Cuban Spice (Culinary Experience)

Cuban Spice (Culinary Experience)

8 Days Tour

Day 1 - HAVANA CITY

[T.B.D]- ARRIVE JOSE MARTI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, CLEAR CUSTOMS - MET BY OUR STAFF AND DRIVER FOR TRANSFER TO HOTEL.

Havana’s enchantment is not limited to her timeworn charm or rich and diverse cultural identity -- it’s in the light, the sounds, the Caribbean Sea at her feet and most of all, in her people.

[T.B.D] - ORIENTATION AND FAMILIARIZATION 

We will take a few moment to offer an Orientation to the city and familiarization of the neighborhood around the hotel.

[4:30 pm] - CHECK INTO HOTEL AND ENJOY AND WELCOME COCKTAIL.

[7:30 pm] - WELCOME DINNER AT SAN CRISTOBAL PALADAR 

Set in an early 20th Century mansion in the “Centro Habana” district of the city, San Cristobal Paladar is probably, the best restaurant in Havana. Restaurateur and Executive Chef, Carlos Cristobal Marquez, has created a uniquely engaging ambience within a cluttered, but warm, eclectic décor; each room offering a journey through a particularly iconic aspect of Cuban culture. The cuisine, Cuban Creole with a very refined and international twist, has a five-star rating by many international food critics and was enjoyed by President Barack Obama and his family during their recent visit to Havana. The chef will interact with the group   and explain about his creations.

[9:30 pm] - NIGHTLIFE ACTIVITIES(TBD)

HAVANA CITY HAVANA CITY

Day 2 - HAVANA CITY

[8:00 am] - BREAKFAST AT THE HOTEL 

You will be met by your guide in the lobby after breakfast to begin the day’s program.

[9:00 pm] - WALKING TOUR OF OLD HAVANA 

The morning begins with a walking tour of the Four Plazas; a magical journey, led by an expert from the city historian’s office through five centuries of history and architecture that culminate to comprise Cuba’s first of many UNESCO World Heritage Sites – “La Habana Vieja” or Old Havana. The tour takes you on a historical journey through the four main plazas, Plaza de Armas, Plaza Vieja, Plaza de San Francisco de Asis and Plaza de la Catedral. The tour will give you an insight to the truly magnificent and powerful place Cuba held in the Caribbean for centuries.

[12:30 pm] - LUNCH AT HAVANA 61 

Located in one of the oldest colonial areas of Havana, near the beautiful Iglesia del Angel, is a bright and airy, Havana 61. The modern design is in extreme contrast with the six-century old city and offers traditional Cuban cuisine as well as culinary creations of their own. The seafood is the house specialty as well as the originally concocted libations. The chef will interact with the group. The menu consist in tasting the different dishes in a family style meal.

[2:30 pm] - MUSEO DE BELLAS ARTES CUBAN ART COLLECTION/BELLAS ARTES MUSEUM 

Very near El Prado, still in the heart of Havana’s urban center where La Habana Vieja meets Centro Habana, is a notoriously modern structure, housing the largest permanent collection of Cuban art in the world dating from the 16th Century to present. The collection boasts extensive works of the Cuban masters from the 1920s through the post-modernists of the 1980s who influenced a worldwide movement and hang in museums and private collections worldwide. The Palacio de Bellas Artes, curated to show exclusively Cuban works has its international counterpart in the Palacio del Centro Asturiano, devoted to universal art. You might have time for both, but you cannot miss the Cuban collection whose artists exemplify the profoundly multicultural, mysterious and rich history of Cuba and its people. Don’t forget to take a short stroll to catch a glimpse of the original Bacardi Building; an art deco masterpiece and a quick stop at the world famous Sloppy Joe’s bar that was reopened in 2013 after 43 years.

[3:30pm]- EL PRADO - CAPITOLIO, PARQUE CENTRAL, PASEO AND MORE...

