CUBA February, 2013 Joe Laufer’s ICQ Tours 9-day Cuba Rediscovery
Day 1-a Fly from Philadelphia to Miami Dinner at a popular Cuban restaurant in Miami
Day 1-b Miami: Sheraton Miami Airport http://www.sheratonmiamiairport.com/ Great location at airport and convenient for overnight on this program, on public golf course, recently renovated hotel Free shuttle available to/from airport and shopping/restaurant districts in Miami, prenights available. POST NIGHTS may be required due to air and not included in package price
Day 2-a - Miami Little Havana Flight to Cuba
Day 2-c Trinidad del Mar: Hotel Las Brisas http://www.cubanacan.cu/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=74&Itemid=108&lang=en Located about 15 minutes from Trinidad historical center, on the Trinidad del Mar Coast. This is an all-inclusive resort, though we will not have all meals at this hotel due to the nature of our tours. Rooms are very spacious, comfortable and grounds are beautiful.
Day 2-d This will be our hotel for 3 nights – till Day 5 Brisas Trinidad del Mar Hotel Peninsula Ancon, Trinidad, Cuba Renovated in 2005, this beach hotel has a total of 241 rooms spread over 3 floors. The lobby offers a 24-hour reception, a hotel safe and a currency exchange facility. In addition, guests are able to take advantage of a bar, a restaurant, a games room, public Internet access (charges apply), room and laundry services (for an additional fee), bike rental (charges apply). The hotel is especially well suited to families . This 4-star hotel is located on the coastline of Trinidad
Day 2-e Welcome Dinner at a local restaurant, Drinks and Live Traditional Music at Hotel Lecture on the instruments used to produce the distinctive “Sounds of Cuba”
Day 3-a: Trinidad – Manaca Iznaga – Palcio Cantero Manaca Iznaga Sugar Factory and Estate.
Day 3-b: Trinidad Today we will learn from residents about their local craft of linen-making and visit a ceramic studio and participate in a hands-on pottery class.
Day 3-c: Trinidad – Palacio Cantero Built in 1828 by a planter whose fortune was ill-gotten, this palace is as beautiful as its owner was unscrupulous. A fine example of architecture for aristocratic patrons, it is embellished with Italian-inspired frescoes. This well-proportioned building now houses the Museo Municipal de Historia and its eclectic collections; Cuban furniture, French porcelain trinkets, American lamps. From the top of the tower, the view over the town and to the peaks of Sierra del Escambray is stunning.
Day 3-d Old Cathedral of Trinidad, Cuba
Day 3-e: Plaza Mayor, Trinidad, Cuba Dinner tonight at hotel - grilled local specialties – in outdoor restaurant
Day 4-a Picnic Lunch today, Day 4
Day 4-b: The Harvard Botanical StationE. Atkins & Co., like many sugarcane planters, was continually plagued by diseased and degenerative crops. In 1899, Harvard professors George L. Goodale and Oakes Ames visited Atkins at his Soledad plantation in Cuba. They urged him to collaborate with Harvard University to fund research into tropical biology, particularly in the hybridization of sugarcane, to improve and develop new varieties of the crop. To this end, in 1901 Atkins employed noted horticulturist Robert M. Grey to begin work on what soon became the Harvard Botanical Station for Tropical Research and Sugar Cane Investigation on Atkins's Limones plantation. Grey also built an impressive garden on the grounds, filled with tropical plants and fruit trees from around the world. In 1924, the Harvard Biological Laboratory was added to the Station to further research in tropical botany, under the direction of Dr. Thomas Barbour. After the Cuban revolution of 1959, Harvard relinquished control of the lands and facilities. Today, the garden is known as Cienfuegos Botanical Garden and is maintained by the government of Cuba.
Day 4 –c: Cienfuegos – La Perla del Sur – Botanical Gardens Picnic Lunch today Lecture on garden’s ties with Harvard University
Day 4-d: Cathedral de la Purisima Concepcion
Day 4-e: Includes a harbor cruise in the Bay of Cienfuegos and a sharing of stories by local fishermen.
Day 4–f: Dinner at Club Cienfuegos an elegant restaurant in Cienfuego’s Marina
Day 5 -a: Depart Trinidad – Visit Bay of Pigs Museum – then north-west to Havana April 17-19, 1961
Day 5-b Visit to Bay of Pigs Museum with interactive presentation by the museum staff.
