CUBA JANUARY 11 - 21, 2022
"Cuba - East to West"
ALL INCLUSIVE

(Food, Tips, Tours, Insurance in cuba,
Hotels, bus, cUBAN vISA'S & More!

Booking ends September 15, 2020
We will limit the number of
people on this trip to make it
enjoyable!  Book Soon!

 

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The most important questions answered:
1. It IS completely legal and SAFE to travel to Cuba.
2. We will be traveling on a "people to people" entrance visa.
3.  Cuba is not dangerous.
4.  Our guides will be: An American (Mary) who lives PT in Havana, A Cuban Tour (Abel) guide who I have known for 5 years and speaks both English and Spanish.
5.  Another photo store has been traveling with them for over 10 years. 
6.  Stephen has been on 2 previous trips with Mary and Abel and completely trusts them and their connections.  It's always been a safe and wonderful trip.
7.  We will also have Jorge Restrepo as one of our photographic instructors - he also has been to Cuba.
8. We will take a small deposit.  And due to today's travel situations we will make a final decision 6 weeks prior to the trip.  If the trip gets canceled for any reason...you will get a FULL REFUND from us.  Once we post the final cost.  We will relay the flight information you should book.  You can book another airline and just meet us at the first hotel if you desire.


Other:  
The food is wonderful, organic and fresh.
The Hotels are nice, ornate and clean.  The staff is very nice!
Our transportation will be on an air-conditioned bus and the driver is a wonderful person.
You will need a passport that does not expire in the next 6 months.
No shots are required.
You will receive a FREE one-on-one lesson prior to the trip to make sure you have the
right equipment and are ready for the trip.
A camera is not necessary, iPhone photographers can join us too!


iPhone photographers will get wonderful images too!

Call Stephen if you have any other questions...314-567-3456


Your tour leaders will bring them a suitcase of old clothes, make-up, shoes, tooth brushes,  and more.  Mary will tell us where to donate this.  The faces on these people when you give them a gift fills your heart with joy!  You can too!
 

Cost:

Single Occupancy: $6299-400 (deposit) = $5899 Balance

Double Occupancy $5699-600 (deposit) = $5099/person or $11,800 per couple/2 in one room Balance.


***** IT IS OUR GOAL TO PREPARE YOU WITH A FEW CLASSES/WALKS FOR FREE PRIOR TO THE TRIP SO YOU ARE SUCCESSFUL AND RELAXED ON THIS TRIP*****

Stephen & Jorge



*Your out of pocket expenses will be - Air, a couple of meals in various places to give you free time.  Last time I spent about $40 on meals with my wife.  And - very important. As a photographer we "tip" the various children and people we take photos of.  A typical Cuban makes $30 per month.  We give most of them a quarter (Cuban peso).  It's like giving the a dollar and they really appreciate it.

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Stephen Weiss, Tour Leader
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jorge.tif

CUBA JANUARY 11 - 21, 2022
ALL INCLUSIVE*
EAST TO WEST
PRICE COMING SOON

CUBA-8190.jpg
CUBA-9010.jpg
Cuba-6754-Edit.jpg
CUBA 2020 (912 of 1128)-Edit.jpg
_1022728.jpg
_DSC1549.jpg
_1022563.jpg
_1022075.jpg
_1022054.jpg
_DSC0747.jpg
_DSC0858.jpg
_1022115.jpg
_DSC0816.jpg

The most important questions answered:
1. It IS completely legal and SAFE to travel to Cuba.
2. We will be traveling on a "people to people" entrance visa.
3.  Cuba in not dangerous.
4.  Our guides will be: An American (Mary)who lives PT in Havana, A Cuban Tour (Abel) guide who I have know for 5 years - speaks both English and Spanish.
5.  Another photo store has been traveling with them for over 10 years. 
6.  Stephen has been on 2 previous trip with Mary and Abel and completely trust them and their connections.  It's always been a safe and wonderful trip.
7. We will take a small deposit.  And due to today's travel situations we will make a final decision 6 weeks prior to the trip.  If the trip get canceled for any reason...you will get a FULL REFUND from us.  Once we post the final cost.  We will relay the flight information you should book.  You can book another airlines and just meet us at the first hotel if you desire.

Other:  
The food is wonderful, organic and fresh.
The Hotels are nice, ornate and clean.  The staff may be slow...but very nice!
Our transportation will be on an air-conditioned bus and the driver is a wonderful person.
You will need a passport that does not expire in the next 6 months.
No shots are required.
You will receive a FREE one-on-one lesson prior to the trip to make sure you have the
right equipment and are ready for the trip.
A camera is not necessary, iPhone photographer can join us too!


