5 nights/6 days
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Arrive Havana. Clear immigration, customs and baggage, a process that takes approximately an hour and a half.
From the airport, we will visit the whimsical home and studio of artist José Fuster who has made a major contribution to rebuilding and decorating the fishing town of Jaimanítas, in the outskirts of Havana, where he lives. Jaimanitas is now a unique work of public art where Fuster has decorated over 80 houses with colorful ornate murals and domes.
Lunch at El Litoral. This restaurant was recently acquired from the State by a co-op of restaurateurs. Wonderful views of the Capitolio, El Morro and the Bahia de la Habana.
In route to our hotel, we see the Plaza de la Revolucion. This area contains prominent ministerial offices and is often used by the Cuban government for massive political rallies.
Check-in to Hotel or Casas Particulares.
After check-in, you are free to explore the historic areas nearby. Stroll down the tree lined Paseo de Marti (el Prado), a tree lined pedestrian promenade leading to the sea. This area includes the home of Cuba's former president Jose Miguel Gomez and the lavish Palacio de los Matrimonios. You can also see the massive renovation project of the Capitolio and continue to the Parque de la Fraternidad. This is “Old Taxi” central; here you will find all make and models of American cars from the 50’s. It is a great opportunity to mingle and converse with taxi drivers and engage in their favorite subject; their cars.
Meet in hotel lobby and walk a few steps from the hotel to Centro Asturianos for a private musical performance and welcome dinner. Cocktails at Bar Asturias with a private performance of Cuban music and dance. The band leader is Professor Alberto Faya has been working as a musician, professor and researcher within the Cuban musical world since 1973. He has won national awards in music and musicology. He will be joined by several young musicians who will treat us to a lively journey through the history of Cuban music. Questions are encouraged following the performance.
Welcome Dinner at Las Terrazas on the 3rd floor of Centro Asturianos.
Complimentary breakfast is served daily in your hotel restaurant or by your Cuban hosts.
CUBA IN TRANSITION: The Rule of Law as part of Cuban Reforms.
Lecture by Rafael M. Hernandez. Rafael is a lawyer, historian, author, and editor of Temas, a Cuban quarterly in the field of social sciences and humanities. Temas is considered the leading intellectual publication in Cuba and an important source of independent thought. He has taught as a visiting professor at Harvard, Columbia, the University of Texas, the University of Puerto Rico; CIDE and ITAM in Mexico, and served as visiting scholar at the Wilson Center (Washington, DC) and other US and Latin American academic institutions. Rafael has published widely on Cuban and U.S. policies, inter-American relations, international security, migration, and Cuban culture, civil society, and politics Rafael co-authored “The History of Havana.”
Meet in the hotel lobby and walk a few steps from the hotel to attend a private dance performance by the Compañia Irene Rodríguez. We will receive a warm welcome by choreographer and lead dancer Irene Rodríguez and her company at the Centro Asturianos. Irene is considered by many to be the finest flamenco dancer in Cuba.
Depart for our walking tour of Havana Vieja. Please make sure to wear comfortable shoes!
Visit 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.
See the Escuela de Taller to learn about the Restoration Project underway in Havana Vieja. This urban rehabilitation project is preserving the architectural history and cultural heritage of this beautiful city. We 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. We will be accompanied by the director Juan Jésus Gesen who lead us on a private tour through the various schools of expertise.
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.
Lunch at Paladar Los Mercaderes. This impeccably restored mansion is a welcome retreat from the bustling streets of the old city. We enjoy delightful tapas and a selection of seasonal specialties. Our affable host Yamil will entertain us with his charming anecdotes as will the house musicians.
Following lunch, we stroll through 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.
Experience the Taller de Grafica Experimental. 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 with relative freedom of spirit and form. We will be welcomed by participating artists and questions are encouraged.
Remainder of the afternoon free to explore Havana Vieja, or return to your hotel or casa.
Panel discussion / open dialogue with young Cuban lawyers. We will welcome an independent panel of Cuban attorneys to share their unique backgrounds and personal experiences with the educational system and legal profession in Cuba. We will ask the speakers to share their vision and appreciation for the law in a present and future Cuba. This discussion is predominantly Q&A format so please bring questions for our panelists - active discussion is encouraged.
Dinner at Paladar Vistamar in Miramar.
Lecture by Juan Alejandro Triana, a faculty member of the Department of Economics at the Instituto Politechnico Jose Echevarria (ISPJAE). His research and publications have focused on micro-financing in Cuba and Cuba-U.S. economic relations. Juan will explain the changing government policies regarding privately owned businesses, the changing public perception about making money and the growing interest in entrepreneurism. Other topics will include a history of Cuban economic model over the last 50 years.
Depart for our lecture and lunch at Nazdarovie - a new Cuban-Soviet inspired restaurant on the Malécon. We will be greeted by Gregory Biniowsky, an attorney from Canada who moved to Cuba over 20 years ago. Gregory and his business partners opened Nazdarovie as a personal ‘oeuvre de coeur’ & as a way to pay homage to the Soviet women who settled and established families in Cuba. They have created a space of nostalgia and memories for the thousands of Cubans who spent ‘the best years of their youth’ studying at universities in the USSR - a nostalgia which transcends politics and ideology.
Lecture by Havana-based Canadian attorney Gregory Biniowsky.
