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November 18 to 25, 2024

Cuba is an amazing country with beautiful architecture, a rich history, and of course vintage cars! Jean Renoux is the perfect person on the journey to unlock the many wonders of Cuba. We had a wonderful time on our recent adventure to Cuba. We can't wait to plan our next trip.

Cheryl and Dan Ryan in October of 2015 went my Morocco Tour.

In January of 2016, they came on the Cuba tour; in September of 2016, went on the Portugal Tour and in September 2017 went on the Peru Tour.

"Jean:

Thank You for the Cuba trip. We saw and experienced so much that we will be processing this trip for awhile. I had always wanted to visit Cuba and  now glad to say I did it with interesting companions.

You are correct a vacation is needed after the Cuba Tour. It has taken the past 10 days for the experience to sink in. Everyday I think about some facet of the trip, buildings, people, sites... surreal seems like a pretentious description, but until I find another one, surreal will do. In Cuba nothing adds up.

I hope your group this week is as congenial as ours. Safe travels"

J. and Maryclaire Pendergast , New Smyrna Beach, Florida.

Jean organized an amazing group of Cuban architects with walking and bus tours that conveyed the real Cuban architecture and the Cuban people’s current situation. The trip was well scheduled, all parts fit into place nicely. The itinerary was well balanced between tours and time for exploring or relaxing. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable and attentive to our personal needs. Our accommodations sometimes needed improvements, but staying in an historic hotel was part of the educational adventure.

Jean introduced us to very good Cuban restaurants including our farewell dinner at the famous La Guarida, a marvelously deteriorating

3 story building ruin with excellent food and outside rooftop dining. We look forward to another adventure with Jean.

Herb & Mary Staruch, Stuart, Florida - December 8 to 16, 2016

Tour Price Includes:  

  • Pick-up and Drop-off at airport in Havana.

  • 5 nights hotel in Havana  -  2 nights hotel in Trinidad.

  • 7 Breakfasts -  6 Lunches - 2 Dinners -

  • 1 Show at the Tropicana.

  • Entrance fees 

  • Transportation to sites in Cuba by air conditioned coach

  • Private guides

  • Reference books.

  • Prior to leaving, you will receive information about Currency, uses of Cell Phones, Wi-Fi, what can be brought into Cuba, what can be taken back home, Visas, etc..​

  • 24 HSW Learning Units / CEUs for Architects & Interior Designers, plus up to 12 hours free if needed after the tour.

Although the prices of hotels and services have gone up,

I am keeping the prices a little below what they were in

December 2016 & 2017, ($4995 DBL and $5495  SGL),

with a  two nights on the Caribbean seaside

and one more city visited.

 

My past prior 4 CUBA TOURS sold rather quickly and all were

between 15 and 16 travelers.

THIS group will be 8 minimum and 12 maximum participants.

$ 4,255.00 per person in DOUBLE occupancy 

 

$ 4,655.00 per person in SINGLE occupancy

 

REGISTRATION FOR CUBA WILL CLOSE  October 15, 2023

If for any reasons, the tour was to be cancelled, you will be refunded your deposit and whatever moneys you would already have paid.

NEW RULES FOR TRAVELING TO CUBA: individual people to people travel has been eliminated. 

The General Licence for People-to-people Group Travel 515.565(b) to Cuba remains in place.

 

Recently the Department of The Treasury ‘s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has published the highly-anticipated new amendments to the 1963 Cuban Assets Control Regulations, 31 CFR part 515 (“Regulations”) to further implement the policy towards Cuba announced by President Trump on June 16, 2017 in Miami.

The Regulations have been amended by most US administrations since they were first introduced back in 1963 under the Trading with the Enemy Act (50 U.S.C 4301- 4341) for either relax or restrict travel to the island, financial transactions, business and certain other activities.

WHAT’S NEW
Despite the President Trump's speech on June 16, 2017 against Cuba, none of the existing 12 categories of Cuba legal travel have been eliminated, the US embassy in Havana remains open and commercial flights continues.

Furthermore, the General License authorization that was in place within these 12 categories was not eliminated either; except for individual people to people travel.

