Day 1: Arrive Havana [D]
Upon arrival in Havana, meet your Cuban guide who will provide local history and knowledge throughout the program. Drive by the Capitolio, the Malecón – Havana’s seafront promenade, U.S. Embassy, La Rampa, and Havana University. Explore the Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabana, also known as “La Cabana” or “El Morro”. This fortress protected the mouth of the Havana harbor in its day and offers unique views over Havana ideal for gaining a better understanding of the city’s layout. Check-in your hotel. Tonight meet your fellow travelers and tour guide for a briefing and welcome dinner. Overnight in Havana.
Day 2: Habana Vieja, Cuban Business, Community Arts [B,L,D]
We discover a local Farmer’s Market, to understand the cost of living and interact with local vendors. Then set out on exploration of Old Havana. Begin at the Plaza de Armas, the oldest part of the city. See the Greek Roman ‘El Templete’ site of the first Mass and town council meeting in 1519. Enjoy a performance by contemporary dance company Danza Combinatoria (another company may be substituted if they are on tour). Boxed lunch with the performance group, a unique opportunity to have one on one conversations.
In the afternoon, visit the offices of a local business, learn about the details of doing business in Cuba. Engage in a discussion on the changing economics of Cuba with an expert. Enjoy the panoramic views overlooking all of Havana from the office’s advantageous location.
Tonight, enjoy homemade cooking prepared by the members of a neighborhood arts center and learn the story of the center’s unique construction. Later, interact with locals at the neighborhood community arts center and enjoy their music and dance party. Overnight in Havana.
Day 3: History of Cuban Music and Arts [B,D]
After breakfast at our hotel, a lecture by a musicologist takes you on a journey through the history of Cuban music. Explore the Fine Arts Museum of Havana with your Cuban Study Leader. Cuban art is renowned worldwide. Delve into the stories that each work of art relates and the statement on politics, culture and society that each artist conveys.
Lunch will be on your own. After lunch, continue your guided exploration of Old Havana including stops at Plaza San Francisco and Plaza Vieja. Overnight in Havana.
Day 4: The Vinales Valley [B,L]
Set out early and head west to the province of Pinar del Rio, to the famed Vinales Valley, a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. The valley boasts Cuba’s most strikingly beautiful landscapes, with anomalous Karst formations rising from the valley floor, unlike any other region of the island. Meet a farmer and learn why the best tobacco is found here.Enjoy a home cooked meal prepared with the produce of their organic farm.
In the afternoon we will stroll the main square of the small village of Vinales before returning to Havana. Overnight in Havana.
Day 5: Discover Matanzas, Afro-Cuban Dance, Organic Farmer [B,L,D]
Depart Havana by private motor coach for the drive to Varadero. En route, stop in Matanzas for a People-to-People Connection with a dance company that preserves AfroCuban culture and the traditions of Santeria. Continue to an organic farm which is the home and ceramics workshop of a couple whose unique vision is expressed through both their agricultural and artistic creativity.
After lunch at a local Paladar, continue on to Varadero Beach. Dinner and overnight in Varadero.
Day 6: Cuban Dance: Danzon [B,L,D]
After breakfast, another People-to-People Connection: Meet a group of vivacious seniors who share their enjoyment of Danzon, the most traditional dance of Cuba with you. Learn how to dance the Salsa, the most popular of Cuban dances, in a fun and energetic dance lesson.
Return to our hotel in the afternoon. Dinner and overnight at our hotel in Varadero.
Day 7: Hemingway’s House in Cuba [B,L,D]
Departure from the hotel in Varadero and drive to the outskirts of Havana to Finca La Vigia, the Hemingway Farm. This beautiful property hosts the house where the Nobel Prize winning author lived with his third wife Mary for over 30 years. Look into the open windows and doors to see the home in perfect condition with Hemingway’s personal belongings as he left them. Walk the grounds to see his private writing studio, swimming pool, and beloved fishing boat, Pilar. The boat is featured in his novel “Islands in the Stream.”
Lunch will be served at a Paladar on Havana. Afternoon arrival at our hotel. Tonight enjoy a farewell dinner. Overnight in Havana.
Day 8: Departure from Havana [B]
Breakfast in the hotel. Departure to Havana Airport for return.