2015 Classic Art & Culture Cuba Itinerary

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.

Day 2

MIAMI / HAVANA

Board our charter flight to Havana. Discuss Havana’s past and future with our local guide while stopping at iconic sites such as Revolution Square. Enjoy dinner in Old Havana at La Imprinta and stroll to the famed Floridita bar, a favorite haunt of Hemingway known as the “Cradle of the Daiquiri”. Our path takes us along a lively pedestrian boulevard, where we mingle with locals out for an evening walk. Spend four nights at the Hotel Melia Cohiba or similar.(D)

Day 3

HAVANA

Stroll through the atmospheric squares of Old Havana, calling on artists in their studios as we pass. These parks and plazas are popular with locals who frequent the stalls selling books along the edges of the park while musicians fill the air with sound. Lunch is at the Spanish restaurant La Paella and then we continue our exploration and discussions this afternoon. See Hotel Ambos Mundos, where Ernest Hemingway kept a room for years. The hotel served as a refuge for writing such works as For Whom the Bell Tolls and as a base for frequenting his favorite bars. You have a moment to see the room where Hemingway worked if you wish before sampling a mojito at the rooftop bar. This afternoon, learn more about Cuban history at the Museum of the Revolution, housed in the former Presidential Palace, or join an expert in modern art to tour the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes. While here, our small group concentrates on the modern art collection, which includes works by such Cuban artists as Wifredo Lam, Rene Portocarrero and Victor Manuel Garcia. Visit Hotel Nacional for a drink overlooking the sea before dinner at Paladar Dona Eutimia. Paladar owners are truly Cuba’s new breed of entrepreneurs. Dinner is followed by Cuban music nearby at Café Taberna which is the venue for the Buena Vista Social Club revue. (B,L,D)

Day 4

HAVANA: VIÑALES VALLEY DAY TRIP

Head west this morning into the province of Pinar Del Rio to the famed Viñales Valley. Viñales boasts Cuba’s most strikingly beautiful landscapes and is where the island’s best tobacco is grown. At a family-run tobacco farm, the family discusses their lives and why their crop is among the world’s best. The valley is punctuated by huge limestone caves that form inside one of the many spectacular mogotes – limestone karst outcroppings. A small boat takes us on a river running inside the cave. Sample the homegrown vegetables grown at an organic farm while meeting the family who is responsible for the land and prepared our lunch. Cap-off our day by meeting locals in the small community of Viñales before returning to Havana. Dinner tonight is at Restaurant El Tocororo located in a restored mansion, where our meal is accompanied by jazz music in the main dining room. (B,L,D

Day 5

HAVANA

Learn about art and dance in the lives of Cubans elite and ordinary citizens. At Centro Prodanza, a private school of dance, we attend rehearsals and meet director Laura Alonso, the daughter of famed ballerina Alicia Alonso. After stopping by the prestigious National School of Arts, head to the outskirts of Havana to the interesting neighborhood of Jaministas. It was here where he grew up that distinguished artist Jose Fuster launched a community beautification project. The entire neighborhood is a living canvas and our conversations with both residents and local artists focus on the transformative power of art in the lives of ordinary Cubans. After perusing an upscale artist studio and gallery, drive along the 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. See numerous art deco buildings, including the famous Barcardi Building. Mingle with locals at an art and crafts market on the harbor, where we chat with artists and vendors displaying their wares. Say farewell to Havana with dinner at the elegant Café Del Oriente. You may cap off the evening with an optional lavish cabaret show at the famous Tropicana (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. Stop to chat with the farmers at a sustainable garden which supplies one of Cuba’s best private restaurants – Il Divino – where we enjoy lunch. Travel west to Matanzas and the Atlantic Coast. In Matanzas, learn about Afro-Cuban religion and its influence on dance at Callegon de las Tradiciones. Cross the peninsula to Varadero, where we check into our hotel for the next two nights. (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 and the School of Arts. Enjoy a taste of the area’s history at a colonial pharmacy. Lunch is served on the terrace of the storied

 

Xanadu Mansion, built by Irenee Dupont de Nemours. Also on our agenda is a stop at the Varadero Art Museum. Enjoy a sumptuous farewell dinner at Restaurant Kike Kcho, specializing in local lobster. (B,L,D)

Day 8

VARADERO / HAVANA / MIAMI

Our Cuba tour ends when we return to Havana for lunch before heading to the airport for our charter flight to Miami. (B,L)

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.