Cuba: Art, Politics and Jewish Life

Experience the heart of Cuba as few get to. From the historical streets of Havana and through World Heritage towns, this small group tour allows for the people-to-people exchanges that make visiting Cuba so special.
  • Date

    November 01 - 08, 2017
  • Duration

    8 days / 7 nights
  • Highlights

    Havana, Santa Clara, Trinidad, Cienfuegos and their Jewish Communities
  • Notes

    No Single Supplement
  • Activity Level

    Easy

  • Tailor Made

    This tour can be booked privately

Only  $3,995
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Cuba: Art, Politics and Jewish Life 8 Days8D7 Nights7N

Old-world charm, rich history, vibrant sounds and bright colors - this 8 day adventure takes you into the heart of beautiful Cuba.
Our tour goes a step beyond the surface. From Havana to Cienfuegos, we immerse you with our local friends, culture, dance and art for the Cuba most travelers never get to see. Want to learn about the challenges Cubans face today? We’ll introduce you to a journalist who’s spent his career covering this topic. Want to try an authentic Cuban cigar? We’ll bring you to the farmers that make them. By day, visit some of Cuba’s most significant sites and immerse yourself in these valuable people-to-people exchanges. By night, eat and sway to the Caribbean sounds

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What can you expect as part of your tour?

  • 7 nights accommodations at top hotels
  • Donations to Jewish institutions
  • Full-time professional, bilingual guide
  • Visa to Cuba
  • Meals listed on the itinerary
  • Entrance fees to museums
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Day

1

Wednesday, November 01

Arrival in Havana

Welcome to Cuba! Upon your arrival in Havana, you’ll be greeted at the airport and taken to your hotel in central Havana. Head to a special welcome dinner.

Overnight:Havana (D).

Day

2

Thursday, November 02

Havana

This morning, we’ll visit the Patronata, Cuba’s office of the Jewish community to learn about Jewish life in Cuba, where the Jewish Community is concentrated and what services are provided to them. Then, at the Sephardic synagogue learn about the history of this community, present day members and services provided.
A walking tour of Havana will introduce you to the heart of Havana, visiting Plaza de Armas, Plaza de San Francisco lined in cobblestone and surrounded by 18th century buildings learning about the process of restoration in Havana. After a lovely lunch, visit Havana’s Museum of Fine Arts and learn about Cuban art through the decades.

Overnight:Havana (B, L, D).

Day

3

Friday, November 03

Havana

Your day starts with the smell of fragrant cigars as you visit to a cigar factory in Havana. In Guanabacoa, learn about the Afro-Cuban religion of Santeria. This religion melds Catholicism and native African beliefs developed by slaves to hide their true religions from their owners. You’ll even participate in a music and dance performance by the Santeria deities. Guanabacoa is also the site of one of Havana’s two Jewish cemeteries. Following your visit to the cemetery, return to Havana and visit a garage that restores old cars for your first glimpse of the Cadillac chrome up close.

Overnight:Havana (B, L, D).

Day

4

Saturday, November 04

Havana

Take the morning to stroll, relax and explore. We’ll then go to the San Jose Craft Market, Cuba’s greatest display of local painting, crafts and artisans. We’ve arranged for a special presentation by a former Cuban diplomat about where Cuba might be headed politically…a question which will also be open for discussion, as the answer is one that remains unknown. Enjoy a ride in a classic 1950's car to tonight’s dinner.

Overnight:Havana (B, D).

Day

5

Sunday, November 05

Las Terrazas

Las Terrazas, a beautiful area of Cuba is a coffee growing region surrounded by lush mountains and greenery. Walk with your guide and learn about the development of the eco foundation of Las Terrazas and how the community has evolved. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant with traditional cooking of the region, along with musicians who come to play their local style of music. Head back to Havana for rest and a relaxed dinner.

Overnight:Havana (B, L).

