The ebb and flow of Cuba is omnipresent and is manifested in vibrations that reverberate throughout this dynamic place. Every pore is filled with the low hum of vintage cars that course through the aged streets of Havana, with the sounds of music syncopated to a rhythm of the past. Feet step, hips sway in response to the addictive pulsations. The lull and crescendo of conversation emanate from doors of Havana’s classic bars and spill into the street adding to the chorus of sounds around you. As the ears are enticed by the myriad sounds, the eyes are entranced visual works of genius in colors that draw sight in every direction, creating rhythmic sensations in the mind. In every corner is some expression of the Cuban soul: a splash of color here, a guitar riff there, a serpentine vine crawling up a Spanish arch. It is spice, it is movement, it is the lugubriously refreshing essence of a mojito, it is Cuba.
Slightly Active. May involve some walking and climbing
Cuba’s climate is mild and subtropical. Temperatures range between 65 degrees and 95 degrees, making it a wonderful destination to visit particularly in the winter. The rainy season is May to October, but it does not rain every day or all day, although there can be torrential rain at times. The dry season is November through April.
Arrive in Miami and meet with the rest of the group at your hotel. Get to know your fellow travelers tonight over dinner, and get any last-minute instructions and travel documents for your upcoming adventure to Cuba. MIAMI MARRIOTT. (D)
Land in Marti International Airport and begin your touring through historic Havana. Take an elevator ride to the top of a 375-foot tall tower, part of the Jose Marti memorial, for a panoramic view of Havana. After lunch, take a tour of the Museum of Fine Arts’ Cuban Collection, housed in the beautiful Palacio de Bellas Artes, which boasts the largest collection of works by Cuban artists in the world. Visit with members of the Cuban Museum of Music and learn about music in Cuba with a small gathering of musicians. After dinner at Café Elite, a local Paladar, get your first taste of nightlife at one of Havana’s venerable bars. HOTEL SARATOGA. (L,D)
Explore Havana Vieja, the old quarter of this historic city bejeweled with marvelous examples of Spanish colonial architecture. See the Capitolio, Obispo Street, and the Cathedral Square. Drive to the small town of San Francisco de Paula to visit Hemmingway’s legendary farm house, Finca Vigia. Newly restored, it now serves as a Hemingway museum. After lunch, visit the Muraleando community development project and learn from its members how it is integral to community cohesion. HOTEL SARATOGA. (B,L,D)
After breakfast, you’ll be privileged to a performance by the amazing Habana Compas Dance Group with Afro influence drums and flamenco rhythms. Have a local exchange with a Music Radio Station or Recording Studio ABDALA. Stop in for lunch at the Divino Paladar at Finca Yoandra, an organic urban farm where you’ll meet with the owners and see how the food is prepared in the onsite restaurant. Then, let the culture of Cuba steep into your soul with a visit to Callejón de Hamel (Hamel’s Alley) the home of artist Salvador González Escalona and part of a neighborhood that has become a living work of art. This then continues in the Gaudi inspired neighborhood of the mosaic tile artist Jose Rodriguez Fuster, the Picasso of the Caribbean. Before dinner, after hours, visit an art gallery with live Jazz music and interact with artists over drinks. HOTEL SARATOGA. (B,L,D)
Leave Havana behind as you drive to Cienfuegos, the only city in Cuba to have been founded by French settlers. On your way visit the Bay of Pigs and get the Cuban perspective on the failed U.S. invasion of 1961. Eat lunch at Casa Enrique, a private home, and trade stories with the owners. Move on to Cienfuegos, The Pearl of the South, known for its many domed buildings, that sits on the eastern shores of Bahia de Cienfuegos. Then drive to Sancti Spiritus where many of the wonderfully-preserved colonial buildings are painted blue. HOTEL EL RIJO or similar. (B,L,D)
Drive to Trinidad and visit Casa del Alfarero where Chichi Santander and his family have been making pottery of national renown for generations. Stroll Trinidad’s Historical Center, a UNESCO World Heritage site, for a feast of 18th and 19th Century architecture around Plaza Mayor and visit the small artist-owned galleries that help give the town its charm. Afterward, visit the Santeria Temple of Yenayá to experience this religion of Caribbean origin. Return to Sancti Spiritus and enjoy an interactive music exchange at Casa de Trova while being serenaded with traditional Cuban music. HOTEL EL RIJO or similar. (B,L,D)
Drive to Santa Clara in the heart of Cuba and visit the Che Memorial. Continue to the School of Music and Art where you enjoy dance, theater, and music performances. Afterward, meet with mature Cubans at a center for the elderly, for a chance to engage in life conversations and learn how to dance the Danzon. Stroll through the city and visit El Mejunje Club, a multi-use venue that features performances from the modern to traditional with antique instruments, then visit with members of the band, Melodias Antillanas. Depart for the white-sanded beaches of Cayo Santa Maria, an island located north of Cuba in the Jardines del Rey archipelago. HOTEL IBEROSTAR ENSENACHOS. (B,L,D)
Start your day with a drive to the fishing town of Caibarién and visit Project Color Miel (Honey Color), a honey farm and art collective. Next, meet the children of the municipal band and their director, Jose Pilar Montalvan Raimundo, for a discussion about the organization and its history in the local Cuban community. Drive to the Sugar Museum to learn about how the sugar industry has changed over the last 50 years; then board a vintage steam train and ride to Remedios. After lunch at El Curujey, visit with a local priest and observe how he enriches his community through prayer, activities, sports and hobbies. This evening, before your farewell dinner, learn some dance steps that have formed the foundation of salsa. Bailamos! HOTEL IBEROSTAR ENSENACHOS. (B,L,D)
Enriched with the beauty and soul of Cuba and its people, return to Santa Clara for your flight back to Miami. (B)
Does not include international or domestic flights. Prices are based on 10 or more travelers, and are subject to change.
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