22km from Cienfuegos city was originally used by the Spanish as a small fort to keep out smugglers who used to enter Jagua Bay to obtain fresh water and food from the locals. It is now a much more substantial structure following the Spaniards' decision to develop it to defend the city from the more forceful threat offered by the English navy during the war between Spain and England.
As in any third world country, most of the merchandise available is designed for tourists to take back home. The biggest Cuban exports for tourists are rum, cigars, and coffee, all of which are available at government-owned stores or on the streets. For genuine merchandise, you should pay the official price at the legal stores.
Watch out for:
Being that all restaurants are owned by the government and run by underpaid employees, the food in Cuba is notoriously bland. Within Cuba, the best food will generally be found in your casa particular or in paladares (locally owned restaurants in private homes).
CUC is the currency most tourists will use in Cuba. It is how you will pay for hotels, official taxis, entry into museums, meals at restaurants, cigars, rum, etc. Conversion into CUC can be done at exchange houses (casa de cambio, or cadeca). These are located in many hotels and in other places throughout the cities. The Euro is widely accepted, unfortunately the US$ is not.
ATMs are rare in Cuba. Credit cards are not widely accepted.
The official language of Cuba is Spanish.
The emergency number in Cuba is: 116.
In many cities the only way for tourists to access the internet is through the government's communications centers ( ETECSA ), it is not cheap and there is good chance that someone is "watching" your doings on the PC.
Shopping hours : Mon-Sat 0900-1700, Sun 0900-1200.
January 1st: January 1st is celebrated as a public holiday throughout the rest of the world because it is New Year. Although this same date is celebrated as a public holiday in Cuba, the reason for this public holiday in Cuba differs. January 1st is a public holiday in Cuba because it is Liberation Day.
January 28th: This date is special in the history of Cuba because it is the birthday of Jose Marti, the father of Cuban independence.
April 19th: This day is commemorated in Cuba every year because it marks the anniversary of the Cuban victory at the Bay of Pigs in 1961, when US-backed Cuban exiles tried to invade Cuba and topple the Socialist Government.
May 1st: Like much of the world, 1st May is Labour Day and this is a public holiday in Cuba.
July 30th: This day is celebrated in Cuba to commemorate the martyrs of the Cuban revolution in 1959.
August 12th: This is the date that the Cuban dictator Machado was overthrown in 1933.
October 8th: Special ceremonies take place in Cuba annually on this day to remember the murder of Cuban revolutionary leader Che Guevara in 1967.
October 10th: This is an official public holiday in Cuba and schools and offices are closed on this day. This public holiday in Cuba is known as the day of Cuban culture.
December 25th: Although the socialist government in Cuba have stamped down hard on religion in general and Catholicism in particular, Christmas day is still celebrated as a public holiday in Cuba.
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