Call Stephen if you have any other questions...314-567-3456


Plus, many of us will bring them a suitcase of old clothes, make-up, shoes, tooth brushes,  and more.  Mary will tell us where to donate this.  The faces on these people when you have them a gift fills your heart with joy!

*Your out of pocket expenses will be - Air, a couple of meals in various places to give you free time.  Last time I spent about $40 on meals with my wife.  And - very important. As a photographer we "tip" the various children and people we take photos of.  A typical Cuban makes $30 per month.  We give most of them a quarter (Cuban peso).  It's like giving the a dollar and they really appreciate it.

SWW_3038.jpg
Stephen Weiss, Tour Leader

All of the details are below here. Read carefully!
 
The airlines will be offering more flights by October and we will let you know our flight info then.  Jet Blue and Southwest will have flights then!  (Currently it is under $400)

Cultural-Journeys

People to People Cuba

Photography Exchange

 

January 11-21,  2022

 

 

 

Havana, Trinidad, Camaguey and Santiago de Cuba

 

Now is the time for you to join us and discover Cuba: the Pearl of the Caribbean. It is a 10 day jam-packed trip of spectacular sights, sounds and people.

 

Note: Photo stops will be spontaneous en-route across island and while walking etc.

 

Itinerary:

From Date: Tuesday, January 11, 2022

To Date:  January 21, 2022

Duration:  10 nights [ 11 days]

 

Tuesday, 1/11,  Flight to Havana 

 

The following is the basic itinerary.  There are surprises awaiting you in Cuba and special activities to be announced.   This is a bus trip and a walking trip.  You need to be able to walk a couple of miles on uneven streets. 

 

Havana

Day 1-  1/11 AIRPORT TRANSFER AND GUIDE

Check-in: Hotel Telegrafo or Sevilla

 

After arrival we will drive to our first stop at the Plaza of the  Revolution, where all the great speeches were made and two Popes have said mass.  Learn about the government buildings that surround the plaza.

 

If we arrive early we will lunch at a privately owned restaurant known as a Paladar

Welcome cocktail and check-in at hotel.  Orientation and walking to the neighborhood.

Our hotel is centrally located close to the Capitolio, Central Park and Prado Boulevard.  Laying on the border of old Havana and the Centro Havana municipality, this area is notable for containing numerous architecturally and historically significant buildings that exemplify the mid-19th Century urban center. We will begin at the circa 1877 Central Park, then walk along the circa 1772 Prado Promenade, see the Moorish-style Inglaterra Hotel, one of the oldest in the city, the 1929 Capitolio building, which is modeled on the US capitol, and the Bacardi building, is the best example of tropical Art Deco.

Begin walking tour of Old Havana, start with the Parque Central area and tour the landmarks in your neighborhood: Alicia Alonso Theater, and the old hotels in the heart of Old Havana. Continue down Obispo Street, a pedestrian street lined with shops and always crowded with people.  How much we accomplish depends on our arrival time, but all sites will be visited during the week.

 

On our return to hotel stop in at El Floridita, Hemingway’s favorite place to drink daiquiris. He is immortalized in a bronze sculpture sitting at his favorite stool. Have your picture taken with Hemingway.  Come back in your free time to enjoy a mojito at the bar.

 

Dinner at San Cristobal.  This is the paladar chosen by the Obamas to have dinner when they visited Havana.

Optional: Dance and drinks on the rooftop of the Inglaterra Hotel afterwards. The band is superb and the views of the core of Old Havana are a photographer’s dream. The Inglaterra is next to our hotel and always a fun spot to eat, drink, dance and listen to music.  Jazz and more options to be discussed.

(L,D)

 

Day 2- 1/12, Wednesday

Breakfast buffet at hotel

 

Feel free to explore Havana before our walk begins. In five minutes you can be at the Gulf of Mexico facing north to Florida on a beautiful pedestrian and motorway that skirts the coast for seven miles.  Or take off through the back streets to see the sights off the beaten path.

 

Start our walking tour of Old Havana built between 1600s – 1800s. We will be exploring new areas of the city. We will head toward the center of old Havana to visit to the Taller de Grafica, printmaking cooperative to meet artists and a demonstration using presses from the 1750s.  The Taller is the center for all Cuban artists, and has a gallery and prints for sale.

