Itinerary Crenshaw chamber of commerce havana experience, november 11 - 17, 2020 TOUR LEADER: JAMES V. BURKS

Please note that this is a planning itinerary and is subject to minor changes before now and the trip. Activity dates and times are not final. All meals, accommodations, activities, professional tour management by our Cuban staff, transportation to all the official activities are included in the cost unless indicated by “cost not included.”


Check into your flight to Havana. It is important to arrive over two hours before departure because checking into flights to Cuba can be slower and requires more paperwork than flying to other places. If asked under what OFAC travel category you are going to Cuba you should declare “General License for Support for the Cuban People Travel.” You will have to present your Cuban tourist visa you’re your passport. Please hold onto your airplane ticket the whole time you are in Cuba because it has a stamp that serves as your medical insurance. It is also important to keep your Cuban visa until your departure from Cuba.

Arrival in Havana. When you exit the airport you will be greeted by one of our U.S.-based tour leaders, your Cuban tour guide, and chauffeur who will be standing at the waiting area exit. They will be holding a sign that says “Crenshaw Chamber“ and will welcome you and assist you in your transfer to your hotel.

Arrive at Hotel Riviera and Check In. We will be staying at the Iberostar Hotel Habana Riviera, a historic resort hotel located on the Malecón waterfront boulevard in the centrally located modernist neighborhood of El Vedado in Havana. To check in you just need to go to the front desk and give them your passport. The hotel, which is now managed by the Spanish Iberostar chain, was built and owned in 1957 by mobster Meyer Lansky and still maintains its original 1950s style. It was a casino that could avoid the rule of U.S. law and the F.B.I. and was intended to rival the comfort and contemporary luxury of any Las Vegas hotel of the era. At the time it was considered the epitome of resort-construction, designed by architect Igor Boris Polevitzky, one of the deans of Miami Modern architecture. Lansky hired two of Cuba’s great artists, muralist Rolando Lopez Dirube and sculptor Florencio Gelabert, who designed the white marble sculptures of an intertwined mermaid and swordfish that fronts the entrance porte cochere, and "Ritmo Cubano" (Cuban Rhythm), a large lobby sculpture that depicts twirling male and female dancers rendered in bronze. In its heyday the hotel was frequented by Ginger Rogers, Ava Gardner, Steve Allen, and Nat King Cole.

Hotel Habana Riviera

5:30 pm ~ Orientation Neighborhood Walking Tour. After settling into our rooms and before going to dinner, those who are interested can get acquainted with our surroundings around the hotel. Malecón and Paseo has the ocean, two of Havana’s finest jazz clubs, a theater district, and many of the best restaurants within a short walking distance.

7:30 pm ~ Welcome Dinner at Atelier Paladar. Atelier is run by Niuris Higueras one of the driving forces in the Havana restaurant scene –and one of the hottest Cuban entrepreneurs with two of the most exciting restaurants in the city. She defines the style of the food as signature cuisine in an experimental culinary workshop. The food changes every day, every week, with a handwritten menu.

10:30 pm ~ Return to Hotel or go out to late night Havana jazz concerts. For late night music we recommend the the Jazz Café across the street from our hotel that offers the best of Havana's jazz circuit. Music goes from from 10:00 pm to 1:30 am (optional--price not included).

Late night jazz in Havana


Breakfast at the Hotel. We will eat breakfast at the hotel every morning. The buffet opens as early as 7:00 am and closes at 10:00 am daily.

10:00 am ~ Old Havana: Historic Plazas. We’ll stroll the streets and plazas of the earliest and most important port city in Spanish Colonial America. We’ll visit Plaza Vieja, Plaza de Armas, Plaza de la Catedral, and Plaza San Franisco. Mingle through its boutiques, museums, art galleries, and markets. Our Cuban guide will give us a history of the city’s settlement. Visit the collective graphic arts workshop, Taller de Gráfica. This public studio for local artists was established by Pablo Neruda and Che Guevara at the beginning of the Revolution as a place where artists living and visiting Havana can work on printmaking. This is a good place to purchase original and affordable artwork.

Plaza Vieja

12:30 pm ~ Lunch at Los Mercaderes. Walk down the oldest street in Havana, Calle de Los Mercaderes (Merchants Street), to have lunch in a beautiful Colonial restaurant built inside the home of the owner.

2:00 pm ~ Continue Old Havana Walking Tour.

