Tour introduction and overview of activities

8 days and 7 nights on a ‘People to People’ experience in Cuba organized by Global Relations Travel Club (GRTC), adhering to all U.S. Department of Treasury Office of Foreign Asset Control Rules & Regulations. An introduction to the Cuban legal system and its application to the Cuban people. Accompanied by GRTC Leadership Team Dan Rutherford and Josh Lanning, both well-traveled in Cuba.

Accommodations in Havana are at historic and iconic hotels and while in the Vinales Valley you will be staying at the best of the only three hotels. Highlights will be a professional presentation on Cuban society, discussions with Cubans on the legal system affects their family and business, visiting Hemingway’s home and a private cooking lesson.

Our adventure includes Old Havana to the western Cuban country-side and back to the internationally famous Hotel Nacional, a Five Star Hotel on the Straits of Florida. Some of the best private restaurants, in all of Cuba, are on the itinerary. The group size is limited.

Cuba’s big! Its land mass is 42,426 square miles – about 80 percent the size of Alabama. Cuba is nearly as large as Louisiana, and larger than Tennessee, Virginia, Kentucky, South Carolina, Ohio or Indiana. Altogether it’s bigger than Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont combined.

Day 1 – Friday :: Arrival Departure city to go to Cuba

  • Arrival. Accommodation arranged and included

Day 2 – Saturday :: Arrival Cuba and hello Havana

  • Depart to Havana
  • Arrival at Havana’s José Martí International Airport. Collect our bags and go through customs. We will be welcomed at the airport lobby by our Cuba Education Tours guide and our professional coach chauffeur
  • Private transfer to our Hotel Ambos Mundos located in heart of Havana’s Old City, historic with a seasoned elegance, included
  • Private check-in with assistance from our guide and enjoy a welcome cocktail, included
  • Free time to settle in and get oriented with our historic hotel
  • This evening we will enjoy a welcome dinner at Cuba 54, a trendy private paladar, included
  • Evening walking tour of Old Havana, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We will visit the historic plazas that make Havana unique in the western hemisphere. It contains the largest collection of remaining colonial-era architecture. This is a private tour led by our Cuba Education Tours guide, included
    • Cathedral Square, the most beautiful and private 18th century colonial plaza on the island. Named after the masterpiece of Cuban baroque architecture: the Catedral de San Cristóbal de la Habana built by the Jesuit order
    • Square of Arms, an ancient military parade ground for Spanish soldiers, surrounded by impressive buildings such as:
    • Palacio de los Capitanes Generales, former seat of colonial government. Today the building houses the Museum of the City
    • Palacio del Segundo Cabo [Palace of the Second Lieutenant] dates from 1770. Today it houses the Instituto Cubano del Libro [Cuban Book Institute] and the Galería Raúl Martínez (famed poster artist)
  • We will continue on to San Francisco Square, one of the oldest plazas in the historical quarter. The square is named after magnificent Iglesia y Monasterio de San Francisco de Asís dating from the 16th century. The basilica is a striking example of Cuba baroque architecture
  • Then on to Plaza Vieja, the only civic square of colonial times. Absent are churches and government buildings, and is in contrast surrounded by opulent aristocratic 17th century residences

Day 3 – Sunday :: Professional briefing, Hemingway, private cooking lesson and harbor view dinner

  • Breakfast, included
  • Travel to Cojímar, small fishing Village one of Hemingway’s favorite’s places. Visit local gardener where owner shows us how herbs, vegetables and fruit are raised for El Ajiaco Paladar’s use, how compost is produced and water conserved. See how production organic gardening in a residential neighborhood produces private income and supplies a local business, included
  • TOUR HIGHLIGHT: Cooking & mojito making lesson at paladar (private restaurant) El Ajiaco followed by lunch, which we helped prepare, included This is a unique experience; in the kitchen, with the chef and staff preparing multiple dishes and then at the bar learning how to properly prepare a Cuban mojito - - - all before the paladar opens to the public
  • Return to hotel
  • This evening we will go across the harbor and enjoy a dinner at the restaurant La Davina Pastora with a wonderful view of Havana at night, included

Day 4 – Monday :: Viñales Valley of magnificent mogotes and cigar factory of hand rolled

  • Breakfast, included
  • Morning departure to the western agricultural province of Pinar del Río
  • On coach ride our Cuban guide will discuss their perspective of the Cuban legal system and personal use/needs of a lawyer in Cuba
  • Visit and tour of Francisco Donatién Cigar Factory and see how some of Cuba’s premium cigars are made, by hand, included
  • Drive through Viñales village, a picturesque town in the heart of Cuba's prime tobacco growing region. The town itself sits in the center of a flat valley surrounded by stunning formations known locally as mogotes. They are irregularly shaped steep-sided hills that can rise as high as 985 feet and have bases ranging from just a few hundred yards in diameter to as much as a mile in length. Many consider this the most beautiful nature spot in Cuba
  • Late lunch at private restaurant Balcón del Valle (Balcony of the Valley, and we will see why when we get there), one of the most spectacular views of the entire trip, included
  • Hotel Rancho San Vicente check in: a unique hotel in a forest setting and overlooked by mountains. This is a bird watchers paradise with several endemic species and at dusk bats emerge from the multiple caves
  • Relaxing time by one of the two pools at the hotel, included
  • Dinner buffet at the hotel at your leisure, included

Day 5 – Tuesday :: Viñales activites, tobacco farming, meals in country-side paladares and personal discussion of cuban legal system

