Chess under the watchful eye of Che

It’s hard to believe that almost three months have passed since we returned from Cuba. That enigmatic island nation really got under our skins and we’re already planning a return someday. In the meantime, we’ve got lots more pictures to post.

After four nights in Havana, we boarded a Viazul bus to Cienfuegos, a city about four hours down on the southern coast. From there, we’d go on to Trinidad, a bit further east. But stay tuned – that’s the subject of our Road Trip, Part 2!

We were very impressed with Viazul – the Chinese-built buses are clean, modern, and on time. Round-trip tickets for both of us, from Havana to Cienfuegos to Trinidad and then back to Havana cost about $118. Check out the Viazul website at

We spent two nights in Cienfuegos at Vista al Mar, a cozy casa particular (home stay) that was right on the water in the Punta Gorda area.

We really enjoyed our short stay in Cienfuegos, a lovely city filled with beautifully preserved, historic-landmark buildings in the French style (owing to the fact that the town was settled by French immigrants in the early 1800s). I had originally thought the town was named after Camilo Cienfuegos, one of the heroes of the 1959 Castro revolution, but it’s actually named for José Cienfuegos, captain general of Cuba a couple of centuries ago. Cienfuegos was established as a strategic trade location and to this day is a bustling port town.

Also of note, Cienfuegos is very near the Bay of Pigs — a very scenic area that’s notorious for President Kennedy’s disastrous invasion attempt in 1961. Today it’s known for outstanding diving and snorkeling, and friends who’ve done it tell us that the marine life is spectacular due to the Bay’s undiscovered, unspoiled nature (which can be said of so much of the natural world in Cuba). It’s high on our list for our return visit.


  1. Penny Tracey Reply

    That sunset photo looks like it should be a travel poster! So happy to see more pictures from the trip and love your eye for color!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thank you, Miss Penn 🙂

  2. Thanks for sharing your adventure….loved all of the pictures

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thank you – it was such a great trip!

  3. Mary Lea (Mimi) Reply

    I’ve been waiting to hear all about your trip and to see your beautiful pictures. You didn’t disappoint! I’m glad you stayed on the Cuban economy and got to make so many new friends.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thank you, Mimi! We’ve actually got one more Cuban post coming!

  4. I didn’t make it to Cienfuegos, but I can attest to the fact that Viazul was great! We took a bus to Vinales and back, and it was very comfortable and efficient. The rest stops were like vacations in themselves – people were even sitting around bar having drinks!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Yes, those rest stops are something, aren’t they? It’s like the government really wants to pull out all the stops in those places. We didn’t make it to Vinales – saving it for next trip!

  5. Wow, the color in that place, great job. Penny’s right, it should be a travel poster. Great post, keep ’em coming.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thanks, ME BE! One more Cuba post coming.

  6. I didn’t know that the French once settled on the island. That’s quite fascinating! It seems like most of the old colonial buildings are very well-preserved, which is quite the contrary to what I always imagined about Cuba. It’s really nice to see them this way though, symbolizing the city’s spirit and enthusiasm. That sunset photo is just magical!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thank you, Bama! Your photography is so outstanding so I appreciate that compliment 🙂 Yes, there does seem to be more decay in Havana than in the other cities, but there were plenty of ruined buildings in Cienfuegos as well.

  7. Your post reminds me back of our trip to Cuba a couple years ago! We visited Cienfuegos too but only for a day. I wish I spent more time there. Beautiful images <3

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thank you, Indah! Hope you make it back to Cuba someday. We’re already thinking about a return trip!

  8. Oh Cienfuegos! We fell in love with this city! The greatest thing was that it wasn’t overrun with tourists. We walked all around town and out to Punta Gorda and didn’t encounter throngs of tourists like in Havana, Viñales, and Trinidad.
    It is a beautiful city and your lovely photos demonstrate it. I think I took some of the same photos, especially the Che photos. Lol

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thanks, Debbie – we loved Cienfuegos too and wished we’d had more time there. And I have to say your Cuba photos and blog posts are really outstanding! We’ve really enjoyed them and they just make us want to get back there and spend more time.
      – Susan

  9. Kicking myself that we didn’t take advantage of our chance to slip over to Cuba when we were staying for several weeks in the DR a couple of years ago. At that time we thought it would be only a matter of months before we’d be able to travel there without any restrictions so … an opportunity lost and Cuba is still on our bucket list! Love your pics of the old cars, the graceful buildings and especially the photo of the wall frieze of the women on one of the old buildings. You’ve captured the spirit and I’m looking forward to Part 2! Anita

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      I hope you two get a chance to visit Cuba someday. It really is a remarkable place on so many levels. And the hardest part of these blog posts is picking from the hundreds of photos I took! Cuba is a photographer’s dream 🙂

  10. I think that Cuba would be an incredibly hard place to say good-bye to. Definitely a photographers dream. Every picture filled me with joyous envy and made me want to be there with my camera right now! I hope you are able to go again.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thanks, Lisa! Cuba really is a photographer’s dream. We had some many great pics that we actually have one more blog post coming. And we really do want to go back – we barely scratched the surface of that amazing country.

  11. Pingback: A Cuban Road Trip, Part 2 – Trinidad – Latitude Adjustment

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