4:00 pm ~ Return to the Hotel for Leisure Time. Relax, connect to WiFi, take a swim, or explore the city on your own.

6:30 pm ~ Dinner at Havana House. Complete your Colonial Havana visit with a short trip across the bay to Havana’s most important historic site. El Morro/La Cabana. Start with dinner at Havana House, an art and music space in La Cabana neighborhood with a panoramic view of Habana at night across the Harbor Channel. Havana House is adjacent one of the city’s most exellent paladares which will be creating and serving your dinner.

8:30 pm ~ Cañonazo. We will walk the short distance to the ceremonial shooting of the Cannon which happens every-night to symbolize the closing of the bay.



Breakfast at Hotel. Wake up to a strong cup of Cuban coffee served with fresh tropical fruit, eggs, toast, cheese, ham, and freshly squeezed juice. The buffet opens as early as 7:00 am and closes at 10:00 am daily.

10:00 am ~ Visit to the Homes of Afro-Cuban Spiritual Leaders. Meet Afro-Cuban religious practitioners in this authentic and once-in-a-lifetime invitation to go inside the homes of a “palero” (Palo del Monte) and a “babalawo” (Santería). As sacred Congo and Nigerian worldviews combined with Catholocism, new belief systems emerged in Colonial Cuba. Members of these religious traditions will share their altars that are made to communicate with the dead, the saints, and a pantheon of African deities. The journey will take place in Cayo Hueso, beginning in Parque Trillo and ending at the Callejón de Hamel. This is an opportunity to discuss and photograph religious practices that continue to have great importance in Cuban culture.

Religion in Cuba

12:30 pm ~ Afro-Cuban Lunch at the Callejón de Hamel. Enjoy a delicious traditional buffet in the home of artist Salvador Gonzalez in Centro Habana and learn about some of the traditional creole dishes that make Cuban cuisine so rich.

3:00 pm ~ Ernest Hemingway’s Finca Vigía. Visit the hilltop house of American writer Ernest Hemingway where he lived from 1940 – 1960 with his wife, Martha Gellhorn, and their children. Cuba was Hemingway’s most frequented country where he wrote the Old Man and the Sea, To Have and Have Not, and For Whom the Bell Tolls. Hemingway donated his Nobel Prize to the Cuban people. His home in San Francisco de Paula has recently been the subject of a massive preservation effort by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. At this farm you will see his sport fishing boat, the Pilar. The Finca Vigia estate and the fishing village of Cojimar are considered the most significant locales for those interested in Hemmingway’s history.

Hemingway House

5:00 pm ~ Leisure Time. Relax, connect to WiFi, take a swim in the Riviera Pool, or explore the city on your own.

7:30 pm ~ Dinner at Tierra. Tierra is just as much about the Havana arts scene as it is about food. Built into the VIP section of the Cuban Art Factory built out of recycled shipping containers. This paladar pushes the limits of private industry and government cooperation in an atmosphere 100-year old previously abandoned cooking oil factory along the Almendares River between the Vedado and Miramar neighborhoods.

9:00 pm ~ Fábrica de Arte Cubano (FAC). After dinner we can roam the Fábrica de Arte cultural center, get drinks from one of the many bars, see the art exhibitions, and hear music in any of its three stages. This is Havana’s hippest new magnet for the urban and chic: an old peanut oil factory transformed into a multi-level and almost infinite art and music space. This new cultural hangout is an entrepreneurial project of Cuban celebrity musician X Alfonso and his family, the legendary Afro-fusion band “Síntesis.” The “Cuban Art Factory” is a shining reflection of what the future might hold for Havana as it becomes the cosmopolitan trend-setting cultural stronghold of Latin America it once was. Transportation back to the hotel is not provided. To get home you should exit the FAC and the bouncer will get you one of the taxis that lines up outside the entrance. Tell them “Hotel Riviera” and it will cost $10 CUC per car but that should be negotiated before he starts driving.



Breakfast at Hotel. Wake up to a strong cup of Cuban coffee served with fresh tropical fruit, eggs, toast, cheese, ham, and freshly squeezed juice. The buffet opens as early as 7:00 am and closes at 10:00 am daily.

9:30 am ~ The Cuban Political Economy with Marc Frank. The Cuban economic and political system is designed to have almost nothing in common with the US economic system. This morning we begin our final day with an insider discussion about how Cuba’s planned economy works and doesn’t work and what changes the state is working on for the future with their brand-new constitution. Marc Frank is a well-known American author and journalist who has been living in Cuba with his family since 1993. He is the economic correspondent to Cuba for Thomson Reuters.

