Cuba for Book Lovers tour: includes 29th Annual Havana Book Fair

(Feb 9-18, 2020)

The best of Cuban literature, live music, dancing, bird-watching, UNESCO World Heritage sites, ocean views, Cuban food, architecture and Cuban friends await you on this phenomenal tour!  10% of your registration directly benefits the Nederland Community Library Foundation.

What to know about the Havana Book Fair.  Authors from all over the world attend the event; some of the better known authors who have been present at the fair include American writer Alice Walker and German writer Bertolt Brecht. Another interesting aspect of the fair is that each year it chooses to honor a particular country and its literary achievements.  Each day is then filled with poetry readings, fun and educational activities for children, art promotions and concerts. Authors present make the best use of their day by presenting their books and interacting with fans about their work. The Havana’s International Book Fair sells millions of books every year.

Cost: $2695 (Early Bird registrations 4 months prior to departure receive $200 discount)

WHAT IS INCLUDED:

  • TRAVEL LICENSES, MANDATORY CUBAN HEALTH INSURANCE AND VISAS
  • A BILINGUAL CUBAN GUIDE
  • 9 NIGHTS IN CUBAN BED AND BREAKFASTS (CASA PARTICULARES)
  • 17 MEALS AND PRIVATE, AIR-CONDITIONED GROUND TRANSPORTATION
  • BOTTLED WATER ALWAYS AVAILABLE
  • OUR SELECTION OF FAVORITE CUBAN-THEMED BOOKS-SENT STRAIGHT TO YOUR HOME (Waiting for Snow in Havana, Monkey Hunting, The Long Road to Havana, and Old Man and the Sea)
  • CURIOUS ABOUT CUBA EDUCATIONAL PROGRAM (TWO 4 HOUR SESSIONS OF INSTRUCTION PROVIDED BEFORE THE TRIP) OPTIONAL

 (NOV 2016 TOUR)

 

DEPOSIT: $500 TO RESERVE YOUR SPOT

  • PAYMENT 1: $1098 PAYMENT
  • PAYMENT 2: $1097 PAYMENT (+$500 FOR A SINGLE ROOM)
  • FLIGHT COSTS ARE ON YOUR OWN.  FLIGHTS FL/CUBA WILL BE RESERVED FOR YOU SO THE GROUP ARRIVES TOGETHER (THESE WILL BE PURCHASED 8-12 WEEKS BEFORE DEPARTURE)

DETAILED ITINERARY

The purpose of this itinerary is to give you an idea of the types of activities you will engage in during the tour, however, it may change based on factors such as availability, weather, and to take advantage of spontaneous activities and events.

Day 1: Flight to Havana (most often booked on American Airlines when departing Denver).

Arrive in Havana with time for dinner and a first glance at the city.  Maybe even take a walk on the Malecón to enjoy the ocean breezes, see El Morro fortress at night across the bay.  You will go out for a Welcome Dinner and get acquainted. Meal: Dinner

Day 2: Havana

Wear your walking shoes for this day! You start with a visit to Fusterlandia in the fishing village of Jaimanitas and the home of the famous artist Jose Fuster. Fuster has made his entire home, and much of the surrounding neighborhood, into an outdoor art gallery using tiles in mosaic forms.  A Havana driving tour in convertible classic cars will take you to the forest of Havana, the famous Revolutionary Square and through the gorgeous historic embassy neighborhoods.

After lunch you’ll take our first visit to the Havana Book Fair, in the historic El Morro fortress from the 17th century.  Enjoy interacting with Cubans and foreigners at English poetry readings, art promotions and concerts.  In late afternoon you will go to the casas to shower and prepare for dinner.  Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 3: Havana & Hemingway
The morning will start with time at the book fair, engaging in more of the readings and talks by various authors in attendance.

The activities will be followed by lunch and a walking tour of Old Havana City, gorgeous architecture and plazas.  You will see “La Floridita”  where Hemingway (supposedly) invented the daiquiri, and many other locations that Hemingway frequented.  As your feet get tired, you will hop on our private bus and head for “La Finca Vigia”, Hemingway’s lookout home 10 miles from the city.   In the late afternoon you will return to our casa particulares for free time.  Dinner is on your own, but nearby suggestions will be available.  Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 4: Viñales via Soroa
Say goodbye to the big city as you head to Viñales.  Viñales is the one of the most scenic areas of Cuba, among the limestone pincushion hills (called mogotes) in the tobacco-growing area of Cuba. On the way to Viñales you will visit Soroa, a botanical garden with amazing orchids that have been brought from China. (Wear your bug spray or long sleeves.)

