Gunnhild woke up with a fever (probably caused by the ice cold air condition on the flight from Havana), so we had a slow day. We started with a huge breakfast as always, and walked to Hotel Melia to print the necessary papers for our rental car. It was very sunny and very hot and no shade anywhere, but we continued to the Viazul bus station anyway to buy bus tickets to Baracoa (we couldn’t find the bus online, but Yalissy called them for us to confirm that there was a bus leaving on January 2nd). When all the travelling arrangments were taken care of it was time to be tourists again, and we crossed the street to Plaza de la Revolution. It’s a big square with a huge statue of the local hero Antonio Maceo on his horse, surrounded by a series of bronze sculptures. We also stopped by the museum, but since the guides only spoke Spanish and all signs were in Spanish it wasn’t very interesting.
We found a driver that agreed to take us to Castillo de San Pedro de la Roca del Morro and back for 20 CUC. Again it was a shabby Lada, but this one actually had a good engine, so it was quite a pleasant drive out of the city. The San Pedro fort is located at the entrance of the Santiago harbour, 10 km southwest of the city. It was built by the Spanish and finished in the early 1700s. It has been an Unesco World Heritage Site since 1997, has a small museum and great views of the coastline and the Sierra Maestra in the background. Our original plan was to also visit Cayo Granma, a small island not far from the fort. But Yalissy told us that this traditional fishing community was hit very hard by hurricane Sandy, and she did not recommend going there. We could see from the fort that a lot of houses were ruined, and some completely gone. But rebuilding seemed to be ongoing all over the island.
Back at the casa we relaxed in our air conditioned room for a couple of hours. Lovely (especially with a fever)! Yalissy was as always taking care of us and brought us two large glasses of fresh juice. In the evening we walked to the nearby Paladar Salón Tropical (which was highly recommended both by the guidebook and Trip Advisor). It was located on a roof terrace at the top of the hill, and had great views over most of the city. Gunnhild ordered a chicken soup (watched to many American movies?) that was almost free (1.40 CUC), and Fredrik ordered a mixed seafood dish which contained lobster, shrimps, crab, fish and more. It turned out that the chicken soup and a couple of beers actually worked, and with no more fever we enjoyed a few more drinks while looking out over the city lights. The paladar was obviously located in what used to be an apartment. The toilet in the back was an ordinary bathroom with a tub, and we had to pass some private rooms to get there. Their decorations were also kind of interesting. They had a huge Christmas crib, expanded with additional decorations of Disney dwarfs, Santa Claus, castles, angels and blinking lights. On the terrace the main decoration was a statue of a naked lady with water coming out of her breasts. We ended the evening on our balcony with a rum, before going to bed around midnight.