Literary Havana VI

January 04-11, 2016

Please note that this itinerary is subject to constant revision as we continue to make your visit to Cuba a very magical experience.

Your Itinerary

[1] Mon, 4 January 2016 - Havana City


[1:00 pm] - Arrive in Havana


[3:00 pm] - Check in to Hotel Nacional de Cuba


[4:30 pm] - Barrio Chino

Contracted Chinese workers, almost all male, came to

Cuba in waves over the decades, working in sugar mills,

in agriculture, and in Havana itself. Many of them married

Cubans, resulting in a culture that today is centered in

Barrio Chino. We are fortunate to have Relga Albarrán,

raised in Barrio Chino, lead us on a walking tour of her

neighborhood pointing out its social centers, historic

churches, theaters, and markets, as well as the senior

citizens home for elderly Chinese.


[7:00 pm] - San Cristobal Paladar
Rated by The Guardian as the number one Paladar in Havana, This paladar, on the bottom floor of an early 20th-century mansion, is in a space that is cluttered and eclectic. 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 while the fruit tart and rice puddings are pretty passable, as well as the omnipresent flan. The wine list is broad enough 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.

[2] Tue, 5 January 2016 - Havana City

[7:00 am] – Buffet breakfast at the Hotel Nacional


[9:30 am] - Theater activity

We will Visit Teatro Bertolt Brecht, where Cuban director Edgar

Estaco will host a discussion on Cuban theater, contemporary and historical,

followed by a rehearsal for the play in production


[11:00 am] - - La Casa de la Comunidad Hebrea de Cuba

We’ll visit La Casa de la Comunidad Hebrea de Cuba (El

Patronato), the Jewish community center that works to

preserve the traditions and pride of Judaism on the island.

This venue is located on the ground floor of a renovated

synagogue that annually hosts High Holy Day services. The

Patronato pharmacy accepts donated over-the-counter

medicines, available to any Cuban who walks in. Adela

Dworin, President of the Patronato, will brief us on the

history of Cuban Jews.


[12:30 pm] – lunch - Le Chansonnier Paladar

Called a paradise for privacy and fine taste, Le Chansonnier is a combination of good art and excellent dining. It’s located in a colonial house that invites you to enjoy its spacious rooms, good music and great hosts. Le Chansonnier can arrange breakfasts, private parties, and tastings..


[3:00 pm] - Cuban Writers and Artists Union UNEAC

GLORIA ROLANDO gives a talk. Gloria Rolando is one of Cuba’s thoughtful documentary filmmakers and writers. Her subject matters ranges from spiritualty to race.


[6:30 pm] - Dinner on your own
Tonight dinner is in a paladar of your choice from a list of the best and most highly acclaimed private restaurants in town. We’ll supply you with a list of the possibilities. Our tour guide will make any necessary reservations. This is an opportunity to get away from the larger group and dine with a smaller group of friends. A taxi Is the most practical way to get to a paladar. If you wish you’ll have the opportunity to speak with the Chef and owner ofyour chosen establishment learn about the food industry in Cuba, just ask. We used to say, “Nobody goes to Cuba for the food.” But we don’t say that any longer. (The cost of this meal is not included in the trip price.)


[9:00 pm] - Salsa lessons - optional

Jennifer Albarrán, a dancer with the Ballet Folklorico, offers one-hour salsa dancing lessons in the spacious living room of her Central Havana home. Anywhere from two to twenty can sign up for this. (10 CUC per person.)

[3] Wed, 6 January 2016 - Havana City

[7:00 am] – Buffet breakfast at the Hotel Nacional


[9:30 am] - Ferry ride across Havana Bay
Take the ferry from Old Havana across Havana Bay, to visit the historic City of Regla.


[10:30 am] - Ernest Hemingway's Finca La Vigia
Visit Ernest Hemmingway'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 effort by the National Trust for Historic Preservation

,leaving it as the author left it in 1961. While on the grounds you will be able to see Hemingway’s sport-fishing boat, the Pilar. The Finca Vigía estate and the fishing village of Cojímar – from which the old man left for the sea -- are considered the most significant locales on the Hemingway trail.


[12:30 pm] - Sloppy Joe’s -Lunch
The restoration project of the mythical Sloppy Joe's of Havana is great news for bar and cocktail lovers. The project was completed in 2013 with much care and intelligence by the office of the city historian. You’ll now be able to enter the establishment much as Alec Guinness did in "Our Man in Havana" and sip at the remarkable mahogany drinks cabinet. The menu includes tapas and the legendary Sloppy Joe Sandwich.. The bar maintains a great collection of fine liquors and wines.


[2:45 pm] - Museo de Bellas Artes Cuban art collection/Bellas Artes Museum
You will visit the Cuban collections in this striking modernist building, completed in 1953, that exemplifies the combination of sculpture with architecture in mid-century Cuba. The Palace of Fine Arts houses a collection of Cuban visual art that spans 4 centuries and tells the nation’s history through its creative art.


[4:00 pm] - Tertulia with poet Reina Maria Rodriguez


[7:30 pm] - Atelier Paladar

Calling Atelier contemporary is like calling Havana a little rundown: true, but enough of an understatement as to miss the point. The paladar’s large main room is decorated with sparse modern lines inside a typically idiosyncratic Vedado mansion. Old sewing and adding machines inside make the place retro yet not old. The food changes daily, hence the handwritten menus.

