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Cuba's North Shore | 9 Day

Discover Cuba and Panama

Havana – Rum Museum – Hemingway – Varadero

Tour Havana, also called the Paris of Latin America, The Tropicana, Malecon, La Bodeguita del Medio and La Floridita bars, Hemingway's home, Plaza de la Revolucion, and the Jose Marti Memorial, Old Havana continue to Varadero.


Day 1: Havana

The COPA flight to Havana is mid-afternoon with an arrival approximately at 7:00pm. Upon arrival at the Jose Marti International Airport and clearing customs, we'll meet your local bilingual Cuban Guide outside the baggage terminal. Your drive from the airport orients you with Cuba's enig­matic capital city, whose nearly 500-year Old Havana is home to the largest collections of Spanish-Colonial architecture in the Americas. Overnight: Havana. Late dinner on your own.

Day 2: Havana – Varadero

After breakfast, the guide will meet you taking you for a tour and making a photo stop and learn more about the Plaza de la Revolucion, the center of Cuban political life and Havana's largest plaza where huge rallies are held. Your Cuban guide speaks below the grandiose portraits of national heroes Che Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos, and gives you time to reflect on the fact that you're standing where millions of Cubans have stood while listening to speeches of Fidel Castro. Enjoy lunch at a La Torre Restaurant offering incredible pan­oramic views high above Havana and the ocean. Depart Havana on a scenic drive that takes you past rural landscapes, small towns to the beautiful tur­quoise Caribbean Sea. Stop at the Bacunayagua Bridge overlook for photos. Check into your all inclusive resort located directly on a pristine white sand beach offering beautiful views of the Caribbean and Varadero Peninsula. Enjoy a welcome drink before unpacking and exploring the resort. Dinner is included this evening. (B,L,D)

Day 3: Varadero

After breakfast Tour Varadero. Visit local enterpreneurs and discuss their challenges and options. Lunch at the hotel, afternoon City tour Varadero, then return to the hotel. Overnight at the Hotel. (B,L,D)

Day 4: Varadero - Matanzas – Varadero

This morning following breakfast we head to the town of Matanzas, founded in 1693 and known as the "Athens of Cuba". Enjoy a brief walking tour of the town square and see the Sauto Theater (a national monument of Cuba and opened in 1863), the San Carlos Cathedral, the Pharmaceutical Museum and more. Next visit the Ediciones Vigia (book making shop) to see books being hand made and learn about this craft. Also meet with a famous local Cuban artist and sculptor in his studio and art gallery. Visit the Matanzas School of Art and Music, a high school for talented children from different provinces throughout Cuba. An opportunity to talk with and interact with the teach­ers and students to learn about their work and aspirations. Lunch is included at a local restaurant. Next travel back to Varadero and visit an arts & crafts market with an opportunity purchase art and items and to meet and interact with local artists and craft workers. Later enjoy a fun filled Salsa Lesson Class with the locals. Salsa represents a mix of Latin musical genres, but its primary component is Cuban dance music. The roots of salsa originated in Eastern Cuba (Santiago de Cuba & Guantanamo) about 1920 and Afro-Cuban dance such as the Rumba. Dinner is included this evening at the resort.

Overnight: Melia Varadero Resort (B,L,D) or similar

Day 5: Varadero – Havana

After breakfast this morning, we travel to Havana. Religion has always played an important role in Cuban society that continues today, enjoy a walking tour with a local historian of the fascinating Colon Cemetery (Cemeterio de Cris­tobal Colon), founded in 1876 and named for Christopher Columbus. The cemetery is noted for its many elaborate sculpted memorials and contains more than 500 major mausoleums, chapels, and family vaults and is consid­ered by many to be the most ornate necropolis in the world and is the final resting place for noted Cubans including artists, writers, musicians, and ball­players. Next, we enjoy a performance by the amazing Habana Compas Dance Group. Interact with the students and teachers to learn more about the Cu­ban dance culture. Today visit the famous the Nacional Hotel, once Havana's flagship hotel that has hosted celebrities and world leaders during its hey day, such as Winston Churchill and Frank Sinatra, to name a few. Enjoy a tour of this historic property housing pictures and nostalgia from an era gone by. Meet a former famous professional Cuban baseball player and join in a discussion regarding the history and love of this game in Cuba and the U.S. Check into your hotel for a four-night stay. Enjoy dinner this evening at a local Paladar (privately owned restaurant) with an opportunity to talk with the owners about the challenges of running a private business in Cuba.