 

Close by is the Plaza de Armas which was built in 1584 for military exercises. Most mornings used books are sold here, mainly post-revolution editions on Cuban history. Havana's first town hall is located on the square, now the city museum, and gives an overview of its history. Admire the Cathedral of Saint Christopher located on the cobbled Plaza de la Catedral. One Cuban writer has described the cathedral as "music set in stone." The square is surrounded by some of Havana's oldest buildings; the wealthiest families built their mansions here.

The buildings of Havana reveal the influence from different architectural styles, with a diverse range of Moorish, Spanish, Italian, Greek and Roman architecture.

 

Lunch at Paladar in Old Havana

 

After lunch complete our walking tour at the Plaza Vieja, a stunningly beautiful old square. Although the square was in a sad state of repair for many years, that decay is being reversed by the caring restoration of the historian of the city. Pause here at an outdoor café or Havana’s only brewery and enjoy the scene and a refreshing beverage.

 

Tonight for dinner we will help you find the perfect paladar. There are 5 excellent paladars within a few blocks of hotel.

(B,L)

 

Day 3, Thursday, 1/13

Breakfast buffet at hotel

 

Morning visit to Ernest Hemingway’s home, Finca La Vigia.  Finca La Vigia is located on a hilltop in the rural village of San Francisco de Paula, just southeast of the City of Havana. The home has recently been the subject of a massive preservation effort by the National Trust for Historic Preser- vation as the author left it in 1961. At this farm you will be able to see his sport-fishing boat, the Pilar. This place houses the Hemingway Museum. The Finca Vigia estate and the fishing village of Cojimar are considered the most significant locales for those interested in Hemmingway’s history.

 

Lunch today at Paladar (TBD)

 

After lunch we visit Fusterlandia, a cross between Gaudi and Picasso. The home of Jose Fuster wo turned his home into an art work made of tiles.  Then the whole community became transformed. 

 

After, drive through the modern areas of Havana and stop to visit the home studios of 3 artists.  Each very different and extremely articulate about their art and their country.  Kadir Lopez, our first stop, was recently on the cover of the NY Times art section as the leading artist of Cuba.  Also, visit the home studios of Douglas Perez and Kelvin Lopez, who also have galleries in the U.S.

 

Dinner free tonight

(B,L)

 

Day 4, Friday, 1/14

Breakfast buffet at hotel.

 

Check out of Hotel

Head east to Trinidad

 

Stop at Aguadas de Pasajeros on the way, a rest stop for souvenirs, food, and snacks.

 

Check in to the Hotel Memorias-LasBrisas, all-inclusive resort on beach

Late lunch on arrival

Late afternoon and evening free

Time to enjoy the white sand and beautiful beach

 

Dinner at hotel

Cabaret at hotel at 9:00 PM

(B,L,D)

 

Day 5, 1/15 Saturday

Breakfast at hotel

 

Our motor coach and guide will whisk us to Trinidad for a day of exploring the fourth of the seven cities founded by Diego de Velasquez in 1514 as a base for expeditions into the “New World.” Today Trinidad is maintained as a living museum, just as the Spaniards left it in its period of greatest opulence. It is the crown jewel of Cuba’s colonial cities. The whole city with its fine palaces, cobbled streets and tiled roofs is a national monument since 1988, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

 

First stop is the Pottery workshop of the Santander family, a 200 year old family business.

 

(**see below for more on Trinidad)

 

Begin the day at the Plaza Mayor, which is in the center of town and elegantly adorned with glazed earthenware urns. Around the plaza are the Museo Romantico, the Museo Arqueologia and the cathedral, Iglesia Parroquial de la Santisima Trinidad, which was built between 1817 and 1892. Explore the cathedral, which is the largest church in Cuba, and is renowned for its acoustics. On the left at the front of the church is a crucifix of the brown-skinned Christ of Veracruz, the patron of Trinidad. The altars are made of precious woods such as cedar, acacia, caoba and grenadine.

 

We visit the art studio of Yami Martinez, an internationally recognized artist whose focus is women’s issues.  Next to her studio is the spot you go for music in the open air at night.

 

Return to hotel for lunch or you can choose to stay in town.

 

Dinner at hotel or your choice to go back to town.

 

(B,L,D)

 

Day 6, 1/16, Sunday

 

Breakfast at hotel

AM departure for Camaguey

 

Lunch stop at a Paladar in Ciego de Avila.  The town was founded in 1538 by Conquistador Avila. Today the town is in the Neo-Classical style with 2 story buildings and horse carriages fill the streets.

