Matanzas, Cuba, A wonderful break from Varadero for the real Cuba.
Liberty Park is one of the nicest areas of Matanzas with beautiful architecture, interesting museums, shade trees and great people watching. However, the jineteros can become frustrating, one in particular started trying to sell me cigars, then rum, then lobster, “did I need a place to stay?”, “a taxi?”, “a lady?”, “how about Viagara?”, “a girl???? pointing to a group of 15 year old’s and telling me he could get me younger, now I’m starting to get angry, this is not what I expect from jineteros. However, there was only one that went this far and most just did their cigar or taxi hustle and moved on after a polite refusal and I certainly wouldn’t let this keep me away.
One word of advice regarding waiting for a bus in the Park, if you are waiting for a bus due to arrive on schedule such as the Hop on, Hop off Varadero to Martanzas, the jineteros will start telling you 5 minutes before the bus arrives how it never arrives on time and usually not at all. Then as the scheduled time arrives they are quick to tell you your bus is not coming but they can look after you. Wrong, the bus may be late, their schedule seems to have a life of its own, however, it will be there so have patience and just enjoy the scenery.
Sitting on one of the highest points in all of Matanzas, offering beautiful vistas of; the Bay of Matanzas, the City of Matanzas and the Yumuri Valley is the beautiful Ermita de Monserrate. This beautiful chapel is an outstanding example of colonial architecture and has been fully restored. The views of the vally are especially interesting if you are going on the Hershey Electric Train ride as you will experience the valley from both perspectives.
This would not be an easy hike, however, it is supposed to be on the itinerary of the Varadero to Matanzas Hop on Hop off bus which will often give you 10-15 minutes to explore, enjoy and get some photos.