Old Havana in all its glory

Old Havana in all its glory

We recently advertised a combination CULTURAL/FISHING excursion to Cuba, which was the very first for us. Interest from customers was fast and furious, and we quickly sold 7 spots. We have room for just one more.

The exciting news is that we had customers ready to book a trip, but for whom our dates did not work. So, we found another week at the end of May, and have 4 clients signed up. We can accommodate as many as 4 more customers.

As with our first trip, I will be along as host. That means I will be with the group in Havana, as well as during our fishing at the Zapata Peninsula. In Havana, we will be joined by local Cubans who will lead us around to the best sites in town, as only the experts could do.

Dates: May 21-28

Price: $4650 per person based on double occupancy (rooms and fishing skiffs)

ITINERARY:

Day 1 (May 21)

Guests arrive in Havana, and check in to the quaint Azul Habana guest-house. We will meet for dinner or drinks if people want, but otherwise this evening is planned to be free for guests to relax after their trip to Havana. 

Day 2 (May 22)

-9:00am- After breakfast at Azul Habana, we will discover Havana’s beauty. Alfredo, a free-lance guide, takes you to the most interesting cultural and historical sites in the capital, including Old Havana, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982.  We will also tour Havana’s Historical Squares: San Francisco de Asis, Plaza Vieja, the “Arma” square and the Cathedral square. We will make a stop at “El de al frente” bar for their signature drink. Around 12:00pm we will have lunch at “La Moneda Cubana” paladar. 

After lunch we will continue our tour around Old Havana visiting a tobacco factory, Obispo Street, the “Callejón de Hamel”, a neighborhood that has been converted into a cultural center rich in Afro-Cuba religion, art and dance. Scholar Elias Assef will provide an overview of Santeria and other Cuban religions with African routes, which will be followed by a folkloric dance performance. We will then stop at “El Floridita” restaurant for Daiquiri tasting.

03:30pm- Before to get back to your hotel, Panoramic Tour by the Modern Havana (Revolution Museum, Central Park, Havana Theater, Havana Capitol, Havana University and Havana, Revolution square, “Malecon” (its famous sea view boulevard) in Old cars.

07:30pm Dinner at El Canonoza paladar. To the east of La Cabana Fortress, this historic structure protected Havana’s harbor against pirates beginning in the 16th century. There is a small community here of only two streets with just 30 houses. One of these houses is a very special space; it’s the home of Hostal El Cañonazo, a three-guestroom casa particular featuring a charming backyard paladar restaurant with fine service and beautifully prepared Cuban cuisine. Both the guest accommodation and the outdoor eating experience are the work of Abel Martínez who has lived in the home that houses them since he was four years old, and still lives there today. It’s an excellent place to visit for visitors who come to the visit Fortress, take in the stunning view of the city from across the water and catch the daily 9 o’clock ceremonial cannon firing to enjoy a fine meal in a lovely environment. Abel was working in a Havana cafeteria when he envisioned his own place right in the home where he had grown up. Today it has 46 seats and a comprehensive menu that features an extensive range of seafood – fish, crab, shrimp lobster and octopus plus a number of chicken preparations and house specialty traditional ropa vieja.

After the traditional 9:00pm Cannon Blast Ceremony, we will return to our guest-house after a drive along the Malecon.

Day 3 (May 23)

- 9:00am After breakfast, we will see Hemingway’s Havana. Guided by Alfredo, you will visit the places where the famous American writer Ernest Hemingway lived as well as other sites he frequented and where many of his most renowned works were later set. We will drive to La Vigía Farmhouse, former residence of the renowned American writer.  After, we will have a walking tour of the fishermen’s village, Cojimar, where Hemingway found the inspiration for “The Old Man and the Sea. We will sample a cocktail at Las Terrazas de Cojimar restaurant before visiting the nearby Hemingway monument.

- 12:00pm: Lunch at “El Aljiaco paladar” in Cojimar. Café Ajiaco is a place trying to stand out from the Paladar crowd while offering a 100% Cuban ambiance. They know by the time you get to their restaurant, you have probably already sampled more than a few mojitos and daiquiris. So they mix it up a bit with dark rum mojito sweetened with honey instead of sugar. Their cucumber daiquiri is even more ambitious, and delicious. From Café Ajiaco, it is a few short block downhill toward the sea. There you can check out the local vibe (lots of bench sitting and dockside fishing), along with Hemingway´s drinking and fishing holes.