[4] Thu, 7 January 2016 - Havana City - Varadero

[7:00 am] – Buffet breakfast at the Hotel Nacional de Cuba

Checkout: Hotel Nacional de Cuba


[9:00 am] - Transfer to Matanzas


[10:45 am] - Ediciones Vigía
Ediciones Vigía, an artisanal press producing stunning handmade books since 1985, will opens its doors to us and show us their workshop and archive. We will learn about the wide range of Cuban and international authors they have independently published, ranging from José Martí and Emily Dickenson to contemporary writers, and get an inside look at the creation of the artistic designs of these incomparable books


[12:15 pm] - Pharmaceutical Museum is building houses pharmaceutical equipment gong back deep into the 19th century and includes early syringes and other utensils.


[1:00 pm] – lunch -- Finca Coincidencia


[3:30 pm] - Check in to Hotel Meliá Las Américas In Varadero


[7:00 pm] - Dinner at the hotel

[5] Fri, 8 January 2016 - Varadero

[7:00 am] – Buffet breakfast at the Meliá Las Américas Hotel


[10:00 am] - Danza Espiral – discussion about dance in Cuba, plus a rehearsal by the company.


[12:00 pm] – lunch in one of the hotel’s splendid restaurants.


Afternoon – To Be Announced


[6:30 pm] – dinner -- Restaurant: In another of the hotel’s dozen restaurants.


[8:30 pm] - Casa de la Trova

[6] Sat., 9 January 2016 - Varadero - Havana City

[7:00 am] – Buffet breakfast at the Hotel Meliá Las Américas


[9:00 am] - Check out of Hotel Meliá Las Américas


[11:30 am] - Lunch on your own


[12:15 pm] - Transfer to Havana


[2:00 pm] - Muraleando
When local artists Manuel (Manolo) Diaz Baldrich and Ernesto Quirch Paz began teaching art workshops in the neighborhood school in 2001, they had no thoughts of starting community development project. They quickly moved the workshops into the streets, and there the seeds of Muraleando (literally "muraling" or mural-making) were sown. The murals that started springing up throughout the neighborhood were a natural outgrowth of the art classes. The murals depict fanciful celebrations of Cuban life. In a country where nothing is disposable and everything is useful, broken typewriters, old telephones, tire rims, wrought-iron chair parts - all were fair game to weld and paint and turn into sculpture.


[4:00 pm] - Check in to Hotel Nacional de Cuba


[7:30 pm] - Dinner at Kadir Lopez studio
Kadir Lopez, and his brother Kelvin Lopez are graduates of the Instituto Superior de Arte. Their expansive studio and exhibit spaces are located in a 1930’s Havana mansion that has been re-purposed by the artists for their home-workspace. It also serves as a dining facility, where we will dine on a terrific traditional Cuban home-made dinner cooked by the family of the artist. You will have a chance to talk with Kadir, Kelvin and other artists who will join us. A wonderful dinner and provocative conversation about art– who could beat that?


[9:30 pm] - Fábrica de Arte Cubano
This is a new artist space in the Vedado district of Havana created by well known musician X Alfonso and his band Synthesis. It’s an old oil factory given a new life with a tall chimney visible throughout the neighborhood announcing the barrio’s cultural resurgence. This giant space, adjacent to a fine restaurant, is an all purpose art facility that hosts visual artist projects – photography, paintings, film, dance, and concerts for Cuba’s most adventurous artists. The Fábrica caters to Cubans as much or more than to tourists.

[7] Sun, 10 January 2016 - Havana City

[7:00 am] – Buffet breakfast at the Hotel Nacional de Cuba


[9:30 am] - 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. Most days this plaza is ringed by second-hand an rare book dealers. 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 remarkable architecture and end at Plaza de la Catedral with its baroque cathedral.


[12:30 pm] - La Moneda Cubana
Close to la Plaza de la Catedral in colonial Old Havana, La Monedo Cubana serving a wide variety of Cuban food and liquor in a historic setting with beautiful views.


[3:00 pm] - Taller experimental de Grafica
The Taller was established in 1962 by a small group of artists lead by Orlando Suárez, a muralist whose initiative also helped found the Superior Art Institute. Mr. Suarez was supported in this effort by the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda and by Che Guevara who applauded Neruda’s efforts to create a center where all artists of the City of Havana can go to produce prints. The Taller is more than a workshop. It is a studio, a school and most of all, an art institution that preserves and develops the sophisticated art of print making with relative freedom of spirit and form. While at the center you will see artworks in mid-production and converse with artists about their works and about life as an artist in Havana.


[4:30 pm] - Rum Museum
This establishment hosts an audiovisual presentation on the history and production of Cuban rums, with free rum sample to boot. Bar Havana located in the same building will allow you to triple the wares.


[7:00 pm] - La Guarída
Anyone who has been to La Guarída will find it difficult to disagree that Enrique and Odeisys have managed to create their own magical place. It conveys a cozy atmosphere with soft lights, fine table linen, German silver cutlery, candles, Cuban music and good jazz. The effect is magnified by 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. Before it was a restaurant the space was used as a location for the Academy Award nominated film, “Strawberry and Chocolate.” The refrigerator in the movie, named Rocinante, is still on the premises. In 2015 the Travel Channel filmed our group leader, Tom Miller, dining at La Guarída for its program, “Watt’s World.”.

[8] Mon, 11 January 2016 - Havana City

Checkout: Hotel Nacional de Cuba


[7:00 am] – Buffet breakfast at the Hotel Nacional de Cuba


[9:00 am] - Check out of Hotel


[12:15 pm] - Transfer from a Havana hotel to the airport


[3:00 pm] - Depart Havana for Miami