Havana - Cienfuegos- Trinidad
Architecture - Art - Music - Dance - Food
November 5 to 12 , 2020
Cuba is an amazing country with beautiful architecture, a rich history, and of course vintage cars! Jean Renoux is the perfect person on the journey to unlock the many wonders of Cuba. We had a wonderful time on our recent adventure to Cuba. We can't wait to plan our next trip.
Cheryl and Dan Ryan in October of 2015 went my Morocco Tour.
In January of 2016, they came on the Cuba tour; in September of 2016, went on the Portugal Tour and in September 2017 went on the Peru Tour.
Thank You for the Cuba trip. We saw and experienced so much that we will be processing this trip for awhile. I had always wanted to visit Cuba and now glad to say I did it with interesting companions.
You are correct a vacation is needed after the Cuba Tour. It has taken the past 10 days for the experience to sink in. Everyday I think about some facet of the trip, buildings, people, sites... surreal seems like a pretentious description, but until I find another one surreal will do. In Cuba nothing adds up.
I hope your group this week is as congenial as ours. Safe travels"
J. and Maryclaire Pendergast , New Smyrna Beach, Florida.
Jean organized an amazing group of Cuban architects with walking and bus tours that conveyed the real Cuban architecture and the Cuban people’s current situation. The trip was well scheduled, all parts fit into place nicely. The itinerary was well balanced between tours and time for exploring or relaxing. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable and attentive to our personal needs. Our accommodations sometimes needed improvements, but staying in an historic hotel was part of the educational adventure.
Jean introduced us to very good Cuban restaurants including our farewell dinner at the famous La Guarida, a marvelously deteriorating
3 story building ruin with excellent food and outside rooftop dining. We look forward to another adventure with Jean.
Herb & Mary Staruch, Stuart, Florida - December 8 to 16, 2016
Tour Price Includes:
Pick-up and Drop-off at airport in Havana.
5 nights hotel in Havana - 2 nights hotel in Trinidad.
7 Breakfasts - 6 Lunches - 4 Dinners - 1 Show at the Tropicana.
Entrance fees - Transportation to sites in Cuba.
Private guides - Reference books.
Visas. Medical Insurance.
Prior to leaving, you will receive information about Currency, uses of Cell Phones, Wi-Fi, what can be brought into Cuba, what can be taken back home, Visa, etc..
Although the prices of hotels and services have gone up,
I am keeping the prices has they were in December 2016.
My past 4 CUBA TOURS sold rather quickly and all were between 15 and 16 travelers.
THIS group will be 8 minimum and 14 maximum participants.
$ 4285 per person in DBLE occupancy
$ 3985, if signed by January 10
$ 4785 per person in SGLE occupancy
$ 4485 if signed by January 10
NEW RULES FOR TRAVELING TO CUBA: individual people to people travel has been eliminated.
The General Licence for People-to-people Group Travel 515.565(b) to Cuba remains in place.
Recently the Department of The Treasury ‘s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has published the highly-anticipated new amendments to the 1963 Cuban Assets Control Regulations, 31 CFR part 515 (“Regulations”) to further implement the policy towards Cuba announced by President Trump on June 16, 2017 in Miami.
The Regulations have been amended by most US administrations since they were first introduced back in 1963 under the Trading with the Enemy Act (50 U.S.C 4301- 4341) for either relax or restrict travel to the island, financial transactions, business and certain other activities.
Despite the President Trump's speech on June 16, 2017 against Cuba, none of the existing 12 categories of Cuba legal travel have been eliminated, the US embassy in Havana remains open and commercial flights continues.
Furthermore, the General License authorization that was in place within these 12 categories was not eliminated either; except for individual people to people travel.
Educational Activities Category 515.565(b) of the Regulations has been amended to eliminate the General License for Individual People-to-People Educational Travel.
The General Licence for People-to-people Group Travel 515.565(b) to Cuba remains in place.
OTHER MODIFICATIONS IMPLEMENTED OF RELEVANCE FOR YOUR TRAVEL PLANS
As anticipated, OFAC Regulations also added new regulations to prohibit direct financial transactions with a number of Cuban entities which are under the control of, or act for or on behalf of, the Cuban military, intelligence, or security services.