You will reach Viñales in time to tour an organic farm and learn about sustainable farming in Cuba. Here you’ll meet a local farmer and his family who will show us around the organic farm and explain to us the methods used to cultivate crops without the use of pesticides.  With the beautiful sunset as our backdrop, we will enjoy a deliciously fresh and diverse meal prepared by the family, a truly authentic farm-to-fork experience!   Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Viñales
Today you will spend the morning learning the tradition of tobacco cultivation from a farmer and expert cigar maker. Get an insight as to how the communist system works, how much tobacco they will keep, how much produce they give back to the government, and how they make ends meet!  The plantation tour includes walking through banana and plantain groves, meeting local Cubans.

On our return we will have free time to wander the town and eat at lunch, go the casas for rest time, or perhaps take the bus to see the mountainside murals or a boat ride through the limestone caves.

In the late afternoon you will learn to cook Cuban-style with a cooking lesson from a local chef.  We will accompany the chef to the local markets to buy the ingredients for our platos típicos Cubanos like congri, potaje, garbanzo soup, ajiaco, and flan. Fun to cook, but even better to eat!

If you’re up for live music, the local outdoor disco gets started at 9 pm.  They feature live bands, dance performances and drinks to give you a flavor of Cuban nightlife.  This venue often packs out with people, both Cubans and visitors. Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 6: Cienfuegos (via Bay of Pigs), ~4 hour drive
On the route to Cienfuegos, our lunch break will be in a rural town. We will go to El Chino’s house, an ornithologist who is famous for the Bee Hummingbirds that frequent his backyard. Take pictures of the birds and learn the habits of the world’s smallest bird, which resides only in Cuba! Meet young Cuban dancers, artists and musicians in Korimikao.

Our next stop provides an opportunity for bird-watching or to take a dip in a sink hole which resembles a huge natural tropical fish tank. Be sure to pack your swimsuit!  Few tourists stop at this area, which has a nearby beach and rocky ocean you can swim in.

From there we will drive on the Playa Giron, home of the Bay of Pigs Museum. Learn about the conflict that happened right here between the U.S,-supported Cubans and locals in 1961, with perspectives from the Cuban government.  Beyond Playa Giron, we will arrive in Cienfuegos, a city of 400,000.  We will check in to our casa particulares before dinner together in a paladar at the ocean-side town.  Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Cienfuegos

This is a great morning to sleep late, or get up with the Early Birds to birdwatch at the nearby Guanaroca lagoon conservancy (admission on your own, ~$10).  A short walk takes you to the lagoon where a local will row you across the smooth waters to see the tremendous flocks of flamengos and other tropical birds that make this area their home.

Back in town, you will explore the seaside city and it’s french architecture. You are likely to see a quinceañera  photo session in the main plaza, and have a chance to explore the beautiful main plaza.  In the afternoon you will have a culinary experience of shopping for groceries followed by a cooking class at a local casa.  Buying groceries in Cuba can be a real adventure, you’ll see if you are lucky enough to find the basic ingredients!  Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 8: Travel from Cienfuegos to Havana

Enjoy the scenic drive through the citrus areas of Cuba, northward toward Havana.  After lunch in Havana, there will be a little more time to visit the capital and other historic locations in the city before an early dinner.  By 4 we will have time to shower, get dressed up for a big night and enjoy an early dinner.  If the National Ballet is in town, you will have the option to buy a ticket (~$20) to the show at the Alicia Alonso Theater, one of the most gorgeous examples of baroque architecture in Havana.  It is truly a magical experience!  Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 9:  Havana 

Our final day allows for a visit to the national library, a guided tour of world renowned publishing house, Ediciones Vigia, and a guided tour of the library of the University of Havana.  Learn about Cuba’s life-changing literacy campaign of 1961 at the Literacy Museum.

We will finish the day with a farewell dinner at the La Gaurida, a spectacular palace that is being restored, and was featured in the movie, “Fresas y Chocolates” (Strawberries and Chocolate).  Its a perfect way to toast to Jose Marti, Ernest Hemingway, and many othger international writers who have found their inspiration on this Caribbean island.

Day 10: Departure

Depending on flight times, you’ll be able to explore on your own in the morning, take photos, walk the malecon, or take a pedicab ride.  Roger, your guide, will take you to the airport  2-3 hours prior to departure.  Meals: Breakfast

We hope you return to the island again soon!