 

As we drive through central Cuba the landscape changes as we approach Camaguey.  Camaguey is now Cuba’s third largest city and is among the original 7 cities founded by Velasquez in 1514. It was later ransacked by Henry Morgan and his pirates and locals rebuilt the city twice.  Today, Camaguey is a place of great beauty, culture and tradition.  The city was re-built as a labrynth to thwart the pirates.

 

One of the first seven villages founded by the Spaniards in Cuba, Camagüey played a prominent role as the urban center of an inland territory dedicated to cattle breeding and the sugar industry. Once settled in its current location in 1528, the town developed as a labyrinth, an irregular urban pattern that contains a system of squares, minor squares, serpentine streets, alleys and irregular urban blocks, highly exceptional for Latin American colonial towns located on flat lands.

 

Our Hotel Camino de Hierro is charming and perfectly located in the heart of the city.

 

Dinner will be at Paladar El Meson de Principe, located in a building from the 1700s and renovated by the current owners.  They serve delicious Cuban food and make a good mojito too.

After dinner we might be able to see a ballet or attend concert by Orquesta de Camara de Camaguey at Larios gallery.  Gran hotel has great jazz music every night too

 

(B,L,D)

 

Day 7, 1/17

Breakfast at hotel

 

Start the morning with a pedi-cab tour of the many plazas and curving back streets.  Make stops along the way to visit the home/studio of Ileana Sanchez and Joel Jover.  The home has been in her family for a hundred years and the rooms are covered in antiques.  They are collectors of every thing from their city.  After continue to tour and take in the churches San Juan de Dios and La Soledad, among the nine major churches here. 

 

Continue to the home/studio of artist Martha Jimenez on Plaza de Carmen.  Her sculptures of gossiping women and old men adorn the plaza.  Also, maybe we can squeeze in a visit to Jose Pepe Guiteras’ leather making workshop and studio. 

 

The pedi-cabs will drop us off for Lunch at Paladar El Paso, next to Plaza de Carmen and across the street from Jimenez’s gallery.  A small home now a restaurant that serves a unique twist on Cuban food.  Run by a very friendly staff and welcoming owners.

Return to hotel walking along the pedestrian only streets.

Our dinner is at Paladar Caribena where we can share our Cuban experiences.

(B,L,D)

 

Day 8, 1/18

Breakfast buffet at hotel

 

Breakfast at hotel

Depart for Santiago de Cuba

 

Rest stop and lunch at a Paladar in Bayamo.  Bayamo is the second oldest city in Cuba. A beautiful city and not on the tourist radar.  Life around the plaza has been the same for hundres of years.

 

Santiago de Cuba was the second ‘villa’ founded by Spanish governor Diego de Velasquez in 1514.  Formerly Cuba’s capital and harbor town, it is now a sprawling city in the hills with a population of 500,000.  We will focus on the historic colonial center, where we will encounter incredibly friendly people eager to connect.  Our Casa Granda Hotel overlooks Parque Cespedes. From this main square it is an interesting walk to shady parks, lovely streets (calles) and music venues that all come alive after sundown.

A unique blend of colonial Spanish, French and West African influences have shaped this vibrant tropical city.  Son, the intoxicating Afro-Cuban rhythmic music grew out of this milieu and is performed in casas de trova, parks and accompanies meals all day long.  (‘trova’ arose out of the French troubadour tradition).

 

We will reach our historic Hotel Iberostar Casa Granda in the afternoon.  Located on the corner of the main plaza with terraces and roof top viewing of plaza and a place to relax.  Graham Green enjoyed this hotel and set part of his novel “Our Man In Havana” here.

 

Dinner at Paladar

(B,L,D)

 

Day 9, 1/19

Breakfast at hotel

Santiago de Cuba rivals Havana in historic significance.  Cortez, Pizarro, and Ponce de Leon all made their homes here.  This morning our exploration of the city will begin at Parque Cespedes.  On the north side of the square is the 18th century town hall, where Fidel Castro delivered his victory speech in 1959. 

 

We see the Cathedral Santa Ifigenia, the Basilica Metropolitana,  and  the 1516 Casa of Don Diego de Velasquez with its gold foundry.  Then we walk along Calle Heredia, a most interesting and lively colonial street flanked with distinctive mansions .

 

Lunch at Paladar

 

After lunch we hop on our coach and we will visit San Juan hill and it is the Spanish-Cuban-American War Museum.  Here we learn about Teddy Roosevelt’s raiders and their decisive influence in the War of 1898.  Sadly the hillscape has suffered during Hurricane Sandy.

