On the airplane a voice announces, almost warns, that we’re arriving in Camagüey. Once there, if you drink water from a traditional tinajón (large clay vessel), you run the risk of remaining in this city forever, or at least falling hopelessly in love with it. Santa María del Puerto del Príncipe, now 500 years old, has the charm to reel you in.
Your stopover is only for one day, and you’re going to need a place to stay, eat, go out on the town, have fun. Based on typical Camagüeyan creativity, OnCuba suggests…
…hail a cab or bicitaxi (bicycle taxi) near the airport; there are plenty to choose from. Ask the driver to take you to Reparto Boves, a residential area close to the city’s historic district, and—if you made your reservation a week earlier—you’ll find all the commodities you need at Casa Yaneva. This two-story, Art Deco-style home is located in a quiet area with an environmentally-friendly atmosphere. Its owner, who has more than 20 years of experience in tourism, has worked in the bed-and-breakfast industry in Spain, Italy, and Brazil. Her slogan: “Our family is at your family’s service.” In her garden and on her verandas, you can enjoy a traditional regional, international, or vegetarian meal; it is a place that has been designed for family tourism, so you’ll feel right at home.
It’s almost lunchtime, and our recommendation is the restaurant Santa Teresa, in the Alturas del Casino neighborhood. The house’s garden serves as a space for enjoying Italian and Cuban food. Redesigned to create more space for diners and to increase the quality of its service, Santa Teresa is the best place in Camagüey to eat pizza and pasta. Don’t be afraid to ask for a pizza that’s different from the menu (in combination of ingredients) or to ask for help of any kind; the service is extraordinary.
You don’t have time for a nap, so you go straight to the Plaza del Carmen. It’s a tradition among visitors to snap photos of themselves with the Las Chismosas statues. A bit further on, two men read the newspaper; they’re twins, but one of them is not real. On the other side, a bronze water carrier pushes his handcart. They are all sculptures by Martha Jiménez, one of Camagüey’s most important artists. It is impossible not to enter her studio in that colonial-era house whose doors are always open, with so much art inside that you’ll surely want to take it all with you.
It’s evening, and your rendezvous is at the Plaza San Juan de Dios, a place full of history, where heroes and saints have coexisted for centuries. In one corner of the square you will dine at Restaurante 1800, which offers a buffet meal with the magic and glamour of good outdoor service. Your food will be unforgettable: the traditional flavors of Camagüey with a few winks at international cuisine. The 1800 is an ideal spot for making a good impression.