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Itinerary LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes Tour of Havana, October 16 - 22, 2021

Please note that this is a planning itinerary and is subject to changes before the trip departure. Restaurants, clubs, museums, 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.”

DAY 1: SUNDAY, OCTOBER 16 | WELCOME TO HAVANA

Check into your American Airlines flight to Havana. It is important to arrive at least two hours before your flight departure because checking into flights to Cuba requires more paperwork than flying to other places. We will all be flying together and will meet as a group at the gate. 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 hold onto your Cuban visa card until you depart Cuba.

Meet at Havana International Airport. We will be greeted by our tour leader Adolfo Nodal and our Cuban guide at the arrival exit of the airport.

Transfer to Havana. During the drive our travel staff will introduce themselves and give you some important information about Havana. We'll briefly stop in Plaza de la Revolución to see ministries, monument to José Marti, and the colossal famous image of Che Guevara.

Arrive at the Hotel Capri and Check Into Your Rooms. The historic and recently remodeled Hotel Capri is in downtown Havana. The area is close to well-known nightclubs, La Rampa, and the famous Malecón. It’s a short taxi ride to some of the city’s top sights. The hotel and former casino were originally owned and built in 1957 by mobster Santo Trafficante, Jr and operated by Nicholas Di Costanzo, racketeer Charley "The Blade,” and ”Sonny the Butcher”. It boasts a swimming pool on the roof that can be seen in the opening scenes of Carol Reed's film "Our Man in Havana" and Mikhail Kalatozov's "I Am Cuba". In Francis Ford Coppola's movie The Godfather part II, Fredo Corleone brings a suitcase containing $2 million to his brother Michael at the "Hotel Capri." The movie refers to the involvement of the American mafia in the gambling and hotel industry in Cuba during the Batista dictatorship.

Hotel Capri

7:00 pm ~ Optional Neighborhood Orientation Walking Tour. After settling into our rooms and before going to dinner, those who are interested can get acquainted with our immediate surroundings in the downtown Vedado neighborhood including La Rampa, 23 Y L, Coppelia, and the Malecón.

8:00 pm ~ Welcome Dinner at Café Laurent. We'll have dinner at this favorite penthouse private restaurant around the corner from our hotel.

9:30 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).

Salsa club in Havana

DAY 2: MONDAY, OCTOBER 17 | OLD HAVANA

8:30 am ~ 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 continue our exploration of Old Havana with a visit to the collective graphic arts workshop, Taller Experimental 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, a tradition in Cuba liked to the printing of the ornate cigar box labels. This is a good place to purchase original and affordable artwork. We’ll then see an exhibition at the Wilfredo Lam Center.

Plaza Vieja

12:30 pm ~ Lunch at Doña Eutimia. Doña Eutimia is one of Cuba’s oldest favorites. This little paladar, nestled in the alley next to the Taller de Gráfica, is just off of the Cathedral Square. The house specialty is "ropa vieja," (old clothes) a Cuban classic made of shredded lamb.

2:00 pm ~ Walk up Obispo Street then San Rafael Boulevard to the Blvd de San Rafael. We'll stroll down two of Havana's bustling promenades.

3:00 pm ~ Visit the Blvd de San Rafael Neon District. Enter the Boulevard San Rafael, a Cuban shopping district that is in process of beautification partly through the restoration of vintage neon signs that survived the Revolution. This boulevard is anchored a neon district of some twenty vintage neon signs, many restored for the Habana Bienal and Habana 500.

Rex Duplex Neon Center

4:30 pm ~ Return to our Accommodations for Leisure Time. Relax, explore on your own, connect to WiFi, recharge your batteries, and take a siesta.

6:30 pm ~ Cocktails on the Lawn of the Hotel Nacional. Opened in 1930, the iconic Hotel Nacional de Cuba is perched high on a hill, towering over Havana’s scenic malecón seawall. It’s home to Art Deco, Mozarb (Spanish-Christian), Hispano-Moresque, neoclassical and neocolonial architecture, making it one of the most eclectic hotels in all of Cuba. In 1946 the hotel served as the venue for a major Mafia gathering, which was later depicted in The Godfather Part II. Nat King Cole, Winston Churchill, Ernest Hemingway, Frank Sinatra and Eva Gardner all stayed here while more recently, the hotel has been visited by stars like Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jodie Foster and Paris Hilton. It is well-located in the center of the modern Vedado neighborhood and just a short walk to Coppelia ice cream park, La Rampa, 23 y L, and the Malecón. We’ll have a drink on the famous lawn.

