Cuba 2003 VIII... Good Morning, Santiago! (50 p.)

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Proud Earthling

To the previous trip report part:
Cuba 2003 VII... From Camagüey Eastwards (50 p.)

February 24 2003

As always my relatives still were sleeping as I started my morning tour through Santiago de Cuba, with half a million inhabitants second largest city on the island. More information:

The city is spread out on steep hills around a well protected bay, in the beginning of colonization it had been the Cuban capital for a short time and the main port for the Spanish Armada in the Caribbean.

Children on their steep way to school.

A popular type of transport during Santiago morning rushhour.

Intuitively I walked downhill until I had reached the harbour. Fidel stayed in China at the time, also a Chinese merchant vessel was just unloading at the docks.

Probably part of old Santiago railroad station.

Now only passenger cars were being stabled here, Bahía de Santiago de Cuba in the background.

The new, architectonically interesting terminal had been completed in 1997 and bears the full name of a revolutionary, "General de División Senén Casas Regueiro". More about the station (in Spanish):ón_Ferroviaria_(Santiago_de_Cuba)

Yeah, finally a mainline train! Not just any, it was Cuba's premium express #1 Havanna - Santiago de Cuba, also known as "Tren Francés" or "Tren Especial". Less reason to rejoice caused the once more completely closed off station hall which did not provide ideal conditions for photography anyway.

Why "Tren Francés" - so, "French Train"? Well, it consisted of former French state railroad company SNCF Inox-cars.

Through the chain-link fence you could not take pictures ideally, but at least the lens of the compact digicam fitted through the gaps. #52401 and #52421, MLW class MX-624 diesel engines, 50 of which had been delivered 1975-76 from Canada, shunted the train out of the station soon after my arrival.

As the express had disappeared I explored the building in detail.

Modern, airport-like facilities and no chance to pass.

A collection of Cuban passenger cars was stabled along the platforms, some converted from boxcars, others were former West German commuter carriages.

I followed Paseo de Marti along the mainline, maybe something interesting would appear. In the background the foothills of Sierra Maestra were showing, where the revolutionaries had once hidden.

What was that? A train in the landscape!

The train drivers greeted me in a friendly fashion, they told me taking photos at that spot was OK, but I was not supposed to visit the yard further back.

Shortly later I came to enjoy the mighty ALCO-sound with accompanying smoke cloud for the first time.

Express #1 in front of the Sierra Maestra - what more could you wish for? :)

Happily I walked back to the terminal - personally I would have not let any living being near this puddle, however.

A Fiat railbus had been shunted to the platform.

Tracks behind the station.

View towards the port.

Cyclist- and horse-drawn-cart-lane, quite necessary!

#50913 screeching around the corner, a TEM2-K in the background.

An EMD G8 from the 1950s, so equivalent to the omnipresent American streetcruisers from before the revolution.

Several trucks waiting in front of the freight terminal along Avenida Jesus Menendez.

Once more an ingenious 1950s-design.

Red tractors loading the Chinese ship.

A spacious park next to the harbour. A memorial to the underground-revolutionary Frank País from Santiago can be spotted in the back, also one of the figures revered by the regime (ís ).

Organized morning gymnastics in the park.

While others preferred to practize on the trumpet.

View across the glassy, well protected Bahía.

Breakfast was calling, I marched back uphill.

Atmospheric hilly streets.

I encountered the remains of the former streetcar network. Judging by the condition of the rails you would hardly imagine it already had been closed in 1952. More information can as always be found on this helpful site:

Scenes like ? years ago...

Back at the private accomodation we took a rich breakfast. We were able to dry some laundry on the roof, from here a vista towards the cathedral opened up.

We started our sightseeing-tour of the city walking along a few rather martial propaganda murials.

"For my people"...

Probably one of the best known spots still showing tramway tracks in Santiago. The narrow old city center streets required innovative track laying.

See you next time in the touristic part of Santiago! :) is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to - An online railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used railroad books. Railroad pictorials, railroad history, steam locomotives, passenger trains, modern railroading. Hundreds of titles available, most at discount prices! We also have a video and children's book section. - An online model railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used books. Layout design, track plans, scenery and structure building, wiring, DCC, Tinplate, Toy Trains, Price Guides and more.