- After lunch, visit to Fusterlandia, in the village of Jaimanitas, where the centerpiece is Fuster’s own house. Taller-Estudio José Fuster is a sizable residence decorated from roof to foundations by art, sculpture, and above all, mosaic tiles of every color and description. Over half the neighborhood has been given similar artistic treatment, from street signs to bus stops to the local doctor’s house. Wandering around its quiet streets is a surreal and psychedelic experience. Cuban artist José Fuster’s art is “naïve,” meaning he uses childlike crude shapes and bright colors in his untrained composition. His work has been compared to that of Picasso, a comparison that followed him in successful gallery tours across Europe. In 1975, after moving into a modest wood house in the rundown neighborhood of Jaimanitas outside Havana, Fuster set about decorating his studio in colorful mosaic. Once he was done there, he asked his neighbors if he could decorate their homes and business as well. A few accepted his offer and the tile creations grew. Over the course of a decade, doctors’ offices, bus stops, fountains, benches, gateways, and more were enveloped by Fuster’s whimsical imagination. Today, his artwork coats the neighborhood in a rainbow of strange, enchanting fantasy. Jaimanitas was an economically depressed area before Fuster arrived, and now it has turned into an artist’s paradise. Tourists are bussed into the neighborhood to admire Fuster’s still-growing kingdom, which has spawned a new generation of artists inspired by the surroundings they came up in.

08:00pm- Reserved dinner at “El Cocinero” paladar. A New York loft-style lounge with a rooftop terrace, El Cocinero with its unique construction and interesting history is one of Havana’s buildings that has been rescued from deterioration and made into one of the city’s top restaurants. El Cocinero sits in what used to be a cooking oil factory but is now a chic venue for Havana’s trendy crowds. The beautiful infrastructure, which was once inaccessible, is now easy to reach via its spiral staircase. The towering chimney still evokes the building’s industrial past, but the food and the atmosphere are all about modern sophistication, from the melt-in-the mouth duck confit and blinis to the delectable seafood options on offer. El Cocinero has two main areas, an air-conditioned lounge on the second floor and a spacious terrace overlooking the neighborhood. The fast and well-trained servers welcome visitors to reach the top after a stroke of a welcome bell. After dinner, order one of the expertly prepared cocktails, sit back on the terrace and enjoy the sprawling views of the city in front of you. El Cocinero is the undertaking of rock, hip-hop, Afro-Cuban fusion musician X-Alfonso. Its popularity makes El Cocinero something like the Hard Rock Café of Havana.

 Head guide Felipe with a perfect Rio Hatiguanico Tarpon

Head guide Felipe with a perfect Rio Hatiguanico Tarpon

Day 4 (May 24)

06:30am- Breakfast at the house

07:00am– – Transfer to Rio Huatiguanico to fish the river for Tarpon! (about 90 minutes drive)

04:00pm – Continue to Playa Larga (about 1 hour)

05:00pm – Check in at Caribe y Sol private house. This private Cuban guest-house is right on the beach at the very end of the famous Bay of Pigs. Clean, simple, but friendly and well placed, our Cuban hosts will take great care of us. 

7:30pm- Dinner at the hostel (included). 

Day 5 (May 25)

07:00am- Breakfast at the house

07:30am – Meet your fishing guide and transfer to Las Salinas.

08:30am – Fishing journey at Las Salinas . Catch and Release fishing for Bonefish, resident Tarpon, Permit, Jacks, Snapper Cuda and Snook.

04:00pm – Return to lodgings at Playa Larga, passing by the house of local handcrafter Don Yoyi.  Born in Colon, Matanzas, Cuba in 1979, Don Yoyi took up fishing at early in his life. He also studied and perfected the woodworking technique of marquetry. Marquetry is the painstaking process of cutting and shaping thin pieces of wood veneer and forming them into a shape or image. Combining his two passions of woodworking and fishing led to the creation of his company. Each piece of his art is handcrafted using native Cuban woods. No two pieces are the same as this style of woodwork blends the color and grain of the wood with the artist’s eye for creativity. 

07:00pm- Dinner at our guest-house

 The beach and private guest-houses along the Bay of Pigs in the small town of Playa Larga

The beach and private guest-houses along the Bay of Pigs in the small town of Playa Larga

Day 6 (May 26)

07:00am– Breakfast at the house

07:30am – Meeting with local fishermen to discuss local economy and role of foreign visitors to their economy, traditional fishing methods, efforts in conservation, scientific research, etc. –

9:00 am- Fishing at Las Salinas

04:00pm – Return to the house.

07:00pm- Dinner at our guest-house

Day 7 (May 27)

07:00am– Breakfast at the house

07:30am - Meet Abel Lopez, a free-lance guide specialized in bird watching who will accompanied you for 2 hours along the National Park familiarizing you with endemic birds of the area. The Zapata Peninsula is one of the best places for bird watching in Cuba. 280 of the 350 species of birds that have been reported in Cuba -62 percent of the total- can be seen here.

10:00am – Fishing at Las Salinas

04:00pm – Return to the house passing by Don Alexis paladar- bar to talk about our fishing experience with some people of the town while enjoying a cocktail .

07:00pm- Farewell at the house enjoying a whole roast pork (typical Cuban cuisine)

Day 8 (May 28)

07:00am– Breakfast at the house

08:00 am-  Transfer from Playa Larga to Havana International Airport - Return Flight to USA, TBD

 


 

 



 

 

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