After scary hurricane night, we woke up and were desperate to find a taxi or a bus to Vinales – area which is about 2,5hours away from Havana.There were no buses going to Vinales from Havana after the hurricane, however, we were lucky to find a taxi guy, who took us there for a bit painful price of 130 CUC, but we did not have any other option, as we could not stay in Havana any longer.
Vinales is known for farming and especially for their famous natural cigars. Farms also produce fruit, vegetables and coffee.
We stayed in Vinales for 4 days in casa particular, which had been booked for us by the owner of the previous casa back in Havana. We could not wait to eat proper food, get a shower, wash our clothes and most importantly smoke a cigar. (Remember, there was no electricity in Havana) When we got there, we were really disappointed as the electricity was not still working.
We had to be very careful what and where we were eating, as only a few restaurants had generators.
DAY 1 – Let’s celebrate hurricane escape
We have stayed in Casa particular in the centre of Vinales. All accommodations in this area are more or less the same and at about the similar price of 25 CUC/night. It is not necessary to book your accommodation in advance because you will always find something on the go.
How did we spend our first evening in Vinales? We wanted to go for a short walk, get drunk and try a cigar for the first time.(Which was not a good idea).The first thing I would recommend is visiting Tourist information centre, where you can obtain tourist map, which will give you guidance on how to get around, it also includes the trip roads, which are easy to walk, or you can lend a bike. For a bike rental, you can always ask the owner of casa particular, they usually provide this service, or they know someone who owns bikes. This costs 5CUC/day.
We were so tired, so we decided to take a short walk, the distance was short, but there was always something that caught our attention. We were a bit drunk as well because we had to try mochitos at all different places and compare their quality :D. We have also seen the process of making cigars and bought a couple of them straight after the old lady rolled them in front of us. Smoking cigars….. If you are not used to this kind of fun, you will suffer a lot especially if you decide to combine smoking with drinking.
I suffered a lot during that night……The bad thing is that you cannot escape the smell of cigars in Vinales, because around you everyone smokes them…. I could not sleep first night, as I was hearing noises and always had the feeling that there was an animal under my bed. One thing you should not forget before going to Vinales is a mosquito spray, Vinales is overloaded with them.
DAY 2 – CYCLING TO THE LAKE
Hangover did not stop us from renting bikes and going on a bike trip to the lake. Before going on a trip we needed to exchange some money in the bank. I would never ever thought that this can be such a stressful experience. We got to the bank at about 10 AM and were waiting there for 2 hours until we got in. There was an extremely long queue, which was not moving at all, we were worried that they will run out of money and we won’t be able to change them. Living with 5 CUC would not be fun at all. We could not use ATM as the electricity was not still working. In the end, we managed to change the money. The funny thing is that priority is given at all times to Cuban nationals, which means that they don’t need to be waiting in queues, they can simply skip it and get in..Is this fair?
Cycling in Vinales was a bit difficult as the humidity was unbearable and the quality of the bike was not any better. We did a couple of mochito stops.
And finally, when we got to the lake, I was a bit disappointed as we thought we are going to swim there, which as you can see was impossible due to the colour of the water. However, there was one nice bistro, where we stopped for drinks ( without ice – electricity still not working) and have been offered banana crisps, which were really delicious. We spent there couple of minutes chatting with the owners, who were super kind. It was quite tough to cycle in the heat, but I would definitely recommend it rather than using the other option such as riding a horse or walking.
DAY 3 – TRIP TO PLAYA de Cayo JUTIAS
We decided to skip breakfast, because the breakfast day before was not very tasty, probably due to lack of electricity. We were concerned to eat anything at all because we were aware that stomach problems would complicate our trip. The previous day we managed to book a taxi colectivo to a beautiful playa Jutias, which I really recommend to visit. This trip cost around 25 CUC per person. The roads were bad and we almost ended up in a car accident. You can never trust these drivers, but there is no other option to get there. It took us about 2 hours to get there and we spent at Playa Jutias all afternoon. This beach is an unforgettable experience and I have never seen anything as magical as this beach.
There were some bars right on this beach, so you can always order mochito or fresh coconut with some alcohol in it. We really enjoyed our time here.
After we returned from our day spent on the beach we decided to visit the restaurant called La Rampa. This restaurant looked very nice from outside but ……. We ordered Spaghetti and seafood paella. Spaghetti were the worst spaghetti my boyfriend has ever eaten in his life and my seafood paella was just pure disaster. I would not recommend eating in this restaurant to anyone. After dinner, we managed to spend some time on the internet. We bought internet card in ETESCA company for about 2.5 CUC. You can use this card for 60 minutes.
I think I will dedicate an entire blog post to the Cuban food. IT was huge disappointment, I could not stand the taste of anything and always had problems with my stomach. Never ever order Pollo asado, I could not believe my eyes when they brought me the huge chicken thigh bigger than a plate itself. It was disgusting.
DAY 4 – GETTING READY FOR A NEW ADVENTURE
In the morning we packed our things and I went to buy some buns for breakfast because we could not stand eating ham, cheese or anything else. I got to the local bakery and asked for the buns. Unfortunately, I could not buy them as I have been told that this product is only for local people from Vinales. I was surprised and asked for bread instead.
We booked our taxi colectivo to Trinidad and left Vinales at 8.30. It took us 8 long hours to go from Vinales to Trinidad. I would recommend splitting this up, and If I knew before how bad and long the trip is I would definitely have stayed another night in Havana instead because you are passing through this city anyway. We were squeezed and could not move in the car as it was packed with other people sharing the taxi with us. You can imagine, on the road for 8 hours in the old American car without AC and limited space for our legs. We were stopped by police couple of times, as we were carrying more passengers in the car than was allowed.
We were so lucky, that we didn’t have any problems with our car, as this is pretty common in Cuba, in case of car break down, you can spend a couple of hours stuck in the middle of nowhere. Make sure you take enough of water and something to eat.