Educational Activities Category 515.565(b) of the Regulations has been amended to eliminate the General License for Individual People-to-People Educational Travel.

The General Licence for People-to-people Group Travel 515.565(b) to Cuba remains in place.

OTHER MODIFICATIONS IMPLEMENTED OF RELEVANCE FOR YOUR TRAVEL PLANS
As anticipated, OFAC Regulations also added new regulations to prohibit direct financial transactions with a number of Cuban entities which are under the control of, or act for or on behalf of, the Cuban military, intelligence, or security services.

Which is why we don't stay in certain hotels or eat in some restaurants, or use specific bus companies. 

SEE A COPY OF OUR OFAC GENERAL LICENCE 

ITINERARY

DAY ONE - Saturday February 03 - D1 (L if arriving before lunch): 

You can fly to Havana from many US airport. Some offer direct flights to Havana - Airfare is not included.

Arrival at "Jose Marti International Airport" in Havana, Cuba's capital city.

On route to the hotel, you will enjoy a panoramic visit to the Revolution Square (Plaza de la Revolucion). Conceived by French urbanist Jean Claude Forestier in the 1920s, the gigantic square today is the base of the Cuban government and a place where large-scale political rallies are held. It is here where Popes John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis celebrated an open air Mass during their visits to Cuba in January 1998, March 2012 and September 2015 respectively and by US President Barack Obama during his historic visit to Cuba in March 2016.

If you arrive prior to lunch time, you will be treated to a light lunch upon your arrival.

Private group check-in and welcome cocktail over arrival to the Hotel.

That evening we will have dinner together. in a family-run restaurant located in the penthouse atop a small 1950s apartment building.

 

DAY TWO - Sunday February 04 B1-L1- Tropicana Show

This morning we will begin exploring Old Havana a UNESCO World Heritage Site with our private guide. We will visit to the Scale Model of Old Havana with architect Daniel de la Regata.
The model serves as an excellent introduction to the layout of the city. It is color-coded by age, with the historic buildings painted in crimson, pre-Revolution buildings in yellow, and the post  revolutionary buildings in ivory. We’ll learn how each part of the city has developed historically, and the tough challenges, each district faces today.
After we will enjoy a guided walking tour of Old Havana.
- We will visit the Cathedral Square, named after the masterpiece of Cuban baroque architecture: the Cathedral of Havana built by the Jesuit order. The Cathedral's baroque facade is simultaneously intimate and imposing, and one of the two towers is visibly larger, creating a pleasing asymmetry.
- Next we will visit the Square of Arms, ancient military parade ground for Spanish soldiers and surrounded by impressive buildings such as:
     - the Palacio de los Capitanes Generales, the former official                     residence of the governors (Captains General) of Havana, Cuba.

       It  is home to the Museum of the City of Havana.
    - the Palacio del Segundo Cabo. The seat of the second authority            of the island. Today it houses important publishing houses.

   - El Templete, a small neoclassical building marking the spot where         the city of San Cristobal de la Habana was founded in 1519.

    - Castillo de la Real Fuerza. The second oldest fortress built by the           Spaniards in the West Indies


We will enjoy a group lunch in a family run restaurant, housed on the ground floor of an early 20th century mansion. This restaurant serves their inspired interpretations of traditional Creole Cuban fare, in Old Havana, before we continue our walking tour onto San Francisco Square, named after the Convent of San Francisco. This square was conceived in 1628, with the objective of supplying water to the ships trading with the metropolis.

- Afternoon: Visit to the Experimental Print Making Workshop, a cooperative workshop where young lithographers ply their art.

You will have ample time to engage with Cuban artists about this art project that follows a very unique cooperative model in Cuba in which artists directly benefit from the sales of their artworks.