El Prado is one of the most exquisitely designed and splendid major avenues in all of the Americas and home to the quintessential structures that define Havana, ranging from Colonial to Baroque to Neoclassical to Art Deco. Designed in 1772 by French landscape architect Jean-Claude Nicolas Forestier, El Prado runs for many blocks from the dramatic fountain, La Fuente de la India, to the iconic Malecon, marking the boundary between Habana Vieja and Centro Habana. El Paseo, a marble promenade lined with a natural canopy of trees, marble benches and bronze lions was recently chosen by the House of Chanel for one of the most dramatic runway shows in the history of fashion. It is home to El Capitolio (1929): El Gran Teatro de La Habana (1918), home to the National Ballet of Cuba; The Bacardi Building (1930), a testament to Art Deco and dozens of other structures immortalized in photography and film for decades. Havana’s Central Park, is home to first statue of Jose Marti in Cuba. The gardens stand out for the 28 magnificent royal palms. Some of Havana most recognizable buildings surround the park. El Prado encompasses all of the mystery and magic, all of the historic and cultural wealth that Havana has offered from the 17th to the 21st century.

[7:00 pm]- DINNER AT ATELIER

A very unique and upscale restaurant, Atelier is the brainchild of Niuris Higueras, who has long nurtured her passion for exciting food. She has designed a very contemporary space housed in an idiosyncratic Havana mansion in the Vedado district. The décor has a retro feel including an antique hob grate and old sewing machines. While Niuris is the inspiration, Chef Enrique cooks the food and together they create an international range of dishes that might include from falafels to duck confit to stewed rabbit in wine. The food may vary from day to day, and sometimes be unpredictable.

Day 3 - HAVANA CITY

[7:00 am]- BREAKFAST AT THE HOTEL

You will be met by your guide in the lobby after breakfast to begin the day’s program.

  [10:00 am]- COOKING CLASS AT AJIACO CAFE AND VISIT TO LA FINCA

Welcome cocktail and  Brief Introduction about the history of the Cuban cuisine and its relation with our nationality. Elaboration, along with the chef, 5 different Cuban dishes.The chef will be interacting with the group all the  time giving explanations about the history and the elaboration of each dish. After guests  finish their cooking, they will try all the dishes and will have a drink.
After lunch. Lighting of a real Habano in the traditional way and the explanation  by a Habano expert and the presence of coffee, chocolate, and a fine Cuban rum to enjoy the cigar. Giveaway Certificate recognition for their participation signed by the chef with the name of the client.  

[12:30 pm]- LUNCH AT AJIACO CAFE 

“Papa ́s” passion for fishing and drinking has left an indelible mark on Caribbean seaside the town of Cojimar, the picturesque fishing village where Hemingway docked his boat, El Pilar, and where some old timers might still remember Hemingway and his guide, Gregorio, whom the “old man” was based on. Café Ajiaco is a Cojimar favorite. 

[3:00 pm] - FINCA VIGIA -ERNEST HEMINGWAY’S HOME AND MUSEUM 

Your transportation will await you at Regla for the short drive to Ernest Hemingway’s home in the rural village of San Francisco de Paula, also just east of Havana. Named Finca Vigia or “Lookout Farm”, the home was built in 1866 and purchased by Hemingway in 1940. This property, emerging from a lush tropical flora and fauna, was his primary home from 1940 until his death in 1961. Hemingway loved Cuba and according to close sources, he spent more time there during those two decades that any of his homes around the world. Here, Hemingway wrote his Pulitzer Prize winning novel, “The Old Man and the Sea”, and his famous fishing boat, El Pilar, is also on display here. In 1962, Finca Vigia was turned into a museum making it the first institution in the world devoted to Ernest Hemingway and his work. Recently, the feature film, “Papa” was filmed on location in Cuba and much of it at Finca Vigia.

[4:30 pm]- DRIVE BY EL MORRO FOR A PHOTO OPPORTUNITY

Built on the high rock entrance to the Bay and completed in the early 1600s, El Morro Castle guards the Port of Havana, complete with dungeons, cannons and the iconic lighthouse. Known as “El Morro”, the castle is actually The Castle of the Three Kings, named for the biblical Magi. The lighthouse stands on the end of a promontory strongly fortified with huge walls and battlements built by the Spanish Conquistadors to defend the city against pirates and bounty seekers. You will make a brief stop here for photo opportunities of the colonial fort and the magnificent panoramic views of Havana.

