Matanzas is the City of bridges (17!), the birthplace of rumba, and the capital of Matanzas Province in Cuba, and was also the first stop on our two week trip. To get there we took a quick cab drive from the Varadero airport to our pre-booked Casa Particular, Hostal Azul. As the name indicates, this Casa has more of a hostel feel than a casa, but the family was still around and willing to prepare meals for you (we took advantage of their breakfasts which included plates of fruit, buns, biscuits, omelets and coffee and juice).
For our stay in Matanzas, we did a lot of walking around, to take in the sights, get acclimatized to the heat (Toronto was not too warm when we left for Cuba) and experience the ‘real’ Cuba. A benefit of Matanzas is that it isn’t too tourist-ridden, so we hardly bumped into other tourists and had many opportunities to dust off our rusty Spanish language skills.
It was in Matanzas where we started getting used to the Cuba’s beautiful old buildings and the stunning 1950’s Chevies (some in impeccable condition…others barely keeping it together). We even spent some time entertaining two men’s pursuit for a few coins by making their small little weiner dog run, jump and swim all over for us.
Matanzas is a great place to go to get a sense of the real Cuba – beyond the manicured beaches and buffet smorgasbords and away from the tourist hustle, bustle and accompanying scams.