Cuba and its People

Cuba and its People

Embark on a discovery into the heart of incredible Cuba. Stay for seven nights in a privately owned boutique hotel in Havana’s beautiful Vedado district. Daily excursions immerse you in Cuba’s endless charms, from Old Havana to the romantic Malecón, a classic car ride to vibrant Fusterlandia. Learn about organic farming in Caimito and Afro-Cuban history in Matanzas. Experience Cuba through the eyes of entrepreneurs, dancers, community leaders, children and more. During meaningful exchanges, these locals show you their connections to their country and how they cultivate their passions and work. Plus, our handpicked local experts add another enriching layer with discussions about the island’s economy, musical roots, 1961 literacy campaign and other compelling topics. You’ll come away with a broader perspective of Cuba’s history, culture and heritage while also supporting the Cuban people. This exclusive program, developed by AHI Travel, is operated in accordance with a Support for the Cuban People general license established by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control. This program includes round-trip flights between Miami and Cuba.

Trip Itinerary:

March 16 Depart gateway city | Miami, Florida | Havana, Cuba

Passengers depart for Havana, Cuba. Arrive in Havana and proceed through immigration to the baggage claim area and retrieve your luggage. After completing customs, exit the baggage claim area and proceed to the Arrivals Hall, where an AHI Travel representative will meet you.

Transfer with your group and check in to the ARTe Hotel Calle 2, a privately owned boutique hotel located in the heart of the vibrant neighborhood of El Vedado.

Tonight, join your fellow travelers for a festive Welcome Dinner at a local paladar, a privately owned and operated restaurant. During a period of reform in the 1990s, many Cubans were allowed to open their own restaurants. Each paladar offers a unique setting and a menu of authentic, regional cuisine. Enjoy an opportunity to meet and mingle with locals on your first night in Cuba, while supporting Cuban entrepreneurialism.

ARTe Hotel Calle 2

March 17 Havana

Enrichment: Urban Planning and the Architectural Challenges in Havana. Meet Cuban architect Miguel Coyula for a discussion about contemporary city planning in the Cuban capital.

Discovery: Enigmatic Habana Vieja. Spanish colonists founded Havana’s historic district, Habana Vieja, in 1519. Here, cobbled plazas teem with locals discussing baseball, men playing dominos and flea markets hawking art, used books and eye-catching souvenirs. Enjoy your first taste of this unique, well-preserved UNESCO World Heritage site while exploring its four main squares: Plaza de Armas, the city’s oldest square; Plaza de San Francisco, home to the 19th-century Fountain of Lions; Plaza de la Catedral and Plaza Vieja. Along the way, enjoy a one-of-a-kind cultural experience at an authentic Cuban flea market. Step into the world of free enterprise while browsing leather items, paintings, souvenirs, jewelry, books and a variety of other handicrafts. Stop to chat with the habaneros, or local vendors, and try your hand at haggling for treasures — in turn, supporting their families. Continue to Dador, an independently owned clothing store founded by three Cuban women. During intimate conversations with the women, learn about the hardships, challenges and experiences with starting and owning a female-led business in Cuba. (Moderate)

Dine on Cuban specialties during lunch in Old Havana.

Discovery: Casa de la Cultura. Visit the Casa de la Cultura, a center dedicated to generating cultural development and preserving Cuba’s art and heritage. Interact with the center’s staff and learn about their commitment to promoting art, culture and literature within Cuba. Also, meet children who hone their talents with dance and theater through the center’s many workshops. (Moderate)

Enjoy dinner at one of Cuba’s paladares, a great example of Cuba’s incremental shift to a more free-market economy.

