AKArt Habana Bienal Itinerary

May 21-26, 2015

Please note that this itinerary is subject to change and will be continually updated until departure, to ensure the best trip possible.
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[DAY 1] Thursday, 21 May 2015 - Havana City

1-2pm: Arrive in Havana

On arrival in Havana, we will meet our local guide and transfer to the hotel in an air-conditioned bus. On the way, we stop to see famous Revolution Square.


5pm: Check in to Hotel Parque Central


6-7pm: Cocktails on Your Own at the Hotel

We will all meet for a cocktail while our tour leader discusses our itinerary and we hand out Habana Bienal credentials and catalog.


7-9pm: San Cristobal Paladar

Rated by The Guardian as the number one Paladar in Havana, San Cristobal is in a space that is cluttered and eclectic on the bottom floor of an early 20th-century mansion. Piles of old books are stacked atop beautiful old furniture; black and white photos jostle for space with antique record covers and bullfighting posters; while a selection of clocks, religious artefacts and even a full-size zebra pelt, add to the mix. The food is Cuban-Creole: malanga, yucca, cerdo asado (roast pork), lobster, fresh fish, shrimp and other traditional fare. This is not, however, the bland standard cuisine found in many state restaurants. The dessert menu is expansive: pudding San Cristóbal (eggs, fruit, milk and almonds) is excellent, with other offerings including fruit tart, rice puddings, as well as the omnipresent flan. The wine list is broad and reasonably priced. We will have a chance to speak with the Chef and the owner of the establishment to discuss food and new opportunities in the food industry in Cuba.

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[DAY 2] Friday, 22 May 2015 - Havana City

7am: Breakfast at the Hotel

Breakfast on your own, starting at 7:00 am.


9am: Lectures/Class

A Cuban expert on contemporary art starts our day with a lecture on the Cuban art scene.


10am: The Instituto Superior de Arte (ISA)

Cuba’s National Art Schools are considered by historians to be one of the most outstanding architectural achievements of the Cuban Revolution. These innovative, organic Catalan vaulted brick and terra-cotta structures were built on the site of a former American Country Club in the far western Havana suburb of Cubanacán, which used to be Havana's "Beverly Hills" and is now the mainly reserved for Communist Party officials. The schools were conceived and founded by Fidel Castro and Che Guevara in 1961, and they reflect the utopian optimism and revolutionary exuberance of the early years of the Cuban Revolution. Over the years of active use, the schools served as the primary incubator for Cuba’s artists, musicians, actors and dancers.


11:30am: Kcho Museum

The Kcho Romerillo Studio & Arts Laboratory is a community cultural project that Cuban artist Alexis Leyva Machado (Kcho) started this past September at Havana’s El Romerillo neighborhood. This multipurpose center includes a public library, classrooms, a small theater, and a contemporary art gallery named La Nave for large-scale pieces. Kcho is also developing another cultural project in the neighborhood which will include five recreational sports areas. Considered as one of the most well-known Cuban artists, Kcho has been given the UNESCO Prize for the Promotion of Arts and the Gwangju Biennale Great Prize in South Korea.


1pm: El Aljibe Criolla Cuisine

An outdoor thatched-roof restaurant located in the residential area of Miramar, a few minutes from downtown Havana. A flavor created and maintained by the family tradition since the first restaurant was founded on the El Aljibe farm. The specialty is the El Aljibe Chicken, which combines roast chicken with French fries and fried plantain, delicious black beans, white rice, salad and, for dessert, national sweets.


3pm: Artist Collective 7ma y 60

Studio 7 y 60 has been in existence since 2010, when Maria Cienfuegos and three collaborators decided to use her family’s apartment as a space to present their works for sale directly to the public. The gallery takes its name from its location at the intersection of 7 and 60 streets in Miramar, and the building where it’s located is notable for its architectural history. Constructed in 1956 and designed by Mario Romanach, one of Cuba’s most important modernist architects, the building combines simple, modernist lines with interpretations of colonial details such as stained glass windows and wooden blinds and grilles. Still in its original condition, the building provides an appropriate backdrop for contemporary Cuban art.


