After several attempts to book a bus from Vinales to Cienfuegos, we give up and choose a taxi. We were so surprised by a price that we did not even negotiate at all (32 CUC per person, which is 2 CUC less than a bus). We should hit the road with a minibus and the whole journey should take only 4 hours, which would be twice as fast as we expected. However, the thing was a bit different (yes, they covered up a truth for a little bit)… In the morning there was a 60 years old car waiting for us in front of the house in which they manage to squeeze 8 people + driver. Yeah, just like a minibus. No problems, we will survive that. Well, at the mid-way we even replaced a car for a bigger one in which they squeezed 7 more people and one baby 😄 That’s Cuba, everyone. Thankfully, we had a great company and those 4 hours, which lasts 7 hours, were actually passed quickly.
We have to tell you some more words about those taxis. They are known as colectivos – old American classics in which they crammed as much people as possible, throw baggage on the roof, and tied it up with a rope. You can also forget on AC. However, this kind of transport is still the cheapest way of getting around the island. And one more thing, the always pick you up at your casa and take you to your pre-booked hotel or casa, so you don’t have additional costs to get from a station, as you would have if you gone there by bus.
Cienfuegos is one of the newest towns on the island; it was established in the 1819. The so-called Cuban pearl was due to its colonial architecture in 2005 ranked in the UNESCO list of cultural heritage. However, despite the large number of tourists do not expect that you will find an open souvenir shop, travel agency or bank after 5 pm. Even the number of restaurants is smaller than in other cities, especially around the Jose Marti Park, where are all the main attractions of the city.
For the first lunch here we have to satisfied with a so-called peso snack, which is the name for a food sold on the streets or stalls and you can buy it with domestic pesos (1 CUC = 25 CUP). Of course, you can also pay with CUC but then you will pay twice as much. In our case we paid only 10 CUP (0,40 €) for a pizza. Really cheap snack. Oh, you can change CUC into CUP with locals or in some markets.
Apart from really cheap street food, there is quite a few stores where we bought the cheapest water so far. For 1.5 l bottle we paid only 0,8 CUC which is twice less than anywhere else. Even the restaurants here have a significantly lower food prices than in other cities, which we have visited so far. For a lunch we ordered a chicken and pork steak with two portions of congri (rice with black beans) and paid only 5,60 CUC. Such prices are indeed an exception, because usually the prices of main dishes are comparable with prices in Europe.
City did not really impressed us, but we had a casa with magnificent sea view so we had this two days in Cienfuegos for a relaxation. We enjoyed it, as if we were on real vacations, without jumping around as used to.
S & B