Day 5-d – Lunch here! La Cueva de los Peces (Cave of the Fish) Review (Fodors) La Cueva de los Peces, 10 miles south of Playa Larga, is a 201-foot-deep sinkhole filled with multicolored fish that come in through a subterranean passage. Diving through the banks of fish and the lush subaquatic vegetation is superb.
Day 5-e This will be our hotel for the next 4 nights. Havana: Hotel Nacional http://www.hotelnacionaldecuba.com/en/home.asp One of the most historic hotels in Havana, beautiful hotel with lovely grounds and lots of charm. Rooms are spacious and keep that old world feel, great restaurants onsite, and located along Havana’s Malecon, or seaside promenade, about 10 minute drive away from Havana historic center.
Day 5 –f Dinner at the Divina Pastora Restauant, overlooking Havana Harbor. We will visit the Cabana Castle and canon firing ceremony
Day 6-b: Havana Maqueta de la Ciudad de La Habana Museum: No ordinary scale model ! Maqueta de la Habana Vieja reproduces all the buildings (and even trees) in the 54 square miles that comprise the metropolitan area of the city on a scale of 1:1,000. Buildings are made out of recycled cigar boxes and color codes are used to indicate the different historical periods: ochre for the colonial era (16th-19th centuries), yellow for the Republic (1900-58) and cream for post-Revolutionary developments. The model is the work of the Comprehensive Development of the City Group, which has advised city officials on urban planning since 1987. Insightful guided tours are available in English; they are well worth the extra cost, particularly for groups.
Day 6-d: – Lunch here, at El Patio Restaurant in Old Havana, located in an old 18th century mansion overlooking the cathedral.
Day 6-e: Primary School Visit, with talk by school administrator. (Note different colored bandanas on kids).
Day 6-f - Caritas Cuba Non-governmental Caritas Cuba works through the 11 dioceses in Cuba as one of the few independent non-governmental organizations active there. Its programs include numerous soup kitchens and health-related projects. Caritas Cuba also focuses on two of Cuba's most vulnerable groups: the elderly and children with learning difficulties.
Day 6-g: Visit US Interests Section to learn about US Policy towards Cuba . Black flags were erected in park opposite the building as “public art” by Cuban government to block messages being flashed by U.S. propagandists from building. The United States Interests Section of the Embassy of Switzerland in Havana, Cuba or USINT Havana (the State Dept. telegraphic address) represents US interests in Cuba. It is staffed by United States Foreign Service personnel and local staff employed by the US Dept. of State. USINT Havana and its counterpart, the Interests Section of the Republic of Cuba in Washington, are formally sections of the respective Embassies of Switzerland, although they operate independently of the Swiss in virtually all but protocol respects. The two countries do not have formal diplomatic relations, but their respective Interests Sections function as de facto embassies. The current Chief of USINT Havana (since 2008) is Jonathan D. Farrar.
Day 6–h: Dinner at El Aljibe Restaurant The popular restaurant EL ALJIBE is located on 7th Avenue, between 24th and 26th Street in the residential Miramar district. This is a nice half open-air restaurant famous for it’s special chicken recipe. I assure you, at El Aljibe you eat the best chicken in Havana, served with rice, platains, black beans, fried potatoes and a salad assortment
Day 7-a: Collette Foundation Orphanage Visit This is a photo of our visit to a Peruvian Orphanage supported by the Collette Vacation. While in Cuba, we will visit a similar orphanage.
After our orphanage visit, we will have an opportunity to visit a Cuban cigar factory. Day 7-b: Cigar Factory Visit Lunch at La Torre View of Vedado and Central Havana as seen from Restaurante La Torre. This fine eatery occupies the rooftop of the 39-storey FOCSA Building – the tallest in Cuba. When completed in 1956 FOCSA was the second highest steel and concrete building in the world. La Torre's recently renovated space offers unmatched views across Havana. The food isn't bad, either and at CUC 15 for a steak this is a good choice of venue if you want to eat in style.
Guanabacoa is a colonial township in eastern Havana, Cuba, and one of the 15 municipalities of the city. It is famous for its historical Santería and is home to the first African Cabildo in Havana. Day 7-c: Guanabacoa Home of TV News Personality Rick Sanchez and several US Major League Baseball Players
Day 7-d: Guanabacoa Museum and Afro-Cuban Religion • The international reputation of this museum is due to the fact that it holds a complete collection of ethnography related with Afro-Cuban religious cults, with deep roots in this community in Havana. • It is located in the central part of Guanabacoa. Its rooms exhibit objects used in the rituals of the three main cults: • Santeria or Regla de Ocha, • Regla de Palo or Palo-Monte, and the • Secret Society, Abakua.
