2014 Classic Art & Culture Cuba Itinerary

Learn more about people-to-people travel.


Day 1

Miami

Our Cuba people-to-people travel program begins in Miami with a briefing and welcome reception before an overnight at the Cambria Suites Miami Airport. (Meals Aloft)


Day 2

Miami / Havana

Board our charter flight to Havana. Stop at a sustainable farm which supplies on of Cuba’s best private restaurants – Il Divino – where we enjoy lunch. Explore the neighborhood where artist Jose Fuster launched a community beautification project. The neighborhood has become a living canvas and our conversations with residents focus on the transformative power of art. Discuss Havana’s past and future with our local guide while stopping at iconic sites such as Revolution Square. Enjoy dinner in Old Havana and stroll to the famed Floridita bar, a favorite haunt of Hemingway.  Spend four nights at the Hotel Melia Cohiba. (L,D)


Day 3

Havana

Begin our day in Old Havana with a visit to Casa de las Tejas Verdes. Here, a local preservation architect and historian discusses the Old Havana Restoration Project, a 30-year project dedicated to restoring the area’s neoclassical and art deco buildings. Spend the remainder of our morning walking through the squares of Old Havana, calling on local artists at work in their studios. Visit Hotel Ambos Mundos, the hotel that served as Hemingway’s refuge while writing such works as For Whom the Bell Tolls. Spend our afternoon at the Museum of the Revolution. The museum is a living history lesson. Housed in the former presidential palace, the building was site of a failed assassination attempt on Batista in 1957 and the entire museum is dedicated to chronicling Cuban history from the colonial period through the Revolution. Enjoy dinner at Paladar Dona Eutimia, chatting with the entrepreneurs operating this small, private restaurant. Paladar owners are truly Cuba’s new breed of entrepreneurs, and during visits to several of these private restaurants over the next week, you meet the families to discuss the impact of private business on Cuba’s economy. An optional cabaret show at the Tropicana can be arranged. (B,L,D)
 

Day 4

Havana: Vinales Valley Day Trip

Spend today in the province of Pinar Del Rio and the world famous Vinales Valley. Vinales boasts Cuba’s most strikingly beautiful landscapes and is where the island’s best tobacco is grown. Sample the homegrown vegetables grown at an organic farm while meeting the family who is responsible for the land. Enjoy a boating excursion into one of the huge limestone caves running through a mogote — limestone karst outcroppings. Cap-off our day by meeting locals in the small community of Vinales returning to Havana. (B,L,D)

 

Day 5

Havana

Join architectural specialists to discuss the vast array of monuments at Cementerio de Colon. Designed by Spanish architect Calixto de Loira in the mid-1800s, it is laid out in grids around a central chapel. Lunch is in the garden of the historic Hotel Nacional overlooking the sea. In the afternoon we learn about the daily lives of ordinary Cubans as we set off through Plaza Cristo, chatting with those who are out and about. Continuing on foot we explore the wide Paseo del Prado, a wide avenue separating Old Havana from the central city. Paved in marble, this promenade is a popular place for locals to relax while children play. This afternoon, museum curators lead a special tour of the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes. While here we concentrate on the modern art collection, which includes works by such Cuban artists as Wifredo Lam, Rene Portocarrero and Victor Manuel Garcia. This evening, say farewell to Havana with dinner at the elegant Café Del Oriente. Tonight, an optional excursion to hear the famed Buena Vista Social Club can be arranged (at your own expense) (B,L,D)

 

Day 6

Havana / Matanzas / Varadero

Pay homage to Hemingway at his former home Finca Vigia, preserved as it was on the day of his death, and discuss his life with Cuban experts and researchers. After lunch in Cojimar, head to Matanzas. Discuss Afro-Cuban culture while touring the Museum of the Route of the Slave located in the restored fortress of Castillito de San Severino, originally built to guard the bay. Spend two nights at Hotel Melia Varadero. (B,L,D)


Day 7

Matanzas

While the Varadero Peninsula is known for its beautiful beaches, our time here will focus on the area’s people! Matanzas was Cuba’s major colonial-era port, exporting coffee, tobacco and sugar, and it also served as a slave trading port. The bay is the deepest in Cuba and during one battle in 1628 more than twenty Spanish galleons were sunk here by a Dutch admiral. Discuss the history of traditional dance with the young musicians and dancers at Las Munequitos de Matanzas. Learn about social welfare projects spearheaded by the Cuban Art Instructors School and Matanzas Seminary. Stop at Ediciones Vigia, a publishing house specializing in the creation of handmade books, where the staff eagerly discusses their process for fashioning limited-edition books. (B,L,D)
 

Day 8

Varadero / Trinidad

Explore the vibrant streets of Trinidad, meeting artists, musicians and traditional potters. At Casa Santander meet local artists and learn abotu traditional pottery techniques. This pottery studio has been run by the same family for decades, and the Santanders share their family history while inviting us to take a tun at the wheel. Spend tonight at the boutique La Ronda. (B,L,D)


Day 9

Trinidad / Cienfuegos / Miami

Today we take a scenic drive a short distance along the coast to the city of Cienfuegos, a beautiful city situated on a bay and the only city in Cuba that was founded by French. We check in at the airport and fly non-stop this afternoon back to Miami, where you connect with flights home. (B)

Please Note: IE’s people-to-people program itinerary and /or specific hotel accommodations may vary depending on license regulations or other local conditions. Remember, we are not traveling to a typical “tourist” destination and must plan to be flexible. Our hotels will range from basic to comfortable and you will enjoy a truly engaging experience. A people-to-people license does not allow for time to explore independently.