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Tour Itinerary

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Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

Cienfuegos, Trinidad & Havana, Cuba

 Saturday May 14th – Saturday May 21st

A People to People Educational exchange Organized by Cuba Cultural Travel

Itinerary subject to change

Day 1 Saturday May 14th

Travelers arrive in Miami independently and arrive at the Crowne Plaza Airport Hotel (located 5 minutes from MIA). Free shuttle service to and from the Miami airport every 20 minutes. Look for signs indicating where hotel shuttles pick up passengers in the departure level (2nd floor). Taxis are also available. This overnight stay is included in the cost of the trip.

Day 2 Sunday May 15th

Complimentary breakfast in the lobby level restaurant.

8:00 am Meet in the hotel lobby and depart by shuttle for Miami Airport. You will be greeted by your CCT Escort who will accompany you throughout your journey to Cuba.

11:00 am Depart Miami for Cienfuegos on ABC Charter flight #OW9536 operated by American Airlines. Flight duration is 1 hour and 20 minutes.

ABC Charters has the following luggage policy: All additional luggage fees must be paid in cash at the time of check-in. One carry-on and one personal item at no charge*. First checked bag; $20.00. Each additional checked bag; $20.00. 70 lbs max weight per bag. 44 lbs allowed free; $2.00 per pound over (including carry-on). No luggage fees apply on your return to Miami. *Please be aware that in the event of a full flight into Havana you may be required to check your carry-on luggage for an additional $20.00 fee.

12:20 pm Arrive in Cienfuegos. Often referred to as "The Pearl of the Caribbean", this city is home to neo-classical buildings with a European flair. Clear immigration and customs and baggage, a process that takes about an hour and a half.

2:30 pm Late Lunch at Paladar El Lagarto overlooking the Cienfuegos Bay. Wonderful grilled specialties, fresh ingredients and friendly service in a relaxed setting.

See the Palacio Del Valle, the former home of trader Celestino Caceres. This architectural jewel originated as a private residence and later passed into the Valle family who added to it in a Mughal style with carved floral motifs, a stunning Carrara marble staircase, cupped arches, bulbous domes and delicate arabesques. Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence 2014 recipient.

See downtown Cienfuegos to tour Plaza José Martí, Paseo del Prado and the Terry Thomas Theatre. These outstanding buildings, completed in 1895, were built with the wealth made by a sugar baron from Venezuela who arrived in Cuba without money and made his fortune by buying sick slaves for a low price, nursing them back to health and reselling them. Later investment in a sugar estate enabled him to have materials specially brought over from Europe for his buildings.

4:30 pm Check in to Hotel Jagua
Ave. 37 No. 1, Cienfuegos, Cuba
This ocean front property has beautiful views of Cienfuegos Bay.

6:30 pm Attend a performance by the Cienfuegos choir Cantores de Cienfuegos. Cantores de Cienfuegos has been highly respected and loved since 1962 when it was founded. Five decades later, the new generation of singers has maintained that reputation, and their repertoire has evolved to include different styles and periods, from Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic, as well as contemporary works and folk songs from different countries. After the performance we will have the opportunity to interact with the choir members and their director, Luisa Fernandez Jimenez.

7:30 pm Dinner on the terrace of Finca del Mar, walking distance from the hotel.

Evening entertainment: Disco Club Benny Moré.


Day 3 Monday May 16th

7am-10am Complimentary buffet breakfast is served in the restaurant on the lobby level of the hotel.

8:30 am Hotel Check out and depart for the 500 year old city of Trinidad, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Visit to the recently re-furbished Museo Romantico.

Visit to the Casa de los Sanchez Iznaga, currently housing the architecture museum with representative samples of the city's architectural development in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Visit to the Museo Lucha contra los Bandidos, the former home of the San Francisco de Asis convent.

12:30 pm Lunch in old town Trinidad at Restaurant Los Conspiradores. Enjoy the sights and sounds of old town from this lovely restaurant. The charming art gallery features wonderful, whimsical work.

We will continue to the Fonart Crafts Store, government craft store to support the artisan industry in Cuba. Stop by the textile shop of UNESCO Award of Excellence Fiber Artist, Carmen Perez.

Visit to Trinidad's large outdoor craft market. This excellent open-air market situated in front of the Casa de la Trova is the place to see a wide variety of Cuban popular art, including wood carvings, jewelry, textiles and crochet.

4:00 pm Check-in to Hotel Iberostar Trinidad.
Calle Jose Marti 262, Trinidad 62600, Cuba

Remainder of afternoon free to explore Trinidad at your own pace.

7:30 pm Dinner at Paladar Sol Ananda. Wonderful eclectic surroundings and a unique menu with flavors influenced by many cultures including India & Asia. Your guide or concierge can assist with reservations.

OPTIONAL: Evening musical performance at Casa del la Trova. 


Day 4 Tuesday May 17th

8:00 am Hotel check out, board our bus and depart for Havana.

