Our headquarters for the Havana leg of our trip will be the five-star Meliã Cohiba Hotel on Havana’s historic Malecón. Meliã Cohiba is one of the finest hotels in the Caribbean. After a busy day in Havana, Meliã Cohiba is the place to relax, have a cold drink, check your email with available Wi-Fi, look at the sea, or take a stroll along the Malecón at sunset and be inspired by Havana coming to life after dark. In Cienfuegos, our group will stay at the Hotel Jagua on Cienfuegos Bay. With its magnificent location in the well-known residential area of Punta Gorda, the Jagua is considered one of Cuba’s most famous hotels. Its comfortable rooms are characterized by the spaciousness of the 50’s and offer beautiful panoramic views, which showcase the nature and wildlife of the Caribbean.
In Cuba, the classical arts are revered by every walk of life. During our trip, patrons will experience performances by such renowned groups as: Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional; Ballet Nacional de Cuba; Ballet español de Cuba; Ballet Lizt Alfonso Dance Cuba; Camerata Romeu; Cantores de Cienfuegos; Orquesta de Cámara de la Habana; and more. Events will include opportunities to attend rehearsals as well as performances, mingle with the performers as well as sharing a meal. These People-to-People experiences will be truly awe-inspiring.
Traditional music and its evolution over the centuries is at the heart of the Cuban soul and mystique. The history of music in Cuba is the story of its people; from slavery, political upheaval, revolt and a joyful celebration of Cuban life. As part of our Cultural Exploration, noted Cuban musician and University of Cienfuegos Professor Giraldo Pérez will teach the origin of Cuban music and dance. Cuban jazz begins here.
Cuba is committed to arts education and training from primary school to the university level. To see firsthand how artists and musicians are cultivated, we will visit Escuela de Arte Benny Moré and Instituto Superior de Arte (ISA) where you will experience Cuba’s arts education system with private performances by school orchestras, chamber ensembles and dance classes. You will also visit visual arts studios at these schools. In addition to the performances, you will have the opportunity to communicate with the students and their teachers in a round table discussion that will enlighten you on Cuba’s robust arts education.
Cuba has some of the finest young jazz musicians in the world. The Afro-Cuban tradition has evolved into a robust jazz scene that has a solid foundation in the classical music training musicians receive at the prestigious music schools throughout the country. In Havana, jazz thrives. Our patrons are not only immersed into Havana’s jazz nightlife, but will be treated to private, one-on-one concerts from the best and brightest of Cuba’s jazz elite. This unique exposure to one the world’s most active jazz scenes is a Cuba Rhythm and Views exclusive.
Some of the most exquisite historic buildings in the Caribbean are in Cuba. Despite the 57 years of embargo, Cuba has managed to preserve and restore some of its most important heritage structures, neighborhoods and monuments. Using tourist dollars and financial incentives, much of Old Havana, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is gradually being rehabilitated to its former beauty. A noted Cuban architect or urban planner will provide our patrons with an insight into what it takes to gradually restore one of the world’s great cities, one building at a time.
As part of our People-to-People exchanges, our patrons will visit leading Cuban artists’ studios and homes. They will discuss their work and their artistic visions. Among the many artists patrons will meet are: Vladimir Rodríguez, Santiago Hermes Martínez, Kadir López, Villaluilla, and many more. These personal encounters will help you understand life in Cuba before the Revolution as well as today.
The growing movement of private restaurants, or paladares, in people’s homes is flourishing in Havana. This movement is at the vanguard of economic change in Cuba. The best dining in Cuba is in paladares along the backstreets and alleyways of Old and New Havana. The restaurants are being reviewed internationally and Havanaphiles are slowly finding their way to these wonderful free-enterprise culinary destinations. Most of our meals will be in paladares. And, for the meals not included, you will be given the names and locations of Havana’s best private restaurants, all within a ten-minute cab ride from the Meliã Cohiba.
Meet with a former Foreign Ministry official for a talk about US/Cuba relations. This is usually with either Carlos Alzugaray, Cuba’s former Ambassador to the European Union; or Camilo García Lopéz-Trigo, a former member of Cuba’s delegation to the United Nations. Both are now professors at University of Havana International Relations School and are experts in US studies. Visit a daycare center run by The Sisters of the Love of God, visit a classroom in session, learn about the remarkable work the sisters do for single mothers.
Sample Itinerary *
|Date||Activities||Hotel, Location, Meals|
|Day 1||Meet in Miami International Airport. Fly to Cienfuegos. Cruise of Cienfuegos Bay. Upon arrival at Hotel Jagua, your bags will already be in your room. Meet local artists, welcome dinner, private concert in Cienfuegos Yacht Club by Orquesta de Cámara Concierto Sur and Cantores de Cienfuegos.||Hotel Jagua, Cienfuegos. Welcome Dinner included.|
|Day 2||Cuban Popular Music and Dance workshop presented by Professor Giraldo Pérez and Los Naranjos. Lunch with Concierto Sur members, visit Graphic Society of Cienfuegos, meet local artists and visit their studios. Special performance by Buena Vista Social Club with legendary Omara Portuondo followed by private Meet the Artists reception.||Hotel Jagua, Cienfuegos. Breakfast and lunch included. Dinner on your own.|
|Day 3||Visit Benny Moré School of the Arts, meet the students, attend special performance. Depart for Havana. Walking tour of old Havana, the core of the original Spanish colonial city. Arrive at Meliã Cohiba hotel (bags will be in your room). Welcome dinner and private concert by guitarist Renecito Avich.||Hotel Jagua, Cienfuegos. Breakfast and welcome dinner included. Lunch on your own.|
|Day 4||Tour of modern Havana and cemetery with a respected architect or urban planner. Attend rehearsal of Nacional Ballet de Cuba. Visit Fortaleza de la Cabaña and attend the Cañonazo ceremony (cannon-firing ceremony).||Hotel Meliã Cohiba, Havana. Breakfast and lunch included. Dinner on your own.|
|Day 5||Visit Instituto Superior de Arte (ISA); Visit artists’ studios. Attend a performance of Conjunto Folklórico Nacional de Cuba.||Hotel Meliã Cohiba, Havana. Breakfast and lunch included. Dinner on your own.|
|Day 6||Meet with University of Havana Professor (and former European Union Ambassdor) Carlos Alzugaray, a world-renowned lecturer and an expert in US studies, for a talk about US/Cuba relations. Visit artists’ studios. Attend performance of Ballet Nacional de Cuba.||Hotel Meliã Cohiba, Havana. Breakfast and lunch included. Dinner on your own.|
|Day 7||Morning off (optional attend Church). Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional concert (optional). Private jam session with Aldo López Gavilán, Harold López-Nussa and much more.||Hotel Melia Cohiba, Havana. Breakfast and lunch included. Dinner on your own.|
|Day 8||Private concert by Camerata Romeu. Post-concert talkback with orchestra members. Visit day care center run by The Sisters of the Love of God, visit with 4-year-old class, learn about the 3 day care centers the sisters run for single mothers. Private Concert by Ernan López-Nussa Trio.||Hotel Meliã Cohiba, Havana. Breakfast and farewell dinner included.Lunch on your own.|
|Day 9||Transfer to Havana airport for flights home via Miami.||Hotel Meliã Cohiba, Havana. Breakfast included.|
*Important Note on the Itinerary
This is a sample to give you an idea of the types of activities, the performers you will be meeting and hearing, and the schedule for the trip. Itinerary is subject to change.