Chevrolets, Architecture, Art and Food in Pinar del Río

160 kilometres west of Havana is the intriguing city of Pinar del Río. Not a major tourist destination itself, south-west of Pinar del Río is the famous Robaina cigar tobacco farm Finca El Pinar and to the north, Viñales’ wonderful landscapes.

Classic Chevrolets

After the new year in Havana Rocío and I were ready to go west. From Parque de la Fraternidad we caught the local P-12 bus to near the National Bus Terminal (Terminal de Ómnibus Nacionales). On 19 de Mayo Avenue we took an old Chevrolet van colectivo to Pinar del Río. Part way there the vehicle experienced a flat tyre.

Classic Chevrolet Van on roadside between Havana and Pinar del Río

Our classic Chevrolet van parked under a tree on the roadside between Havana and Pinar del Río

While changing the tyre, the driver used a rock to support the axle. The van’s lights contained images of Che Guevara.

Driver Changing Tyre on way to Pinar del Río; note the Che Guevara images on the lights and the rock supporting the vehicle

Driver changing tyre on way to Pinar del Río; note the rock and the Che Guevara image

In central Pinar del Río we found Villa Odalys Arias, a lovely guest-house (casa particular) with an excellent host. Our spacious room included a fridge and two air conditioners: one disabled Soviet-built unit and a modern appliance with a remote control which required plugging-in to use. The uniqueness of Cuba.

A Chevrolet Bel Air looking electric

A Chevrolet Bel Air looking electric parked near our Villa Odalys Arias accommodation

From Pinar del Río we visited Viñales for a day. Returning, we hitched a ride in a light blue Chevrolet towing an also-blue trailer.

Our ride from Viñales to Pinar del Río in front of a hardware store

Our ride from Viñales to Pinar del Río in front of a hardware store

Provincial History Museum (Museo Provincial de Historia)

Exploring the city we visited Pinar del Río’s Provincial History Museum. Displaying exhibits from various eras including colonial, independence and modern, the furniture designs inspired Rocío, a trained architect.

Exhibit at Pinar del Río's Museo Provincial de Historia

An exhibit at Pinar del Río’s Provincial History Museum

One museum section was dedicated to cigar-related items including brand stamps, lighters, boxes, labels and a photograph of the late Alejandro Robaina, a noted tobacco farmer and local identity.

Cigar Labels at Pinar del Río's Museo Provincial de Historia

Cigar Labels at Pinar del Río’s Provincial History Museum

Architecture and Art

Pinar del Río’s streets contain interesting art and ornate buildings built pre-revolution.

Hotel Globo's staircase and ornate walls

Hotel Globo’s ornate walls sparked our interest when walking past on the street

Hotel Globo's interior, Pinar del Río

Hotel Globo’s lounge with its concrete floor, small television, basic bar and garden seating contrast with the past grandeur of its neoclassical columns and decorative cornices

Blue pre-revolution building in Pinar del Río

Blue pre-revolution building in Pinar del Río

This mural features a smart phone, independence hero José Martí, a book and a tobacco leaf

This mural features a smart phone, independence hero José Martí, a book and a tobacco leaf

These verandah floor tiles provide a three dimensional optical illusion

A three dimensional optical illusion provided by veranda floor tiles

This house's verandah is supported by a concrete tree column

This house’s veranda is supported by a concrete tree column

This house door is surrounded by a variety of original condition tiles

Various original-condition tile patterns surround this house’s front door

Sculpture Park, Pinar del Río, Cuba

A sculpture park on Isabel Rubio Street (Carretera Central)

Vladimir Ilich Lenin Primary School, Pinar del Rio

Vladimir Ilich Lenin Primary School with a bust of José Martí in the entrance

Eating and Drinking

With fewer tourists, Pinar del Río lacks the relative culinary variety and sophistication of Viñales. We self-catered and also enjoyed street food from stalls near the bus station. In addition, Pinar del Río provided our worst meal in Cuba.

Pork with yellow rice and cucumber near the bus station

Good value and fresh pork with yellow rice and cucumber for 25 CUC (US$1) from near the bus station

One afternoon heavy rain hit. We popped into a state restaurant north of Parque de la Independencia to shelter and have lunch. The chips and rice were not fresh and the tuna tasted ancient and dry. If the fish was the initial item placed in Cuba’s first ever freezer, thawed on the day and then fried for an hour I would not be surprised. At least the tomato was okay. After eating tree rat stew at La Gran Piedra, Rocío knew she could eat anything and made herself consume this meal.

Our worst meal in Cuba

Our worst meal in Cuba

One evening we enjoyed cocktails at Café Ortúzar. Pinar del Río is also known for Guayabita del Pinar, a guava liquor we tasted in Viñales.

Toasting with a caipirinha and a margarita at cafe Ortúzar

Toasting with a margarita (3.50 CUC) and a caipirinha (2 CUC) at Café Ortúzar

Overall, we enjoyed exploring Pinar del Río and the visits to Viñales and Finca El Pinar. Viñales would also be our next destination.

2 thoughts on “Chevrolets, Architecture, Art and Food in Pinar del Río

  1. Pingback: Finca el Pinar, Home of the World-Famous Robaina Cigars | Where is Joe.in?

  2. Pingback: Viñales: Beautiful Landscapes and More | Where is Joe.in?

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