 

- We then visit to Plaza Vieja, the only civic square of colonial times. Here we will visit important institutions for visual arts.
You will have some free time in the famous handicraft market of Old Havana, located inside the Almacenes de Depósito San José, an old warehouse on the harbor side where you can purchase all sorts of crafts and souvenirs by local artisans, as well as  s visit to the privately owned shop ‘Alma’. This boutique carries handmade gift items from all over Cuba. Here you can buy the perfect gift or souvenir while supporting a Cuban family! Their products include embroidered dresses, guayaberas (traditional Cuban shirt), baskets, books made from recycled paper, hand-painted cushions and bags, elegantly lacquered vintage-style humidors, crafts and souvenirs by local artisans.

I will invite you to a show at the Tropicana. It is really a wonderful performance of songs, dances, magicians, acrobats, and wonderful music and costumes.

DAY THREE: Monday February 05 - B2-L2-

Morning: Guided by Architect Anibal del Prado, we will visit Havana’s Parque Central and surrounding buildings.

 

Visit to the Capitolio Nacional, designed by Cuban Architects Govantes and Cabarroca and built by the American construction company Purdy & Henderson. This is one of Cuba’s most outstanding architectural patrimonies. The dome is 300.96 ft. high (7 inches higher than the highest capitol building in the US).

The Capitol building reopened on March 1st 2018 after 8 years of restoration work.

Visit to the former Centro Gallego, an exponent of German neo-baroque architecture style in Havana, built in 1915 by Belgian architect Paul Belau.

Centro Asturiano, inaugurated in 1927 designed by Spanish Architect Manuel del Busto features solid heavy façades constructed in Capellania Stones with clear influence of Spanish Renaissance. It houses the most majestic staircase of Cuban Architecture. Since 2001 the building houses the new Museum of Fine Arts.

Manzana de Gomez, first entire city block built in Cuba in the beginnings of the 20th century completely for commercial use with two inner diagonal streets that cross the building in all directions integrating the pedestrian circulation with the outer fabric.

Bacardi Building, designed in 1930 by Cuban architects Esteban Rodriguez Castells, Rafael Fernandez Ruenes and Jose Menendez Menendez, located in Las Murallas district. The rich façade design is based on polychrome granite imported from Bavaria and Norway as well as colored brick, terracotta and Capellania stone.

The elaborate decoration of the building crown features a bat, logo of the Bacardi Company.

Lunch in a neighborhood restaurant.

Afternoon: Walking tour along the Paseo del Prado, a pedestrian promenade remodeled in 1929 with the inauguration of Havana’s Capitol Building.

Here we’ll visit residential buildings along the boulevard with clear influence from European and American architecture, such as the Telegrafo Hotel, the residence of Cuba’s former president Jose Miguel Gomez Residence, and the former Asociacion de Dependientes del Comercio – a Venetian neo-renaissance style building placed in a key corner of the Prado featured in the film Buena Vista Social Club.

Next we visit the Rox 950 privately-owned Jewellery store and workshop. Here you’ll admire the work of Cuba’s most acclaimed jewelry designer and private entrepreneur, Rosana Vargas. She is the creator of the famous handcrafted silver jewelry brand, Rox 950.

DAY FOUR - Tuesday February 06 -B3-L3 Cienfuegos city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
*Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner included

Morning: Departure to Cienfuegos, in Central Cuba.

Cienfuegos is the first, and an outstanding example of an architectural ensemble representing the new ideas of modernity, hygiene and order in urban planning as developed in Latin America from the 19th century.

Upon arrival we go on a guided by Cienfuegos City Historian, Architect Iran Millan Cuetara, we will embark on a walking tour of UNESCO World Heritage Site, Cienfuegos Historical Center.

We will visit neoclassical buildings around Paseo del Prado and the main Square Jose Marti such as:

The Casa de la Cultura, home of another wealthy sugar baron, stunning mansion in neoclassical style.

The Tomas Terry Theatre completed in 1895.

The Cathedral built with the donation of wealthy families like the Lebrancs, the Albis, the Terrys. Inside you find the reproductions of the 12 Apostles in stained glass imported from Paris. Also the original machinery of the clock tower was built in France. Still in place and working.

Lunch in a paladar (private family-run restaurant)  

Afternoon: Visit to Palacio de Valle. The eclectic building was erected at a cost of a million and half pesos. French, Arabic, Italian and Cuban artisans worked with marble, alabaster, brass, glass and ceramic imported from Spain, Italy and United States.

