ITINERARY

October 4-9, 2018 & November 15-20, 2018

HAVANA LIGHT Neon, Music + Art

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

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[1] Thursday - Centro Habana Check-in: Deluxe Casa Particular

[5:00 pm] - Arrive in Havana

[5:30 pm] - Revolution Square (the primary political gathering place)

Board bus and en route to hotels, stop at Plaza de la Revolución.

One of Havana’s most dramatic examples of modern civic monumental architecture is the Plaza de la Revolución José Martí. Measuring nearly 24,000 sq. ft., surrounded by modern construction and featuring the enormous obelisk monument to Jose Marti, the plaza is built on the highest ground in Havana. Originally built in the 1950s, it has been repurposed in the period of the Cuban revolution as the main gathering place in the city.

[6:30 pm] - Check in to Casa Particular

[7:30 pm] - Orientation and familiarization. We will take a few moment to offer an Orientation to the city and familiarization of the neighborhood around your Casa.

[7:30 pm] - San Cristobal Paladar. Dinner

Rated by The Guardian as the number one Paladar in Havana, This paladar, 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 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.

[11:00 pm] - Late night Jazz. (optional) After dinner you can visit La Zorra y el Cuervo, El Gato Tuerto and other jazz clubs. Since this is a travel day we can also take it easy tonight. Alternatively we can relax at the back veranda of the Hotel Nacional.
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[2] Friday - Habana Vieja (Old Havana)

[7:00 am] - Enjoy a sumptuous tropical feast this morning provided by your host.

[9:00 am] - Old Havana Four Plazas Walking Tour

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. We will have a running commentary about signs and signage during this and every part of the city we visit.


[11:30 am] - Taller de Grafica

This public center for local artists was established by Pablo Neruda and Che Guevara at the beginning of the Revolution as a place where artists living and visiting Havana can work on printmaking. Over the years they have developed an inventory of prints by unknown artists as well as more celebrated artists. This is an excellent time to purchase art gifts for yourself and others at great prices.


[12:30 pm] - Lunch at Ivan and Justo in Habana Vieja

The style of the place is thoroughly Mediterranean, located on the second and third floors of a building that must be 200 years old. It is elegantly decorated with a tasteful simplicity from old pictures of Marilyn Monroe to old pictures of the city. The view out across Prado is relaxing and there is a space small upstairs you can also eat with a little more privacy. The food is nothing short of spectacular. Ivan, the chef used to run the kitchen at Havana Chef and he has taken many of the best dishes from there. Offerings include an excellent salmon salad, gazpacho and lamb soup as appetizers and a mouth watering rack of baby lamb ribs as a main as well as cheese risotto and excellent fish. The service is excellent, professional, attentive and quick.

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[3:00 pm] Walking tour of Neon signs on El Prado – Capitolio, Parque Central, Parque Marti

El Prado is one of the most exquisitely designed and splendid major avenues in all of the Americas and home to the quintessential structures that define Havana, ranging from Colonial to Baroque to Neoclassical to Art Deco. Designed in 1772 by French landscape architect Jean-Claude Nicolas Forestier, El Prado runs for many blocks from the dramatic fountain, La Fuente de la India, to the iconic Malecon, marking the boundary between Habana Vieja and Centro Habana. El Paseo, a marble promenade lined with a natural canopy of trees, marble benches and bronze lions was recently chosen by the House of Chanel for one of the most dramatic runway shows in the history of fashion. It is home to El Capitolio (1929): El Gran Teatro de La Habana (1918), home to the National Ballet of Cuba; The Bacardi Building (1930), a testament to Art Deco and dozens of other structures immortalized in photography and film for decades. Havana’s Central Park, is home to first statue of Jose Marti in Cuba. The gardens stand out for the 28 magnificent royal palms. Some of Havana most recognizable buildings surround the park. El Prado encompasses all of the mystery and magic, all of the historic and cultural wealth that Havana has offered from the 17th to the 21st century. We will see approximately ten restored and soon to be restored neon projects and discuss the restorations during this walk.

[5:30 pm] - Visit the Home Studio of Kadir Lopez Nieves w/cocktails You will be visiting Havana’s only neon shop and center for the neon sign restoration of Havana. This is also Kadir Lopez home, gallery and studio set in the Kohly neighborhood of Havana. We will discuss the neon restoration project in the city and the efforts to restore the post war heritage of Havana.

[8:30 pm] - Dinner on your own

Tonight dinner is in a paladar of your choice from a list of the hottest foodie scenes in the City. The tour guide will make the reservations. This is an opportunity to get away from the larger group and dine with a smaller group of friends. You will take a taxi to the meal that we will find 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.


[11:00 pm] - Late night Noir. After dinner we will visit some of Havana’s most interesting bars and music places with an emphasis on showing you some of the out of the way dives that give the city its grit and sense of Noir. (not included in price)

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[3] Saturday- Centro Habana-Vinales Valley

[7:00 am] - Enjoy a sumptuous tropical feast this morning provided by your host.

[9:30 am] - Day trip to Vinales

Enjoy this all day excursion to Vinales Valley located in Western Province of Pinar del Rio. a UNESCO world heritage site Vinales Valley has one of the most beautiful views in Cuba, the mogotes are limestone mountains that come out the valley floor. Take a boat ride through a mogote and enjoy a typical Cuban lunch while enjoying rational country music.

[12:00 pm] - Finca Paradiso Agroecological Lunch


[8:30 pm] - Dinner on your own

Tonight dinner is in a paladar of your choice from a list of the hottest foodie scenes in the City. The tour guide will make the reservations. This is an opportunity to get away from the larger group and dine with a smaller group of friends. You will take a taxi to the meal that we will find 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.