11:30 am ~ Walking Tour of Capitolio and Central Park Neighborhood. Our Cuban guide will acquaint us with the majestic neighborhood constructed just after the independence from Spain and the formation of the Republic of Cuba. Bordering Old Havana and Central Havana municipalities, this area is notable for significant architectural structures that exemplify the mid-19th century urban center. We will start by walking down the famous Promenade designed by French landscape designer JCN Forestier, El Paseo del Prado (1929), considered in its time as one of the greatest open spaces in the world. We’ll see the original Bacardí building (1930), an example of tropical Cuban Art Deco and the Hotel Sevilla (1908). We’ll walk through Central Park (1877), and see the Neo-Moorish style Inglaterra (1879) and the new Manzana de Gomez hotels and the newly remodeled Grand Theater (1915). Then we’ll see the capitol building (1929) modeled on the U.S. Capitol.

12:30 pm ~ Lunch at La Guarida Paladar. Anyone who has been to La Guarida will find it difficult to disagree that Enrique and Odeisys have managed to create their own magical restaurant. The building, originally known as La Mansión Camagüey, shows its former grandeur from the magnificent wooden entrance door through the marble staircase up the two flights of stairs to the restaurant itself. The location for a classic scene from Cuba’s most iconic film “Fresa y Chocolate,” La Guarida has gone on to become one of the most popular restaurants in Cuba. Make sure to take your time to visit the rooftop to take some iconic Havana photographs.

La Guarida

2:00 pm ~ Private Performance with Conjunto Folklórico Nacional de Cuba. This extraordinary ensemble of African and Hispanic folkloric dance and music will lead a 90-minute workshop to teach us traditional afro-Cuban song and movement. Folklórico Nacional de Cuba has performed together for 35 years and has gone on more than 93 international tours. We will have an opportunity to meet the dancers and artistic director to discuss these traditions of dance and music and their work in that practice.

Conjunto Folklórico Nacional de Cuba

4:00 pm ~ Havana Fashion Scene. We’ll take you to some of the only places in Cuba where you can find chic and design-centric clothing and accessories. This is a good opportunity to meet some of the visionaries behind the cutting edge of Havana’s up-and-coming indie fashion industry including lables like Clandestina, Dador, and Manu Moda. These young firms are part of the expanding entrepreneurial private sector in Havana that is spurring economic growth among everyday Cubans.

7:30 pm ~ Dinner at Paladar Ivan Chef Justo. The style of this restaurant is thoroughly Cuban-Mediterranean, located on the second and third floors of a building that is over 200 years old. The food is nothing short of spectacular. We’ll walk to and from the hotel which is only two blocks from the restaurant.

10:00 pm ~ Havana Night Activity. After dinner we can attend a music or dance performance, to be determined depending on what is happening in the city that night. Such activities could include jazz concerts, salsa clubs, Tropicana, and other attractions of Havana’s non-stop nightlife (optional – transportation and entry cost not included).

Conjunto Chappottin y sus Estrellas


Breakfast at Hotel. Wake up to a strong cup of Cuban coffee served with fresh tropical fruit, eggs, toast, cheese, ham, and freshly squeezed juice. The buffet opens as early as 7:00 am and closes at 10:00 am daily.

9:30 am ~ Day trip to Viñales. Enjoy this all day excursion to Vinales Valley located in Western Province of Pinar del Rio. A UNESCO world heritage site, Vinales Valley has one of the most beautiful views in Cuba. It is characterized by the pine tree biosphere, the rich red soil, and the limestone mountains that jut out the valley floor called "mogotes." Pinar del Rio is the world's finest tobacco growing region.

11:00 am ~ Finca Montesino. On our way to Viñales we'll stop by a 3rd generation tobacco farm that grows and prepares tobacco for the Cohiba brand. The farmer will show us the process of how the world's finest tobacco is created.


12:30 pm ~ Lunch at Finca Agroecológica El Paraíso. Have lunch on what some might consider one of the most scenic farms in the world. For four generations this family has owned and operated this organic sustainable agricultural project. Enjoy a farm to table family style meal at their house perched on top of a hill with a magical view of the Viñales Valley. The farmers will take you on a tour of their “finca” after lunch.