4pm: Barrio Habana (Social Project)

Barrio Habana is part of a new kind of public-private partnership in Cuba. Designed to support just one neighborhood, Barrio Habana brings together new private enterprises with public institutions—schools, the state-run ‘Casas de Abuelos’ (senior centers), clinics—to support the community with social groups and some needed material goods. We will tour the location, meet the founder and some of the participants. Donations of personal hygiene products and school supplies are always welcome.


5pm: Artist Studio Visit

We will have a private studio visit with an artist, who will show us works in progress and discuss their work with the group.


6:30pm: Return to Hotel to Freshen Up and Relax Before Dinner on Your Own (Not Included)

Prior to departing for the Opera, please grab a snack or quick meal at the hotel. The cost of this meal is not included in the trip price.


8pm: World Premier of Cubanacan: A Revolution of Forms at the Instituto Superior de Arte
This is the world premiere of the Cuban production of this opera. This includes a special visit to Instituto Superior de Arte (ISA). Havana's famous art schools. Born out of the political utopian aspirations of the Cuban Revolution, the dramatic brick and terracotta National Art Schools on the site of the Havana Country Club represent a particular, fleeting moment in the history of Latin American modernism. Founded in 1961 by Fidel Castro and Che Guevara after a round of golf on the course that was to become the site of the schools, the domed and vaulted forms of the National Art Schools were designed to bring cultural literacy to Cuba in the heady days following the revolution. Castro chose Cuban modernist architect Ricardo Porro in collaboration with Italians Roberto Gottardi and Vittorio Garatti to build the schools, which were dedicated to modern dance, plastic arts, dramatic arts, music, and ballet. It was envisioned that students from other nations would be drawn to the schools because of the ideals espoused by learning in an environment meant to foster creativity in service to social improvement. ISA is a venue of the Habana Bienal.

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[DAY 3] Saturday, 23 May 2015 - Havana City

7am: Breakfast at the Hotel

Breakfast on your own, starting at 7:00 am.


9am: Lectures/Class

We start the day with a lecture at the hotel on the architectural history of Havana by an expert.


10am: Old Havana Four Plazas

Tour Old Havana on foot, walking between the four main plazas that comprise Cuba’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site. Start at Plaza de Armas, the site of the oldest Spanish fortress in the Americas, the 1519 locale of the first mass in Cuba, and the massive Baroque seat of government, known as Palacio de los Capitanes Generales. Continue to Plaza de San Francisco de Assis and Plaza Vieja, where we will visit artists galleries and historic buildings and get a sense of the structure of the colonial city. Wind through historic streets spanning 5 centuries of historic architecture and end at Plaza de la Catedral and see the Baroque cathedral.


12pm: Las Tres Monedas

This is one of the next generation paladares in Havana—with a 1940’s New York City art house feel looking out at the Old Havana street scene of today. It is a combination eating establishment, bar and night-club, as well as an artwork in process—established and conducted by one of the leading new social practice artists of Havana: Kadir Lopez. Unlike many of Havana’s paladares, the food here is light and quick—best described as creative tapas. The bar offers a variety of Cuban and international spirits, while being entertained by high art music and performances. The place itself is a work of art crafted by Kadir.



2:15pm: Museo de Bellas Artes Cuban Art Collection/Bellas Artes Museum

You will visit the Cuban collections in this striking modernist building which was completed in 1953 and exemplifies the combination of sculpture with architecture in Cuban mid-century modernism. The Palace of Fine Arts houses a collection of Cuban visual art that spans four centuries. We will have a private tour guided by a curator.


3:30pm: Habana Bienal Activities

This afternoon, we explore some of the programmed activities of the Habana Bienal, including the opportunity to meet artists whose work is included in the Bienal.


5:30pm: Return to Hotel to Freshen Up and Relax Before Dinner


7:30pm: Dinner on Your Own (Not included)

Tonight’s dinner—at a paladar of your choice from a list of the hottest foodie scenes in the city—provides an opportunity to get away from the larger group and dine with friends. The tour guide will make the reservations and you will take a taxi to the meal that we will arrange for you. The group will have a chance to speak with the Chef and owner of the establishment to discuss food and new opportunities in the food industry in Cuba. The cost of this meal is not included in the trip price.

