Arrive in Miami
Trip begins at 4:30 PM at The Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove, Miami. Guests flying to Miami should plan to arrive at Miami International Airport by 2:00 PM, and take a taxi from the airport to The Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove, Miami (for a flat fee of USD $35 plus tip, for which you will be reimbursed by your Tauck Director). Guests who are arriving by car may park at The Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove, Miami for USD $38 per vehicle per night for the duration of the tour; guests arriving into Fort Lauderdale Airport or the Miami Train Station will be responsible for their own transfer to the hotel. Your small group of 20 to 30 travelers gathers this afternoon at The Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove, Miami for a welcome reception and Tauck Director briefing about tomorrow morning's included flight to Havana and the start of your educational exchange trip to Cuba; dinner is included this evening.
¡Bienvenido a Cuba!
After an early breakfast, your Cuba travel begins as your group boards an included flight from Miami to Havana's José Martí International Airport, where your local Cuban guide greets you. Drive from the airport to your home for the next five nights, the Meliá Habana in the city's Miramar section, have lunch and check in; en route, stop at the iconic Plaza de la Revolución (Revolution Square), dominated by a memorial tower honoring 19th-century Cuban patriot José Martí. This afternoon, head to the Museum of the Revolution, housed in the neo-Classical building in Habana Vieja that had served as Cuba's Presidential Palace from 1920 through 1959, for your first People-to-People cultural exchange in Cuba. Have dinner at the hotel tonight.
Historic Havana & the Arts
Begin today's People-to-People exchange at Habana Compás, a thriving Havana dance and cultural performance group; talk with company members about their mission, and watch a demonstration of music, dance or art. Then take a walking tour with a local historian through Havana's Colón Cemetery, one of the largest in the world, and the final resting place of noted Cubanos from all walks of life. After lunch at a paladar, take a guided walking tour through Habana Vieja - the city's nearly 500-year-old heart, now a pedestrian-only UNESCO World Heritage Site - with a local expert to discuss the city's architecture and historic restoration efforts. See Havana's beautiful Catedral de San Cristóbal, begun under the Jesuits in 1748 and completed by the Franciscans in 1777; learn about the cathedral's ongoing preservation and restoration. Back at the hotel, attend a discussion on U.S. - Cuban relations; enjoy dinner at a Havana paladar this evening.
Cuban baseball, crafts & more
Today's People-to-People exchange in Havana begins a close-up look at a cultural passion shared by Cubans and Americans alike - the sport of baseball! After a morning discussion about baseball in Cuba with a highly regarded Cuban ballplayer at your hotel, head out to meet with the players, coaches and parents of a local Little League-level baseball team in Havana. Next, enjoy a cooking class focusing on Cuban cuisine, followed by lunch at a local paladar. This afternoon, you can relax at your hotel, or visit Havana's bustling San Jose crafts market - the city's main enclosed local arts and crafts market and cultural fair, housed in the restored and renovated historic San Jose warehouses, originally built in the 1880s - on the Avenida del Puerto. Enjoy dinner tonight at a Havana paladar, one of Cuba's many private small restaurants converted from private homes, individually owned and operated under a license from the Cuban government.
Cuban agriculture in the Viñales Valley
Managing Cuba's land, water and other natural resources more effectively through agrarian reform, conservation, entrepreneurship and other initiatives is the focus of our People-to-People Cuba travel activities today. Travel outside Havana and across the countryside to the tobacco fields of the Viñales Valley, where you'll talk to agricultural workers about agrarian life and tobacco production in today's Cuba. After lunch at an organic farm, meet the workers who process tobacco leaves before they reach the cigar factory at El Despalillo. Return to Havana for dinner at your leisure this evening at the hotel.
Hemingway & Centro Habana
Depart Havana for Finca Vigia ("Lookout Farm") in San Francisco de Paula, American novelist Ernest Hemingway's winter home from 1939 to 1960, shared with third wife Martha Gellhorn, and later with fourth wife Mary Welsh. See the author's 9,000-volume library, his beloved yacht, Pilar, and his typewriter; talk with a docent about his life here and his strong connections to Cuba and its people (who simply called him "Ernesto"). Return to Havana for lunch at a paladar, then engage in a cultural exchange with students and staff at Havana's La Casa del Niño y la Niña (House of the Boy & Girl), a UNICEF-supported, community-sponsored educational outreach program for elementary-school age children in the Centro Habana neighborhood of Cayo Hueso. Join us this evening for a farewell reception and dinner in Havana.
After breakfast, transfer from the Meliá Habana to Havana's José Martí International Airport for your included return flight to Miami. Trip ends at Miami International Airport. Allow three hours for flight check-in. Please book flights from Miami to your final destination no earlier than 3:00 PM.