Which is why we don't stay in certain hotels or eat in some restaurants, or use specific bus companies.
DAY ONE - November 5: D1:
You can fly to Havana from many US airport.
You will need to arrive by 5PM on the 10th to have our first group dinner.
PS: Airline Tickets are hard to get. So do not wait until the last minute to register for our tour.
Arrival at "Jose Marti" International Airport in Cuba's capital city.
Private transfer to the Hotel on the Malecon, Havana's evocative 8 km-long waterfront boulevard. The hotel built in 1956 by mobster Meyer Lansky is decorated with works by great Cuban artists such as sculptor Florencio Gelabert.
On route to the hotel, you will enjoy a panoramic visit to the Revolution Square (Plaza de la Revolucion). Conceived by French urbanist Jean Claude Forestier in the 1920s, the gigantic square today is the base of the Cuban government and a place where large-scale political rallies are held. It is here where Popes John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis celebrated an open air Mass during their visits to Cuba in January 1998, March 2012 and September 2015 respectively and by US President Barack Obama during his historic visit to Cuba in March 2016.
Private group check-in and welcome cocktail over arrival to the Hotel.
That evening we will have dinner together. in a family-run restaurant located in the penthouse atop a small 1950s apartment building.
DAY TWO - November 6: B1-L1:
This morning we will begin exploring Old Havana a UNESCO World Heritage Site with our private guide. We will visit to the Scale Model of Old Havana with architect Daniel de la Regata.
The model serves as an excellent introduction to the layout of the city. It is color-coded by age with the historic buildings painted in crimson, pre-Revolution buildings in yellow and the post revolutionary buildings in ivory. We’ll learn how each part of the city has developed historically, and the tough challenges each district faces today.
After we will enjoy a guided walking tour of Old Havana.
- We will visit the Cathedral Square, named after the masterpiece of Cuban baroque architecture: the Cathedral of Havana built by the Jesuit order. The Cathedral's baroque facade is simultaneously intimate and imposing, and one of the two towers is visibly larger, creating a pleasing asymmetry.
- Next we will visit the Square of Arms, ancient military parade ground for Spanish soldiers and surrounded by impressive buildings such as:
- the Palacio de los Capitanes Generales, the former official residence of the governors (Captains General) of Havana, Cuba. It is home to the Museum of the City of Havana.
- the Palacio del Segundo Cabo. The seat of the second authority of the island. Today it houses important publishing houses.
- El Templete, a small neoclassical building marking the spot where the city of San Cristobal de la Habana was founded in 1519.
- Visit to Taller Experimental de Gráfica (Experimental Print Making Workshop). We’ll learn about this cooperative of young Cuban artists whom can be found working on their lithographs over stone matrices in the large airy building.
We will enjoy a group lunch in a family run restaurant, housed on the ground floor of an early 20th century mansion. This restaurant serves their inspired interpretations of traditional Creole Cuban fare. in Old Havana before we continue our walking tour onto San Francisco Square, named after the Convent of San Francisco. This square was conceived in 1628, with the objective of supplying water to the ships trading with the metropolis.
- Afternoon: Visit to the Experimental Print Making Workshop, a cooperative workshop where young lithographers ply their art.
You will have ample time to engage with Cuban artists about this art project that follows a very unique cooperative model in Cuba in which artists directly benefit from the sales of their artworks.
Continue walking tour onto San Francisco Square, named after the Convent of San Francisco, this square was conceived in 1628, with the objective of supplying water to the ships trading with the metropolis.
- We then visit to Plaza Vieja, the only civic square of colonial times. Here we will visit important institutions for visual arts.
You will have some free time in the famous handicraft market of Old Havana, located inside the Almacenes de Depósito San José, an old warehouse on the harbor side where you can purchase all sorts of crafts and souvenirs by local artisans, as well as s visit to the privately owned shop ‘Alma’. This boutique carries handmade gift items from all over Cuba. Here you can buy the perfect gift or souvenir while supporting a Cuban family! Their products include embroidered dresses, guayaberas (traditional Cuban shirt), baskets, books made from recycled paper, hand-painted cushions and bags, elegantly lacquered vintage-style humidors, crafts and souvenirs by local artisans.