[10:00 pm] - Fabrica de Arte (Included) Get ready to experience Cuban Culture 2.0 as you explore this impressive arts center that presents all of the art disciplines in a dynamic new way. This cavernous old salad oil factory is now one of the hottest art programs run by artists in the world. There will be a concert, other music, design, visual art and a fantastic Cuban audience that will see the country's great future. You can stay at FAC until the wee hours of the night or come home with us after a couple of hours.

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[4] - Sunday - Centro Habana

[7:00 am] - Enjoy a sumptuous tropical feast this morning provided by your host.


[11:00 am] - Callejon de Hamel This open-air Afro-Cuban Religion Sanctuary and community art project, is the work of local artist Salvador Gonzalez who has adorned its walls with evocative Santeria murals paying homage to religious cults and currents of African origin. It hosts the famous Afro-Cuban rumbas that take place every Sunday afternoon.


[1:00 pm] Lunch at La Guarida Paladar

Anyone who has been to La Guarida will find it difficult to disagree that Enrique and Odeisys have managed to create their own magical home restaurant. The building, originally known as La Mansión Camagüey, shows its former grandeur from the magnificent wooden entrance doors through the marble staircase up the two flights of stairs to the restaurant itself. The location for a classic scene from Cuba’s most iconic film “Fresa y Chocolate,” La Guarida has gone on to become one of the most popular restaurants in Cuba. Make sure to take your time on your way up the stairs for an opportunity to take some iconic Havana photographs.


[3:00 pm] - Luis Camejo Artist Studio Visit

This is a very special visit to a great Havana painter’s studio. Take a break for a nice home made lunch and a fabulous studio visit in a real Havana artist’s garret on top of a building on Infanta street in Central Havana. Luis Camejo is one of Havana’s great painters of the city itself. Every city has an artist that captures the ethos of the place. Camejo captures Havana in a way that is palpable and real. You will have amazing views of this part of the city and meet a cuban family that you will want to stay in touch with.


[7:30 pm] - Dinner on your own

Tonight dinner is in a paladar of your choice from a list of the hottest foodie scenes in the City. The tour guide will make the reservations. This is an opportunity to get away from the larger group and dine with a smaller group of friends. You will take a taxi to the meal that we will find 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.

[10:00 pm] - TROPICANA NIGHTCLUB (Optional)

The Tropicana was the most famous nightclub in the world from 1939 to 1959 and the precursor to the glitzy Vegas floor shows of the 1950's. Built in the gardens of an early 20th century residence, it contains one of Cuba’s most significant modern buildings, the Arcos de Cristal (1952), a thin-shell concrete structure by architect Max Borges Recio. The club continues to operate and is the only one of Havana’s famed clubs to survive the revolution. You will see the gardens and the show, which is based on the 1950s cabaret era spectacles. Tropicana is also a place full of neon. In fact it has over two miles of neon with a variety of signs and wall treatments.

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[5] Monday - Centro Habana

[7:00 am] - Enjoy a sumptuous tropical feast this morning provided by your host


This morning will be left free for you to continue your exploration of Havana on your own.


[12:00 pm] - Lunch on your own

[3:30 pm] - Folklorico Nacional de Cuba Rehearsal workshop

Go behind the scenes and witness this extraordinary ensemble of Afrocuban folkloric music and dances. Founded in 1962. The Ensemble has always had as main purposes to contribute to the rescue and recovery of Cuban dance and music folkways. Today after 35 years of its founding the Ensemble has developed a theater-folklore style with strong aesthetic effectiveness and power on stage. El Conjunto Folklórico Nacional de Cuba has provided more than eight hundred thousand representations through its 93 international tours in Europe, America and Asia, audiences from more than three hundred cities and towns have applauded the profound national art of this dance ensemble.


[7:30 pm] - Havana Neon Tour

The city of Havana was an early adopter of neon lights starting in the early 1930s and quickly became a city of lights that reflected the urban and commercial aspirations of the City. The Jazz age was in full bloom and neon became a symbol of Modernism for the citizens of the city and the legions of visitors to Havana from through the 1930’s through the 1950s. At the triumph of the Revolution the products and companies that were promoted by this commercial signage were soon ancient history on the island. Many of the signs were dismantled and some were discarded. There is only a small fraction of the signs left in the city. This afternoon we will be joined by Havana Artist Kadir Lopez and Adolfo Nodal in a discussion of the neon history and future of Havana at our new neon center in Old Havana. Kadir will also present his neon restoration project that aspires to return neon light to the Havana Skyline.


[8:30 pm] - Farewell dinner at Casa Girasol

Tonight you will travel in a fleet of American cars to the home of a Cuban socialite, art collector and producer, at her award-winning mid-century modern mansion in Nuevo Vedado, one of Havana's most prestigious neighborhoods. The home is has been preserved in its Mid-20th Century splendor and houses one of Havana's most impressive contemporary art collections. Our special friend has hosted hundreds of private dinners at her home for prestigious visitors from all over the world, including famed musicians, actors, esteemed chefs, authors and giants of industry. Along with a wonderful feast of home-made Cuban delicacies we will have a chance to speak at length with her and her friends about life in Havana.

After dinner we will enjoy a private concert by the Havana String Quartet, four gifted young musicians who will perform a selection of Cuban composers.

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[6] Tuesday - Centro Habana

Checkout: Casas checkout

[7:00 am] - Enjoy a sumptuous tropical feast this morning provided by your host

[10:00 am] - Check out of Casa

[11:00 am] - Transfer from Havana hotel to the airport

[3:00 pm] - Depart Havana