3:00 pm ~ Explore the town and valley of Viñales. Our guide will take us on a brief tour to absorb the beauty of the valley's natural and cultural richness before heading home to Havana.

4:00 pm ~ Leave for Habana. The drive is three hours including a rest stop along the way.

7:00 pm ~ Dinner at leisure in and around the hotel (on your own). Split into small groups to explore Havana’s booming new foodie scene. We’ll recommend options and make reservations at the best restaurants in town such as El Cocinero, Doña Eutimia, Vista al Mar, Le Chansonnier, El Atelier, La Moraleja (optional – cost and tansportation not included).

11:00 pm ~ Late Night Recommendation: Jazz at La Zorra y El Cuervo. For those of you who like late night music, we suggest walking to “The Fox and the Crow,” around the corner from our hotels. This is one of today’s greatest jazz nightclubs (optional--transportation not included).


DAY 6: MONDAY, NOVEMBER 16 | Cigars, Convertibles, & Neon

8:00am ~ Breakfast. Wake up to a strong cup of Cuban coffee served with fresh tropical fruit, eggs, toast, cheese, ham, and freshly squeezed juice. The buffet opens as early as 7:00 am and closes at 10:00 am daily.

10:00 am ~ Cigar Factory Visit. The Partagás Factory is on the corner of Calle San Carlos in Central Havana, about a block down from the Romeo y Julieta factory. According to local histories, the factory has been home to other cigar brands over the decades such the El Rey del Mundo Factory, La Gloria Cubana, Ramon Allones, Quai d'Orsay and Bolivar cigars. The factory employs 400 people with space on the rolling floor for nearly 240 to produce about 20,000 cigars daily. Windows in a long row reach from waist height to the ceiling. Rollers receive their carefully portioned leaves for their blends from a storeroom at the front. A small quality-control area sits off to the side, where draw machines test the finished product for the day. As in all Cuban cigar factories, a podium is set up for a lector who reads the news to workers from 9 to 9:30 a.m. Two half-hour-long periods later in the day are devoted to novelas, or fiction books, of the workers choosing.

Cigar Leaves

Final Day free to explore Havana on your own. Take a day free of structure to wander the streets and take photography, seek out places of special interest, practice your Spanish, go an on excursion, relax at the pool, go shopping, or spend more time somewhere we visited but didn’t get enough time. Havana is like Paris in the sense that it is a great walking city to be a flaneur in. You can wander the passionately, make discoveries, and interact with locals. Please check in with one of the Project Por Amor staff when you’re in Cuba to coordinate this a head of time.

6:30 pm ~ Classic Convertible Scenic Car Ride. Leaving from our hotel, we will travel to our final dinner “Havana Style” in a fleet of specially selected 1950s American convertibles that will take us on a scenic route through Havana’s most beautiful neighborhoods. Stop briefly at Plaza de la Revolución to see ministries, monument to José Martí, and the colossal image of Che Guevara and other Revolution superstars.

8:00 pm ~ Final Dinner Party at and Live Concert at Rex Duplex. Welcome to the Rex Duplex Theater and Neon center. This historic theater was built in 1938 and expanded in 1949, to become Cuba’s first multiplex venue with two distinct film theaters connected by a grand lobby. The interiors of the theater have been dismantled over the decades and left to abandon. This magnificent space is reopening with the mission of creating a neon production, education and visitors’ center. We will have dinner here and enjoy live music in the newly opened Duplex Theater space.

10:30 pm ~ Havana Night Activity. After dinner we can attend a music or dance performance, to be determined depending on what is happening in the city that night. Such activities could include jazz concerts, salsa clubs, Tropicana, and other attractions of Havana’s non-stop nightlife (optional – transportation and entry cost not included).


Breakfast at our Accommodations. We will eat breakfast at the hotel every morning. The buffet opens as early as 7:00 am and closes at 10:00 am daily.

Transfer to José Martí International Airport. Depending on your departure time, we will transfer you to the Havana Airport three hours before take-off. We will assist you through check in and customs to make sure that you are well on your way home.

Please note: Cuba remains a developing country, and guests traveling here should adjust their expectations accordingly. Delays commonly occur, and flexibility and patience on the part of visitors is a must. Traveling to Cuba on a cultural exchange is quite unlike journeying to other destinations. While every effort will be made to operate the program as scheduled, all activities are subject to change without notice. In the event that an individual or location becomes unavailable, a comparable activity will be substituted.

Created By
Project Por Amor


Created with images by Project Por Amor