 

We continue on to visit the Castillo El Morro that has a stunning view overlooking the Caribbean.  The imposing  Spanish fortress was built in 1633 on a cliff controlling the entrance of Santiago Bay and its dark history of slave trade and the many pirates like Henry Morgan who invaded here. 

 

Next we drive by the Moncada Garrison where Castro and his men made the first assault against Batista.  Then we make a stop for photos at the giant Plaza of the Revolution and an impressive  Equestrian sculpture of Maceo, leader in the Spanish-Cuban-American War and local hero.  The hill is flanked with a bold modern sculpture and the museum beneath may be completed.

 

Dinner at Paladar

(B,L,D)

 

Day 10, 1/20

Breakfast at hotel

 

Start the morning with a visit to Santiago's Ifigenia cemetery where José Marti and Fidel are buried.  We will watch the changing of the guards for the Marti Mausoleum and view some of the sculptures of famous Cubans buried here.

 

Lunch at Paladar

 

After lunch we visit the stunning Basilica of La Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre.  Bring a water bottle to fill with holy water.  The Virgin is the patron saint of Cuba and equally revered by Catholics and Santeros. This basilica is Cuba’s most important pilgrimage site.  Pope Benedict and Pope Francis have visited here.  Let us deliver flowers to the Virgin and light a candle.  Then, if time we can tour the pre-Columbian copper mining community in the valley beneath the church.

 

Our good-bye dinner will be at a Paladar

(B,L,D)

 

Day 11, 1/21

Breakfast at hotel

Transfer to airport for flight home.

 

After breakfast at hotel depart today for the airport and say our farewells to our lovely new friends and their beautiful island. (departure from hotel depends on airline times)

Allow 3 hours before booking your flight home.

(B)

 

** Trinidad’s prosperity rested on the sugar industry, which was introduced in the 18th century. As a result of the wealth that the sugar industry brought, Trinidad’s cultural life flourished. Schools of languages, music and dance were opened and a wide variety of artisans set up businesses, including gold and silversmiths. In 1827 the Teatro Candamo opened its doors. The wealthy patricians built huge mansions for themselves (now museums) and sent their children to European universities. However, during the second half of the 19th century the Industrial Revolution and increased sugar beet production in Europe led to the decline of Trinidad’s slavery-based economy. Construction ceased and the city remained frozen in time. The maze of cobbled streets is lined with terra cotta tile roofed houses in soft pastel colors. Much of the architecture is neo-classical and baroque, with a Moorish flavor reflecting the town’s heritage of conquistadores. The exquisite buildings are fronted by mahogany balustrades, fancy grills of wrought iron, turned wooden rods and massive wooden doors with postigos (small windows) that open to let the breezes flow through cool, tile floored rooms connected by double-swing half-doors.

****This is our scheduled trip and locations, but as always the trip leaders may have to make an unforeseen variance to the trip.  Additionally you will be required to sign a general simple waiver.  

We also highly recommend trip insurance and that you book your airline tickets as soon as we post our flights. 

Cost:

Single Occupancy: $6299-400 (deposit) = $5899 Balance

Double Occupancy $5699-600 (deposit) = $5099/ person or $11,800 per couple/2 in one room Balance.

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Mary                         Abel
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Cultural-Journeys 

Mary Drobny

People to People Cuba Photography Exchange

January 11-21,  2022

Havana, Trinidad, Camaguey and Santiago de Cuba

 

Now is the time for you to join us and discover Cuba: the Pearl of the Caribbean. It is a 10 day jam-packed trip of spectacular sights, sounds and people.

 

Itinerary

From Date: Tuesday, January 11, 2022

To Date:  January 21, 2022

Duration:  10 nights [ 11 days]

 

Tuesday, 1/11,  Flight to Havana 

 

The following is the basic itinerary.  There are surprises awaiting you in Cuba and special activities to be announced. 

 

Havana

Day 1-  1/11 AIRPORT TRANSFER AND GUIDE

Check-in: Hotel Telegrafo or Sevilla

 

After arrival we will drive to make our first stop at the Plaza of the  Revolution, where all the great speeches were made and two Popes have said mass.  Learn about the government buildings that surround the plaza.

 

If we arrive early we will lunch at a privately owned restaurant known as a Paladar

Welcome cocktail and check-in at hotel.  Orientation and walking to the neighborhood.

Our hotel is centrally located close to the Capitolio, Central Park and Prado Boulevard.  Laying on the border of old Havana and the Centro Havana municipality, this area is notable for containing numerous architecturally and historically significant buildings that exemplify the mid-19th Century urban center. We will begin at the circa 1877 Central Park, then walk along the circa 1772 Prado Promenade, see the Moorish-style Inglaterra Hotel, one of the oldest in the city, the 1929 Capitolio building, which is modeled on the US capitol, and the Bacardi building, is the best example of tropical Art Deco.

