A Dutch couple was kind enough to offer us a ride back to Havana via the Cuban “Highway” – the Autopista Nacional (A4) which runs from Pinar del Rio to Havana. The so called highway is really unique, as you can expect any kind of vehicle on the road – starting with bicycles, horse drawn carriages to brand new German cars.
We where dropped of a little outside of Havana and got into the city by taking a ride on truck turned public bus. A unique but dreadful experience as it takes ages to get into town and the truck is crowded with people.
After checking in at the hotel “Inglaterra”, which was inaugurated in 1875, and is currently one of the oldest in town, it was time to visit one of the best places for Cigars – the Partagas Tobacco Company, right next to the Capitolio. We had previously bought some cigars at the factory store and smoked them in the park right next to the Capitolio. This time we joined the factory-tour, which started on the lower floor where students learn cigar production and continued upstairs, where workers produce the world finest cigars. It’s not just a myth that tobacco factory’s have a reader who is employed to entertain the workers. Usually they read out the newspaper, but as most of the factory workers are female, they also offer romance from time to time. According to the guide, the Montecristo cigar brand got its name from the novel that was read to the workers.
Unfortunately filming and taking pictures was forbidden, but we discovered a flourishing black market inside the building as a lot of workers made inviting gestures and offered cigars “under the table”.
We spent the rest of the day walking around old Havana for the very last time, visiting “El Floridita” for a fine but overpriced Daiquiri and the La Bodeguita del Medio for a obligatory Mojito to pay tribute to Ernest Hemmingway who had smashed himself quiet often at those now tourist hangouts. Shame on me for never reading any of his books…
At night we met up with Merete again for dinner and a late night guard show at the El Morro Castle