Weekend in Havana

Immerse yourself in the culture of Havana through meaningful interactions with locals, and learn about how the complicated history has impacted this remarkable city.
Rating (5)
Program No. 23508RJ
5 days
Starts at
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5 days
4 nights
9 meals
4 B 2 L 3 D
In Transit, Arrive Havana, Check-in, Welcome Dinner
Hotel Nacional de Cuba

Activity note: This daily schedule is a representative guide. Program elements in Cuba are controlled by the Cuban government and are subject to change on short notice, as are flight times. Hotel check-in from 4:00 p.m

Afternoon: After checking in at the hotel, take some time to freshen up. We will gather in the hotel lobby with our Group Leader before dinner.

Dinner: At the hotel, our meal will include beverage choices of coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night's rest for the day ahead. During our Orientation session in the morning — essential for all participants — we will review the regulations that govern our program and are set by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). Program elements in Cuba are controlled by the Cuban government and are subject to change on short notice; therefore, the daily schedule is a representative guide. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Orientation, U.S. & Cuba, Dance Rehearsal
Hotel Nacional de Cuba

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. Driving about 10 miles, approximately 1 hour. Walking up to 1.5 miles, approximately 2 hours. Standing on paved and unpaved paths with limited places to sit.

Breakfast: In the hotel restaurant, have what you like from the extensive buffet with a variety of hot and cold choices and beverages.

Morning: Orientation, 8:30 a.m. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. The program is staffed by a bilingual Cuban Host who will provide educational commentary and be with us throughout, as well as a Group Leader who will deal primarily with logistics. We will also have local experts from time to time who will provide additional information and educational leadership. Our accommodations in Cuba feature clean, comfortable rooms with private baths and standard amenities. Cuban hotel standards may not equal their American or European counterparts. Improvements are ongoing, and we hope that any potential glitch in service or amenities is a minor trade-off for the authentic connections and enrichment we will experience. Most staircases in Cuba do not have railings, so if you use a walking aid, please bring it with you on the program. Periods in the schedule designated as “At leisure” offer opportunities to make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Next, we’ll have a presentation on the history of U.S.-Cuba relations by an expert in the field. We’ll gain an understanding of Cuban perspectives on the tumultuous relationship between the two countries, followed by open discussion. In the late morning, we'll see a rehearsal by a private dance company and meet with the dancers afterwards to discuss their career paths and how they have shaped their lives in Cuba.

Lunch: At a local paladar.

Afternoon: After lunch, we'll interact with the members of a community group at a local church. We’ll return to the hotel in the late afternoon.

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be glad to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure.

Urban Planning, Old Havana, Farm Visit, El Morro
Hotel Nacional de Cuba

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 10 miles, approximately 45 minutes. Walking up to 2 miles and standing, approximately 1.5 hours; mainly pedestrian-only streets, cobblestones, high curbs, sunny conditions, limited shade.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will be joined by a local architect for a presentation on architecture and urban planning that will address the ongoing, government-funded restoration of Old Havana. We’ll learn about the work being done as well as the challenges and vision for the city’s future. We’ll then set out with our Cuban host on a walking field trip into two of Old Havana’s four plazas: Plaza de la Catedral that originated in 1592, with its main feature the ornate Catedral de San Cristóbal; and Plaza Vieja, laid out in 1559 when it was the “new” square, now surrounded by elegant, historic buildings. Next, we’ll visit with members of a graphic arts cooperative and learn what they do. In the late morning, we’ll set out by motorcoach on a field trip to a farm outside the city. A member of the farm staff will lead our exploration as we learn about organic farming methods and the crops grown there.

Lunch: At the farm.

Afternoon: Next, we’ll depart for El Castillo de los Tres Reyes del Morro, known simply as El Morro. This fortress was used to protect Havana’s bay. The views will help us gain a better understanding of the city’s layout and the military challenges it faced.

Dinner: At a local paladar.

Evening: At leisure.

Old Havana, Dominoes, Jazz Performance
Hotel Nacional de Cuba

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 5 miles, approximately 30 minutes, throughout the day. Walking up to 1.5 miles, approximately 2 hours. Standing on cobblestone streets and navigating uneven sidewalks, high curbs and stairs without railings.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We’ll board our motorcoach for a short ride to begin exploring Old Havana’s two other plazas, Plaza de San Francisco de Asis and Plaza de Armas, with our Cuban host. Across from the old port, the main feature in Plaza de San Francisco today is what was the Basilica Menor de San Francisco de Asis, built from 1580-1591. The bell tower, nearly 140 feet (42 meters) high, was the tallest in Havana. The edifice now serves as a multipurpose concert hall. The Plaza de Armas was the old parade ground in colonial times, used for military drills and parades, concerts, and promenades. Dominoes, Cuba’s national game, has its own set of rules, played enthusiastically in private and public. More than competition and skill, it is a greatly enjoyed social activity. We’ll meet members of a local dominoes league, learn the Cuban rules, then play with club members. Teams will rotate and each American will play with one Cuban and an opportunity to practice a few words in Spanish!

Lunch: On your own to choose from the many independently owned paladares in Old Havana.

Afternoon: Following lunch, we'll meet up to return to the hotel by private motorcoach. In the late afternoon, gather with your fellow participants in the hotel for a performance by a local jazz band. Afterwards, have the opportunity to talk with the band members to learn about their lives as musicians in Cuba.

Dinner: At a paladar, share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends during our farewell dinner.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and departure in the morning.

Program Concludes
Depart Cuba

Activity note: Hotel check-out 12:00 Noon.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet or boxed breakfast depending on flight times. This concludes our program.

Morning: Whether you are returning home or departing for your next adventure, safe travels. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!

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