CUBA: Past, Present and Future
Prepared for Struges and Meredith Dorrance
Havana, Cienfuegos, Trinidad
8 days, 7 nights
Plus 3-day Viñales Valley Extension
A journey in Support of the Cuban People
HAVANA | Situated only 90 miles off the shores of the Florida Keys, Havana is one of the most romantic and bustling cities of the Caribbean islands. The Malecón (waterfront) is washed day and night by the Atlantic Ocean's deep blue crushing waves. Next to the crumbling pastel facades, the sidewalks fill with young musicians and artists, and local Cubans on their way to and from work. All over town, you will find amazing small family run restaurants, and despite the country's limited resources, they are able to provide visitors with some of the most exquisite and creative cuisine of the region. Enjoy music and dance at local bars and clubs along the cobblestones streets in Old Town or at the Jazz and Blues clubs in Havana's Vedado district and Miramar neighborhoods. Meet with a Havana architect, amazing contemporary young painters and sculptors, visit art galleries and museums you will never forget. Don't miss trying the local specialties; Mojitos and frozen daiquiris made with the local Havana Club or Santiago rum! Finally, if you have time and the weather is nice, check out a true Havana treasure, only 45 minutes away, the white sand beach of Santa Maria.
Day 1 | February 13 | Havana
Your Cuban guide will meet you at the airport. On the way into town, you will visit the historical memorial to José Martí at Plaza de la Revolución, Revolution Square, and give you a short driving tour to see the amazing architectural treasures in the Miramar neighborhood. Continue to the famous Malecón, Havana's famous waterfront. Celebrate the evening with a welcome dinner at Rio Mar Restaurant and then an outing to the Fabrica de Arte Cubano. Havana Accommodation (D)
Day 2 | February 14 | Havana
Begin your first full day in Cuba with a presentation of a local architect, followed by a walking tour of the history of the city's fascinating past venturing out into the streets and see the four plaza that make up Habana Vieja (Old Havana). Continue the walking tour to visit Ambos Mundos, the former residence of Ernest Hemingway and La Floridita, to taste the best daiquiris in Havana (it's 5 o'clock somewhere!…or non-alcoholic options available). Enjoy lunch on your own in the Old Town. In the afternoon, visit Museo de Bellas Artes - Museum of Fine Arts - and/or The Revolution Museum. Dinner at famous restaurant San Cristobal (where President Obama and his family had dinner in 2015!). Stroll down Calle Obispo and partake in the various nightlife activities Cuba has to offer.
Havana Accommodation (B/D)
Day 3 | February 15 | Havana
After breakfast, we drive to visit Finca Vigía, Ernest Hemingway's primary residence from 1939 to 1960 for a guided tour. This is where Hemingway penned much of his classic "For Whom the Bell Tolls". Continue to Cafe Ajiaco for a Cuban cooking experience (lunch included here!). Free afternoon/evening to explore Havana on your own. Dinner on your own.
Havana Accommodation (B/L)
Day 4 | February 16 | Havana
After breakfast at the hotel, meet with world-renowned photographer Roberto Salas in his Miramar home. Salas's photographs of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara are legendary. Together with his Cuban-born father, Osvaldo, he met Castro in 1955 and in 1959, following Castro's rise to power, they were invited by Castro himself to work for the government newspaper Revolución. Enjoy this in-home visit and hear about Havana through their eyes. Lunch on your own. After lunch visit the Muraleando Project and meet the students and teachers working in contemporary art. This evening we take a ride in a classic car along the Malecón and through the heart of Havana to our dinner at La Guarida.
Havana Accommodation (B/D)
CIENFUEGOS | Cuba's La Perla del Sur, the "Pearl of the South" summons travelers from around the world. Cienfuegos is best known for its seductive melee of French colonial spirit and architecture. A relatively young city, Cienfuegos was settled in 1819 by French and Louisianan immigrants and to this day retains much of its former charm, leading to its 2005 declaration as an UNESCO World Heritage site.
Day 6 | February 17 | Cienfuegos
After breakfast, we depart early departure for Cienfuegos, the French Colonial town known for its spacious, sea-misted streets and plazas. Throughout its history, ships used the surrounding bay as a refuge during storms in the Caribbean. Snack lunch on your own en route. Upon arrival head to the city's central square to wander the artisan marketplace, and view the exceptional architecture, including the art deco Tomas Terry theater, unlike anywhere else in Cuba. We will enjoy a private performance by a local choir with a reception to meet the performers afterwards. Dinner at a local paladar by Cienfuegos Bay.
Cienfuegos Accommodation (B/D)
TRINIDAD | Located on the South Central Caribbean coast of Cuba, Trinidad is one of the best-preserved cities in the Caribbean. Dating back to a time when sugar trade was the main industry in the region, it offers exquisite Spanish colonial architecture and warm, friendly people. A day spent within Trinidad's streets is essential to experiencing the full extent of the Cuban spirit.
Day 7 | February 18 | Trinidad
After breakfast, we depart for Spanish colonial Trinidad, on a scenic route from Cienfuegos. We will be met by an expert city historian to discuss the city's preservation efforts. Walk to the Plaza Mayor, Trinidad's central square and an UNESCO World Heritage site since 1988. In the square, visit the Museo de Arquitectura Colonial, - the Museum of Colonial Architecture with its elegant portico and delicate wroughtiron balustrade. In the 18th century this building owned by the sugar barons of the Sánchez Iznaga family then converted into a museum in the 19th century. Also in the square, the Museo Romántico, - The Romantic Museum, a historic residence with lavish furnishings - evidence to the wealth Cubans once held. Enjoy lunch on your own. After lunch visit with the women at an entrepreneurial crochet co-op, and artisans at an outdoor market — well known for their woodcarvings and fine handmade lace and crochet, as well as ceramics, masks and musical instruments. Dinner at a local paladar followed by optional outing at Casa de Trova.