Hotel Nacional de Cuba

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 ~ Buena Vista Social Club Style Concert at La Taberna. After dinner we’ll see a traditional “son” band perform the classics from the famous Buena Vista Social Club in Old Havana.

DAY 3: TUESDAY, OCTOBER 18 | COMMUNITY PROJECTS

8:30 am ~ 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.

10:00 am ~ Visit Murealeando. Visit an inspiring community project in the Lawton community where artists reclaimed a giant 100-year-old water tank that had become a garbage dump and transformed it and the surrounding neighborhood into a mural painting and cultural center and school where children to senior citizens come play, take classes, perform, get married, celebrate their quinceañera, sell artwork, and engage in other activities.

12:30 pm ~ Lunch at Arte Corte. We’ll continue on to the Plazuela del Santo Angel, an area experiencing significant renovation of the houses and emerging entrepreneurship. This new energy is fostered in part by the work of the famous barber “Papito.” With support of the City Historian’s Office, Papito’s cultural project employs hundreds of Cubans and has brought together barbers, hairdressers, models, artists and historians to teach, organize exhibitions, shows and art festivals including Barber’s and Hairdresser’s Day, a celebration that converts Old Havana’s Plaza Vieja into a huge outdoor salon. Arte Corte doubles as a fashion school and the setting for a hairstyle show that exhibits creative and fantasy coiffures inspired by emblematic sites and monuments of the city. Arte Corte was a destination of Obama’s historic visit to Havana in 2016. We will get a tour of the project and a chance to meet and talk with Papito (Gilberto Valladeres). We’ll also have lunch at their restaurant El Figaro.

2:30 pm ~ Return to our Accommodations for Leisure Time. Time to relax, explore on your own, connect to WiFi, recharge your batteries, and take a siesta.

5:30 pm ~ Concert of Félix Chappottín y sus Estrellas at El Jalengüe de Areito. Visit a small music venue nestled in the Centro Habana neighborhood that has afternoon concerts featuring some of Havana’s best bands. It’s located inside of Cuba’s most legendary recording studio, EGREM Areito, where most of their best-selling records were made, including the Buena Vista Social Club. We'll have the privilege of seeing one of Cuba's most legendary son bands of all time perform in a small and intimate setting.

Felix Chappottin y sus Estrellas at EGREM Studios

8:00 pm ~ Dinner at San Cristobal Paladar. Located in a cluttered and eclectic bottom floor home of an early 20th century mansion in Centro Habana, The Guardian rated this as the number one paladar in Havana.

9:30 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).

DAY 4: WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 19 | EAST HAVANA

7:00 – 8:30 am ~ 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 ~ Havana Museums. Take the morning to visit one or two of three recommended museums located within two blocks of our hotel. The Museo de Bellas Artes Colección Cubana features a collection of Cuban paintings and sculptures from the early Colonial period through the year 2000. The Museo de la Revolución is located in Batista’s former Presidential Palace and tells the story of the Revolution from its own perspective. The newly remodeled Capitolio is once again a working Capitol as the new home of the National Assembly and museum with beautiful interiors. Guided tours will be provided at all museums.

Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes

11:30 am ~ Lunch and Salsa Dance Class at Playas del Este. We’ll visit Playas del Este, 30 minutes east of Havana for an afternoon of lunch on the beach, ecology, and salsa classes for those who are interested.

5:00 pm ~ Return to our Accommodations for Leisure Time. Time to relax, explore on your own, connect to WiFi, recharge your batteries, and take a siesta.

8:00 pm ~ Cocktails and Tapas at El Del Frente. Have dinner at the hippest and tastiest new restaurant in Havana. El Del Frente is in Habana Vieja and makes food and drinks that will rival any popular restaurant in Los Angeles.

10:00 pm ~ Late Night Recommendation: Music at the Roof of the Hotel Inglaterra. For those of you who like late night music, we’ll walk to a very relaxed rooftop nightclub, which is just down the street from our hotel (optional--entry not included).

DAY 5: THURSDAY, OCTOBER 20 | WEST HAVANA

8:30 am ~ 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. We will depart at 9:30 sharp.

10:00 am ~ Fusterlandia. See the ceramicist who has transformed his entire neighborhood into a Gaudi or Brancusiesque wonderland of sculptures, mosaics, and murals. Fuster’s home and neighborhood gallery has become internationally renowned for community projects where neighbors volunteer their houses to become part of a sprawling masterpiece known as “Fusterlandia.”