This evening we will attend one of the most traditional and popular ceremonies in Cuba, the Fire of the Cannon of 9 O’clock at the colonial Fortress of San Carlos de La Cabana where Che Guevara established his headquarters after the Revolution came to power in 1959.
DAY THREE: November 7: B2-L2
Morning: Guided by Architect Anibal del Prado, we will visit Havana’s Parque Central and surrounding buildings.
Visit to the Capitolio Nacional, designed by Cuban Architects Govantes and Cabarroca and built by the American construction company Purdy & Henderson. This is one of Cuba’s most outstanding architectural patrimonies. The dome is 300.96 ft. high (7 inches higher than the highest capitol building in the US).
The Capitol building reopened on March 1st 2018 after 8 years of restoration work.
Visit to the former Centro Gallego, an exponent of German neo-baroque architecture style in Havana, built in 1915 by Belgian architect Paul Belau.
Centro Asturiano, inaugurated in 1927 designed by Spanish Architect Manuel del Busto features solid heavy façades constructed in Capellania Stones with clear influence of Spanish Renaissance. It houses the most majestic staircase of Cuban Architecture. Since 2001 the building houses the new Museum of Fine Arts.
Manzana de Gomez, first entire city block built in Cuba in the beginnings of the 20th century completely for commercial use with two inner diagonal streets that cross the building in all directions integrating the pedestrian circulation with the outer fabric.
Bacardi Building, designed in 1930 by Cuban architects Esteban Rodriguez Castells, Rafael Fernandez Ruenes and Jose Menendez Menendez, located in Las Murallas district. The rich façade design is based on polychrome granite imported from Bavaria and Norway as well as colored brick, terracotta and Capellania stone.
The elaborate decoration of the building crown features a bat, logo of the Bacardi Company.
Lunch in a neighbohood restaurant.
Afternoon: Walking tour along the Paseo del Prado, a pedestrian promenade remodeled in 1929 with the inauguration of Havana’s Capitol Building.
Here we’ll visit residential buildings along the boulevard with clear influence from European and American architecture, such as the Telegrafo Hotel, the residence of Cuba’s former president Jose Miguel Gomez Residence, and the former Asociacion de Dependientes del Comercio – a Venetian neo-renaissance style building placed in a key corner of the Prado featured in the film Buena Vista Social Club.
Next we visit the Rox 950 privately-owned Jewellery store and workshop. Here you’ll admire the work of Cuba’s most acclaimed jewelry designer and private entrepreneur, Rosana Vargas. She is the creator of the famous handcrafted silver jewelry brand, Rox 950.
Evening: Visit FABRICA DE ARTE – The Factory of Art (F.A.C.). This is one of Havana’s finest new art spaces located in a converted factory in Vedado neighborhood. This is not a state-run facility but classified as a “community project”. It is the brainchild of Afro-Cuban fusion musician X Alfonso who, after making a lot of money in the Hip Hop circuit, wanted to put something back into his community. Celebrities Mick Jagger, Lady Gaga, Sting and Katy Perry have visited here. (Optional – Not included in tour cost)
DAY FOUR - November 8 - B3 L3 D2. Cienfuegos city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
*Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner included
Morning: Departure to Cienfuegos, in Central Cuba.
Cienfuegos is the first, and an outstanding example of an architectural ensemble representing the new ideas of modernity, hygiene and order in urban planning as developed in Latin America from the 19th century.
Upon arrival we go on a guided by Cienfuegos City Historian, Architect Iran Millan Cuetara, we will embark on a walking tour of UNESCO World Heritage Site, Cienfuegos Historical Center.
We will visit neoclassical buildings around Paseo del Prado and the main Square Jose Marti such as:
The Casa de la Cultura, home of another wealthy sugar baron, stunning mansion in neoclassical style.
The Tomas Terry Theatre completed in 1895.
The Cathedral built with the donation of wealthy families like the Lebrancs, the Albis, the Terrys. Inside you find the reproductions of the 12 Apostles in stained glass imported from Paris. Also the original machinery of the clock tower was built in France. Still in place and working.
Lunch at paladar (private family-run restaurant)
Afternoon: Visit to Palacio de Valle. The eclectic building was erected at a cost of a million and half pesos. French, Arabic, Italian and Cuban artisans worked with marble, alabaster, brass, glass and ceramic imported from Spain, Italy and United States.
