Wednesday, 10 May 2017

CUBA, VIÑALES: JUST ANOTHER CITY?

By Lara Sabry


Viñales Cuba


Every traveler out there has a wish travel list; and Cuba was on the top of mine. Initially me and my hobo travel pal, had done our research, confirmed our Hotel and Bus reservations before traveling back to the 60s.

1st Stop- Havana (2 nights)
2nd Stop- Pinar Del Rio (1 night)
3rd Stop- Viñales (2 nights) and right there, our trip was about to take a turning point.

Let me tell you why our 2 nights in Viñales, turned into one whole week in Viñales.

VALLE DE VIÑALES 

Instead of taking a Viazul bus from Pinar Del Rio to Viñales, we settled for a one-hour taxi ride instead. We paid half the amount we would’ve paid for a Viazul bus ticket and the taxi driver suggested a few stops that we could make on the way.

First Stop Bienvenido a Viñales!

Located in the Sierra de los Órganos mountains, is the Valle De Viñales - a hill top area that overlooks the alluring texture created by nature. From mountains to tobacco fields. The higher the humidity, the better the view! Around the area there’s a bar that serves the best Mojitos and Piña Coladas. So, sit back, gaze at the view and if you’re lucky enough, there may just be a Salsa / Rumba live performance. Shall we dance?

MURAL DE LA PREHISTORIA

Welcome to the city of endless creativity!

Mural de la Prehistoria Viñales
Mural de la Prehistoria

Only a 15-minute drive from Valle De Viñales, is Mural de la Prehistoria; a dazzling piece of art! 

Originally designed by Leovigildo González Morillo in 1961 - it took 18 artists and four years to complete this strikingly inspiring beauty.

The painting consists of a snail, dinosaurs, sea monsters and humans - why? symbolizing the theory of evolution. Pretty intriguing!

By this beautiful site is a restaurant that serves deliciously cooked meals and creatively made cocktails; entrance fee to Mural de la Prehistoria is 5CUC (5$).

Don’t be scared to go all out and ask for a quick bull ride!

CUEVAS DE SANTO TOMAS

Shall we explore some more?

Cuevas de Santo Tomas Viñales Cuba
Cuevas de Santo Tomas

This was one of the major highlights for me and le hobo! Cuevas De Santo Tomas is the largest cave located in Cuba and the second largest in Latin America. Exciting!

The cave consists of 8 levels overall; however, visitors are only allowed to explore up to the fourth level, for safety reasons. Before you begin your adventure, you’re asked to choose the levels you’d like to explore. We chose, what they call, the ‘Special’ package, which includes climbing through all four levels whilst being told the complete background history of the cave.

Cuevas de Santo Tomas Viñales Cuba
Cuevas de Santo Tomas
To get to the cave, you’re escorted through a 15 minute walk (slightly up-hill) through Tobacco, Coffee and Sugar Cane plantation fields.

What makes the adventure worth-while? You’ll be mind-blown by the rock formations found within the cave, that have been created over hundreds of years, the underground pools, instrumental musical rock tools and finally, bats will gladly keep you company through-out your tour.

INSIDE THE CUEVAS DE SANTO TOMAS 

Being the awfully goofy person that I am, I fell a few times trying to climb my way through the cave - If you have poor stamina, you may want to be extra careful.

Note: The Special Excursion costs 20CUC (20$) per person.

ZIP-LINING!

Given that Viñales is a city, encircled by colorful mountains and large areas of greenery, can you imagine what it would be like zip-lining through it?

Zipline Cuba
Zipline Viñales

TAKE THE PARTY TO THE CAVE

Palenque, what?

Every city in Cuba has its nightlife ‘ritual’. What’s similar between all rituals? The party doesn’t stop.


Palenque Cuba
Palenque

Viñales was my favorite! Me and Le Hobo arrived to Viñales in the morning and so we had a little time to explore the city before sunset. By the time it was 8PM we were already exhausted and decided to settle for a laid-back beer session in one of the bars located in the center. After a few beers, we couldn’t resist the Reggaetón music and we curiously went to see where it came from. 

‘Casa de la Música’ (or House of Music), only a few minutes after we entered this lively place, we had already met a few locals that were about to make our stay in the city a worthwhile one! Around 10 is when everyone heads to Casa de la Música to start their night - From Salsa to Reggaetón. 

The place closed around 1AM and everyone was shouting out ‘PALENQUE!’ and heading to 

Casa de la Musica Cuba
Casa de la Música

catch a taxi. Of course, we too wanted to see what Palenque was all about.

CASA DE LA MÚSICA 

Viñales will grow on you; with everything it has to offer, from its nightlife to its natural sights and the wonderful humans that live there  - eventually becoming your little Cuban family. If ever in Cuba, make sure you give Viñales more than two days.

*****

Lara Sabry was born in Venezuela and spent the majority of her life moving around Latin America until moving to Belgrade in 2005 and to Egypt in 2009. Laura went to Cuba in January of 2016, and found that Cuba was one of the most profound places she had visited. She spent 2 months roaming around Cuba and truly believes that for the first time she has found a place she could call home. 

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