Days 3 & 4 in Cuba: Havana, and a day trip To Vinales

4 Feb
The water began to flood past the Malecon.

The water began to flood past the Malecon.

Monday was to be our day for exploring Old Havana in more depth.

First stops: the Capitolio and a cigar store. I didn’t buy any cigars because I’m going to do it at the end of the trip. Jeff bought a couple to enjoy later that evening.

From there we started a self-guided walking tour. We stopped at a pharmacy museum and eventually made it to the Cathedral square. At this point, I started to feel sick. Congestion and queasiness. I left Jeff to explore on his own and I went back to the room to sleep.

I felt a little better by the time Jeff got back at 4 p.m. We headed out for another walk in Centro Havana, stopping to buy 8-cent buns for a very late lunch. And then we saw the Malecon. Well, we saw what was happening to the Malecon. Waves of 18 feet were pounding the seawall and flooding the street. Check out the pictures below.

From there we walked a long way to Cathedral square again to try out a microbrewery we had seen. The beers were not good. And the pork was overcooked. Missed on that one.

We took a bici-taxi back to the room – the poor dude worked up a sweat pedaling with the likes of me in the back. But we had to stop short of our destination because our street, 5 blocks from the Malecon, was flooding. People said it had been years since that happened. At least the sidewalk was still above water.

That’s when Jeff had the brilliant idea for us to take a bottle of rum he had bought and go sit in a boulevard park so he could smoke a cigar. My hope was the rum would kill whatever bug I had. It did not, but yes, we drank a lot of it. As in all of it. Havana Club 7-year rum.

Then it was Tuesday — time for our daytrip to the tobacco valley of Vinales. I’m running short of time, so here’s the summary: Long bumpy ride with the same so-so tour guide we had Sunday; beautiful scenery; cool Juan Luis family tobacco farm where we learned about the drying process and how tobacco is transformed into cigars; eating too much at lunch; long, bumpy ride back to Havana. A 10-hour trip. Vinales has potential, but the tourism stuff is a little over the top. I feel like a good guide might have led us to more real experiences.

I will always remember the town of Vinales because it’s the place I spotted ice-cream cones for 1 peso. That’s moneda nacionale. So 1 peso is worth about 4 cents. Cheap way to cool off.

Back in old Havana we had a couple of drinks at a rooftop bar, ate ropa vieja again at the same place we had it Sunday night, and called it an early night. Wednesday morning we have a 6-hour bus ride to Trinidad, a much mellower place than Havana.

A bread shop where we bought 8-cent buns to tide us over until dinner.

A bread shop where we bought 8-cent buns to tide us over until dinner.

Cars were still driving on the flooded Malecon.

Cars were still driving on the flooded Malecon.

The water began to flood past the Malecon.

The water began to flood past the Malecon.

A banana daquiri at a place called Art Bar in Havana.

A banana daquiri at a place called Art Bar in Havana.

You can't visit Havana without trying a mojito. It was pretty tasty.

You can’t visit Havana without trying a mojito. It was pretty tasty.

The rooftop terrace bar at Havana's Ambos Mundos hotel in Old Havana.

The rooftop terrace bar at Havana’s Ambos Mundos hotel in Old Havana.

It's hard to see, but the flooding water from the high surf of the Malecon came all the way to the street of our casa, four blocks in.

It’s hard to see, but the flooding water from the high surf of the Malecon came all the way to the street of our casa, four blocks in.

Just grab a couple of glasses from the casa and let's take this bottle of 7-year rum out to the promenade and enjoy the Havana night.

Just grab a couple of glasses from the casa and let’s take this bottle of 7-year rum out to the promenade and enjoy the Havana night.

Tobacco fields in the Vinales valley.

Tobacco fields in the Vinales valley.

A fancy hotel overlooking the Vinales valley.

A fancy hotel overlooking the Vinales valley.

Cool rock formations in the Vinales valley.

Cool rock formations in the Vinales valley.

The Vinales valley.

The Vinales valley.

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