Day

6

Monday, November 06

Santa Clara, Trinidad and Cienfuegos

Depart for another day of rural Cuba settings. Santa Clara is perhaps most famous has being the location of the last battle of the Revolution between Che Guevara’s troops and those of Battista. There is a monument in Santa Clara in memory of Che. Santa Clara is also home to a small Jewish community of approximately thirty people. They have pooled various resources and in the last several years, have opened a small synagogue. We’ll visit the community and meet one of its members. Explore the UNESCO protected city of Trinidad by foot. A meticulously preserved Spanish colonial city, with its rich 16th century architecture, cobblestone streets, palaces and plazas, it’s the museum city of Cuba.

Overnight:Cienfuegos (B, L, D).

Day

7

Tuesday, November 07

Cienfuegos

Visit the home and community meeting place of the president of Cienfuego’s small Jewish community. You’ll have the chance to meet members of this small yet vibrant community. See the beautiful Botanical Gardens of Cienfuegos. It’s natural, rural and filled with a wide variety of specimens, flowers and trees. Throughout the years of the US embargo, Harvard University has sponsored the studies and the development of the Botanical Gardens. You’ll enjoy an escorted walk through this amazing garden. Returning back to Cienfuegos, wind down the afternoon hearing a performance by the Cienfuegos Choir. Tonight we’ll dine together to say farewell with Cuban music and food.

Overnight:Cienfuegos (B, L, D).

Day

8

Wednesday, November 08

Farewell Cuba

This morning you will be taken to the airport to return home from your Cuba adventure.
Day 1 - Wednesday, November 1
Arrival in Havana

Upon arrival in Havana, we will be met at the airport by our English speaking Cuban guide. Transfer to your hotel in the Vedado section of Havana.

Rendezvous with your group in the reception and drive to an enjoyable “Welcome Dinner”.

Overnight in Havana (D)

Day 2 - Thursday, November 2
Havana

tour group with Hela-at-PatronataThis morning, we have a visit to Cuba’s office of the Jewish community, the Patronata, where we will hear about Cuba’s Jewish community, where Jews are located and what services are provided to the Jewish community, as well as Jewish life in general. The visit will also include a stop at the community’s pharmacy, which provides medical supplies to Cubans, both Jewish and non-Jewish. Donations of prescription and non-prescription medicines are welcomed providing they are sealed, unopened containers.

We then visit the Sephardic synagogue, where we will learn about the history of their community and present day members and services provided.

We then drive into old Havana for a walking tour, introducing you to the heart of Havana, visiting such sites as the Plaza de Armas, the Plaza de San Francisco with its cobblestone and surrounding 18th century buildings, as well as the Plaza de la Catedral, while hearing about the process of restoration in Havana
Our visit in old Havana will also include to the Orthodox synagogue, Adath Israel.

Following lunch, you visit Havana’s Museum of Fine Arts where you will be taken on a tour by one of the docents and learn about Cuban art through the decades.

Return to the hotel followed by dinner and overnight in Havana. (B, L, D)

Day 3 - Friday, November 3
Havana

Dance--CubaYou start your day with a visit to a cigar factory within Havana.

Then drive to the town of Guanabacoa to learn about the Afro-Cuban religion of Santeria. This religion melds Catholicism and native African beliefs developed by slaves to hide their true religions from their owners. Morning opportunity to interact with Santeria practitioners, and participate in a music and dance performance by the Santeria deities. Guanabacoa is also the site of one of Havana’s two Jewish cemeteries. Following your visit to the cemetery, return to Havana and pay a visit to a garage that specializes in repairing and restoring old cars. Then return to your hotel.

Dinner and overnight in Havana. (B, L, D)

Day 4 - Saturday, November 4
Havana

Your morning is free to allow you some independent activity. Should you wish to attend a synagogue, the Gil Travel Group will provide you with contact information.

We rendezvous at the hotel at 1PM, after you have had the opportunity to have some lunch, independently.
We then proceed to the San Jose Craft Market, certainly Cub’s greatest display of Cuban painting, crafts and artisans.

Others can choose to explore on their own or remain at the hotel. We will have a late day presentation at the hotel by a former Cuban diplomat who will talk about where Cuba might be headed politically…a question which will also be open for discussion, as the answer is one that remains unknown. Enjoy a ride in a classic 1950s-1960s car to tonight’s dinner.