1:00 pm Lunch at the stylish Paladar Río Mar located at La Puntilla in Miramar. Enjoy views of the bay and gentle ocean breezes from the terrace. The food is upscale and contemporary with European influence. The service is impeccable and refined.

Tour the iconic Hotel Nacional overlooking the Straits of Florida and the Malecón. When the hotel opened in 1930, Cuba was a prime travel destination for many illustrious guests including Frank Sinatra, Ava Gardner, John Wayne, Marlene Dietrich, Marlon Brando, and Ernest Hemingway.

4:00 pm Check-in to Hotel Parque Central.
Neptuno, esquina Prado y Zulueta, Havana, Cuba Tel. 53 7 860 6627
This five star hotel is considered the finest hotel in Havana and perfectly located in the central part of Havana. Each room contains a complimentary safety deposit box.

6:30 pm Meet in hotel lobby and walk to Centro Asturianos for a private musical performance and dinner. Our evening begins with demonstrative lecture on Cuban Music at Bar Asturias by Prof. Alberto Faya who since 1973 has been working as a musician, professor and researcher within the Cuban musical world. He has obtained national awards in music and musicology. He will be joined by a trio of musicians who will take us on a musical journey thru the history of Cuba. This will be an interactive experience, with the audience encouraged to engage the lecturers and musicians.

8:00 pm Dinner at La Terraza overlooking the central park.


Day 5 Wednesday May 18th

Complimentary breakfast is served at the restaurant on the lobby level from 7am to 10 am.

9:30 am Architecture walking tour guided by Architect Maria Elena Martin. Please make sure to wear comfortable shoes! Thanks in part to history and ideology, Cuba -- and especially Havana -- is a treasure trove of architectural styles spanning six centuries. With buildings dating from the 16th through the 19th centuries, Havana is perhaps the most authentic colonial city in the Americas. Since 1982, when the city became a UNESCO World Heritage site, the government has embarked on an ambitious preservation and restoration program concentrated in the Old City. However, a severe lack of funding and materials has hampered efforts. Therefore, the decay and neglect of the past 40 years coupled with the destructive tropical weather continues to claim buildings every year.

We will visit Havana’s Central Park and the first monument erected in Cuba (1904), dedicated to National Hero Jose Marti.

See the Centro Gallego, built in 1915 by Belgium architect Paul Belau, today the Great Theatre of Havana, which includes the Garcia Lorca Theatre among other rooms.

See the CapitolioNacional, a fabulous monumental building inspired in the Capitol model and built in 1929 by Cuban and foreign artists. Gardens designed by famous French landscaper Jean Claude Nicolas Forestier.

See the Bacardi Building, erected in 1930 and remaining today one of the most fabulous examples of art deco in Cuba.

See the Sevilla Hotel, remodeled in 1923 by the American firm of Schultze & Weaver, and the recently restored lavish Palacio de los Matrimonios, the former Casino Espanol of Havana, built in 1914 by Luis Dediot.

11:00 am We will visit the Escuela de Taller where we will learn about the Restoration Project that is underway in Havana Vieja. This urban rehabilitation project is preserving the architectural history and cultural heritage of this beautiful city. We will visit a construction site and meet with engineers, builders, woodworkers and other craftsman utilizing traditional handcrafting methods to preserve the authenticity of these once – and soon to be once again - resplendent structures.

Visit the Plaza Vieja. This plaza is the oldest plaza in Havana, dating from the 16th century. Learn about the massive historic preservation program which began in this Plaza under the leadership of City Historian, Eusebio Leal.

We stroll through the Plaza de San Francisco, a cobbled plaza surrounded by buildings dating from the 18th century, dominated by the baroque Iglesia and Convento de San Francisco dating from 1719.

12:30 pm Lunch at Paladar Mercaderes. This beautifully restored mansion in Havana Vieja is a welcome relief from the bustling streets of the city.

Visit the Plaza de Armas, a scenic tree-lined plaza formerly at the center of influence in Cuba. It is surrounded by many of the most historic structures in Havana as well as important monuments.

2:00 pm Visit the Taller de Grafica Experimental. We will be welcomed by Directors Yamilis & Jaqueline Brito. The Taller is more than Havana’s printmaking workshop. It is a studio, a school and most of all, an art institution that preserves and develops the sophisticated art of print making.

3:30 pm Artist studio visit with sculptor Wilay Mendez. A sculptor, painter and poet, he is one of the most exciting artists to come out of the new generation of contemporary Cuban art world. A self-proclaimed cimarrón or "runaway slave," Wilay's work utilizes commonplace materials that have been recycled and discarded.

Return to the hotel via Obispo Street, a pedestrian promenade. You will see some significant buildings such as the Art Deco Style La Moderna Poesia, the Ambos Mundos Hotel, and the banks of the former Havana Wall Street. (20 minute stroll).

Some may choose to visit La Bodeguita del Medio, the most famous of Hemingway’s haunts. Live music, dancing and fun where Hemingway enjoyed the famous mojito and famously declared "Mi Daquiri en Floridita y mi Mojito en Bodeguita".