Day 7-e: Cuba's Fine Arts Museum; Getting Younger than Ever One of the main attractions for tourist when traveling is visiting the Museums of the destination. Though the Fine Arts Museum is 95 year old, it shows the splendor, grace and vigor of a teenager. It´s been the restoration and remodeling work that it went through in the early 2000´s. Like a coquettish lady, it shows its marvel to visitors. With a remodeling in the early 2000´s, the Museum was equipped with state-of-the art technology for the light and air-conditioning systems.
Day 7-f: Dinner at a Paladar (which means “Anything goes”) A Havana paladar is a small specialty restaurant. Our visit includes meeting the proprietors who will share their stories with us. Paladares* are the independent, state sanctioned, family run restaurants of Cuba. Since the beginning of the Cuban government's quest to open up their country to democratic economic reforms, paladares were one of the first and only enterprises to fall under these reforms. Rules stipulate that they must be strictly family run and must cook rustic Cuban food (i.e. no lobster or chicken breast as they are reserved only for the tourist hotels). Within these and other strict guidelines, such as being one of the few taxed businesses in a communist country, they have flourished. So much so, it is these paladares that tourists seek out over other state and hotel run restaurants. The food is authentic, wholesome and inexpensive.
Day 8-a Ernest Hemingway (July 21, 1899 – July 2, 1961)- Finca Vigia (Lookout Farm) Living room almost exactly as Hemingway left it. Finca Vigia is located in the small, working-class town of San Francisco de Paula. The Cuban people have always respected the famous writer's choice to live in a modest town, amongst the people he fished with. Ernest Hemingway lived in the hillside hideaway Finca Vigia - on the outskirts of Havana - for 21 years. The home is now a museum with 50,000 visitors annually. 1947
Day 8-b: Visit the Casa Fuster, the colorful home of Jose Fuster, artist inspired by Gaudi. Fuster is known as the Picasso of Cuba
Day 8-c Jose Fuster Jose Fuster (Cuban, Born 1946) is a charismatic and popular artist, a philanthropist who has transformed the life and houses of a whole town in Havana. He is famous for his paintings and ceramics. His work has won National Awards, and his naive style of painting is accessible and thought provoking. Havana Jose Fuster Original oil on canvas 52cm x 76cm £3,500
Day 8-d Cuba’s Jose Fuster is said to have been inspired by Spain’s Gaudi’ Antoni Gaudi Born - June 25, 1852 Died - June 10, 1926 Barcelona, Spain Gaudís work enjoys widespread international appeal and many studies are devoted to understanding his architecture. Today, his work finds admirers among architects and the general public alike. His masterpiece, the still-uncompleted Sagrada Família, is one of the most visited monuments in Spain. Between 1984 and 2005, seven of his works were declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. Gaudí’s Roman Catholic faith intensified during his life and religious images permeate his work. This earned him the nickname "God's Architect"[ and led to calls for his beatification.
Day 8-e: Lunch: La Ferminia Restaurant On the elegant 5th Avenue of Miramar, just a few minutes from the Conventions Center and Downtown Havana. Excellent restaurant specialized in international and national food; with an exquisite service of a wide choice of cocktails. As house specialties it offers the Coco Rosa and Tropical Silver cocktails.
Day 8-f Visit to Latin American Medical School to meet American, Cuban and foreign-born medical students. Currently, nearly 30,000 foreign students study medicine in Cuba. Of these, nearly 10,000 from 29 countries are enrolled in the Latin American Medical School program (including students from Africa and the United States), in which graduates commit to returning to medically underserved communities to
Day 8-g Ride in an antique American car to the Plaza de San Francisco de Asis
Day 8-h: Classical music concert inside a local church This imposing and beautiful basilica – San Francisco de Asis - with fine acoustics hosts some of the most important classical music concerts in Havana. Set in the square of the same name, the church is the home of the Grammy-nominated Camerata Romeu, an all-female chamber ensemble, and many other excellent soloists, groups and choirs ask to be booked here. Farewell Dinner in the Café’ Oriente
Day 9 Fly from Havana to Miami Fly from Miami to Philadelphia Philadelphia Miami