Mir Visa Travel in Cuba, March 16 – April 1, 2019. Part V – Vinales, Tabacco land.

Mir Visa Travel in Cuba, March 16 – April 1, 2019. Part V – Vinales, Tabacco land. 

After spending a week in Havana, we finally left the city and went to the province. I will get back to the Havana story a bit later, and now I will tell you about the beautiful Viñales, a town in western Cuba, which is famous for its tobacco plantations.

From Havana to Viñales, we arrived at a collective taxi. We asked the landlord in Havana long before our arrival to order us a taxi for a certain day and time. He told us the price, but we did not check the departure time from Havana. At the same time, we ordered a tour of Vinales from a local operator at 10 am, believing that if we leave  Havana at 7 am, we will get there in a couple of hours.

The day before our departure, it turned out that the taxi booked for us is a collective taxi, in which four passengers travel. And it departs from Havana only at 11 o'clock. We urgently had to postpone our tour from 10 am to 2:30 pm. The second disadvantage was that we had to pick up the fourth passenger on the way. Furthermore, just after 10 minutes of the trip the taxi broke down and we had to get into another car, larger in size, but without air conditioning.

Conclusion: for long trips, it is better to use the bus service Viazul https://www.viazul.com/index.php - it is cheaper, more reliable can be paid with a credit card from abroad, despite the fact that the duration of the trip is longer than by taxi.

Viñales turned out to be a small cozy provincial town.

At the beginning of our local tour, we tasted national dishes in a small family restaurant. Lunch consisted of white rice with red bean gravy, dark rice with black beans, pork, chicken, sweet potatoes and salad. Freshly made lemonade was very refreshing. Strong coffee and dairy dessert were a pleasant end to lunch.

We left the restaurant and continued with sightseeing. The province of Pinar del Rio is the main supplier of tobacco leaves in Cuba for the production of cigars. As the guide told us, farmers are obliged to sell 90 percent of the harvest to the state. Out of the remaining 10 percent, farmers rolled cigars and sold directly to tourists.

A tour of the tobacco farm was very informative. The farmer demonstrated the entire process from planting tobacco seeds to drying and rolling cigars.

Then the guide took us to the production site, where the sorting of tobacco leaves, packaging, and preparation for shipment to the cigar factory happens.

We also traveled by boat in the Indian cave and visited the local botanical garden.

After the excursion, we settled in a nice house on the outskirts of Vinales, which we booked through AirBnb. If you are looking for cheaper private accommodation for your vacation, click on the link and get a small discount on your new booking from me.

https://www.airbnb.com/c/olgal5669?currency=ZAR

Our accommodation in Viñales was much more spacious, cozier, cleaner and cheaper than in Havana. Breakfast was also better than in Havana.

In the evening, we went along the main street to the cultural center Polo Montañez , after having dinner at one of the small restaurants on the same street.

At the Cultural Centre life begins just after 9 pm: live salsa bands followed one another, the dancers demonstrated their skills in various shows, the guests danced and drank Cuba Libra and Mojito J) The fun continued even after midnight, but we had to leave early in the morning for Trinidad, so we went to bed long before the end of the party.

We really liked Viñales and will be happy to return there for a little longer. I think that the minimum two-night stay is advisable.

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In the sixth part, I will tell you about our trip to Trinidad. Follow me on Instagram @olgamirvisa

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