Begin walking tour of Old Havana, start with the Parque Central area and tour the landmarks in your neighborhood: Alicia Alonso Theater, and the old hotels in the heart of Old Havana. Continue down Obispo Street, a pedestrian street lined with shops and always crowded with people.  How much we accomplish depends on our arrival time, but all sites will be visited during the week.

 

On our return to hotel stop in at El Floridita, Hemingway’s favorite place to drink daiquiris. He is immortalized in a bronze sculpture sitting at his favorite stool. Have your picture taken with Hemingway.  Come back in your free time to enjoy a mojito at the bar.

 

Dinner at San Cristobal.  This is the paladar chosen by the Obamas to have dinner when they visited Havana.

Optional: Dance and drinks on the rooftop of the Inglaterra Hotel afterwards. The band is superb and the views of the core of Old Havana are a photographer’s dream. The Inglaterra is next to our hotel and always a fun spot to eat, drink, dance and listen to music.  Jazz and more options to be discussed.

(L,D)

 

Day 2- 1/12, Wednesday

Breakfast buffet at hotel

 

Feel free to explore Havana before our walk begins. In five minutes you can be at the Gulf of Mexico facing north to Florida on a beautiful pedestrian and motorway that skirts the coast for seven miles.  Or take off through the back streets to see the sights off the beaten path.

 

Start our walking tour of Old Havana built between 1600s – 1800s. We will be exploring new areas of the city. We will head toward the center of old Havana to visit to the Taller de Grafica, printmaking cooperative to meet artists and a demonstration using presses from the 1750s.  The Taller is the center for all Cuban artists, and has a gallery and prints for sale.

 

Close by is the Plaza de Armas which was built in 1584 for military exercises. Most mornings used books are sold here, mainly post-revolution editions on Cuban history. Havana's first town hall is located on the square, now the city museum, and gives an overview of its history. Admire the Cathedral of Saint Christopher located on the cobbled Plaza de la Catedral. One Cuban writer has described the cathedral as "music set in stone." The square is surrounded by some of Havana's oldest buildings; the wealthiest families built their mansions here.

The buildings of Havana reveal the influence from different architectural styles, with a diverse range of Moorish, Spanish, Italian, Greek and Roman architecture.

 

Lunch at Paladar in Old Havana

 

After lunch complete our walking tour at the Plaza Vieja, a stunningly beautiful old square. Although the square was in a sad state of repair for many years, that decay is being reversed by the caring restoration of the historian of the city. Pause here at an outdoor café or Havana’s only brewery and enjoy the scene and a refreshing beverage.

 

Tonight for dinner we will help you find the perfect paladar. There are 5 excellent paladars within a few blocks of hotel.

(B,L)

 

Day 3, Thursday, 1/13

Breakfast buffet at hotel

 

Morning visit to Ernest Hemingway’s home, Finca La Vigia.  Finca La Vigia is located on a hilltop in the rural village of San Francisco de Paula, just southeast of the City of Havana. The home has recently been the subject of a massive preservation effort by the National Trust for Historic Preser- vation as the author left it in 1961. At this farm you will be able to see his sport-fishing boat, the Pilar. This place houses the Hemingway Museum. The Finca Vigia estate and the fishing village of Cojimar are considered the most significant locales for those interested in Hemmingway’s history.

 

Lunch today at Paladar (TBD)

 

After lunch we visit Fusterlandia, a cross between Gaudi and Picasso. The home of Jose Fuster wo turned his home into an art work made of tiles.  Then the whole community became transformed. 

 

After, drive through the modern areas of Havana and stop to visit the home studios of 3 artists.  Each very different and extremely articulate about their art and their country.  Kadir Lopez, our first stop, was recently on the cover of the NY Times art section as the leading artist of Cuba.  Also, visit the home studios of Douglas Perez and Kelvin Lopez, who also have galleries in the U.S.

 

Dinner free tonight

(B,L)

 

Day 4, Friday, 1/14

Breakfast buffet at hotel.

 

Check out of Hotel

Head east to Trinidad

 

Stop at Aguadas de Pasajeros on the way, a rest stop for souvenirs, food, and snacks.