[7:00 pm]- DINNER AT RAZONES

Enjoy a traditional Cuban creole meal. They have the best congri in Havana, great service and nice ambiance.

[9:30 pm]- NIGHTLIFE ACTIVITIES (NOT INCLUDED IN THE PRICE)

HAVANA CITY HAVANA CITY HAVANA CITY

Day 4 - HAVANA CITY - DAY TRIP VINALES

[7:00 am]- BREAKFAST AT THE HOTEL 

You will be met by your guide in the lobby after breakfast to begin the day’s program.

[8:00 am]- DAY TRIP TO PINAR DEL RIO

Pinar del Rio is Cuba’s westernmost province and is known for its breathtaking panoramas  and unique natural landscapes. The vast and diverse attractions that can be enjoyed in Pinar del Rio range from exploring caves that are archaeological sites covered in ancient indigenous drawings; prehistoric natural phenomena seen nowhere else on Earth such as the “mogotes”; lush and verdant landscapes of tobacco and sugarcane. Tropical flora and fauna are remarkably  abundant; pristine coral reefs offer the best diving in the world and, once  a year when the wind is just right, you get the best surf in Cuba. The natural beauty of Pinar del Rio is only surpassed by the old world charm of its towns and its people.  Home to Cuba’s great farming legacy, where tobacco and sugar are king there remain the vestiges of a provincial elegance steeped in tradition.  

[10:30 am]- TOUR IN VINALES VALLEY 

Boasting the most spectacular scenery in all of Cuba, the Vinales Valley dates back to the Jurassic period and is, geologically speaking, the oldest region of the island. While looking out across 51 square miles of majestic nature, you can almost sense the prehistoric creatures and humans making their way across the enormous valley and around the “Mogotes” rising dramatically from the ground, up to 1300 ft. high, dating back to when the ocean floor gave way to giant limestone formations.  The valley is home to one of the largest cave systems in the Americas making these limestone formations navigable.  In watery caves there are still remnants of prehistoric man in the form of ancient cave drawings. The town of Vinales, founded in 1607, frozen in time offers a window into Cuba’s charming rural past. The Vinales Valley was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the late 1990s and is as heavenly a place on Earth as there will ever be. 

[1:00 pm]- LUNCH AT FINCA PARAISO AGROECOLOGICAL 

Nestled into the Valley of Silence, located in Vinales, Cuba, is a true slice of paradise where the concept of “farm to table” cannot be more purely executed. Wilfredo is a local farmer who, along with his daughters, owns and operates the part organic farm and  family-run restaurant. Neat beds of organic crops, where a few years ago were only weeds, are planted against the breathtakingly dramatic backdrop of Vinales Valley. The organic farm and farm to table restaurant in a new phenomenon in Cuba and an afternoon with Wilfredo and his family will provide a meaningful encounter for the Cuban farmer/entrepreneur and the US visitor who will participate in discussions with Cuban farmers and produce sellers about cooperative farming and agricultural practices. This new, independent revenue stream is rapidly growing in Cuba and a fascinating business model supplying their own restaurants with the crops and the livestock they cultivate.

[3:30 pm]- VISIT A TOBACCO PLANTATION & INTERACT WITH FARMERS

Pinar del Rio is well known for having the best land for the cultivation of tobacco in Cuba. The region is known for its perfect combination of soil, climate and humidity that make up the perfect conditions to grow a unique natural product, revered throughout the world due to its aroma, color, texture and flavor.

[4:00 pm]- RETURN TO HAVANA AND HOTEL 

[7:00 pm]- DINNER ON YOUR OWN- NOT INCLUDED IN THE PRICE 

Tonight dinner is in a paladar of your choice from a list of the hottest foodie scenes in the City. The tour guide will make the reservations. This is an opportunity to get away from the larger group and dine with a smaller group of friends. You will take a taxi to the meal that we will find for you. The group will have a chance to speak with the Chef and owner of the establishment to discuss food and new opportunities in the food industry in Cuba. The cost of this meal is not included in the trip price.

