After staying 4 days in Havana, we went south towards Vinales / Pinar del Rio and the more calming parts of Cuba. This region is full of some of the most impressive Cuban nature you can imagine, and very known for the tobacco farms. The main city of the region is Pinar del Rio, and there is a lot of farms in the surrounding areas outside the city.
On our own in the rented cars, we went to see the tobacco museum in Pinar del Rio. On our way, trying to find the place, a young bloke around 20 years, stopped us and asked what we where looking for? Properly easily spotted the lost tourists, due to the fact that licenses plates on rental cars in cuba, have their own color. Who got that idea? He was on a bike, which where in a size for a 8 year old, but he just tramped faster in the pedals, showing us the way to the museum. These guys, making a buck showing you the way, are in all the bigger cities. Our “guide” tried to get us go to somewhere else, but we insisted to see the tobacco museum. His english wasn’t that good, but he showed us to the museum, which was closed! 🙂 Ahhh – so that was what he meant. After this he showed us to his families tobacco farm outside the city, and that was a great experience. At the farm we were shown their entire production of tobacco, how they dried the leafs, handled the tobacco, and made the cigars. At the farm we visited, they produced Cohiba cigars, and also told us a lot about how the life as tobacco farmers in Cuba is.
In Vinales we lived at Hotel Los Jazmines, which is placed at a great canyon. In this area you find a lot of very cool nature, caves and canyons. The views are fantastic and breathtaking. But it is, like most Cuban hotels, NOT luxury… If you go here, you go for the nature and location.
Near the hotel is a paladar ( private restaurant) with small balconies at the canyon. If you can find it, you must try to eat here. Is is a 5-10 minute walk from the hotel. The Paladars are fantastic places to eat, due to the fact, that the often provide you with the food that they would eat at their own table. Fx we saw some fruit at a nearby tree, and a few seconds later, the waiter brought the fruit for us to taste. These places offers you super service, and experiences.
The nearest city is Vinales – which is a small local city, and not a place where you meet a lot of tourists. Our best recommadation is to take a few hours to walk around in the city, to explore the true cuban life in a city like this.
One thing you must remember – in these parts of cuba, money almost not exist, but as a tourist you can not get by without money. But your CUC’s worth 22 times more, that the Cuban Pesos (which the locals use). So in Vinales we properly bought the most expensive bananas in the known world history…