 

Check in to the Hotel Memorias-LasBrisas, all-inclusive resort on beach

Late lunch on arrival

Late afternoon and evening free

Time to enjoy the white sand and beautiful beach

 

Dinner at hotel

Cabaret at hotel at 9:00 PM

(B,L,D)

 

Day 5, 1/15 Saturday

Breakfast at hotel

 

Our motor coach and guide will whisk us to Trinidad for a day of exploring the fourth of the seven cities founded by Diego de Velasquez in 1514 as a base for expeditions into the “New World.” Today Trinidad is maintained as a living museum, just as the Spaniards left it in its period of greatest opulence. It is the crown jewel of Cuba’s colonial cities. The whole city with its fine palaces, cobbled streets and tiled roofs is a national monument since 1988, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

 

First stop is the Pottery workshop of the Santander family, a 200 year old family business.

 

(**see below for more on Trinidad)

 

Begin the day at the Plaza Mayor, which is in the center of town and elegantly adorned with glazed earthenware urns. Around the plaza are the Museo Romantico, the Museo Arqueologia and the cathedral, Iglesia Parroquial de la Santisima Trinidad, which was built between 1817 and 1892. Explore the cathedral, which is the largest church in Cuba, and is renowned for its acoustics. On the left at the front of the church is a crucifix of the brown-skinned Christ of Veracruz, the patron of Trinidad. The altars are made of precious woods such as cedar, acacia, caoba and grenadine.

 

We visit the art studio of Yami Martinez, an internationally recognized artist whose focus is women’s issues.  Next to her studio is the spot you go for music in the open air at night.

 

Return to hotel for lunch or you can choose to stay in town.

 

Dinner at hotel or your choice to go back to town.

 

(B,L,D)

 

Day 6, 1/16, Sunday

 

Breakfast at hotel

AM departure for Camaguey

Lunch stop at a Paladar in route

As we drive through central Cuba the landscape changes as we approach Camaguey.  Camaguey is now Cuba’s third largest city and is among the original 7 cities founded by Velasquez in 1514. It was later ransacked by Henry Morgan and his pirates and locals rebuilt the city twice.  Today, Camaguey is a place of great beauty, culture and tradition.  The city was re-built as a labrynth to thwart the pirates.

 

One of the first seven villages founded by the Spaniards in Cuba, Camagüey played a prominent role as the urban center of an inland territory dedicated to cattle breeding and the sugar industry. Once settled in its current location in 1528, the town developed as a labyrinth, an irregular urban pattern that contains a system of squares, minor squares, serpentine streets, alleys and irregular urban blocks, highly exceptional for Latin American colonial towns located on flat lands.

 

Our Hotel Camino de Hierro is charming and perfectly located in the heart of the city.

 

Dinner will be at Paladar El Meson de Principe, located in a building from the 1700s and renovated by the current owners.  They serve delicious Cuban food and make a good mojito too.

(B.D)

After dinner we might be able to see a ballet or attend concert by Orquesta de Camara de Camaguey at Larios gallery.  Gran hotel has great jazz music every night too

(B,L,D)

Day 7, 1/17

Breakfast at hotel

 

Start the morning with a pedi-cab tour of the many plazas and curving back streets.  Make stops along the way to visit the home/studio of Ileana Sanchez and Joel Jover.  The home has been in her family for a hundred years and the rooms are covered in antiques.  They are collectors of every thing from their city.  After continue to tour and take in the churches San Juan de Dios and La Soledad, among the nine major churches here. 

 

Continue to the home/studio of artist Martha Jimenez on Plaza de Carmen.  Her sculptures of gossiping women and old men adorn the plaza.  Also, maybe we can squeeze in a visit to Jose Pepe Guiteras’ leather making workshop and studio. 

 

The pedi-cabs will drop us off for Lunch at Paladar El Paso, next to Plaza de Carmen and across the street from Jimenez’s gallery.  A small home now a restaurant that serves a unique twist on Cuban food.  Run by a very friendly staff and welcoming owners.

Return to hotel walking along the pedestrian only streets.

Our dinner is at Paladar Caribena where we can share our Cuban experiences.

(B,L,D)

 

Day 8, 1/18

Breakfast buffet at hotel

 

Breakfast at hotel

Depart for Santiago de Cuba

Rest stop and lunch at a Paladar in Bayamo.  Bayamo is the second oldest city in Cuba. A beautiful city and not on the tourist radar.  Life around the plaza has been the same for hundres of years.

