Day 8 – Tour pick up at Havana to Vinales (2.5hrs) > Tobacco Farm > Lunch at Mural de la Prehistoria > Cave > Back in Havana (2.5hrs) > Dinner at Palada Los Mercaderes
We were waiting outside Hotel Santa Isabel for the tour bus to pick us up to Vinales. It was a proper tour bus with good air conditioning (absolutely necessary in the Cuban summer) and it was quite comfortable. The first stop of our tour was to visit the local tobacco farm. Apparently, the best season to visit the tobacco farm is from November to February when you can see a much broader view of the planting and the harvesting process. Eventhough we didn’t visit Vinales during the best season for tobacco plantation, we were still able to see the farm.
The farmer had a demonstration about how to roll a cigar – luckily it was translated into English for us!
At the end of his demonstration, he was selling the cigars from his farm to us. I couldn’t remember how much it was (must’ve been around 20 CUC for 10) but it was quite cheap comparing with the branded cigars from the stores. As neither myself or Mr Map are cigar aficionado, we only bought 10, and Mr Maps has been puffing them slowly ever since. It has the authentic look, in other words, it means it doesn’t have nice packaging like the Cohiba cigars we saw at the shops. After the demonstration, we got a few minutes to walk around taking photos.
We had lunch at this massive artwork of a cliff called Mural de la Prehistoria. Personally, I wouldn’t come here just for this artwork as I think I could paint something more impressive than that (not on such big wall tho, maybe on canvas). Can you imagine this massive mural took 18 people 4 years to complete? However, the restaurant near this cliff is quite good, much beyond our expectations, as we had expected a bit of a tourist trap. I was so pleased to see the suckling pig served and I finished all the leftovers!
We were taken to a nearby cave that I couldn’t remember the name (I guess it would be Cueva de Santo Tomas). Our tour included a boat ride to see the rock formation inside the cave. It seems that all the day tour to Vinales all includes a tobacco farm visit, lunch & cave visit. The cave is nice, a bit different with a short boat ride inside, though not really anything special. After visiting the cave, we took the tour bus back to Havana.
We went out for dinner as soon as we got back to Havana. This time we went to a restaurant called Paladar Los Mercaderes with tripadvisor banner which is also a recommended restaurant from lonely planet (not the top choice though). We had a look at the menu and the food is relatively expensive compared with our other meals in Cuba. However, we were ok to splurge a little as it was our last night in Havana and we had some cash to spare.
The restaurant located on the 1st floor and the decor is very cozy.
I’ve been drooling over the lobster on various menus we’ve seen during the trip and finally got to order one! Their lobster in secret pineapple sauce is very tasty as I usually had the steam/boiled lobster with butter sauce. The best part is the lobster is deshelled! Mr Map ordered the Pork in Passionfruit and Plum sauce, as well as his favourite fried soft bananas. He became a little obsessed with ordered the soft bananas (don’t get the banana chips), and he left the restaurant feeling very satisfied. Both dishes were quite rich, so getting some rice or beans is definitely recommended.
At the end of the meal, the owner of the restaurant came to our table to check if we were happy with the food and had a small chat with us, which I thought made our meal extra special. We were both very happy with the restaurant food and service standard, which was a bit of a surprise since the food has been quite disappointing during the rest of our trip in Cuba. Personally, I like Paladar Los Mercaderes more than El Rum Rum where we had dinner the night before. This gave us the perfect ending for our last night in Havana before heading back to civilization.
Tripadvisor ranking: #50 of 844 restaurants in Havana
Address: Mercaderes No 207
As our flight back to Madrid was an evening flight, we still got a full day to explore Havana the next day.
Have you been to the tobacco farm in Vinales? If you enjoy reading my blog, feel free to like and comment below and to follow me on twitter @MinionTravel to get the latest update.