Shalom Cuba | 7 Nights

Cuba, the largest island of the Caribbean, its capital is the legendary Havana. A multicultural country with its cultural and historical heritage that makes one of the most popular destinations in the Caribbean. Havana, the 2 million capital is rich in cultural and historical sights, full of architectural delights to enchant everybody, young or old. Offers museums, palaces, churches, fortresses and a lot more. Those who visit Cuba take a time travel, as here the ancient sugar barons’ richness is present together with the 1950’s American mob, the 1970’s retro, and the socialism create a unique atmosphere. Besides the sights, vibrant nightlife offers nightly entertainment at salsa clubs and jazz bars. A Jewish presence in Cuba has existed for centuries, received its first Jews inhabitants when they sailed along with Columbus at the time of the Spanish Inquisition. 

1 Night Varadero Program

The Shalom Cuba roundtrip covers the most beautiful parts of Cuba, going from West to East till the pearl of the Caribbean, the beautiful city of Trinidad. The specialty of the round trip that every of its stops are declared World Heritage by the UNESCO, that guarantee the unforgettable memories. In our Cuba roundtrip program, we include the most important Jewish Heritage sites as well, and we will learn about the history and present life of Jewish Community of Cuba. Our trip is going to places of natural beauty, completing with visiting the cultural heritage sites. After the travel, we can rest on Varadero’s beautiful white sandy beach with all the comfort of the all-inclusive hotel. The round trip is a perfect combination of traveling across the country and the relaxation on the beach. The Shalom Cuba roundtrip program is available with Hebrew speaking guide service upon request! 

Day 1: Havana 

Arrival to Cuba in the afternoon. Meet & Greet at the airport, meeting the local tour guide and transfer to the hotel. Check in. Evening at leisure. 

Meal plan: Dinner

Day 2: Havana – Jewish Heritage 

After breakfast, we start a full day sightseeing tour of Havana, one of the most beautiful cities of Latin America. We start a panoramic city tour of modern Havana, we cross Havana's famous seaside promenade, the Malecon which is a favorite meeting place for locals, we can admire the mansions of the Paseo, then stop at the Revolution Square where the Jose Marti Memorial is located. We visit Guanabacoa’s Jewish Cemetery located across the Bay of Havana. We stop at the Beth Shalom Synagogue and meet the leader of the local Jewish community, Adela Dworin, who offers a presentation on the history of Jews on the island and the Patronato’s role in the community revival. We visit the restored building and the Jewish library, pharmacy and also the Sunday school housed within the center. We stop by the Centro Sefardita, the Sephardic Hebrew Center of Cuba where weekly Kabbalat Shabbat services are held and Shacharit on Saturday mornings. Here we visit the new Holocaust museum installation. After it we start to explore the old town on foot with its rich cultural and historical attractions, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1988. We visit the Adath Israel Temple, a small Jewish community in Habana Vieja. The only Mikvah in Cuba can be found here. Twice a day meals are served to the people attending services. Contributions are welcomed. Visit the Plaza de Armas, the "Arms’ Square", the Governor's palace, while we can hunt local antiques at the authentic antique market, walk through the Plaza San Francisco where we look at the old Stock Exchange Palace and St. Francis of Assis Church and the Cathedral Square. Visit the Jewish thematic hotel the Hotel Raquel restored in 2006. A beautiful eclectic style mansion built in 1908 by a Jewish merchant family.Then we visit La Plaza Vieja, the "Old Square". Our lunch will be served in a typical local restaurant. After lunch we join in Hemingway's footsteps: we visit the famous Hotel Ambos Mundos where the "For Whom the Bell Tolls" was born. Then stop at Hemingway's favorite places, La Bodeguita del Medio and La Floridita bars, where the world famous "Mojito" and "Daiquiri" cocktails began their journey of conquest. In the afternoon return to the hotel. Evening at leisure. 

Meal plan: breakfast at the hotel, lunch during the program, dinner

Day 3.Havana - Viñales Valley - Havana

After breakfast we start a full day excursion to the western part of the country, the province of Pinar del Rio, 170 km from Havana, the picturesque Viñales Valley, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999. Pinar del Rio province is also called the country's "green" part. Our way leads along the lush tobacco plantations. This excellent climate is the secret to the excellent Cuban tobacco, the raw material of the famous Cuban cigars. Today we will learn about the making of cigars, the tobacco production and processing through to wrapping cigars. We turn into the house of an authentic Cuban tobacco producer family, who lead us through the plantation, a tobacco drying barn and we can look at the process of tobacco step by step. We learn how we can recognize high-quality tobacco leafs; learn the art of wrapping cigars as one of the famous Cuban cigars is made before our eyes. Next stop on our way is the exquisite Valley of Viñales, stopping at a lookout point where we can enjoy the breathtaking panorama with the remote scenery of "Mogotes" and mountains make this place deservedly a World Heritage site. Visit an organic farm, where we will have our lunch at the organic restaurant of the farm. After lunch we start hiking the Indian cave, and river boating inside the cave. Late afternoon return to Havana. Evening at leisure.