 

Santiago de Cuba was the second ‘villa’ founded by Spanish governor Diego de Velasquez in 1514.  Formerly Cuba’s capital and harbor town, it is now a sprawling city in the hills with a population of 500,000.  We will focus on the historic colonial center, where we will encounter incredibly friendly people eager to connect.  Our Casa Granda Hotel overlooks Parque Cespedes. From this main square it is an interesting walk to shady parks, lovely streets (calles) and music venues that all come alive after sundown.

A unique blend of colonial Spanish, French and West African influences have shaped this vibrant tropical city.  Son, the intoxicating Afro-Cuban rhythmic music grew out of this milieu and is performed in casas de trova, parks and accompanies meals all day long.  (‘trova’ arose out of the French troubadour tradition).

 

We will reach our historic Hotel Iberostar Casa Granda in the afternoon.  Located on the corner of the main plaza with terraces and roof top viewing of plaza and a place to relax.  Graham Green enjoyed this hotel and set part of his novel “Our Man In Havana” here.

 

Dinner at Paladar

(B,L,D)

 

Day 9, 1/19

Breakfast at hotel

Santiago de Cuba rivals Havana in historic significance.  Cortez, Pizarro, and Ponce de Leon all made their homes here.  This morning our exploration of the city will begin at Parque Cespedes.  On the north side of the square is the 18th century town hall, where Fidel Castro delivered his victory speech in 1959. 

 

We see the Cathedral Santa Ifigenia, the Basilica Metropolitana,  and  the 1516 Casa of Don Diego de Velasquez with its gold foundry.  Then we walk along Calle Heredia, a most interesting and lively colonial street flanked with distinctive mansions .

 

Lunch at Paladar

 

After lunch we hop on our coach and we will visit San Juan hill and it is the Spanish-Cuban-American War Museum.  Here we learn about Teddy Roosevelt’s raiders and their decisive influence in the War of 1898.  Sadly the hillscape has suffered during Hurricane Sandy.

 

We continue on to visit the Castillo El Morro that has a stunning view overlooking the Caribbean.  The imposing  Spanish fortress was built in 1633 on a cliff controlling the entrance of Santiago Bay and its dark history of slave trade and the many pirates like Henry Morgan who invaded here. 

 

Next we drive by the Moncada Garrison where Castro and his men made the first assault against Batista.  Then we make a stop for photos at the giant Plaza of the Revolution and an impressive  Equestrian sculpture of Maceo, leader in the Spanish-Cuban-American War and local hero.  The hill is flanked with a bold modern sculpture and the museum beneath may be completed.

 

Dinner at Paladar

(B,L,D)

 

Day 10, 1/20

Breakfast at hotel

 

Start the morning with a visit to Santiago's Ifigenia cemetery where José Marti and Fidel are buried.  We will watch the changing of the guards for the Marti Mausoleum and view some of the sculptures of famous Cubans buried here.

 

Lunch at Paladar

 

After lunch we visit the stunning Basilica of La Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre.  Bring a water bottle to fill with holy water.  The Virgin is the patron saint of Cuba and equally revered by Catholics and Santeros. This basilica is Cuba’s most important pilgrimage site.  Pope Benedict and Pope Francis have visited here.  Let us deliver flowers to the Virgin and light a candle.  Then, if time we can tour the pre-Columbian copper mining community in the valley beneath the church.

 

Our good-bye dinner will be at a Paladar

(B,L,D)

 

Day 11, 1/21

Breakfast at hotel

Transfer to airport for flight home.

 

After breakfast at hotel depart today for the airport and say our farewells to our lovely new friends and their beautiful island. (departure from hotel depends on airline times)

Allow 3 hours before booking your flight home.

(B)

 

** Trinidad’s prosperity rested on the sugar industry, which was introduced in the 18th century. As a result of the wealth that the sugar industry brought, Trinidad’s cultural life flourished. Schools of languages, music and dance were opened and a wide variety of artisans set up businesses, including gold and silversmiths. In 1827 the Teatro Candamo opened its doors. The wealthy patricians built huge mansions for themselves (now museums) and sent their children to European universities. However, during the second half of the 19th century the Industrial Revolution and increased sugar beet production in Europe led to the decline of Trinidad’s slavery-based economy. Construction ceased and the city remained frozen in time. The maze of cobbled streets is lined with terra cotta tile roofed houses in soft pastel colors. Much of the architecture is neo-classical and baroque, with a Moorish flavor reflecting the town’s heritage of conquistadores. The exquisite buildings are fronted by mahogany balustrades, fancy grills of wrought iron, turned wooden rods and massive wooden doors with postigos (small windows) that open to let the breezes flow through cool, tile floored rooms connected by double-swing half-doors.

sy.

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Mary                         Abel
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