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|Itinerary at a Glance|
|2||Depart USA/Arrive Havana|
|7||Havana, Las Terrazas &
|9||Vinales, Havana & Miami|
|Style||Escorted or Guided
Dedicated tour escorts & guides throughout
|Highlights||Havana, Cojimar, Callejon de Hamel, Las Terrazas, Ernest Hemingway's Finca Vigia, and a dinner in a "paladar".|
|What to Expect||This fast-paced, escorted educational program includes a reasonable amount of walking or hiking and requires an average level of physical fitness.|
After many years, Americans are again able to travel to Cuba under a new 'people-to-people' program authorized by the U.S. government, which provides an opportunity to interact with Cubans through educational exchanges concerning art, music, culture, and more. Friendly Planet is proud to be one of the very few companies in the United States to have been awarded a "People-to-People" license by the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control. Join us for a unique adventure to experience this island which sits 90 miles off our shores and shares such an amazing and extraordinary history with the United States!
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 program 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 vs the USA. But don't wait to reserve your spot. With a rare opportunity like this, with prices this low, space is sure to fly!
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Day 1 - Friday, Apr 5: Arrrive Miami. Your unforgettable journey to Cuba begins today as you arrive 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: Hilton Miami Airport.
Day 2 - Saturday, Apr 6: Arrive Havana. Arrive Havana, Cuba. After clearing Cuban immigrations and customs you are welcomed by your private national English-speaking guide and transferred to directly to Old Havana where you have lunch at a local restaurant followed by a stroll through the busy cobblestoned streets of Old Havana. You will be escorted this afternoon by a professional Cuban photographer.
Check into your hotel around 4:30PM this afternoon.
Dinner this evening is at your hotel. Accommodations: Hotel Nacional. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are provided.
Day 3 - Sunday, Apr 7: Havana. At 6:00AM this morning a professional Cuban photographer will meet us in the lobby of our hotel and lead us on a “first light” photo session along the Malecon, Havana’s highly colourful walkway situated along the harbour in surrounding Havana. We return to our hotel for breakfast before venturing off to visit the Plaza de la Revolucion.
Around 12:00PM this afternoon we visit the highly colorful neighbourhood of Callejon de Hamel with its original painted building murals and live salsa music and dancing by the locals before we have lunch at El Aljibe Restaurant.
Later this afternoon we visit “Fusterlandia”, the neighbourhood which has been personally decorated by one of Cuba’s most revered artists, Jose Fuster. We also visit Mr. Fuster’s private home and studio with the option of meeting him and discussing his art if he is in residence.
Dinner this evening is just a short walk from our hotel in one of Havana’s private home restaurants, Paladar Café Laurent. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are provided.
Day 4 - Monday, Apr 8: Havana. We depart our hotel after breakfast this morning as we set off for a visit to a cigar factory, either Partagas or Corona. We see how Cuban cigars are made entirely by hand. We continue to the Cemetery of Columbus, the Miramar area, and Morro Castle known for its magnificent view of Havana.
Lunch today is at El Prado y Neptuno Restaurant in Old Havana.
Later this afternoon we have the distinct pleasure to visit the private home of Roberto Salas, an icon of Cuban photography, who is the former personal photographer of Fidel Castro. Mr. Salas’ works are on display at his home. It is possible you might like to purchase an original signed print of one of Mr. Salas’s highly famous photographs. Breakfast and lunch are provided.
Day 5 - Tuesday, Apr 9: Havana. After breakfast this morning we visit Havana’s Villa Manuela Gallery where many of Cuba’s best photo works are displayed by local professional photographers. After our visit to Villa Manuela we will have the rare opportunity of visiting at least two local photographers’ personal studios who display their works at Villa Manuela.
Lunch today is served at Tocororo Restaurant which is located in the Miramar section of Havana. Some of Havana’s most architecturally interesting edifices can be seen and photographed in Miramar.
This afternoon your group is once again joined by a professional Cuban photographer to assist in location and shooting specific areas of interest to the group. Breakfast and lunch are provided.
Day 6 - Wednesday, Apr 10: Havana. This morning travel to the Alamar district on the outskirts of Havana, an expansive housing project started in the 1970’s and now home to hundreds of thousands of Cubans. Alamar began as a social housing project of the 70’s and 80’s. Now, hundreds of thousands of Cubans live in apartment blocks four stories high, in Soviet-style pre-fabricated concrete buildings. Community gardens, called organoponicos, are located between the buildings, where residents grow fruit, vegetables and herbs, for their own consumption and for local sale. Similar to co-op and community gardens in the United States, these organoponicos offer Alamar’s residents access to fresh produce as they facilitate community building. Few visitors to Cuba ever have the opportunity to visit this area and experience how many Cubans live on a daily basis.