Gregory is a Canadian lawyer and political scientist who has lived in Cuba for more than 20 years, and has a diverse background involving a multitude of for-profit and nonprofit endeavors, including teaching at the University of Havana, doing consulting work for foreign companies exploring or setting up ventures in Cuba, and working as a consultant for the Canadian Embassy in Havana and the United Nations in Havana. Gregory presently works for the Canadian based international law firm Gowlings Lafleur Henderson LLP, focusing on offering strategic advice, business intelligence, and venture options to prospective investors and companies, from around the world, who looking at the Cuban market. Gregory is also the founding partner of Havanada Consulting Inc., which is a non-profit consulting firm, specializing on giving advice to philanthropists, charitable foundations, and development NGOs who want to undertake or fund non-profit projects in Cuba. Gregory will share his personal insights into Cuban society, the evolving political landscape and the fast changing business and investment environment.
Bus tour of Modern Architecture in Western Havana. Few people realize the important place Havana holds as a treasure trove of 20th Century architecture. Our tour will highlight some of the best examples to be found in this incredibly diverse area of the city where some of its most fascinating buildings were built using different architectural styles.
Tour the iconic Hotel Nacional de Cuba overlooking the Straits of Florida and the Malecón. When the Hotel Nacional opened in 1930, Cuba was a prime travel destination many illustrious guests including Frank Sinatra, Ava Gardner, John Wayne, Marlene Dietrich, Marlon Brando, and Ernest Hemingway.
See the Christopher Colon Cemetery. The grounds of the cemetery are massive, covering over 7% of the land mass designated as the city of Havana.
Visit the Instituto Superior de Arte (ISA). One of the few major architectural projects completed in Cuba in the early 1960s, this remarkable post-revolution campus is the premier school in Cuba for students studying music, visual arts and performing arts. Castro commissioned Cuban architect Ricardo Porro and two Italian architects, Vittorio Garatti and Roberto Gottardi for this tuition-free, educational institute built on a former golf club. "Cuba will count as having the most beautiful academy of arts in the world.” – Fidel Castro (1961)
Time permitting, we visit the Artist studio: The Merger, a collaborative venture consisting of artists Mario Miguel Gonzalez (Mayito), Niels Moleiro Luis, and Alain Pino. The Merger recreates ubiquitous and mundane objects on a grand scale, presenting palatable socio-political metaphors to their viewers.
Remainder of afternoon free.
Dinner at Paladar San Cristobal. This cozy paladar recently visited by President Obama has a reputation of excellence in both atmosphere and local cuisine. The food is refined and balanced (enjoy dishes like gazpacho, tender lobster, crème caramel) and the nostalgic atmosphere is unforgettable, adorned in a unique style of art nouveau.
Visit the Museum of Cuban Art with art historian Ayelet Ojeda. The museum is dedicated exclusively to Cuban Art from the earliest days of colonialism to the latest generation of Cuban artists. Aylet will provide an introduction to Cuban art and a brief historical explanation of Cuban art from the time of colonialism to present day contemporary artwork and artists.
Lecture on U.S.-Cuba relations. The esteemed Professor Carlos Alzugaray will lecture on the history of Cuban-American relations and explain the current political considerations playing a role in the ongoing discussions between our two countries.
Lunch 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.
Visit the Egido Marketplace. Cubans rely on these marketplaces to supplement the monthly food rations they receive from the State and as well as those items that are not readily available in State run ration stores.
Optional: Visit to the Arts & Crafts Market, a great place to support the Cuban people and interact with local, everyday artisans. You’ll find just about anything here, including souvenirs or gifts for your friends and family back home.
Remainder of afternoon free.
Dinner on your own. Suitable recommendations will be provided.
FOREIGN INVESTMENT IN CUBA: Briefing on Foreign Investment Law No. 118/2014 and associated tax and labor implications for the foreign investor.
Lecture by Lázaro Núñez Montero: Mr. Núñez is an attorney and author of several legal articles with over 30 years’ experience practicing civil and commercial law in Cuba. A former judge at the Municipal Court of Havana and Professor at the University of Havana, Mr. Núñez's expertise includes extensive knowledge of international trade law having represented Cuban import and export agencies in the negotiation of international credit agreements, sales contracts, maritime law, and matters of arbitration. He currently serves as Legal Advisor for Cubazucar, the exclusive export agency of Cuban sugar and its derivatives under the direction of the Cuban Ministry of Commerce and Foreign Investment (MINCEX).
Lecture will include the following topics:
- Description of Cuban Investment law.
- The fundamental requirements for doing business in Cuba.
- Procedural process for gaining government approval and forming state partnerships.
- Legal protections for foreign business, the Cuban banking system, hiring Cuban workers, Cuban income tax considerations.
Board our bus and depart for La Finca Vigía. Formerly the home of Ernest Hemingway, today it still houses his expansive collection of books. It was here where he wrote two of his most celebrated novels: For Whom the Bell Tolls and The Old Man and the Sea. Please keep in mind that there are restrictions on passage to preserve the house in the intact state that Hemingway left it.
Visit Finca Yoandra, a farm located in the neighborhood of Mantilla that produces more than a 100 varieties of organic fruits, vegetables, and medicinal plants. The farm also serves as a community center, providing social programs and leisurely activities for the local elderly. We will get a chance to meet and talk to some of the senior citizens.
Lunch at the farm’s restaurant El Divino.
Drive to the picturesque fishing village of Cojímar. Ernest Hemingway loved this little seaside town. He kept his boat, El Pilar, in the harbor of Cojímar and used this village setting for his story The Old Man and the Sea, which won him the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954.
Remainder of afternoon free.
Farewell dinner at Al Carbon by Chef Ivan Justo.
Optional: Visit to Fabrica de Arte Cubano (FAC). Once an old olive oil factory, this repurposed complex is without doubt the hippest place in Havana taking the Cuban arts scene by storm. Part Miami Art Basel, part Williamsburg warehouse party, the FAC hosts viewings, performances and exhibitions of cinema, theatre, dance, music, literature, fashion, architecture, graphic design, photography, and the visual arts.