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[DAY 4] Sunday, 24 May 2015 - Havana City

7am: Breakfast at the Hotel

Breakfast on your own, starting at 7:00 am.


9am: Transfer from Havana to Matanzas

We will visit the castle of San Severino and learn about Cuba’s slave trade, and enjoy a walking tour of historic downtown Matanzas, including the Cathedral, the Teatro Sauto, and the Pharmacy Museum.


12:30pm: Restaurant Velazco (Restaurant - International cuisine)

Lunch is at the historic Hotel Velazco on Matanza’s main square. After lunch we meet artists at Ediciones Vigia and the Galeria Lolo, before a private chamber music concert at the beautiful Ermita de Monserrate overlooking the city and bay of Matanzas.


2pm: Artist Studio Visit

We will have a private studio visit with an artist, who will show us works in progress and discuss their work with the group.


5pm: Transfer From Matanzas to Havana


7:30pm: Dinner on Your Own (Not included)

Tonight's dinner provides another opportunity to get away from the larger group and dine with a smaller group. At a paladar of your choice, the tour guide will make reservations at one of the best foodie scenes in the City. We will arrange a taxi to the meal for you. The group will have a chance to speak with the Chef and owner of the establishment to discuss food and new opportunities in the food industry in Cuba. The cost of this meal is not included in the trip price.

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[DAY 5] Monday, 25 May 2015 Havana City

7am: Breakfast at the Hotel

On your own, starting at 7:00 am.


10am: Ernest Hemingway's Finca La Vigia

Visit Ernest Hemingway's Finca La Vigia, located on a hilltop in the rural village of San Francisco de Paula, just southeast of the City of Havana. The home has recently been the subject of a massive preservation as the author left it in 1961, in an effort by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. At this farm, you will be able to see his sport-fishing boat, the Pilar. The site also houses the Hemingway Museum. The Finca Vigia estate and the fishing village of Cojimar are considered the most significant locales for those interested in Hemingway’s history.


11:30am: Artist Studio Visit

We will have a private studio visit with an artist, who will show us works in progress and discuss their work with the group.


12:30pm: Lunch on Your Own

Lunch is on your own today, in order to sample some of the many new private restaurants in Old Havana.


2:30pm: Opera de la Calle

Visit with this innovative, entrepreneurial, and non-governmental run “street opera” company. Transforming a vacant movie theatre in to a innovative performance space.They create and perform original musical theater spectacles influenced by opera, zarzuela, rock, pop, and traditional Afro-Cuban rhythms.


6:30pm: Classic Cars

We will be picked up by a fleet of classic American cars and ride through Havana in style to dinner tonight.


7:30pm: La Guarida

Anyone who has been to La Guarida will find it difficult to disagree that Enrique and Odeisys have managed to create their own magical place. It offers a cozy atmosphere with soft lights, fine table linen, German silver cutlery, candles, Cuban music, and good jazz—with the entrance from a run-down Central Havana street. The building, originally known as La Mansión Camagüey, shows its former grandeur from the magnificent wooden entrance door through the marble staircase, up the two flights of stairs to the restaurant itself. The mural of Fidel’s famous explanation of why he said Patria o Muerte (country or death) is a photographer’s dream on the way down. For visitors to Havana, La Guarida has become a must-do experience. This is deservedly so, for while it may be busy, and somewhat expensive it retains its intimate, somewhat formal charm and provides a quality traditional dining experience.

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[DAY 6] Tuesday, 26 May 2015 - Havana City

7am: Breakfast at the Hotel

Breakfast on your own, starting at 7:00 am.


8-9am: Check Out of Hotel


11-11:45am: Light Lunch at the Hotel


11:45-12:30am: Transfer from the Hotel Parque Central to the Airport


3-4pm: Depart Havana to Miami


*Guests will have arranged their own flights from Miami to their hometown