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Welcome back to Cuba!
Cultural Academic Program Including Two Beautiful Cities
Havana And Matanzas, Both Filled With Music
Arrival at the International Airport of Havana ¨José Martí. Assistance by a Solways rep with an identification placard.
Havana is the starting point of your trip throughout this beautiful island, the capital of the Republic of Cuba, its largest city, its main port, its economic-cultural center and its main tourist area. It is the most populous city in the country, and the third most populated in the Caribbean region.
Founded in 1519 under the founding name of Villa de San Cristóbal de La Habana, it was one of the first seven villas founded by the Spanish Crown on the island.
Transfer to the chosen hotel for a private check in during which a musical trio will play music.
Brief conference or introductory discussion "Current Cuban Musical-Cultural Panorama" with a specialist from the Institute of Music or School of Art, presentation of the trip´s itinerary while CDs of traditional and non-traditional Cuban music are given to the client. This brief meeting will be organized in a room in the hotel before departing to the city tour (or arranged the night before upon arrival in the hotel as permitted by the flight)
Departure at 10am by bus to Old Havana and walk about the main emblematic squares, also drive through main streets and avenues depending on the location of the hotel. In one of the squares in the Old Quarter, preferably at Plaza Vieja, a trope of Still Walkers called Zanqueros de la Gigantería Ambulante will bump into view to the rhythm of drums. Photos opps. Duration 20 min max.
Lunch in a restaurant in the Historic Center with live musical entertainment.
Continuation - which can be on foot from Plaza Vieja - to visit the National Museum of Music with more than 40 years treasuring and disseminating the musical heritage and with more than 500,000 documents and personal property on the musical history of all times in Cuba, this museum is a must in this tour.
Head to Centro Habana through Ave de San Lázaro to Callejón de Hammel. Located in the neighborhood of Cayo Hueso, in Centro Habana, the Callejón de Hamel, is a must for tourists and nationals interested in Afro-Cuban culture. Note: If the itinerary could be adapted so that this visit falls on Sunday afternoon, it would be possible to enjoy a unique rumba show where neighbors, attired as ancient gods of the Yoruba pantheon, the Orishas, go out into the alley to greet visitors and the beat of the drums can be heard loudly ... a 200 meter- long street, this open-air museum or community gallery, stands close to such emblematic places as the ocean-front of malecon and Chinatown. In it, dances and rhythms mix with the people next to walls painted with graffiti; full of paintings, sculptures, remains of old bicycles, bathtubs, mannequins.
We then visit the Havana Music School, a Cuban music school based in Havana. It was created in November 2014 and its main purpose is to offer musicians, whether professional or not and from any country in the world, the possibility of accessing a school with prestigious internationally renowned professors. At the same time, it guarantees the entire necessary infrastructure so that music classes go together with a pleasant and fun stay in the capital of all Cubans.
Return to the hotel with a panoramic tour - depending on the location of the hotel – while driving past old jewels of Cuban music, historic sites almost forgotten and little visited on tourist routes, such as Los Jardines de la Tropical; the Ali Bar, near the so-called Caballo Blanco; The Pico Blanco (White Peak) at Hotel St. John, in Vedado; the Amado Roldán Theater (formerly Auditorim Theater); The Playa de Marianao, right in front of the former amusement park Coney Island or the El Johnny’s Dream, or simply El Johnny as it is widely known, on 0 Street in Miramar.
Back to the hotel, brief pause.
Dinner at the Cultural Complex Dos Gardenias in Miramar. It could be served in one of the three restaurants: Creole, Italian or Oriental, or at the nearby El Aljibe restaurant which boasts an almost secret recipe for its Aljibe chicken. After dinner, enjoy the performance of top Cuban Bolero players in the Rincón del Bolero, set in a romantic atmosphere. Return to the hotel after the show of approx 1 hour.
Another option to enjoy a varied musical show would be the Parisién Cabaret in the Nacional hotel with dinner first in the elegant restaurant in the lobby, Comedor Aguiar or in the cabaret itself. Also at the Nacional, on certain days during the week, there takes place a musical show with members of the Buena Vista Social Club project, held in the Sala 1930.
As another less touristy musical option than the two mentioned above, tonight we head to Palacio de la Rumba »which is located in Cayo Hueso neighborhood, in Centro Habana, and is designed both for individuals and groups interested in this genre declared by UNESCO as Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2016.