HAVANA CITY - DAY TRIP VINALES HAVANA CITY - DAY TRIP VINALES

Day 5 - HAVANA CITY

[7:00 am]- BREAKFAST AT THE HOTEL  

You will be met by your guide in the lobby after breakfast to begin the day’s program.

[10:30 am]- VISIT TO EL MEDITERRANEO FARM. 

Followed by this visit you will enjoy in their restaurant all the products produced at La Finca.  

[12:30 pm]- LUNCH AT EL MEDITERRANEO 

A true “farm to table” and “sea to table” restaurant, Mediterraneo Havana features fresh plant and protein from their own two private, organic farms and fresh catch and seafood fished every other day from their own fishing boat. It doesn’t get any more fresh or real than this in Cuba. The food is prepared fresh daily without preservatives or additives, the pasta and the desserts are homemade and the menu, created by Chef Luigi, executive chef and founder, is a work of art. Enjoy an extraordinary fusion cuisine and exceptional service in this lovely, airy, Mediterranean environment in a beautifully retrofitted Vedado home. This extraordinary restaurant is the recent recipient of the coveted British farm to table award, the International Quality Crown Award in the “gold” category, chosen by culinary experts from 49 nations.

[2:30 pm]- DRIVING TOUR OF VEDADO

The tree-lined, elegant residential Vedado district dates back to the second half of the 19th century, but its present day appearance really took shape beginning in the early 1900s. Most of the affluent Cuban families of the period built large and prestigious residential estates and lavish mansions ranging from neoclassical, art deco, beaux arts, eclectic, and modern. The Vedado district is presently being considered for World Heritage status.

[3:30 pm]- CIGAR AND RUM TASTING

[5:00 pm] - A JOURNEY THROUGH CUBAN MUSIC, PRIVATE CONCERT & PANEL DISCUSSION BY PROF. ALBERTO FAYA.

Experience a rare, intimate encounter with what Cuba is best known for – the music. There is an old saying, “In Cuba, if you turn over a rock a musician jumps out”. You will take a musical journey through Cuba’s rich and exciting musical history guided by world-renowned and award-winning musician and musicologist Alberto Faya.  Faya, recipient of multiple awards for musical accomplishments. Enjoy this magical and interactive experience and feel free to engage the speakers and musicians.

[7:30 pm]- DINNER AT 5 SENTIDOS 

5 Sentidos is a Cuban restaurant that offers international cuisine located in Havana in a  central corner of Old Havana with an open space and open kitchen for the enjoyment of the 5 Sentidos. 

[9:30 pm]- NIGHTLIFE ACTIVITIES (FABRICA DE ARTE CUBANO)- NOT INCLUDED IN THE PRICE 

Fabrica De Arte is probably Havana’s most exciting art and performance venue. FAC is inside an old oil factory that’s now a thriving arts space in Vedado, one of Havana’s residential districts. The eclectic crowd includes the who’s who of the art and music world mixing it up with young people from all over the city who attend regularly to experience art and music. The cavernous space includes an art and photographic gallery, a dance space, a cinema, and a very well-stocked bar. On any given night you can watch a fashion show and a live concert, enjoy a meal, see a film and generally hang out in the most creative scene on the island.  It was Mick Jagger’s favorite hangout in Havana and it will probably be yours.

HAVANA CITY HAVANA CITY HAVANA CITY

Day 6 - HAVANA CITY

[7:00 am]- BREAKFAST AT THE HOTEL 

You will be met by your guide in the lobby after breakfast to begin the day’s program.