Trinidad Accommodation (B/D)
Day 7 | February 19 | Trinidad > Havana
Enjoy a free morning to explore and shop in this charming cobble stone town on your own, OR visit to the Caribbean beach just outside of town - Playa Ancón. Lunch on your own. Return to Havana mid-afternoon. Farewell dinner at La Barraca (Hotel Nacional). Optional night out at Fábrica de Arte Cubano.
Havana Accommodation (B/D)
Day 8 | February 20 | HAVANA / Home
WEST CUBA 3-DAY EXTENSION:
VIÑALES VALLEY | A Cuban gem!
Well known for its many world famous Cuban tobacco plantations, this valley in the Sierra de Los Organos has a lush karst landscape surrounded by green rolling hills and mountains. The so called mogotes (limestone), tower around the valley, are one of the features that make the landscape of Valle de Viñales unique. Sprinkled with farms on fertile red soil it is suitable for all kinds of agriculture, where traditional methods and techniques are still used. The Valley is as UNESCO World Heritage Site and also a National Park.
Day 8 | February 20 | Havana / Viñales
After breakfast, we drive to Pinar del Rio and Viñales Valley. We will stop to visit some crystal caves on the way there. We continue to Viñales to check in to our accommodation. Afternoon free to explore Viñales (several activities to choose from, i.e. hiking; horseback riding; visit to pineapple farm; visit to tobacco farm; rock climbing; or zip-lining). Dinner included at Paladar el Olivo. Evening free to explore Viñales town. Viñales Accomodation (B/D)
Day 9 | February 21 | Viñales
After breakfast, your guide will accompany you to Viñales National Park, a green, dreamlike landscape, where you will stroll among giant limestone rocks unique to this area of Cuba. This day will include a light packed lunch (i.e. sandwiches or the like). Activities like first day in Viñales to be determined based on interest. Dinner on your own. Nighttime outing at Casa de la Musica.
Viñales Accomodation (B/L)
Day 10 | February 22 | Viñales / Las Terrazas / Havana
After breakfast, we check out of our casa particular and drive back to Havana. We will stop in Las Terrazas for a visit and following lunch at el Romero, one of Cuba's only vegetarian restaurants. Free evening to explore Havana's Old Town and Calle Obispo. Dinner on your own.
Havana Accommodation (B/L)
Day 11 | February 23 | Havana > Home
We bid Cuba farewell and return to José Martí International airport for our flights back home.
NOTE: This itinerary might be subject to change to take advantage of the serendipity of the moment when in Cuba; to meet someone special, to engage in an activity that might occur unexpectedly, or to accommodate circumstances beyond our control. Restaurants or hotels may change in similar category.
ACCESSIBILITY and ACTIVITY LEVEL: Moderate. This journey involves long days outdoors in the natural elements; city strolls on cobble stones streets and other uneven surfaces, and/ or nature walks on uneven and sometimes steep surfaces. Travelers should feel comfortable walking for 1-3 hours per day, in a sunny and tropical/hot climate. Elevators may not be available in all locations, so participants should be able to climb several sets of stairs, sometimes without handrails. Concessions will be made to try and assist those who need more time. Some sites and locations are only accessible by foot.
See CCJ's forthcoming Cuba Destination Guide for more information regarding how to plan for your journey; food, drink, local weather, what to pack, etc.
INCLUDED: CCJ pre-departure itinerary/trip planning, Cuba Destination Guide (PDF document sent via email after final payment is received); registration and coordination; predeparture meeting via Zoom (two - three weeks prior to departure); in country transportation per itinerary; best available accommodation in boutique hotels or private homes in Havana (double occupancy); best available accommodation in boutique hotels or private homes outside Havana (double occupancy); daily breakfasts (8), lunches and dinners per itinerary (see "B/L/D"); Cuban English speaking local guide; guest speakers; all entrance fees on itinerary; preparation materials; potable water on the bus/car (please bring a refillable water bottle to avoid single plastic use).
NOT INCLUDED: International airfare to/from Havana; Cuban Visa/Entry Card (info will be sent upon registration); meals not on itinerary; alcoholic drinks; excursions not on the itinerary; tips for bellman and hotel staff (optional, yet customary); tips for local guide and driver (optional, yet customary); travel cancellation and evacuation insurance (strongly recommended, info will be sent upon registration).
TRAVEL PROTECTION: For more information on the available plans or to enroll, enroll here or contact Travelex Insurance Services at 1-800-228-9792 and reference location number 47-0272. Please advise Travelex that Cross Cultural Journeys is the travel company for this trip.
Base trip fee:
1-3 travelers: 3,695 per traveler (double occupancy, based on a minimum of 2 travelers)
4-7 travelers: $3,495 per traveler (double occupancy, based on a minimum of 4 travelers)
7-10 travelers: $3,295 per traveler (double occupancy, based on a minimum of 7 travelers)
Single surcharge: $650/per single traveler
Trip deposit: $1,000 / per traveler (due at time of booking)
Balance due 60 days prior to departure (by check or credit card - a 3% credit card charge applies)
VIÑALES VALLEY EXTENSION COST:
Base trip fee: $995 / per traveler extending their stay from previous week
Single surcharge: none / per single traveler extending their stay from previous week
Viñales only: $1,995 / per traveler (double occupancy)
Single surcharge: $250 / per traveler
Payments via CCJ PayPal:
Payments by checks via regular US mail (please do not write “Cuba” on your check as it may be held up in processing).
Make checks payable to:
Cross Cultural Journeys
321 Highschool Rd. NE, suite D3, box 353
Bainbridge Island, WA, 98110