Our first trip outside of Havana was to the eastern town of Vinales. We travelled there with the Viazul bus which in my opinion is the best and cheapest way to travel around Cuba. With comfortable reclining seats, air-conditioning as well as toilet facilities, the Viazul buses are a great way to travel around Cuba. Travelling in this country can be somewhat of an adventure, believe me.. We did waste 3 hours of our lives waiting for a car puncture to be fixed!
On our way to Vinales we stopped by this breath taking spot, Las Terrazas. This was the first of the many beautiful natural landscapes we witnessed around the island.
We were greeted at the Vinales bus station by a big crowd of Cubans; some were picking up tourists, others were trying to attract potential customers into their businesses! Our casa owner, Papo was there with a big card reading 'Martha Fenech'. Speaking only Spanish, Papo got hold of his bicycle and one of our bags and led the way to his casa. I immediately fell in love with Vinales. One-storey houses with front porches line the streets whilst agricultural trucks carry their produce as well as Cubans in their back compartments. There is a very tranquil vibe in this town that relaxes and calms you.
After settling in our room, we couldn't wait to begin exploring.
We made some new furry friends along the way...
Stumbling upon a small, open-air restaurant we decided to have a late lunch. It was a Sunday and apart from three Lonely Planet travellers, the place was filled with Cuban families. We ordered pizzas and a couple of Cuba's favourite beer, Cristal, which surprisingly got us a bit tipsy! The steap road back to the casa seemed like a very difficult task later.
Casa Papo y Niulvys is one of the best casas you will find in Cuba. I honestly cannot find anything negative to say about this casa and its owners. Niulvys, who speaks fairly good english is so friendly and warm, you can feel her love and dedication in everything she does and prepares.
After our fun horse-riding day, the following day, we agreed to unwind at the casa and have a home-cooked dinner there. This was the best ending to this exciting day. After ordering a mojito, I smiled as I spotted Papo with freshly cut mint in his hands.
Niulvys had asked us in the morning what we wanted to eat, suggesting lobster, fish, chicken and pork. We opted for lobster and pork. And got all this..
Niulvys prepared 10 different plates including the whole lobster and pork. It was one of the best meals of my life. The food exceeded all our expectations. Niulvys is such a great cook and host.
And guess what we paid for all the food pictures above? 15euros!! Unbelievable.
Leaving Vinales was a sad affair, but knowing that Varadero's paradise beaches were awaiting us we handled it with the utmost maturity!