March 9 – 15, 2018
During this popular program, explore Old Havana and its colonial charm, the French-influenced provincial city of Cienfuegos, and the town of Trinidad, one of the best-preserved cities in the Caribbean. Learn about Cuban culture through firsthand contact with Cuban artists, musicians, students, teachers, environmentalists, and others who are eager to exchange their views with you on Cuba’s past and present as well as their visions for the future.
*Smithsonian Journeys People-to-People programs in Cuba are operated under a general license authorized by the Office of Foreign Assets Control, U.S. Department of the Treasury.
Day 1 — Miami
Arrive in Miami and check into the Pullman Miami Hotel. Begin your People-to-People program in Miami with a welcome reception, dinner and a lively, thought-provoking panel discussion on the most vital issues facing Cuba today. Your Smithsonian Journeys Expert joins two other Cuba experts to share insights into the Cuban economy, political structure, and culture. An active question and answer session concludes the panel, preparing you for the week ahead. This valuable meeting with a range of Cuba scholars is a special feature of Smithsonian Journeys’ Cuba programs.
Day 2 — Miami to Havana
Depart Miami this morning on a group commercial flight to Havana. After clearing customs and claiming your luggage, meet with farmers and members of the community at a local organiponico (urban garden) and enjoy lunch on the grounds. Stop at Finca Vigia, Ernest Hemingway’s home for 20 years. With an expert, explore the 12-acre property and house that contains original furniture, artwork, and personal memorabilia. This evening, enjoy an introductory talk by your Smithsonian Journeys Expert, and dinner at one of the city’s paladares, a privately owned restaurant.
Embark on a walking tour of Habana Vieja (Old Havana), designated a World Heritage site, to view the city’s beautifully restored Colonial architecture and plazas with a representative from the City historian’s office. Then visit a cigar factory and meet with an expert roller to learn about one of Cuba’s most valuable exports. After lunch, visit a local community project for children utilizing acrobatic performances as a social development tool.
This morning, explore the National Museum of Fine Arts. Here, as you view the museum’s Cuban collection, you’ll learn how the country’s history and diverse cultures have influenced its art. Then engage in a question and answer session with a panel of Cuban experts to explore such topics as economic reform, women’s rights, and Cuba’s future. After lunch, visit the University of Havana and meet with college students to discuss higher education in Cuba.
Today, travel southeast to the provincial town of Cienfuegos. After lunch, explore the French-influenced city center of Cienfuegos, a World Heritage site. You’ll walk down the Paseo del Prado, a pedestrian-only boulevard lined with various stores, to Parque Martí, where some of the city’s most prominent architecture frames this central square. Nearby, visit an artists’ cooperative that showcases Afro-Cuban art. Meet with the director and several artists to learn about their work and how they are spreading contemporary art to small communities. This afternoon, delight in a performance by the renowned Choir of Cienfuegos. Join your expert for a lecture before enjoying dinner on your own.
Stopping at the Cienfuegos Botanical Gardens, the largest of its kind in Cuba, learn about efforts to maintain the country’s rich biodiversity and extraordinary plant life. Afterward, visit a former sugar mill town, where you’ll meet a historian and local residents to learn about the importance of Cuba’s once-thriving sugar industry. Continue to lovely Trinidad, another World Heritage site, where you’ll admire its pastel-colored Colonial buildings, cobblestone streets, and beautiful plazas. Here you’ll meet with a representative of the City’s Historian Office to discuss the achievements and challenges of preserving this 16th-century city. During your exploration of Trinidad, meet with shopkeepers, owners of casas particulares, or privately owned Bed and Breakfast enterprises, and other members of the community. This evening, gather for a farewell dinner as you toast your Cuban journey.
Bid farewell to Cuba and transfer to the Cienfuegos Airport today for your return flight to Miami.