ARTe Hotel Calle 2
Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

March 18 Havana

Discovery: In-Depth Havana. The streets of Havana are filled with vintage American convertibles. In fact, there are approximately 60,000 vintage cars in Cuba! These 1950s classics, imported before the U.S. trade embargo began in 1960, still run because of the ingenuity of their owners. Climb aboard one of these Cuban treasures, drive through Havana’s historic quarter and enjoy interacting with your friendly driver. Car enthusiasts will enjoy peeking beneath the hood to learn some of the secrets behind their maintenance. In doing so, you’ll learn about the challenges that Cubans face in getting access to basic necessities, comforts and luxuries as well as the ingenious ways they have for resolviendo, or resolving, to get what they need. (Moderate)

Continue to the Sephardic Hebrew Center, located in the heart of downtown Havana, where a member of Havana’s Jewish Community welcomes us for a visit. Then, enjoy exploring the eclectic Callejón de Hamel, a colorful alleyway that is a central part of Afro-Cuban culture. This paint-splattered street is often full of rumba drummers and dancers, vibrant murals and sculptures, and art made from recycled items. Walk along the alleyway as you learn about a variety of Afro-Cuban religions practiced in Cuba. (Moderate)

After lunch at a paladar, gaze at the Christ of Havana, or El Christo de La Habana. Towering about 66 feet above Havana bay and made from white Carrara marble, this monument offers a peaceful setting with expansive city views.

Discovery: Hemingway’s “Lookout Farm.” Head outside of Havana to see La Finca Vigia, or “lookout farm,” the storied home of author Ernest Hemingway. The famed author purchased this property in 1940 and lived there for 20 years with his wife, Martha. (Mild)

Enrichment: U.S. and Cuban Relations. Join a University of Havana professor for a discussion about the U.S., Cuba and the Cuban economy.

ARTe Hotel Calle 2
Breakfast | Lunch

March 19 Havana

Enrichment: Empowering Cuban Women. Sociologist Dr. Marta Núñez enlightens us with an insightful talk about gender relations and the role of women in Cuba. Learn about women’s involvement in the Cuban government, science fields and other professional positions. Also, discuss the challenges that women still need to overcome to achieve gender equality.

Discovery/Enrichment: Contemporary Art in Cuba. Join a discussion about contemporary Cuban artists and their work. Wilfredo Benítez of the nonprofit arts advocacy group, the Ludwig Foundation, will lead the talk. Visit the National Museum of Fine Arts in central Havana to see a collection of Cuban art featuring Cuban artists from the 17th century until today. The museum is also home to collections by Goya, Rubens, Murillo and other impressionists, plus a host of Greek and Roman art. (Moderate)

Discovery: Inside an Art Studio. Cuba’s art scene reflects a diverse menagerie of African, North and South American, and European cultures and influences. Be immersed in Cuba’s thriving art culture during a visit to Casa Fuster, the home and studio of Cuban painter and sculptor Jose Fuster, a notable artist who was influenced by the works of Picasso. Witness his vibrantly colored mosaics, followed by an in-depth discussion with a local artist about his work, the obstacles to opening a private studio in Cuba and the opportunities for Cuban artists. (Moderate)

Sit down to a group lunch at Casa Fuster.

Enjoy a special reception and dinner this evening at the Ludwig Foundation of Cuba (LFC). Founded in 1995 by Peter and Irene Ludwig, the LFC is a non-governmental, non-profit art and cultural institution that is dedicated to protecting and promoting Cuban artists in Cuba as well as internationally. The Foundation works with emerging artists in a variety of mediums and artistic expression, from mobile app development to graphic design and more. During tonight’s event, meet independent local artists and learn about their desires to pursue artistic ventures. (Mild)

ARTe Hotel Calle 2
Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

March 20 Havana | Matanzas

Discovery. Matanzas – The Slaves’ Route. Delve into the cultural riches of Matanzas, or “city of bridges.” Nestled on a hillside by the pretty Bay of Matanzas, the town is divided by many tiny canals and three rivers — the Rio Yumuri, the San Juan and the Canima — as well as numerous bridges that pepper the town’s alleys and roads. Matanzas, where residents chat in sunny plazas and colonial architecture crowds the streets, offers an atmosphere of authentic Cuba.