From 10 p.m. until 2 a.m. songs and dances to the rhythm of traditional drums dominate the Rumba Palace. It is also the official venue of the Timbalaye Festival, and the site for conferences on Afro-Cuban traditions and religion, as well as concerts and rumba dances.
Transfer to Matanzas / Varadero
The province of Matanzas is located in western Cuba and to the west it borders Mayabeque Province, Villa Clara and Cienfuegos provinces to the east, the Florida Strait to the north and the Caribbean Sea to the south. Its capital is the City of Matanzas
Crossed by Yumurí and San Juan rivers, the City of Matanzas is a coastal city par excellence: the sea is a dominant part of the landscape accompanied by rivers crossed by a total of 29 bridges, four of them are centenary and currently up and running, as well as that of Bacunayagua, the tallest in the country, where we will stop to sip a delicious pina colada and enjoy the beautiful view of the Yumurí Valley.
The city of Matanzas, also known as The Athens of Cuba due to the cultural splendor it reached in the 19th century, is the cradle of many musicians, amongst which the following are the most outstanding: José Silvestre White, Miguel Faílde, creator of the danzonete and Dámaso Pérez Prado, creator of the mambo.
Once in the center of Matanzas, the tour begins with the best of all welcomes in an elevated area known as Simpson Heights, here we gather around La Ermita de Monserrate around 10:45 am. La Ermita can sit up to 100 people. The highest point or viewpoint of the city with the best views of the Bay of Matanzas and the southern part of the Yumurí Valley, on this site a neoclassical hermitage or religious temple was built in the 19th century and was dedicated to the Virgin of Monserrat, the Catalan patron saint. A short concert opens with the performance of a popular local quintet paying mambo music.
After this unique introduction, we start a panoramic tour of the center including the original Pharmaceutical Museum of Matanzas, also called The Triolet; the Spanish Casino or the City Hall building, among others to finish at Plaza de la Libertad and have lunch at the nearby Velasco hotel – or in the Chiquirrín restaurant if the group is smaller.
After lunch at around 2:00 p.m., a few steps away we find ourselves at the White Room where visitors are welcomed with a cocktail. Also known as the old Artistic and Literary Lyceum, the White Room today is the home-base of the Matanzas Symphony. Exchange with a renowned local singer who takes you on a tour of Cuban music from the danzón to the salsa; he also explains how each rhythm has its origin in the danzón that was performed for the first time right here on the night of January 1, 1879 in Cuba, entitled "The Simpson Heights", created by Miguel Faílde. A danzoneros couple interacts with visitors. This visit lasts approximately 90 min.
Then walk for about 20 min along the new Paseo de Narváez on the banks of the San Juan River and surrounded by artisan galleries, creators and artists until the parking lot located behind the Sauto Theater, one of the three main classical theaters in Cuba, a National Monument and city symbol. Photos time.
Continuation to Varadero with arrival about 35 minutes later.
Buffet dinner at the hotel and enjoy the facility´s themed night show.
Visit, recommended 2 hours from 10am, to ABC Academy of Art and Culture in Varadero to participate in a Cuban dance and percussion workshop. This will be a very interactive workshop to learn the main basic steps of rumba and salsa, as well as to keep the beat and absorb the various rhythms that percussion gives us. For those who do not dance, domino could be an option. We conclude this activity with an exclusive performance of a Cuban Musical Group with a recognized career.
Lunch at the hotel. Free afternoon
Departure to dinner in vintage cars from the hotel with a panoramic tour about downtown Varadero and finish at the farewell dinner and overview of the trip at the historic Mansión Xanadú restaurant. Here a local jazz music group awaits us in the bar on the upper floor. We take in the sunset over an open bar with domestic or international drinks. Then we go downstairs to the cool and spacious terrace for a fine dinner overlooking the ocean. A microphone will be available for the final words of the trip by the organizer and tour leader. Souvenir will be handed in. Return to the hotel by bus.
Other musical events - some with live bands - at night in Varadero will include Tropicana Varadero (on the outskirts), The Beatles, Bar Calle 62, Casa de la Música, Proyecto 365 / Habana Café, Sala de la Música Marina Gaviota, Cueva del Pirata, The Palace of the Rumba and the Bamba.
Transfer to the airport to take departure flight (pick up about 5 hours prior to the flight)
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