[9:30 am]- VISIT TO GUANABACOA MUSEUM

Housed in an eclectic building, this museum opened in 1964. Although its exhibits include valuable pieces such as the platform from which National Hero José Martí delivered his first speech in Cuba, the machete used by local hero Pepe Antonio when he fought the British forces during the 1762 invasion, valuable art and furniture pieces, and items that belonged to renowned artists, including Rita Montaner, Ignacio ‘Bola de Nieve’ Villa and Ernesto Lecuona, Museo Histórico de Guanabacoa is best known for exhibiting pieces in relation to the Afro-Cuban culture, tradition and religion, sponsoring Guanabacoa en la Historia (a symposium on the history of the municipality) and for hosting a number of local cultural events.

[11:00 am] - VISIT ORGANOPONIC IN ALAMAR 

This Organoponic is one of Havana’s largest and most successful urban garden which promotes a Sustainable farming community. Located in a residential suburb, this small garden (really more of an urban farm) is incredibly productive. The organoponic produce, fresh vegetables, fruits, ornamental plants, seedlings, medicinal and spiritual plants, the cooperative also produces dried herbs, condiments, garlic paste, tomato sauce and pickles.

[12:30 pm]- LUNCH AT LA CHALACHA AND LEARN ABOUT THE PIG ROASTING PROCESS 
Lunch will be at La Chalacha which is a breathtaking farm located in a hill just a few kilometers from the beach. Here the group will learn about the pig roasting process followed by a traditional Cuban lunch. This activity is one of the highlights of the trip. Not to be missed!

[3:30 pm]- DRIVE BY GUANABO AND SANTA MARIA BEACH to learn about the new private restaurants recently opened in this area. Bring your swimsuits! 

[4:30 pm]- RETURN TO HAVANA 

[7:30 pm]- DINNER AT AN ARTIST STUDIO HOME. 

This evening dinner will be hosted by a couple of Cuban artists they will prepare a delicious Cuban feast at their Home Studio for you to enjoy along with exquisite art.

HAVANA CITY HAVANA CITY HAVANA CITY

Day 7 - HAVANA CITY

[7:00 am]- BREAKFAST AT THE HOTEL 

You will be met by your guide in the lobby after breakfast to begin the day’s program.

[9:30 am]- LEARN ABOUT CUBAN AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS - SHOP LIKE A CUBAN - FARMERS MARKET 

Cuba is known for its fertile lands, diversity of ecosystems and its agricultural productivity. The local farmers markets are strategically located throughout the towns and cities are the source of this spectacular selection of produce for the Cuban population. Daily, folks purchase their fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs and other produce at the local market in local currency. Your guide will escort you to one of the best of these markets in the heart of the Vedado district on 19th St. and B. Pick up some fresh fruit for your room or just feast your eyes on the tropical delights that grow on this island paradise.

[11:00 am]- FARM TOUR AND LUNCH IN FINCA MARTA 

Fernando Funes Monzote will probably go down in history as the well digger who saved Cuban agriculture. We will meet with Fernando and his co-workers at Finca Marta to hear the tale of his amazing agricultural achievement. Fernando acquired the rocky land from a farmer who’d lived there for 40 years. He spent seven months hand digging a dry well in search of water. Fast forward 4 years: Fernando operates a self-sufficient (solar power, biofuel from cow poop) organic farm that produces over 60 varieties of fruits and vegetables. He sells to local restaurants (paladares) and farmers markets. Although tourism is growing in Cuba, Fernando only allows one, maybe two, visits a week to his farm. “I don’t want to become a circus act,” he said. “And we have lots of work to do.” We will enjoy a delicious lunch harvested from the garden.

[3:00 pm]- RETURN TO HAVANA

Rest of the afternoon at Leisure to visit places of interest we recommend the Craft Market, Old Havana or any other part of the city. 

[6:30 pm]- CLASSIC CARS TOUR  

Enjoy an amazing driven tour of Miramar’s Quinta Avenida and Havana’s “malecon” in beautifully restored vintage 1950s convertibles. Spending an hour with the owner/operators of these classic cars promotes the Cuban people’s independence from Cuban authorities and offers the US traveler the chance to learn about and support the entrepreneurial efforts. This drive is a retrospective, nostalgic journey through time and you can feel you’re in the 1950s with the backdrop of the Cuban skyline, nearly frozen in time.

