|starts at||3:30 p.m|
|ends at||12:00 p.m.|
|sights to see||Depending on the day and the performances - the Carnival Museum, the “monuments” of the Cuban music, the inside garden of ARTEX, “1900” – declared the best restaurant in Cuba, Casa de la Trova, La Claquetta, “San Francisco” restaurant, Salon del Son, Patio de Dos Abuelos, Iris Jazz Club, the “San Basilio” Capela, the Terrace next to Casa Granda, the bar of hotel Melia Santiago|
|price||50 Euro (if the group is 7) to 70 Euro (if the group is 3)|
|price includes||All entrance fees, the fees of the musicians, the dinner (lobster, beer, cocktail), three cocktail (soft drink, coffee, rum), a bottle of mineral water|
Trying to figure out what are the attractions that the romantic image of Cuba could present to a person belonging to the Western civilization I came to several marking points. Please, note that I am not talking about Cuba, Cuba is something much more than its romantic image. But, let us be honest, do we really have a chance, visiting a country for several days, to penetrate really deep into its world? And do we really want it? May be. Sometimes. The truth is that even if we really want, the chances to reach far out of the images we have in our own mind are negligible.
So, let us see what we have and, hence, what we can do. Saying “Cuba” we immediately picture ourselves on a white-sand beach, sipping a world-known and still exotic cocktail, sniffing a rich tobacco scent coming from somebody’s luxurious cigar (if you, yourselves are non-smoker) , surrounded by exuberant forms of every color, extravagant hairdos, etc. etc. etc. Yes, there will be hardly someone denying these “mandatory” parts of the western binoculars pointed at Cuba.
But there is something more and thanks God it is not only a reality but a substantial part of the Cuban myth. The music. The divine music of the Isla. Oh, Lord, You created this world to glorify your might, your wisdom and you created the music to unite the soul of the human with Your eternal beauty. And You chose the Cuban music to always remind us that God and man are united for ever in Christ. And in the Cuban music. How much elegance, how much poetry and at the same time how much hot human blood, exotic, unexpected rhythms, what a deep philosophy and wisdom coming from the unique mixture of races and cultures and at the same time what a rich mosaic of everyday stories of people living here and now, enjoying the life, adoring their beloved, admitting their sins, eating, drinking, joking and singing, singing, singing. Really, if there is something that can let us touch the Cuban mentality, something that would let us enter and enjoy the world of Cuba it is the music. And everybody in Cuba agrees that the cuna (the cradle) of the Cuban music is Santiago.
So, it will be my pleasure to invite you to a tour around the Musical Adventures in Santiago.
There are many places where you can hear “en vivo” delicious music in Santiago – restaurant “San Francisco”, “1900”, the Patio of ARTEX, Patio “Dos Abuelos”, Casa de la Trova, Santiago-Melia Bar, La Claquetta, the Terrace of Casa Granda, “Iris Jazz Club”, “Salon del Son”, even at the Saturday night fair at Trocha, at Plaza Dolores, Parke Cespedes, Café Isabelica and just on the street; there are wonderful groups performing and interpreting the traditional music of Cuba in different formats – septet “Santiagero”, cuartet a capello “Vocal Vidas”, septet “Son del Oriente”, sextet “San Luis”, trio tenores in “1900”, feminine group “Morena Son” and many, many others.
It really is impossible to fix a route – one group is performing this night in one place, the next night is somewhere else; the time for really good music in “San Francisco” is Friday night and if you are lucky – Sunday night; the impressive show of African sounds, rhythms and dances in Museo de Carnavales is from Monady to Thursday from 16:00 to 16:45 and so on. But you can be sure about couple of things – I know where this day exactly is performed the best music, I will choose the best selection, organize the entrance, the table, the transportation, you will have a wonderful dinner and will be able to taste the world known selection of Cuban cocktails and rums. All this within the limits of several hours (starting 16:00 – ending 24:00), I will be always at hand but never at your table, you will have your service, your reservation, your taxi (when needed) and if you share my infatuation for the Cuban music you will have a night to remember.
Let me draw you one possible route.
Starting point – Parke Cespedes (at the Cathedral), Starting time 15:30.
15:50 – Museo de Carnavales (100 meters from Parke Cespedes). The show of the African roots of the Cuban music, dances, religion. The traditional Carnival Conga dance. Until 17:00
17:00 – Patio of ARTEX (next door to Museo de Carnavales). A quintet of “old hands” performing traditional Cuban music, practically “unplugged”. Trago (an ounce) of rum, a mojito or a can of original Cuban beer. Until 18:00.
18:00 Walking tour around the “sacred places of the Santiago music” along the Boulevard – the church of Esteban Salas (considered the father of the Cuban music), the Place of Sindo Garay (one of the famous composers of Cuban traditional songs) and the monument of Miguel Matamoros (the most celebrated composers of popular Cuban music) – 150 meters from Patio ARTEX.
Then up around Plaza Dolores, “Enramadas” and Plaza de Marte to enjoy the exotic hum and buzz of everyday life in Santiago. Eventual cocktail in “Don Pancho” – one of the best places for Cuban cocktails. Or we can go to Casa de Chocolate and you will enjoy a cup of really nice espresso or hot/cold chocolate in the environment of beautiful criollo house from the old years. Until 19:00-19:30.
19:30 Restaurant “1900”. Beautiful old luxurious restaurant (“the best restaurant in Cuba” as declared by Fidel Castro in 1973) occupying one of the houses of Emilio Bacardi built in 1900. There on the charming terrace covered with vines or next to the marble fountain in the patio you will be offered a dinner with langosta as main dish and tostones (the favorite food of the Queen of England) as side dish, salad, shrimp cocktail as a starter and a bottle of ice-cold Cuban beer, daiquiri, rum or soft drink at your preference. A wonderful trio tenors will perform for you’re a selection of boleros, guarachas and sons that will make you forget the langosta, the shrimps and the delicious dishes for the sake of the divine music. Until 21:00.
21:15 – Salon del Son. There the music is hot, the artists do not spare their instruments and the groups are not designed “economically”. It is not an exclusion to find nine, ten, eleven instruments and two, three, four singers there. In addition you will have the chance to see the Cubans dancing. No, not a professional dancing show, you will see people enjoying themselves and at the same time performing a high class art. One hour.
22:30 – The Terrace next to Casa Granda First starts “San Louis”, a sextet performing classical traditional Cuban songs in classical format – guitar, tres, bongo, tambora, contrabass and two singers. Nice, lively, unsophisticated music that somehow makes all your body dancing even if you go on sitting at your table. Then it is “Son de Oriente”, o-o, this is a different story. Two guitars, percussion, contrabass, one magic flute and two youngsters – a dark mulata and white latino are really making something special, sophisticated and unforgettable without leaving the ground of the sound of Cuba, the rhythm of Cuba, the warmth and finesse of Cuba.
Then, at 24:00 we say each other good buy, your eyes are sparkling and I am happy that my role as a guide around the Musical Miracles of Santiago is giving me the chance to share one of the best things that I have access to – the music of Cuba.
In the price of the tour are included: