Discover Cuba! Havana, Cojimar & Las Terrazas
Cuba's culture is rich with contributions from its indigenous, African and European roots. But above all, the people of Cuba are the island's greatest asset. They are friendly, welcoming, resourceful and full of life. This Learning Journey to Cuba will introduce you to the people and provide ample opportunities to interact with them in meaningful and rewarding ways, learning and teaching each other about life in Cuba.
Why We Love It:
Visit with booksellers and engage in friendly conversation with Cuban readers about popular Cuban and American literature. Learn about printmaking, sculpture and other art forms from innovative Cuban artists and their teams. Visit with Vocal Leo, an award-winning group known internationally for its distinctive interpretation of choral music. Visit Cafe Maria in Las Terrazas and enjoy what the locals know as "the best coffee in the world" as well as learn about coffee culture. Give back by participating in a community service project.
- Tour Operator
- Learning Journeys
- Offer valid through 6/30/2017
- 7 Days
- Escorted - Yes
|Day 1||Miami||Miami Overnight & Introductory briefing|
Your unforgettable journey to Cuba begins today with an overnight stay in Miami, Florida. If you are arriving at Miami International Airport, complimentary hotel shuttle service to the Crowne Plaza is available every 20 minutes from any 2nd level departure terminal, simply hail the driver as they pass. This evening at 7:30pm, participate in an introductory briefing to get acquainted with your fellow travelers and review your documents and program itinerary. You will be informed of the departure time of the group shuttle leaving the hotel tomorrow morning.
Accommodations: Crowne Plaza Miami Airport or similar.
Today, transfer to the Miami International Airport to board your non-stop flight bound for Havana, Cuba's capital city and designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Bienvenidos a Havana! You are welcomed by your private Cuban people-to-people representative outside the arrivals terminal at the Havana Airport. Board your air-conditioned coach, and jump right in as you head directly to your first destination in Cuba.
Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant in the center of Old Havana, followed by a leisurely orientation walk with your guide through the vibrant cobblestone streets as you immerse yourself in the colors of Cuba which surround you.
Explore the Used Booksellers Market, a cross-cultural treasure trove for readers of every genre. Meet local independent booksellers and engage in friendly conversation with Cuban readers about popular Cuban and American literature.
Now that you've had a taste of what lies ahead during your visit to Cuba, it's time to check in to your hotel. This evening, enjoy a welcome dinner at the hotel. Accommodations for 3 nights: Hotel Nacional or similar. (L,D)
|Day 3||Havana||Old Havana|
Begin our day with a visit to a primary school (ages 5 - 12) located in Old Havana. Interact with the children in their classrooms and participate in a discussion session with some of the school's administrators and teachers about Cuba's education system and how it compares to that of the United States. Please note that should a school not be available or not in session, we will substitute the school visit with an equally enjoyable and interesting visit to another community project in Havana. Then continue on to the private studio of one of Cuba's talented independent artists. During your visit you'll learn different techniques of printmaking, sculpture and other art forms from innovative Cuban artists and their teams.
Continue to a local ration store. Your Cuban host will explain the system of rationing and the two-currency system as well as the difference between Ration Stores, Cuban Peso Stores, and CUC stores. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant.
This afternoon, visit the Vocal Leo, a group of 14 talented singers who perform under the direction of Corina Campos, general and musical director of this unique, award-winning group known internationally for its distinctive interpretation of choral music. The group is named for the Cuban guitar virtuoso, composer and orchestra conductor, Leo Brower. After watching a performance or rehearsal, discuss the professional music scene in Cuba and the USA.
Later this evening, meet in our pre-reserved meeting room at our hotel and engage in a discussion with an English-speaking Cuban expert on the history of U.S./Cuban relations in the 20th & 21st centuries with the opportunity to ask questions in an uncensored format.
Afterwards, enjoy dinner on your own. We recommend dining at a paladar. Feel free to choose one from the list we provide or ask your guides for recommendations. Overnight in Havana (B,L)
|Day 4||Havana||Havana & Las Terrazas-Coffee and Art|
After breakfast, depart for Las Terrazas in Artemisa Province, a must-see in Cuba and known worldwide for its magnificent, scenic beauty. Las Terrazas was founded shortly after the Cuban Revolution in 1959 as a model community, where local farmers, known as campesinos, moved closer together in order to help each other overcome the hardships of their rural life: sleeping in huts with thatched roofs, without electricity, and with no local schools or medical services. First, stop briefly at the Clinica Las Terrazas? to learn how medical services are handled in rural Cuba. Locals visit this small, multi-purpose center for medical advice, often non-traditional and homeopathic, and referrals to larger medical centers in the city, dental care by the area's sole dentist, and even a haircut by the town hairdresser, with whom the space is also shared.