[7:30 pm]- DINNER AT LA GUARIDA  

There is a mysterious aura to Centro Habana, battered by the sea and left to decay, but there remains a ghostly essence of its former brilliance and a vibrant inner-city life fueled by the locals. Remarkably, some of the city’s top paladares (privately owned restaurants) are located in Centro Habana and among the best of them is La Guarida. The location for the acclaimed Cuban movie, “Fresa y Chocolate”, La Guarida serves delectably sophisticated international cuisine in a venue that is a perpetual work in progress. The top floors of this seemingly dilapidated neoclassical structure are renovated to a degree of contemporary glamour that is impressive with a rooftop bar and an even higher mirador with spectacular views. The bottom floors are obviously under renovation, but when you reach the top of the endless marble staircase wrapping its way up and up, you are in for a culinary delight by any standard.

[9:30 pm]- NIGHTLIFE ACTIVITIES(TBD). WE RECOMMEND TROPICANA OR LA ZORRA Y EL CUERVO.

Tropicana

Founded in 1939, the Tropicana was once the most famous nightclub in the world, featuring the musical extravaganzas of choreographer Rodney and the talents of Celia Cruz, Nat King Cole, Carmen Miranda, and a host of other international performers. The nightclub continues to be the most visited music and dance revue in Cuba and its buildings are considered the finest examples of International-style modernism in the Caribbean.

La Zorra y el Cuervo

The nightclub (The fox and the Crow) is located on La Rampa (23th street) between N and O street close to the Habana Libre hotel. This famous jazz club is considered as one of the best in town. You can't miss the location on La Rampa, the entrance is a replica of a red English telephone box and lead you to the basement where the club with a capacity of 120 people is situated.

The venue is popular among Cubans and tourists, many renowned names like ROBERTO FONSECA and CHUCHO VALDES have given performances in the jazz club.

HAVANA CITY HAVANA CITY HAVANA CITY HAVANA CITY

Day 8 - HAVANA CITY

[8:00 am] - BREAKFAST AT THE HOTEL

You will be met by your guide in the lobby after breakfast to begin the day’s program. 

[9:00 am] - CHECK OUT OF HOTEL 

[T.B.D]-TRANSFER FROM A HAVANA HOTEL TO JOSE MARTI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT 

You’ll be met by your guide and transportation for your airport transfer from the hotel to Jose Marti International Airport. Your guide will remain with you at the airport, assisting with check-in and to see you off, ensuring a smooth departure.

[T.B.D] - DEPART HAVANA TO MIAMI

HAVANA CITY HAVANA CITY

PROGRAM INCLUDES: 

  • Arrival assistance at Jose Marti Airport (HAV) (only with purchase of air-sold separately)
  • Transfers in and out from the airport to hotel (only with purchase of air-sold separately)
  • Cuban Visa
  • Licensing cost for People to People travelers
  • Hotel and B&B’s  Accommodations 
  • Daily breakfast at  hotels and B&B’s
  • Meals at the best paladars in Cuba
  • Cooking Classes and demos
  • Rum and Cigar tastings
  • Cocktail demonstrations
  • Cuban pig roasting feast
  • Visit to organic farms and organoponics
  • Small plate tasting
  • Interaction with the chefs
  • Day Trip to Viñales, Pinar del Rio ( Interaction with the farmers)
  • Visits to museums or organizations
  • Artist studio visits as programmed
  • Luxury motorcoach and/or van transportation for the whole program
  • Translation by a professional Cuba-based guide
  • Our Cuba Travel Tips publication and other traveler guidance

PROGRAM PRICE DOES NOT INCLUDE:  

  • Airfare to Cuba (priced separately)
  • Air from Home City to Miami
  • Passports
  • Tips (guide and driver, baggage handlers & restaurant staff)
  • Trip Interruption Insurance
  • All other items not listed in “PROGRAM PRICE INCLUDES”

Experience Cuba