The entrance is primitive Gothic style and leads to a dining room of Mudejar influence, which imitates the famous Patio of the Lions, of Alhambra, in Granada.

Followed by visit to the privately-owned Art Gallery ‘Poco Bonito’ where local young artists show and sell their work. Here you'll find photography, painting, and sculpture.

Dinner with the group.

 

DAY FIVE - Wednesday February 07 - B4 L4  

Trinidad de Cuba, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
*Breakfast, Lunch

Morning: We will go for a day trip to visit Trinidad an outstanding example of a colonial city. Nancy Benitez, a local architect and restoration specialist, will take us on a guided walking tour around this historic city known for its cobble-stoned streets, pastel colored homes and small-town feel.

Visit to the Architecture Museum (Casa de los Sanchez Iznaga), housing the most representative samples of the city's architectural development in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Visit to the town’s Cathedral, Iglesia de la Santísima Trinidad, which most locals refer to as La Parroquial Mayor.

The Cathedral, completed in 1892, replaced the original 17th-century church that was destroyed in 1812 by a hurricane.

The new construction, completed at the end of the 19th century, is rather simple on the outside, but the restored interior reveals a Gothic vaulted ceiling and nearly a dozen attractive carved altars.

Trinidad is well known for its pottery makers.

Next we meet with a family that has been passing the tradition for generations: the Santanders.

Lunch at a Trinidad's paladar.

 

Afternoon: Private visit to the studio of local artist Yudit Vidal.

Yudit is the founder and director of the project ‘Entre hilos, alas y pinceles’ (Between threads, wings and brushstrokes) which groups 21 Trinidad craftswomen who cultivate unique and exclusive stitches.

Through this project the artist has been able to help local women and their families through collaborating with them as she paints on their traditional Trinidad stitching on linen. Yudit was appointed ‘Ambassador for Peace’ by the International Circle of Ambassadors for Peace of Switzerland and France.

Followed by visit to the Manaca-Iznaga Hacienda.

The famous Manaca-Iznaga Tower, built in 1816, is 45m high, has seven floors and 136 steps to the top. The restored hacienda is now a restaurant with a terrace overlooking the valley.

A traditional guarapera at the rear serves fresh-squeezed cane juice. Some barracones (slave quarters) still stand too.

Next we visit the privately-owned ‘Bécquer’ Worshop offering textiles pieces manufacture by hand including linen guayaberas (Cuban traditional shirt), colorful cotton blouses, summer dresses, bags, tablecloths. The store/workshop is named after owner Isabel Bécquer, a popular local songwriter and singer.

Before we leave town, we suggest a stop at the privately-owned ‘Cafe Don Pepe’ selling the best coffee in Trinidad. It is served in ceramic mugs with a square of Baracoan chocolate. Café Don Pepe offers around 40 varieties of beverages that include coffee: espresso, cortado, Americano, cappuccino; as well as alcoholic drinks, fruit juice and Cuban beer. It opened in 2012 and is named after the owner, Jose (Pepe) Carreras.

Return to your hotel in Cienfuegos.
Dinner on your own.

 

 

DAY SIX - Thursday February 08 OR Thursday Febrary 15 -  B5 L5 - Cienfuegos – Matenzas – Havana
*Breakfast & Lunch included

Morning: Check out of your hotel and transfer back to Havana city.

En route we visit Matanzas, a city known for its music, art and architecture. The city has seen a lot of buildings being restored in the past 3 years. It is also a thriving artistic city with many galleries and cafes having art shows.

It is also know as the City of Bridges for its collection of  early engineering works that support the river, railroads and harbor traffic, all to the service of the sugar industry.

Sights will include the iconic Sauto Theater built in 1863, a 1900 neoclassical fire station, a miraculously intact XIX century antique pharmacy, and blocks of neoclassical houses attesting of the city's former wealth.

We’ll stroll along the newly restored walkway of Calle Narváez by the San Juan River. The paseo is embellished with astonishing sculptures. 