At your next stop, you'll visit the town's coffee shop, Cafe Maria. Maria's family has been welcoming visitors for years to enjoy the "best coffee in the country." Discuss coffee culture in Cuba and throughout the world and how cafes act as places for social interaction.
Las Terrazas is now part of UNESCO's Biosphere Reserve, much of it reforested coffee plantation. Real reforestation began in the late 1960s by the local farmers who were concerned that their land had been degraded by former French coffee barons. Tour the old coffee plantation.
Visit the art studio of Lester Campa (when in residence). Now you're in for an authentic, country-style lunch prepared and served outdoors at a local farmhouse near Las Terrazas.
On the way back to Havana after lunch, you'll visit "Fusterlandia," the home and surrounding neighborhood of "The Picasso of the Caribbean," Jose Fuster. Starting with a small wooden home as his canvas, Mr. Fuster has turned his dream into reality and transformed not just his own home but the entire neighborhood into a unique and colorful artistic landscape. Using the money he makes from selling his artwork, Jose adorns the community with sculptures and mosaics galore.
This evening, enjoy dinner on your own. We recommend dining at a paladar. Feel free to choose one from the list we provided or ask your guides for recommendations. Overnight in Havana (B,L)
|Day 5||Varadero||Havana, Alamar & Cojimar|
This morning, drive to Finca Vigia, Hemingway's Cuba retreat. Then, drive to the district of Alamar on the outskirts of Havana. Started as an expansive social housing project in the 1970's, these Soviet-style pre-fabricated concrete apartment blocks are now home to hundreds of thousands of Cubans.
Among the buildings in Alamar are community gardens, called Organoponicos, where residents grow fruit, vegetables and herbs for their own consumption and local sale. Similar to co-op and community gardens in the United States, these Organoponicos facilitate community development and offer Alamar's residents access to fresh produce. Enjoy a visit to one of these Organoponicos, which few visitors to Cuba have the opportunity to do.
Visit Cojimar, the fishing village that was the setting for Hemingway's book, The Old Man and the Sea, and enjoy lunch at a local paladar.
This afternoon, visit the famous Christopher Columbus Cemetery, a miniature city of mausoleums, crypts, family chapels, vaults, sculptures and ornate gravestones. Continue to the Artisan Market, where you'll find plenty of souvenirs, including handicrafts, posters and other collectibles.
Afterwards, return to the hotel and enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure. 2 nights at Melia Varadero.(B,L,D)
|Day 6||Varadero||Varadero, Coliseo & Cardenas|
This morning drive to visit a Craft Workshop. Artisans Mariela Aleman Orosco and Marilin Martinez Barrio, members of the Cuban Cultural Fund and the Cuban Association of Artisans and Artists, have received prizes and recognition for their creative work. During the visit you'll tour the workshop and experience the creative process as it is taking place.
Continue to the provincial town of Coliseo, passing by the city of Cardenas. Here you'll observe village life firsthand, including the varied (and often quite creative) means of transportation that residents rely on, like handmade bicycles and horse-drawn carriages.
Then, drive to the Coincidencia Farm, founded in 1987 by Hector Correa, an agriculturist with an interest in preserving certain native species of fruit that he knew and loved as a child. With a cartful of seedlings, he began to plant his farm. In order to multiply the effort, he created a seed bank so that any interested farmer could also cultivate the plants. In addition to farming, Correa created the first ceramics workshop in Matanzas, blending art with nature, essential sources of inspiration for any artist. Correa's children have kept the family tradition, studying and working hard both on the farm and in the workshop. After touring the farm and ceramics workshop, engage in a discussion about opportunities for creative expression in Cuba and the U.S., and how in both countries, artists often find perfect incubators for their creative drives through farming.
Return to the hotel and enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure. Overnight in Varadero(B,L,D)
Today, bid farewell to Cuba as you transfer to Havana's Jose Marti International Airport and check in for your charter flight back to Miami. Adios Cuba!(B)