11:30 am ~ Farm Tour, Lunch, and Discussion about Sustainable Agriculture and Food in Cuba at Finca Marta. This small experimental agro-ecological farm 15 miles southeast of Havana aims to demonstrate that farms focused on biodiversity and intensive management can thrive in a rapidly changing economy by producing high quality products without the need for transgenic crops, mechanization, or state-run distribution. Founded in 2012 by the renowned Cuban agronomist Dr. Fernando Funes-Monzote, La Finca Marta serves many of Havana’s restaurants, schools, and nursing homes. It pays its workers on total sales rather than a predetermined salary. Recent political reforms like legalizing direct sales and the emergence of private food and transportation cooperatives are allowing new models of privatized agriculture and culinary development. We'll enjoy a farm-to-table lunch and then a tour of the farm led by Dr. Monzote.

Finca Marta

3:00 pm ~ Architectural Tour of La Tropicana Cabaret. The Tropicana was the world's most famous nightclub from 1939 to 1959. It contains one of Cuba’s most significant modern buildings, the Arcos de Cristal (1952), a thin-shell concrete structure by architect Max Borges Recio. Built in the gardens of an early 20th century residence, this establishment is a relic of 20th Century history and an iconic part of Cuba. We’ll have a tour of the grounds and encourage you to return at night to see the big show.

Tropicana Cabaret's Arcos de Cristal, 1950

4:30 pm ~ Dinner and Evening on your own. Return to the hotel to refresh. Then 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 Los Amigos, Otra Manera, El Cocinero, Doña Eutimia, Vista Mar, Río Mar, Le Chansonnier, El Atelier, La Moraleja (optional – cost not included).

10:00 pm ~ Suggested Activity: TROPICANA NIGHTCLUB. Return to the Tropicana to see it in action. The club continues to operate almost exactly as it did in its heyday and is the only one of Havana’s famous clubs to survive the Revolution (optional - entry cost of around $100 is not included). Note: An easier and less expensive option ($35) is to go to the famous Parisien Cabaret at the Hotel Nacional. This show is the exact same show without the live band and outdoor setting but is still a great crowd pleaser.

Tropicana

DAY 6: FRIDAY, OCTOBER 21 | Cigars, Politics, & Hemingway

9:00 am ~ Breakfast and Discussion: The Cuban Political Economy with Marc Frank. We will have breakfast with Marc Frank, a well-known American author and journalist who has been living in Cuba with his family since 1993. He will tell us about how Cuba’s planned economy and political system works and doesn’t work and what changes the state is working on for the future with their brand-new constitution. Marc Frank is the economic correspondent to Cuba for Thomson Reuters.

10:00 am ~ Tour of Partagás Cigar Factory. 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

11:30 am ~ Artist Studio Visit of Luis Camejo. This is a special visit to the studio of Luis Camejo, one of Havana’s great painters of the city itself. Camejo captures Havana in a way that is palpable and real. You will get a chance to see both his current works in progress and completed paintings as we discuss his life and work. Also enjoy the amazing views from his garret on top of a building in Central Havana.

12:30 pm ~ Lunch at Paladar La Guarida. Anyone who has been to La Guarida will find it difficult to disagree that Enrique and Odeisys have managed to create their own magical home 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” (on your film list), La Guarida was the first upscale paladar to gain international fame. It remains a landmark on the Cuban culinary scene, against which all others are measured. Make sure to stop on the first floor and wander a bit for some amazing photos.

La Guarida Paladar

2:30 pm ~ Ferry to Regla. Take the people’s ferry across the Havana Bay to the town of Regla. When we get to the other side we’ll see the church with the black Madonna made famous by the Afro-Cuban spiritual practitioners of Santería.

3:30 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.

Hemmingway House

5:00 pm ~ Return to our Accommodations for Leisure Time. Time to relax, explore on your own, connect to WiFi, recharge your batteries, and take a siesta.

7:00 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 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. We’ll enter through the front door of the FAC and get to skip the long lines that typically go around the block.

9:30 pm ~ La Fábrica de Arte Cubano. The Fábrica de Arte Cubano (FAC) is a cultural center located in a former oil factory that has been transformed into a vast space for art and music. It attracts young Cubans, artists and others eager to enjoy the scene, and presages what the future might look like for Havana as a cosmopolitan trend-setting cultural magnet in Latin America.

Fabrica de Arte

DAY 7: SATURDAY, OCTOBER 22 | ¡HASTA LUEGO CUBA!

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.

10:00 am ~ Check out and Load Bus.

TBD am ~ 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.

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