Central Holidays

Upon your arrival in Havana you will be met by your professional, English speaking tour director to embark on your hands-on exploration of the “Authentic Cuba”. First on the agenda is a visit to Finca Yoandra to take part in a cultural and educational exchange about their sustainable agriculture outreach project. Sip on a Cuban cocktail while you tour the medicinal gardens and interact with the representatives from community projects for children and the elderly. Then take part in a cooking demonstration using the ingredients found at the finca and visit their famous wine cellar to choose a perfect vintage for lunch. Enjoy your first taste of authentic Cuban cuisine for lunch at the finca’s privately owned restaurant or “paladar” Il Divino. Visit the Martin Luther King Center on the way into Havana then check-in to your hotel. Head downstairs and meet with your group for a welcome drink and short briefing about this outstanding “Authentic Cuba” people-to-people program. Unique and experiential moments continue with a welcome dinner at Paladar Mediterraneo with a tour of their finca and an insightful exchange about their farm-to-table food preparation. (L,D)

After breakfast at your hotel participate in an enlightening walking tour of Old Havana, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, while joining in an interchange with a local historian. Stroll along the beautiful cobblestone streets discovering Old Havana’s four main plazas and visit a cooperative project started by the Federation of Cuban Women. Next you will have the unique opportunity to discover a children’s project focused on developing the arts. Privately-owned restaurant Mama Inez Paladar awaits to greet you for lunch with savory Cuban recipes inspired by its renowned executive chef and dishes such ropa vieja, breaded prawns, and roasted pork. After lunch, your in-depth tour of Old Havana continues throughout nearby neighborhoods stopping at community projects along the way that give you a unique look into the daily lives of the Cuban people. Return to your Havana hotel before heading out for a homemade Cuban culinary treat at Porto Habana, boasting flavorful cuisine and one of the most beautiful views in the historic Vedado neighborhood. (B,L,D)

Today’s activities take you to visit ELAM – the Latin American Medical School for an interchange with students and professors. Explore a polyclinic for a brief discussion showcasing the Cuban Medical System. After lunch, delve into the art of Kcho, a world-renowned sculptor and mixed-media artist who has made many contributions to the Contemporary Art Movement. Enjoy the unique opportunity to discover his gallery and workshop in the community of Romerillo. Enjoy a performance by their local theatre called La Colmenita. Then see a film about the rehabilitation of the parks before returning to your Havana hotel. Dinner this evening will be on your own, offering you the chance to enjoy the diverse array of culinary and nightlife options Havana is known for. An ultraenriching optional excursion this evening offers you the exclusive opportunity to discover Havana’s Fabrica de Arte Cubano, an independent project and meeting place where the island’s avant-garde arts can be enjoyed, with all kinds of arts – music, painting, dance, and more – featured under one roof and offered at prices that make it accessible to the majority of Cubans. (B,L)

Power up with breakfast at your hotel then depart for Pinar del Rio. Today's adventure takes you to the eco-village of Las Terrazas, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and site of the earliest coffee plantations in Cuba. The picturesque white-washed village overlooks a lake and features a community filled with art studios workshops. Enjoy lunch in Las Terrazas at El Romero, and participate in a discussion with Chef Tito about his special take on Cuban cuisine. After lunch, meet with residents, local farmers, and visit the local school before taking a plunge in the San Juan River for a refreshing swim. Next, meet with environmental specialists at the Foundation of Nature and the Humanities (FANJ) and learn about current environmental clean-up efforts. Then you will head to the charming fishing village of Jaimanitas to visit the home, workshop and gallery of world-renowned artist and painter José Fuster, often called the “Picasso of Cuba.” Take-in brightly colored sculptures and mosaics on the roofs, walls, doorways and benches stretching for blocks around his studio as you share dinner at the workshop. Return to your hotel with plenty of time to enjoy an inspired selection of cultural options. (B,L,D)

Today you will depart Havana and head for Santiago de Cuba. El Morro castle and warmhearted locals greet you and welcome you for lunch with city historian and preservationist Omar Lopez as an invited guest. Hear the storied history of Santiago de Cuba and stroll through historic buildings and sites in the city center. A visit to Cementerio Santa Ifigenia takes you to the site where many who fought in the War of Independence are laid to rest including Cuba’s national hero, Jose Marti. Check-in to your hotel in Santiago where you will have dinner this evening. Tonight live Cuban music will inspire the dancer in you at Casa de la Trova where musicians and ballad singers perform nearly every evening for all to enjoy. (B,L,D)

This morning visit the Taller Cultural, a multi-generational arts workshop, and take part in an interchange with artists. Zun Zun, a private home turned eatery welcomes you for lunch where you will take-in delicious Cuban dishes and melodic live music accompanied by Carlos Lloga for a discussion about race topics in Cuba. After lunch, visit the Carnaval Museum and see a percussion infused Afro- Cuban cultural dance performance. Return to your hotel. Tonight you have the evening at leisure to explore Santiago’s food and music scene at your own pace. (B,L)

After breakfast, we will depart for the art community of Berraco where you will share time with local residents and visit the studio of the celebrated painter and sculptor, Alberto Ruano. We will have the opportunity to enjoy lunch with the community before returning to Santiago. Next you will visit the Society of Tumba Francesa de la Caridad del Oriente, named by UNESCO as a World Oral and Intangible Heritage Masterpiece, Tumba Francesa is a form of dance that had been passed down through generations of Afro-French slaves where dancers are guided by whistle sounds that indicate when they are to change partners and choreographed moves. This evening, join us for a celebration of your Real Cuba people-to-people experience during your farewell dinner at Paladar Aurora. Cultural options abound for you to enjoy as nighttime heats up in Santiago. (B,L,D)

After breakfast transfer to the airport in Santiago for your return flight to the USA with memories to share from your authentically rich Real Cuba people-to-people trip. (B)

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