Dinner on your own. Suitable recommendations will be provided. Your guide or concierge can assist with reservations.

Optional: Enjoy an evening of music at Habana Café, a venue that features a nightly variety-type show that includes Cabaret dancers combined with comedy and music. With a 1950’s, nostalgic décor, Habana Café attracts locals and tourists alike. Be ready to get on the dance floor and dance all night to the rhythm of great Caribbean music.


Day 6 Thursday May 19th

10:00 am Attend a private dance performance of the CompañiaIrene Rodríguez. We will receive a warm welcome by and her company at the Centro Asturianos. Irene is considered by many to be the finest flamenco dancer in Cuba. Irene will introduce the dancers, many of whom speak English; describe the history of her own dance career and formation of her independent dance company; and discuss the cultivation of artistic talent in Cuba, opportunities and challenges of being a professional dancer, and the arts more generally in Cuba.

Lunch at Café Taberna. Also known as Café Beny Moré, Café Taberna provides a genuine habanero feeling at decent prices. The nine-piece granddad band are truly talented son and bolero specialists and fit in well with the stylish surroundings.

After lunch we visit La Casa del Son for a dance demonstration and salsa lessons. Casa del Son is a popular dance school in Havana. We will meet the directors, Silvia and Raymond, who with their troupe of professional dancers will give us a demonstration of different Cuban dance styles. We will be partnered with experienced dancers who will guide us through our dance lesson.

Remainder of afternoon free to enjoy the rooftop pool of the hotel or explore Havana.

7:30 pm Dinner at the famous La Guarida Restaurant. One of the best restaurants in Havana and famous not only for its delectable dining, but also as the location for the film “Strawberry and Chocolate.” It is housed on the third floor of a large, old town house carrying the charming ambience of the 1920's.

Private performance in the home of Jorgé Luis Pacheco. A rising star in the world of Cuban jazz, the immensely talented pianist and singer Jorge Pacheco has recently toured the USA with his quartet and played such illustrious venues as the Lincoln Center and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Accompanied by his fellow musicians, Pacheco will perform Cuban standards as well as his original compositions in the comfort of his lovely home.


Day 7 Friday May 20th

10:00 am Visit to the Museum of Cuban Art (Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes) with curator Aylet Ojeda. This museum is dedicated to the latest generation of contemporary Cuban artists.

See the Christopher Colon Cemetery, an elaborate necropolis covering nearly 8% of the city.

Lunch on your own. Suitable recommendations will be provided.

Optional visit to the Arts & Crafts market, a great place to interact with local, everyday artisans. You’ll find just about anything here, the perfect place to find Cuban souvenirs or handmade gifts for your friends and family back home.

6:00 pm Performance by the Havana Youth Orchestra.

7:30 pm Farewell Dinner La Catedral in Vedado.

Visit the Fabrica de Arte Cuba located in the Vedado neighborhood. Built in the beginning of the twentieth Century, this former tramway power plant was later converted into an olive oil factory and is the most current collaborative art project in Havana. Live music, contemporary art, photography, installation art and more under one roof.

Optional late night entertainment: Visit the cool bohemian club El Gato Tuerto (“One-eyed Cat”), a laid back venue featuring various styles of traditional Cuban music from sultry Boleros known as Feeling, a soul-like genre heavily influenced by jazz, and Trova, another unique musical style that gained its popularity in the 70s. 


Day 8 Saturday May 21st

Morning Free.

11:45am Check out of hotel & depart for Havana Airport.

3:40 pm Depart Havana for Miami on ABC Charter flight #AA9471, operated by American Airlines.

4:40 pm Arrive at Miami International Airport. Clear customs and catch any connecting flights you may have. Please allow at least 3 hours for your connecting flights.

* Tips may be given to your Cuban guide and driver at this time. The recommended tip is minimum 5-7CUC per day, per passenger for your guide and minimum 3-5CUC per day, per passenger for your driver.



  ✓  VISA



Note about Purchasing Art in Cuba:   The U.S. Government allows US travelers to bring back an unlimited amount of Cuban art and informational materials such as books and CDs. If you feel you might be interested in purchasing art during your stay in Cuba you should carry additional money to pay on the spot. Your hotel rooms includes a safe deposit box in which you can keep your valuables safe.

Acquiring additional money via an ATM machine in Cuba is not possible at this time. Some of the more established artists could possibly have U.S. bank accounts in which the payment can be wired. The art can normally be brought home and payment sent at a future date. Our first recommendation is that you bring additional cash.

* Please Note: This is a “Working” Itinerary. There may be some changes, additions and/or subtractions to the Final Itinerary. All venues and artist’s studios are subject to final confirmations. Be assured that any changes made will be done to enhance the total program, and to promote a smooth operation of the tour.   Any changes to the scheduled program that may be made is out of the control of SIUE and the University is not liable for these changes.

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