Meal plan: breakfast at the hotel, lunch during the program, dinner

Day 4: Havana – Santa Clara – Sancti Spiritus - Trinidad

Breakfast at the hotel and we start our trip to Santa Clara. The City that achieved its significance during the Cuban revolution and located in the middle of the country. The fate of the revolution was decided here in December 1958, when the Che Guevara led division took the armored train carrying supplies. Visit the Che Guevara Mausoleum where the famous military leader and several companion rest. Optional lunch in a local restaurant. Visit the local community Or Jadash and visit the newly renovated synagogue. After lunch visit the Holocaust memorial and the Jewish cemetery on the outskirts of town before we continue our trip to Sancti Spiritus, a small colonial town founded in 1514, preserved in almost original state. Cuba's oldest stone bridge, the bridge Yayabo, is within walking distance of our hotel. Here we meet Jose and Elisa Barlia and other members of the Sancti Spiritus Jewish community. In the evening we can discover the small colonial city’s nightlife. Not to be missed an opportunity to visit the famous Casa de la Trova, where a real, authentic salsa party takes place and we can dance the night away with locals and can peep how to dance the Cuban salsa from the locals while the local Cuban band plays the Caribbean melodies. We continue our trip to the famous valley of sugar mills that is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and later the Manaca Iznaga estate. It is possible to climb the seven stories tower that offers a beautiful panorama. Then continue our trip to Trinidad, a small colonial town founded in the 16th Century that was once attributed to the abundance of its sugar cane plantations. In the afternoon Visit the local pottery maker, Oscar Santander, who continues the pottery traditions in the city together with his family since the 18th Century.  He will explain about the new regulations for entrepreneurs and the options how to handle them. 

Our accommodation will be at a Casa Particular, the local B&B offering the options to see the Cuban life from inside and to live together with the locals. Dinner will be served at the house to learn about local food and home-made tastes. 

After dinner, we will sit on the slave stairs and listen to the live music that local bands play and watch the salsa dancers on the main square of Trinidad. Meal plan: breakfast at the hotel, lunch during the program, dinner

Day 5: Trinidad - Cienfuegos

Breakfast at the casa. Today Here, we discover another face of Cuba. Our journey is made not only on the ground but in time, too. Trinidad preserves the unique atmosphere of the colonial era. While walking along the small winding streets we have the feeling as if we would have flown back in time.  First, we will meet an expert from the city’s historian’s office and we will learn about the city’s preservation projects. After it we go on sightseeing in the UNESCO World Heritage city; visit the Plaza Mayor, The Tower of Contrabandido, the Cathedral, La Santissima Trinidad Square and the exhibition of the Romantic Museum. The museum is located in the palace of the town's richest family with balustrade yard, marble floors, and neoclassical decoration; walking among the frescoes of the city's wealthiest merchant family we can enjoy the assembled exhibition of articles. 

Later we walk in the old town and stop at the famous Canchanchara bar where you can sample the authentic drink of Trinidad, special cocktail still made from the original recipe of Aguardiente and honey, called Canchanchara. We have our lunch at a Paladar and we can meet the owner who will explain us the details of running a private restaurant in Cuba. 

In the afternoon we continue our trip to Cienfuegos, also a World Heritage Site city. We head towards downtown Cienfuegos, where we continue a walking tour of the city of former aristocrats. Cienfuegos, founded by French settlers, has European-style architecture. Walk down the Boulevard of the city via the Prado; visit the Jose Marti Square, the Governor's palace, the Thomas Terry Theatre famous for the excellent acoustics and the Cathedral. In the evening we visit the Club de Benny, a local music club where we listen to local groups’ rehearsal and we will have the opportunity to talk to local musicians about the music education and their future plans with the music incorporated in their life.  Check in to the hotel. Dinner in the hotel.

Meal plan: breakfast at the hotel, lunch during the program, dinner in the hotel

Day 6: Cienfuegos – Bay of Pigs - Guama - Varadero

Breakfast at the hotel. In the morning meet the leader of the local Jewish community, Reecca Langus. In Cienfuegos, there is no synagogue, Rebecca’s apartment is servicing Shabbat services and as a center of the Jewish community. After the meeting we go on a panoramic sightseeing tour of the famous Malecon, passing by the beautiful seaside villas, stop at the Palacio del Valle, a unique palace with architectural richness. Then we head towards downtown Cienfuegos, where we continue a walking tour of the city of former aristocrats. Cienfuegos, founded by French settlers, has South-European style architecture. Walk down the Boulevard of the city via the Prado; visit the Jose Marti Square, the Governor's palace, the Thomas Terry Theater famous for the excellent acoustics and the Cathedral. Departure to one of Cuba's most important nature reserves, the world famous Zapata Peninsula, a bird and animal sanctuary which is located in the Montemar National Park. The first stop is the famous Bay of Pigs where the famous US disembarkation took place. The rich historical past of the Bay of Pigs is still vivid while now the area is famous for its beaches and diving sites. Here we will have our lunch in a seaside restaurant, while there is an opportunity for swimming and snorkeling in the Caribbean Sea. Then continue to Guama, the main attraction of the National Park. Speedboat tour of the natural lagoon, the Laguna de Tresoro, where the unspoiled nature can be observed, migrating and endemic birds and can be seen. Then visit the Aldea Taino, the reconstructed Taino Aboriginal Village where we learn about the customs of the ancient indigenous inhabitants. We arrive back to port by motor boat and depart to Varadero, arrival in the late afternoon. End of tour guide services.

Meal plan: breakfast at the hotel, lunch during the program, dinner in the hotel.

Day 7: Farewell

Free time in the morning. Check out until noon. You can use the hotel facilities until the transfer. For extra cost, you can buy „Late check-out” services on site. In the afternoon transfer to the airport, le the ving to home country.

 

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