Dinner and overnight in Havana. (B, D)

NOTE Evening Optional Activities: For those who wish, there is a well-known jazz club within a short walk of our hotel, ZORRA Y EL CUERVO JAZZ CLUB. Anyone who wishes can join. There is an entrance fee and the price of drinks. The musicians normally do not show up until close to midnight. For those who wish to go to the fabled Tropicana, your guide will be happy to provide directions and information regarding prices for those who might wish to attend this optional activity, as well!

Day 5 - Sunday, November 5
Visit to "Las Terrazas"
Las Terrazas - Cuba

Las Terrazas

Following breakfast, you depart for a long day trip to Las Terrazas, a beautiful area of Cuba approximately one hour west of Havana, surrounded by lush mountains and greenery, Las Terrazas is a coffee growing region. Visitors can take walks and/or hikes with their guide, learning about the development the eco foundation of Las Terrazas and how the community has developed. Lunch is in a local restaurant with traditional cooking of the region, along with musicians who come to play their local style of music. Afternoon return to Havana where dining will be independent, with suggestions provided.

Overnight in Havana. (B, L)

Day 6 - Monday, November 6
Santa Clara/Cienfuegos

cuba-group-Santa-Clara-synagogue

After breakfast, check out of our Havana hotel and depart for another day of rural Cuba settings. We stop mid-day in Santa Clara. Santa Clara is perhaps most famous has being the location of the last battle of the Revolution between Che’s troops and those of Battista. There is a monument in Santa Clara in memory of Che. Santa Clara is also home to a small Jewish community of approximately thirty people. They have pooled various resources and in the last several years, have opened a small synagogue to serve as both a synagogue and community center. We will have the opportunity to visit the community and meet one of its members.

Trinidad

Trinidad

From Santa Clara, we continue on to Trinidad, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A meticulously well-preserved Spanish colonial city, with its rich architecture, cobblestone streets, palaces and plazas, it is sometimes referred to as the “museum city” of Cuba. From Trinidad, we continue on to Cienfuegos, arriving around dinner time.

Dinner and overnight in Cienfuegos. (B, L, D)

Day 7 - Tuesday, November 7
Cienfuegos
Cienfuegos Choir

Cienfuegos Choir

This morning we pay a visit to the home of a woman who is president of Cienfuego’s small Jewish community. Her home is the meeting place of the community.

Following our visit, we depart for a short ride out of Cienfuegos, we will arrive at the Botanical Gardens of Cienfuegos. The setting is natural, rural and filled with specimens of many types of plantings, flowers and trees. Throughout the years of the US embargo, Harvard University has maintained an important role as one of the sponsors of the studies and the development of the Botanical Gardens. We will have an escorted tour as we walk through portions of the beautiful setting. Later this afternoon, we will have an opportunity to meet members of Cienfuegos small Jewish community. The twenty or so Jews of Cienfuegos do not have a synagogue, but meet in a member’s private home.

We will have an opportunity to hear a performance by the Cienfuegos Choir (assuming they are not traveling), prior to dinner. We gather tonight for your “Farewell Dinner” in a nice venue with live music complementing the food.

Overnight in Cienfuegos. (B, L, D)

Day 8 - Wednesday, November 8
Cienfuegos/USA

After breakfast, we transfer to the airport for your flight from the interior, back to the US.

(B)

All itineraries are subject to change * A minimum of 15 passengers is required for tour service.

 

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Where you will rest you head...

Hotel Nacional

Deluxe Room

5 STARS

About the hotel: The Hotel Nacional de Cuba is considered a symbol of history, culture and Cuban identity. With its privileged location in the middle of Vedado, the center of Havana, it stands on a hill just a few meters from the s

La Union

Deluxe Room

5 STARS

About the hotel: A lovely hotel with boutique style and service, La Unión is housed in a beautiful neoclassical, colonial building in the heart of Cienfuegos – a charming city known as the "Pearl of the South."

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