Havana, Cienfuegos, Trinidad, Cojimar & Santa Clara

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 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 .

Colorful Cuba offers hands-on interactive learning experiences, cultural interactions and community service opportunities.

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. Ideal for music tours, participants will 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.

Inclusions

Included::
  • Non-stop round trip flights from Miami to Havana via U.S. Government-licensed charter service; May - Oct, 2015 departures will return to Miami via Cienfuegos

  • Priority check-in and one checked bag per person (please review luggage restrictions)

  • U.S. Treasury Department, OFAC License Certification and Authorization Letter

  • Cuba Entrance Visa & Departure Tax

  • All land transportation, transfers & porterage in Cuba

  • 1st night Crowne Plaza Miami Airport Hotel with Pre-tour introductory briefing

  • 7 nights 5-star hotel accommodations in Cuba

  • 17 meals: 7 breakfasts, 7 lunches and 3 dinners

  • Comprehensive educational exchange program, including entrance fees

  • Full Time Tour Manager

  • Professional, English-speaking local guide, who will facilitate the educational exchanges with Cubans

  • Health insurance in Cuba (mandatory)

  • Call (847) 455-8897 for more information or to book today! Mention code 13197983

    Tour Operator
    Learning Journeys
    Offer
    Offer valid through 6/30/2017
    Duration
    9 Days
    Escorted
    Escorted - Yes
    DayDestinationDescription
    Day 1MiamiMiami overnight & pre-tour 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

    Day 2HavanaMiami/Havana
    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 your first 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. After time to rest at the hotel, enjoy your first dinner at the hotel.
    Accommodations: Hotel Parque Central or similar. Lunch & dinner provided. (B,L,D)
    Day 3HavanaHavana
    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, Friendly Planet 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.

    Scale in a ration store © Jeremy Woodhouse, pixelchrome.com
    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.
    This evening, we 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. (B,L)

    Day 4HavanaHavana & Las Terrazas
    Las Terrazas
    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 sleeping in huts with thatched roofs, of living without electricity and of living without 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.
    Continue to the kindergarten of the community. After a tour of the facility conducted by the director and teacher, discuss early childhood education in Cuba and the USA with school staff. Then, enjoy a brief presentation by the children.

    Enjoying coffee at Cafe Maria, Las Terrazas
    At our next stop, we'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.
    Visit the art studio of Lester Campa (When in residence).
    On the way back to Havana after lunch, we have the distinct pleasure of visiting "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.
    Return to Havana and enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure. (B,L)

    Day 5TrinidadHavana, Santa Clara, Sancti Spiritus & Trinidad
    Shortly after breakfast this morning, depart from Havana and drive along Cuba's "autopista" highway. Visit the town of Santa Clara and the Che Guevara Mausoleum.

    Lunch will be served buffet style in the Los Caneyes Hotel in Santa Clara.
    Enjoy a special visit to the Santa Clara Music and Performing Arts School, with dance, theater and music performances by the students. Participate in a discussion with faculty and students about the role of music and education in the USA, and the impact of music on Cuban life and its importance in education in Cuba. Please note that this visit is only possible during the school year (September through early June). Should this school not be available, or in session, during your trip, an equally enjoyable and interesting visit to another community project will be substituted.
    Continue on to the picturesque town of Sancti Spiritus, one of the original seven cities founded in Cuba by the Spanish five centuries ago, and home to Cuba's oldest church, the Parroquial Mayor.
    Then, drive to the charming old Spanish colonial town of Trinidad. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, Trinidad is one of the best preserved towns in all of Latin America. After check in, enjoy dinner this evening at the hotel. (B,L)

    Day 6TrinidadTrinidad
    After breakfast this morning, visit the Casa del Alfarero, a pottery house that was founded and has been managed by the Santander Family for generations. Today you'll learn the process of ceramic production and have the opportunity to create a piece of your own.

    Continue to one of Trinidad's many "casas particulares" or bed and breakfasts, where you'll enjoy a tour and a discussion with the owners. Learn how bed and breakfasts are one of Cuba's new entrepreneurial opportunities in a society where the state typically owns most enterprises. Ask questions and share insights about U.S. businesses, including the ever popular bed and breakfasts that are ubiquitous in the U.S.
    Continue to Templo de Yemaya, where a Santeria Practitioner along with some of the religion's devotees explains the basic principles of Santeria. Discuss the role of religion and religious organizations throughout both Cuba and the US.

    Manaca Iznaga Observation Tower
    Lunch today is at the beautifully restored Hacienda de Manaca Iznaga, located in the heart of the Valley de los Ingenios, a series of valleys once known as a center for sugar production. Built in the late 1700s, the mansion displays an exhibition of paintings depicting the lives of slaves on sugar plantations. Learn about the region's harsh past, where great fortunes were made on the backs of African slaves, and where many descendants of the Afro-Cuban slaves still reside.
    After time to rest at the hotel, enjoy dinner on your own. We recommend dining at a paladar. Feel free to choose one from the list we provided or ask your Cuban guide for recommendations.
    After dinner, join Cubans at either Casa de la Musica or Casa de la Trova for a community block party, a celebration where locals from all walks of life and generations come to eat, drink, build friendships, and discuss neighborhood matters. Enjoy the celebration, regarded as one of the best experiences of the trip, and engage in discussions with the locals about community life in Cuba and the US. (B,L)

    Day 7HavanaCienfuegos & Havana
    After breakfast, we drive along the Caribbean coast and through small towns and villages en route to Cienfuegos, known as the "Pearl of the South" and the capital of Cienfuegos Province on the southern Caribbean side of the island.
    Visit an interesting community project in Cienfuegos then enjoy lunch at a local restaurant. After lunch, explore the main square and the Punto Gordo peninsula.
    Return to Havana for a short rest. Then, enjoy dinner on your own at one of Havana's fantastic paladars, including many within walking distance of your hotel. (B,L)
    Day 8HavanaHavana, 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.

    Hemingway monument, Cojimar
    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.

    After some well-deserved 'down time' at the hotel, join your fellow travelers at the farewell dinner, served in a privately owned restaurant. Be sure to wear your dancing shoes as you enjoy live, traditional Cuban Buena Vista-style music and salsa dancing.
    (B,L,D)

    Day 9Arrive MiamiDepart Havana/Arrive Miami
    This morning, we travel to one of Cuba's well known dance companies to enjoy watching a rehearsal, followed by a discussion with the directors and dancers about dance opportunities in Cuba compared with those in the USA.
    Then, 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 Havana! (B,L,D)
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    Tours

    • Colorful Cuba

      Havana, Cienfuegos, Trinidad, Cojimar & Santa ClaraCuba'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.

     
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