There are many historical and cultural ties between Cuba and the United States, and one that is known and appreciated by all is that of the legacy of Ernest Hemingway, who lived in Cuba from 1939 to 1960. Visit the mansion and museum of Hemingway, Finca Vigia, where his 9,000 book library is preserved, as well as his animal trophies and famous fishing boat, Pilar. Later, visit the village of Cojimar, setting for the novel The Old Man and the Sea.
Return to Havana where lunch will be served at Hemingway’s famous hangout, the Bodeguita del Medio, in Old Havana.
After lunch this afternoon you find yourself in the heart of Old Havana where you have the remainder of the afternoon at your leisure to wander the streets and photograph this highly colorful and architecturally vivid area of Havana.
This evening, dinner is served in the rooftop restaurant of the Ambos Mundos Hotel, where Hemingway lived in the 1930s and wrote For Whom the Bell Tolls and where you will enjoy live, traditional Cuban Buena Vista-style music and salsa dancing. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner provided.
Day 7 - Thursday, Apr 11: Havana, Las Terrazas & Vinales. We depart our hotel after breakfast this morning for Las Terrazas Nature Park, a one hour drive from Havana. Las Terrazas is a “must see” in Cuba and known world wide for its magnificent scenic beauty. We visit the Nature Park and the local community of Las Terrazas, the falls of the San Juan River and the artist workshops of Las Terrazas.
Lunch today is an authentic country meal prepared and served outdoors at a local farmhouse near Las Terrazas before we continue on to Vinales which is located in the heart of Pinar del Rio Province.
Late this afternoon we catch the sunset over the “mojotes” (mountains) surrounding Vinales. We photograph the magnificent changing colors of sunset right from our hotel.
Dinner this evening is at our hotel. Accommodation: Hotel La Ermita. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner provided.
Day 8 - Friday, Apr 12: Vinales. After breakfast, we depart for a three-hour leisurely walk in the valley. Our first stop is at Heraldo and Senora Clara’s turn-of-the-century farmhouse. On our photo walking tour of the family’s farm, Heraldo will explain how tobacco is fermented in his traditional drying barn which rises to a thatched roof made from palm for ventilation. Senora Clara will graciously invite us for a cup of home-brewed café Cubana made from beans grown in her backyard and crushed using a wall-mount grinder.
We proceed on an easy walk on a hard dirt path through the fields planted with pineapples or tobacco, past small hamlets and up into the mountain caves where
slaves hid more than 500 years ago. Photo opportunities abound as we observe locals
working the fields which are surrounded by “mogotes”.
Lunch is served at a local restaurant in the valley.
This afternoon we visit the charming town with its traditional one-story wood stores
and houses with large porches which serves as social focal points for families in the community.
Dinner this evening is not included. Suggested is one of the wonderful private home restaurants near your hotel known as Paladars. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are provided.
Day 9 - Saturday, Apr 13: Vinales, Havana & Miami. We drive directly from Vinales to the Havana Airport today in time to catch our charter flight to Miami. Breakfast provided.
FRIENDLY PLANET'S LICENSE NUMBER FOR SELLING CUBA: CT-2012-295959-1
Mpls Photo Center is where photo professionals and enthusiasts alike come together to work and learn, to discover and experience, to create, exhibit and become members of this unique community dedicated to photography.
We just completed our first tour to Cuba and here is what some of the group had to say about their experiences:
“Thanks Orie and Abby for setting up the trip, it was a fantastic experience, and as I process the pics, I am reminded how wonderful the opportunity we had to see Cuba while it is still in a time capsule. Thumbs up to Mpls Photo Center and all of you, who made the trip fantastic! "
“Camera-worthy at every turn. Haunting. The perfect destination for the time traveler, Havana remains poised on the edge of the past.
"The rich history, the warm people, and the vibrant city... A once in a lifetime opportunity that has changed my view of the world around me.”
"We enjoyed meeting the Cuban people face-to-face. They were very welcoming and enjoyed sharing their culture. They were equally curious about ours."
“On this trip we learned so much about Cuba and its people. We felt sad for them, but the people on the streets appear happy, maybe because of their Cuban Culture, music, spirit and hope.”
“I found Cuba to be rich in color and the people most friendly. Hope to return soon.”
Join us on our April trip and experience all that Cuba has to offer.