Cuba underwent a long period of slavery, from 1511 until 1886. At one time, it is estimated that more than 70% of Matanzas’ population were slaves. Today, the Afro-Cuban culture remains profound and visible throughout Cuba and these historical roots are especially prevalent in Matanzas. Visit the San Severino Museum, a castle built in 1735 by slave labor to protect the city and bay against attacks in the southern area of the island. While touring this symbolic museum, see objects and pictures illustrating slavery times and learn about the historical importance of the slave trade and slave labor, as well as how Afro-Cuban culture is celebrated in visual arts, religion, music, language and other forms of expression. The castle is part of a UNESCO and Cuba co-founded project: “The Slave Route: Resistance, Freedom, and Patrimony.” (Moderate)

Share your insights and thoughts of the day over a delicious lunch at a paladar.

Enrichment. Race and the Cuban Revolution. Gather with Dr. Rosaida Ochoa for a thought-provoking discussion.

Dinner is at leisure tonight. Your AHI Travel Director is available to recommend restaurants.

ARTe Hotel Calle 2
Breakfast | Lunch

March 21 Havana

Enrichment. Cuban Justice System. Marcos Fraga, professor at the University of Havana, shares his perspective and experiences with working alongside Cuba’s justice system.

Discovery: Cuban Dance. Visit Malpaso, a contemporary dance studio, for a behind-the-scenes look into Cuba’s infectious dance scene. Meet a few of the studio’s talented dancers and, during a discussion with these specialists, learn about their experiences and commitments to their art and training. (Mild)

After lunch at a paladar, return to the hotel and enjoy an afternoon at leisure.

Discovery: Norma Guillard. Meet with Norma Guillard, Cuban social psychologist in Santiago de Cuba and adjunct lecturer at the University of Havana teaching psychology and gender. Guillard is recognized for her work on issues of gender, race and sexual orientation, as well as issues of diversity and identity in a Cuban and Caribbean context. In 1961, 15-year-old Guillard joined the Cuban Literacy Campaign. Listen as Norma relays stories about her work as a teenage literacy worker, and watch “Maestra,” a documentary about the women and girl volunteers who taught more than 700,000 Cubans to read and write. Guillard also founded an LGBT rights group and she runs sexual health workshops for women in low-income neighborhoods. (Mild)

Venture out for dinner at your leisure. Your AHI Travel Director will be available to offer suggestions on dining choices. While dining at the paladar of your choice, you will be happy to know that you are contributing to those Cubans trying to make a living in the private sector.

ARTe Hotel Calle 2
Breakfast | Lunch

March 22 Caimito

Discovery: Caimito. As we begin our journey outside of Havana to the municipality of Caimito, we’ll stop at an agromercado, a covered or open street market selling fruits, vegetables and varieties of meats, rice and beans. This is an excellent opportunity to shop like a local and see Cuba's array of fresh produce. Continue to Finca Marta, a 20-acre farm started in 2011 by agronomist Fernando Funes. Today, the farm grows more than 60 varieties of vegetables, fruits and herbs that are free from agrochemicals, and it supplies organic produce to many of Havana’s privately-owned restaurants. Learn about Funes’ vision to transform the Cuban farming model by using resource-efficient artisanal farming methods and his goals for helping Cuban farmers make a living from their land. During your tour, discover how the farm runs mostly on solar power and how compost is created from horse manure, and meet and interact with some of the farm’s workers. (Moderate)

Dine on a delicious farm-to-table meal during lunch at Finca Marta.

Enrichment: The Rhythms of Cuban Music. Join Cuban ethnomusicologist Alberto Fayas for a talk about Cuba’s enthralling music scene, which has its principal roots in Spain and West African rhythms.

Discovery: Afro-Cuban Dance. Enjoy an intimate gathering with local dancers. Born and raised in Havana, dancing has been a part of their lives since childhood and each has been a part of several dance troupes and studios through the years. Now, we can assist them in pursuing their individual journeys as they share their passion by teaching tango and salsa. You may even try a few steps yourself and return home with a new skill! (Moderate)

Gather for one last Cuban meal during a Farewell Dinner at a paladar tonight and raise a toast to your outstanding Cuban adventure.

ARTe Hotel Calle 2
Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

March 23 Havana | Depart for Miami, Florida

After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your return flight to Miami.


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