The entrance is primitive Gothic style and leads to a dining room of Mudejar influence, which imitates the famous Patio of the Lions, of Alhambra, in Granada.
Followed by visit to the privately-owned Art Gallery ‘Poco Bonito’ where local young artists show and sell their work. Here you'll find photography, painting, and sculpture.
Continue on bus ride to the historic city of Trinidad and check in at all-inclusive beach resort where you will have time for a swim in the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea.
DAY FIVE - November 9 - B4 L4 D3 Trinidad de Cuba, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
*Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner included
Morning: Trinidad is an outstanding example of a colonial city. Nancy Benitez, a local architect and restoration specialist, will take us on a guided walking tour around this historic city known for its cobble-stoned streets, pastel colored homes and small-town feel.
Visit to the Architecture Museum (Casa de los Sanchez Iznaga), housing the most representative samples of the city's architectural development in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Visit to the town’s Cathedral, Iglesia de la Santísima Trinidad, which most locals refer to as La Parroquial Mayor.
The Cathedral, completed in 1892, replaced the original 17th-century church that was destroyed in 1812 by a hurricane.
The new construction, completed at the end of the 19th century, is rather simple on the outside, but the restored interior reveals a Gothic vaulted ceiling and nearly a dozen attractive carved altars.
Trinidad is well known for its pottery makers.
Next we meet with a family that has been passing the tradition for generations: the Santanders.
Lunch at Trinidad's famous paladar ‘Solananda’ (private family-run restaurant).
Afternoon: Private visit to the studio of local artist Yudit Vidal.
Yudit is the founder and director of the project ‘Entre hilos, alas y pinceles’ (Between threads, wings and brushstrokes) which groups 21 Trinidad craftswomen who cultivate unique and exclusive stitches.
Through this project the artist has been able to help local women and their families through collaborating with them as she paints on their traditional Trinidad stitching on linen. Yudit was appointed ‘Ambassador for Peace’ by the International Circle of Ambassadors for Peace of Switzerland and France.
Followed by visit to the Manaca-Iznaga Hacienda.
The famous Manaca-Iznaga Tower, built in 1816, is 45m high, has seven floors and 136 steps to the top. The restored hacienda is now a restaurant with a terrace overlooking the valley.
A traditional guarapera at the rear serves fresh-squeezed cane juice. Some barracones (slave quarters) still stand too.
Next we visit the privately-owned ‘Bécquer’ Worshop offering textiles pieces manufacture by hand including linen guayaberas (Cuban traditional shirt), colorful cotton blouses, summer dresses, bags, tablecloths. The store/workshop is named after owner Isabel Bécquer, a popular local songwriter and singer.
Before we leave town, we suggest a stop at the privately-owned ‘Cafe Don Pepe’ selling the best coffee in Trinidad. It is served in ceramic mugs with a square of Baracoan chocolate. Café Don Pepe offers around 40 varieties of beverages that include coffee: espresso, cortado, Americano, cappuccino; as well as alcoholic drinks, fruit juice and Cuban beer. It opened in 2012 and is named after the owner, Jose (Pepe) Carreras.
Return to your hotel.
Dinner at the hotel.
DAY SIX - November 10 - B5 L5 - Trinidad – Sancti Spiritus – Havana
*Breakfast & Lunch included
Morning: Check out of your hotel and transfer back to Havana city.
En route we visit Sancti Spiritus, one of the first seven settlements founded by Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar in 1514.
The city underwent intense beautification in 2014 to celebrate its 500th anniversary. We will visit places of interest around the historical center such as:
The Parroquial Mayor constructed out of wood in the early 16th century. It was rebuilt in stone in 1680 and it is considered the country's oldest church still standing on its original foundations.
The Museo de Arte Colonial (Colonial Art Museum) is housed in a colonial buildings, the former palatial mansion of Iznaga family.
The museum’s collection includes Limoges porcelain, French gilded mirrors, Italian marble tables, Baccarat crystal chandeliers, and 19th century furniture.
Another interesting architectural landmark in this city is the Yayabo Bridge. The construction of this Roman style arched brick bridge started in 1815 and finished by 1831. The entire bridge is only 85 meters long and was designed for pedestrians and carriages during Colonial Cuba but has resisted modern heavier traffic so far. Locals say this is because cow milk was added to the mortar when bonding the bricks and stones.
