Monday, January 27, 2014

YMTV Itinerary

Cuba, Its People & Culture

Cuban car

    From $2499

    8 Days
    Includes 14 meals on tour
    Passport Required
    (Click the map to enlarge)

    Cuba, Its People & Culture

    Tour Starts: Miami, FL
    Tour Ends: Miami, FL

    Day 1

    Fly to Miami:
    Welcome to Miami. If you have purchased your airline tickets through YMT Vacations, you will be welcomed by a YMT representative and transferred to your hotel as part of your package. (Guests who have made their own air arrangements should make their own way to the hotel). This evening you will join your fellow travelers for a trip briefing in the hotel where you will learn about the exciting days ahead and prepare for your Cuban People-to-People experience.
    Hotel: Hilton Miami International Airport*

    Day 2

    Santa Clara, Cuba:
    This morning your group will check in for your early 55 minute charter flight from Miami International Airport to Santa Clara, Cuba. You will be accompanied by a YMT Tour Manager who will travel with you on your charter flights. Their role is to ensure the smooth running of your program and to work alongside the National Cuban Guide, who will meet you upon arrival at Santa Clara International Airport, after you have cleared immigration and customs. Your National Cuban Guide will be with you throughout your stay. You’ll head straight from the airport to a local restaurant for an included lunch, after which you’ll see the Che Guevara Mausoleum, where there will be a photo stop en route to Santa Clara. The mausoleum's location was chosen in remembrance of Guevara’s troops taking the city on December 31, 1958, resulting in Cuban dictator Batista fleeing into exile. Santa Clara, founded in 1689, is the capital city of the province of Villa Clara and it’s here that you will visit a community center for senior citizens named Abeulos de Fiesta. You’ll interact with some of the participants and staff at the center and discuss the programs they offer and how important this facility is to those who use it. Later you'll be taken to a local market to meet local traders, have Cuban Peso and CUC stores explained and then on to visit a ‘Bodega’, or state ration store, where you’ll learn about the monthly allowances of basic staples and how the system works. Finally, drive to Cayo Santa Maria, a coastal resort on the Cayos Villa Clara (Keys), by way of a 30 mile causeway that jumps from Cay to Cay. (L, D)
    Hotel: Playa Cayo Santa Maria, Cayo Santa Maria* 

    Day 3

    Remedios & Caibarien:
    After breakfast you travel to Remedios, a charming town boasting colonial architecture and cobble stoned streets.  Established in 1514 and now with a population of 18,000 inhabitants, Remedios is considered a national monument and will be celebrating its 500 year anniversary in 2014. During a walk-through of the city center you will visit the cathedral and meet with the catholic priest who runs a range of community projects; from sewing classes for children, aerobics sessions, to providing meals for the elderly.  You’ll meet and talk to local people involved with the church and some of its community activities. Remedios is also known for its Parrandas Festival, an annual carnival-like celebration that takes place at the end of December. You’ll see some of the floats and costumes in various stages of creation and construction and speak with the volunteers and festival officials.  This afternoon there will be a short drive to the nearby fishing community of Caibarien.  Here you’ll visit a local printing shop and see pre-revolution presses in use and have the opportunity to talk to the printers. Then you will visit an art project, Por la Costa, run by a husband and wife. Visit their studio and learn about their art and how they involve local children in their projects. Learn about how local fisherman make a living, how they sell their catch and the importance of fishing to Caibarien and its economy. This evening relive the experiences of the day with your fellow travelers over an included dinner at the hotel along with Cuban dancing. For those who want to take part, the dancers will welcome you on the dance floor and be on hand to offer instruction. (B, D)
    Hotel: Playa Cayo Santa Maria, Cayo Santa Maria*

    Day 4

    This morning head west toward Havana for your first opportunity to get acquainted with this fascinating city. Arriving around lunchtime, you’ll first have an included lunch at LA Imprenta, a traditional Old Havana restaurant. Following, there is a short panoramic orientation of the city from the motor coach including a brief stop at Revolucion Plaza; The Plaza has been the site of many of Havana’s major historical events including the recent visit of the Pope and from where Fidel Castro has addressed his countrymen many times. Later this afternoon at the hotel, there will be a lecture: Life in Cuba Today, to provide an introductory insight to modern day living, how Cubans make ends meet, monthly wages, divorce rate, literacy rate, rationing stores, rent, home purchase, and traveling abroad. During the lecture you will be able to ask questions and discuss relations with the USA. This evening there’s an included dinner at the popular El Aljibe restaurant, a well-regarded open air restaurant. Food is served family style, and its specialty is chicken. (B, L, D)
    Hotel: Quinta Avenida, Havana*