Lunch at paladar (private family-run restaurant) 

Time permitting; we will go on a panoramic visit of the San Severino  Castle housing the Slave Route Museum. The Castle, one of the 

Spanish fortresses built in colonial Cuba in the 17th century, houses 

four exhibition halls: the house of the commander, the archeological  hall, the hall of Slavery, and the hall of the Orishas or African deities

Night in Havana. Free evening, dinner on your own.

DAY SEVEN - Friday February 09 OR Friday Febrary 16 - B6-L6-D2 

Havana

Modernism and some of Havana's overlooked Art Deco Architecture *Breakfast, Lunch,Dinner 

Morning: Meeting with Architect Pedro Vazquez, founding member of Cuba’s National Union of Architects and Engineers, for a guided panoramic motor coach tour of Modern Havana.

We will visit places such as:

Pabellón Cuba a Miesian post-revolution exhibition hall built in 1963.

Hotel Habana Libre, the former Havana Hilton, built in 1958 by Welton Becket and Associates. It features an exterior mosaic mural by Amelia Pelaez.

Coppelia built in 1966. This popular ice cream parlor composed of flying saucer pods was designed by Mario Girona.

Hotel Riviera (Polevitzky, Johnson and Associates, 1957) built by Meyer Lansky as the flashiest of the 1950s casino hotels.

We’ll also see important examples of Art- Deco style architecture such as:

Lopez Serrano Building, with its strong reminiscence of American Skyscrapers, resembling a miniature Empire State Building with the bottom 70 floors chopped off. The López Serrano building is Vedado’s most distinctive art deco architecture example. It was built in 1932 by Mira & Roisch Architecture Firm, it was the highest residential building in Havana for many years.

The House of Catalina Laza built in the 1920’s by Juan Pedro Baro. This beautiful mansion features Art Deco interiors by Rene Lalique and gardens by J.F.C. Forestier. The house has a fascinating love story. Married socialite Catalina Lasa fell in love with landowner and widower Juan Pedro Baró in 1905. Cuba had no divorce laws at the time, so the lovers escaped to Paris to continue their affair. On their return, Baro built this outstanding mansion for the beautiful Catalina Laza.

 

We are now entering Fusterlandia, the studio, residence and wild kingdom of José Rodriguez Fuster, one of the most important Cuban ceramists and painters today.

Fuster has turned an entire neighborhood in western Havana into a giant art installation that involves locals and their homes as part of the exhibit. He engaged and trained many neighborhood residents as artisans, especially youth. This is art for and by the people on an epic scale!

Lunch hosted by Jose Fuster.

 

Afternoon: Visit to Instituto Superior de Arte (ISA), the country's top art academy. School departments include Music, Modern Dance, Drama, and Visual Arts. The schools were designed and built by architects Cuban Ricardo Porro and the Italians Roberto Gottardi and Vittorio Garatti from 1961 to 1965, in the former affluent neighborhood of Country Club Park (today known as Cubanacán), specifically on the grounds of the Havana Country Club golf course.

Today the buildings are considered Cuba's best example of post-Revolutionary architecture but at the time they were thought too sensual and avant-garde. The project was halted, though the school did open. The complex fell into ruin and amazingly, in 2001 the Cuban government approached the three architects and asked them to complete the project. Restoration was completed in 2009.

Evening: Farewell dinner at one of Havana's very best paladares.

DAY EIGHT  Saturday February 10 - B7 -  Good Bye Cuba!
*Breakfast included

Transfer to Havana International Airport for departure.
 

Join our Cuba tour and explore the unknown beauty of the architecture of this mysterious Island. Taste the foods and experience all the cultural wonders as you learn about the unique architecture, the music, the developing art communities, and experience the gentleness and hospitality of the Cuban people.

Please note: Cuba has been opened up to much more tourism than they have ever expected or planned for. You will need to leave your high expectations at home and rest assured that the hotels that have been selected for your tour are of the highest quality that is available. Please understand that although our hotels are considered 4-5 star, you cannot compare them to hotels in the US or Europe.

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