Lunch at paladar (private family-run restaurant)
Afternoon: Visit to the privately-owned Art Gallery ‘Arkos’ selling paintings, jars, vases, ceramic items, sculptures and jewelry.
Continue on bus ride to Havana city.
Night in Havana. Free evening.
DAY SEVEN - November 11 - B6 L6 D4 - Havana
Modernism and some of Havana's overlooked Art Deco Architecture *Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner included
Morning: Meeting with Architect Pedro Vazquez, founding member of Cuba’s National Union of Architects and Engineers, for a guided panoramic motor coach tour of Modern Havana.
We will visit places such as:
Pabellón Cuba a Miesian post-revolution exhibition hall built in 1963.
Hotel Habana Libre, the former Havana Hilton, built in 1958 by Welton Becket and Associates. It features an exterior mosaic mural by Amelia Pelaez.
Coppelia built in 1966. This popular ice cream parlor composed of flying saucer pods was designed by Mario Girona.
Hotel Riviera (Polevitzky, Johnson and Associates, 1957) built by Meyer Lansky as the flashiest of the 1950s casino hotels.
We’ll also see important examples of Art- Deco style architecture such as:
Lopez Serrano Building, with its strong reminiscence of American Skyscrapers, resembling a miniature Empire State Building with the bottom 70 floors chopped off. The López Serrano building is Vedado’s most distinctive art deco architecture example. It was built in 1932 by Mira & Roisch Architecture Firm, it was the highest residential building in Havana for many years.
The House of Catalina Laza built in the 1920’s by Juan Pedro Baro. This beautiful mansion features Art Deco interiors by Rene Lalique and gardens by J.F.C. Forestier. The house has a fascinating love story. Married socialite Catalina Lasa fell in love with landowner and widower Juan Pedro Baró in 1905. Cuba had no divorce laws at the time, so the lovers escaped to Paris to continue their affair. On their return, Baro built this outstanding mansion for the beautiful Catalina Laza.
We are now entering Fusterlandia, the studio, residence and wild kingdom of José Rodriguez Fuster, one of the most important Cuban ceramists and painters today.
Fuster has turned an entire neighborhood in western Havana into a giant art installation that involves locals and their homes as part of the exhibit. He engaged and trained many neighborhood residents as artisans, especially youth. This is art for and by the people on an epic scale!
Lunch hosted by Jose Fuster.
Afternoon: Visit to Instituto Superior de Arte (ISA), the country's top art academy. School departments include Music, Modern Dance, Drama, and Visual Arts. The schools were designed and built by architects Cuban Ricardo Porro and the Italians Roberto Gottardi and Vittorio Garatti from 1961 to 1965, in the former affluent neighborhood of Country Club Park (today known as Cubanacán), specifically on the grounds of the Havana Country Club golf course.
Today the buildings are considered Cuba's best example of post-Revolutionary architecture but at the time they were thought too sensual and avant-garde. The project was halted, though the school did open. The complex fell into ruin and amazingly, in 2001 the Cuban government approached the three architects and asked them to complete the project. Restoration was completed in 2009.
Followed by visit to Clandestina Store & Studio. Founded in 2015 by two women Idania del Río and Leire Fernández, this is Cuba's first independent design store. The space includes a design, creation, and experimentation lab—a printing and finishing workshop; a store that receives 40,000 clients a year and an office that manages a global sales operation.
Evening: Farewell dinner at one of Havana's very best paladares.
DAY EIGHT November 12 - B7 - Good Bye Cuba!
Transfer to Havana International Airport for departure.
Join our Cuba tour and explore the unknown beauty of the architecture of this mysterious Island. Taste the foods and experience all the cultural wonders as you learn about the unique architecture, the music, the developing art communities and experience the gentleness and hospitality of the Cuban people.
Please note: Cuba has been opened up to much more tourism than they have ever expected or planned for. You will need to leave your high expectations at home and rest assured that the hotels that have been selected for your tour are of the highest quality that is available. Please understand that although our hotels are considered 4-5 star, you cannot compare them to hotels in the US or Europe.