Overnight: Melia Havana (B,L,D) or similar

Day 6: Havana

After breakfast, our guide will meet you for a visit to the San Jose Craft Market and Art Center or similar to meet and interact with the local artists to discuss and learn of the importance of their art in Cuban culture. Learn from the artists who share their experiences of pursuing the arts with limited access to materials and funding. In the evening visit Old Havana and the Café Taverna where the Buena Vista Social Club normally perform.

Member of the Buena Vista Social Club

Day 7: Havana - Vinales Valley (UNESCO) - Pinar Del Rio – Havana

Today we travel out of Havana and into the rural Cuban countryside to the Vinales Valley located in the western most mountainous range in Cuba and declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This region, the western province of Pinar del Rio is known for its stunning scenery, a landscape of prehistoric looking flat-top mountains or "mogotes", tobacco plantations, caves, and rivers. Stop at the Francisco Donatien Cigar Factory for a guided visit to learn about the manufacturing of fine Cuban cigars and interact with the factory workers about the history and process. The factory specializes in Cohiba & Monte Cristo cigars. Next, visit a traditional Tobacco Farm and Farmhouse to meet with the farmer to learn about tobacco cultivation, the drying process, and experience a cigar rolling demonstration inside the drying hut. Enjoy a visit inside his farmhouse, meeting and interacting with his family while enjoying some Cuban coffee. A great opportunity to witness up close, how Cuban families live in a rural setting. Later stop at the Los Jas­mines viewpoint on the way back to Havana for incredible panoramic views of the Vinales Valley and an opportunity to enjoy the spectacular scenery and take photos of this beautiful and unique region. Return to Havana and the evening is free to explore on your own. Overnight: Melia Havana (B, L)

La Bodeguita del Medio, Hemingway's Mojito Bar

In the evening we take Havana by night, Listen to Jazz and Blues at The Art Factory in Verdado, or take in a show in Tropicana.

Day 8: Havana - Hemingway Farm - Old U.S. Classic Car Club - Farewell Paladar Dinner

After breakfast, the guide will take you to the world of Ernest Hemingway with a visit to Hemingway's Farm, Finca La Vigia (meaning 'lookout house'). This beautiful property hosts the house where the Nobel Prize winner lived with his wife Martha for 21 years. View the perfectly preserved home where many of the Hemingway personal belong­ings remain intact. View his yacht on display, the Pilar in which he used to patrol for Nazis in the Caribbean waters and featured in his novel "Islands in the Stream". A photo stop is made at the Morro Castle, built in 1589, to protect the mouth of the Havana Harbor. "Morro" in Spanish means a rock which is very visible from the sea and therefore serves as a navigational landmark. Perched on the headland on the opposite side of the harbor from Old Havana it can be viewed from miles around as it dominates the port entrance. You will have a little free time in the afternoon.

Before dinner, meet with the local Old Style Car Club owners. A chance to interact and talk with the owners and learn why Havana's streets are filled with vintage American automobiles and understand what it takes to keep them on the road. Enjoy a drive through the streets of Havana in a vintage car to your Farewell Dinner at a local Paladar (a privately owned restaurant). After dinner, you have an opportunity to meet and discuss with the owners how this private enterprise works in Cuba. Overnight: Melia Havana (B,L,D)

Day 9: Depart Havana – USA

After breakfast morning at leisure until it is time to transfer to the airport for an afternoon flight back to USA

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