  • Breakfast, included
  • Optional activities: horseback riding (Highly Recommended), hiking, massage or guided birding tour, not included; or relax by one of two hotel pools, included!
  • Lunch at Finca Agro-ecológica El Paraíso, included (be sure we get a special drink ‘Stress Reliever’ blended from fresh grown organic herbs)
  • Tour Finca Agro-ecológica El Paraíso, learn about the family that claimed part of a rocky mountain side to grow vegetables and herbs organically, including the outstanding view of the valley, included
  • Visit a privately owned tobacco farm that produces product for the world-renowned Habana cigars, included
  • Visit Cave of the Indian, optional
  • Return to hotel
  • EXCEPTIONAL EVENING AT, SMALL, LOCAL PALADAR
  • During pre-dinner drinks we will have a candid and personal discussion with a young female owner of a private business about the evolution of Cuban law and its impact on her business and family

Day 6 – Wednesday :: Havana return, vintage american cars and dinner at #1 restaurant in Cuba

  • Breakfast, included
  • Hotel check out and depart for Havana
  • Visit to an open air market as we depart Vinales, optional
  • Lunch will be provided on the coach ride and hosted by GRTC Leaders, Dan Rutherford & Josh Lanning, as to-go sandwiches in order to save time to get to Havana, optional
  • Visit the Museum of Revolution, included
  • Hotel Nacional check in; relaxing time to stroll the garden, walk the sites depicted in the Godfather Part II movie, enjoy a cigar and mojito or have a rest on the veranda where some of the world’s most interesting personalities’ have taken a break while the winds from the Straits of Florida breeze by
  • Our group will caravan in Vintage American cars along the Malecon, and stop at a small park for photos & continue on through the ‘ancient’ forest to dinner, included
  • Dinner at an exceptional private restaurant LaGuarida, included. (Location for filming the internationally acclaimed film “Strawberry and Chocolate”, the only Cuban film to be nominated for an Academy Award.)

Day 7 – Thursday :: Revolution, Hemingway home & farm, last night in Cuba

  • Breakfast, included
  • Morning meeting with members of Unión Nacional de Juristas de Cuba - UNJC (Cuban National Union of Lawyers). Talk on:
    • Cuban economy
    • Cuba new investment law
    • Cuban private businesses
  • Lunch at El Template, along the Bay of Havana, included
  • Visit Finca La Vigía (home and farm of Ernest Hemingway). This unique National Museum also includes his boat Pilar (in part made famous from his book Old Man and the Sea), the graves of some of his dogs and the fully furnished home which we will be able to see inside, included
  • Return to hotel
  • Dinner not included. With all the great food we have experienced the past week, this is our last chance to re-visit one of our favorite restaurants or check out a paladar we have heard about. Our Cuban Guide and GRTC Team will be glad to help. Plan ahead, even earlier in the week, for reservations
  • Evening is free to explore the sights and sounds of the city. It’s our last night in the Republic of Cuba so Enjoy!

Day 8 – Friday :: Havana and home

  • Breakfast, included
  • Check-out of hotel
  • Transfer to José Martí International Airport for flight home
  • Memories of a wonderful visit to the Pearl of the Antilles: Cuba, included!

E mail or call Global Relations Travel Club leadership for a ‘line by line’ itinerary:

Dan Rutherford    DanRutherford@GlobalRelations.US
Josh Lanning        JoshLanning@GlobalRelations.US

Global Relations Travel Club
320 North Plum Street
Pontiac, Illinois USA 61764
815-842-2475

Cuba travel is a challenge. Our staff and Cuban partners work super hard to make your tour unfold seamlessly despite Third World conditions on the island. Sometimes things don’t go as planned. Flexible travelers understand this is part of their Cuban adventure.
Tour meals at your hotel and at fine restaurants
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Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner
  • Teleconference with the tour group and Global Relations Travel Club (GRTC) leadership to go through the itinerary, answer questions and offer suggestions on opportunities not on the schedule
  • A series of briefing emails, starting weeks before departure, to assist you in preparing for the trip. This will include a packing list and other practical suggestions
  • All taxes. All amounts are quoted in US dollars
  • Hotel in U.S. the night before departure to Cuba
  • Airport transfers: Transfer from your hotel in departing city to the airport. You are met at the airport in Cuba upon arrival and taken to your hotel. For departure you will be taken back to the airport in Cuba. You need to book your own airfare to and from Cuba
  • Hotels in Cuba as listed in tour itinerary, or similar
  • Welcome cocktail upon arrival
  • All breakfasts, lunches and dinners as per itinerary
  • All activities, services, speakers, meetings and meals as described in tour itinerary except those noted as “optional” or “not included”
  • Luxury air-conditioned private coach transportation and a full-time professional driver, dedicated to your group
  • An expert Cuban English-speaking guide whose background matches tour content and GRTC Team member from the US escorting the tour
  • Ongoing support from your Cuban Tour staff and the GRTC Team before, during and after your stay
  • Emergency collect call access to the North American staff while in Cuba
  • Emergency cash advances for tour participants who face complications accessing funds from abroad while in Cuba
  • Global Relations Travel Club (GRTC) membership: $29 http://www.globalrelations.us/membership.html Membership is a requirement, by Rule, to participate in GRTC tours
  • Transportation TO U.S. departure city going to Cuba
  • Airfare FROM U.S. departure city TO Cuba and back. Cuban Visa and departure tax from Cuba will be included in your airfare to Cuba, along with mandatory official Cuban medical insurance coverage during your island stay
  • Gratuities for Cuban tour guide, coach/van driver, chambermaids, restaurant staff, porters, etc of group activates. You will be asked to participate in a ‘gratuity collective’ of $154.89 in which all gratuities for group activities will be collectively paid on your behalf. Details will be sent to you
  • Optional travel interruption and cancellation insurance. See http://globalrelations.ourcuba.com/insurance/