    Day 5

    Agriculture & Rural Life, Vinales, Pinar Del Rio:
    Today you visit Vinales in the province of Pinar Del Rio and witness Cuba’s picturesque countryside, rural life and agriculture. Vinales is an approximate 2 ½ hour drive from Havana where you will see perhaps the greenest and most verdant landscape in all Cuba. With its mountains and fertile valley, many liken it to the scenery of New Zealand. You will visit a tobacco farm to see the growing, drying and cigar rolling process of Cuba’s most famous export where you’ll will also meet with, and talk to the farmer’s family in the intimacy of their own home. Today’s stop for an included lunch is at a breathtaking setting inside the National Park - the Mural de la Prehistoria, 200 feet high and 300 feet long, commissioned by Fidel Castro to in 1961 to depict evolution and now a UNESCO site. After lunch visit an organic farm where you will view the crops, learn how the farmer sells his produce, and also meet his family. You will walk through his extensive garden and listen to his planting ideas and learn how he makes ends meet. In Vinales, you’ll visit a Policlinic, a state run healthcare center. Here you will meet with local health professionals and discuss Cuba’s public healthcare system and that of the US. (B, L)
    Hotel: Quinta Avenida, Havana* 

    Day 6

    The Arts, Havana:
    This morning there is a quick visit to Colon Cemetery, or Cementerio de Cristóbal Colón, founded in 1876 and situated in the Vedado neighborhood of the city. The 140 acre cemetery has more than 800,000 graves and 1 million interments. The main event of the morning is a visit to the Havana City Model, where an architect will explain the direction the city is headed with its architecture and city planning. This will be followed by a question and answer session. A following architectural walk of Old Havana guided by the architect will give you the chance to see up close some of what you have discussed at the earlier presentation. The Old City is pedestrian-only, and its intimacy and cobble stoned streets take you back in time and you will visit the four main restored plazas. This afternoon will include meeting local young artists at the Taller de Serigrafia in the Old City; this is an interesting silk screening studio, and you will have a demonstration on how they have developed their own method of printing. Next it’s a stop a San Jose Handicraft Market where you will meet and talk to the various vendors, before later visiting a school of music. Music is central to the way of Cuban life, you see and hear it everywhere, and this school provides music workshops for young musicians to practice their craft. You will enjoy their music and talk to them about their education. (B)
    Hotel: Quinta Avenida, Havana*

    Day 7

    This morning you will visit a pre-school day care facility called a ‘guaderia infantil’. It is run by nuns, who will explain their role in the community, looking after young children, allowing their parents to work. Later you will visit the Hemingway farm, Finca Vigia, where the famed author lived with his wife from 1939 to 1960. The final visit of the morning is Muraleando, an inspiring community art project that has transformed its neighborhood. Founding artist, Manolo, describes it as a ‘people’s art gallery’ where the murals and sculptures depict fanciful celebrations of Cuban life. After an included lunch at Cecilia, a Cuban restaurant, there’s a visit to the house and studio of Jose Fuster, one of Cuba’s most eminent artists. The entire property is adorned by ceramics, some reaching many feet from the ground. Fuster has made a major contribution rebuilding and decorating the fishing town of Jaimanitas in the outskirts of Havana, where he has decorated over 80 houses with ornate murals and domes. Your final event today is a private presentation at the hotel from musicians of the Cuban Institute of Music. This organization represents more than 15,000 Cuban musicians and after a performance of traditional Cuban music, you’ll talk to them about their lives and how they make a living. This evening you have an included farewell dinner at a Paladar, one of Cuba’s privately run restaurants, along with a talk from the owner on starting and running a small business in Cuba. (B, L, D)
    Hotel: Quinta Avenida, Havana* 

    Day 8

    Depart for Home:
    Time to bid farewell to Cuba. This morning you will take your charter flight from Havana back to Miami. (B)

    *or similar accommodations
    Please note that this is a proposed itinerary; the actual itinerary may vary due to season, special events, or weather. Because our tour arrangements are often made a year or more in advance, YMT Vacations reserves the right to alter the itinerary. Itinerary changes are made to improve your vacation experience, as well as respond to any unforeseen circumstances that mandate alterations. By their nature, all tours vacations involve a certain level of physical activity. While YMT tours have been designed with our guests in mind and are not physically demanding, this tour does include walking and periods of standing during the sightseeing visits. You will also encounter steps and some uneven ground along the way, particularly at older, historical sights.

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