April 6-12, 2019
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Neil’s Great Photography Adventures excitedly looks forward to our 2019 Cuba Adventure and Workshop. Not just a sightseeing cultural exchange, our visit includes meetings with Cuban photographers and artists in venues such as their 3 year old “Fabrica de arte Cubano,” featuring one of the island’s largest contemporary art exhibitions.
We’ll mingle with Cuban creatives and explore their art, music & theater. And, what would a Cuban visit be without their old cars? We’ll have lots of shutter time with street scenes. We even take in our first sunset driving to our famous lodging, “Hotel Nacional,” in antique cars! As with any Neil’s Great Photography Adventure, we’ll take time to answer your photography questions, familiarize you with your camera equipment and help you learn to take your perfect picture exploring Cuban landmarks, galleries, museums and streets as we make new friends. This will be a wonderful photo experience. Please make plans to join us. Contact Me Now!
*Arriving in Havana you must clear immigration, customs and get baggage, a process that takes about an hour.
Check-in at Hotel
Departure for sunset cocktails at the Famous “Hotel Nacional” in antique cars . Designed by the New York Architectural firm “McKim, Mead and White” and developed by “Purdy and Henderson” in a mix of styles including Sevillian, Roman, Moorish and Art Deco, it rapidly became the headquarter of the Mafia in the 40’s and 50’s; this impressive structure will take us back in time and provide unique memories of the Havana life style before 1959.
Welcome dinner at Paladar, a progressive private restaurant located inside a late XVIII century mansion, that was partially restored keeping the layout from the original design; most of these family-owned restaurants were someone’s home before.
Later that evening; you will experience Havana’s famous traditional Cannon Firing Ceremony.
Visit the studio of top Cuban photographers. Talk with them and analyze their work.
Departure for Havana Vieja architectural tour with local expert:
You will visit “Plaza de Armas”, a scenic tree-lined square situated at the center of the former political and military influence area in the island. It is surrounded by many of the historic buildings in the old town; most of them date from 1500’s and 1600″s.”El Templete” foundation place of the city is also located on this plaza.
We will see the Plaza “San Francisco”, a cobbled plaza surrounded by buildings dating from the 18th century, dominated by the baroque Church and Convent of San Francisco de Asissi, one of the finest buildings from the colonial period. The basilica and the monastery of (Saint Francis of Assisi) were built in Havana at the end of sixteenth century (1580–91) as the home of the Franciscan community, and were altered in the Baroque style in 1730. A statue of St. Francis once stood atop the 138-foot bell tower, but it was destroyed by a cyclone in 1846.
Visit the “Taller de Grafica Experimental ” This is Havana’s printmaking and lithographic workshop. It is a studio-school dedicated to preserve and develop the sophisticated art of printmaking. Artist and curator Yamilis Brito and several fellow printmakers that belong to the guild will welcome you. They will display their works and be available for personal exchanges.
Visit “Plaza de la Cathedral”, The cathedral is dedicated to Saint Christopher (San Cristóbal) also known as Cathedral of Saint Christopher. The construction of the cathedral was started by Jesuits in 1748 on the site of an earlier church and finished by Havana City in 1777. The cathedral is set in the former Plaza de La Ciénaga or Swamp Plaza, where the runoff of the city gathered. The Cathedral is said to be the only example of a Baroque facade that was designed with asymmetrical features – one of the towers is wider than the other. This particular feature was conceived in order to allow the water that accumulated on the plaza to freely flow. Cuban writer Alejo Carpentier famously described the cathedral as “music set in stone.”
Lunch – Eat a Private Restaurant ” Paladar.
After lunch we will visit “Plaza Vieja”, some art galleries and very popular cafeterias attended mainly by locals adorn this charming place, as a conclusion to this walking tour our guide will talk about the difficult housing situation existing in the island.
Visit the Bellas Artes Museum.
As you walk down the main street – Obispo Street, you will notice the buzz in the air as Cubans are going about their daily routine. Along Obisbo take note of the many outlets for street food. Our walk will include a stop in the Floridita bar and the Ambos Mundos Hotel.
Dinner – Departure for dinner at private Paladar.
Visit “Fabrica de arte Cubano”, Currently celebrating their 3rd year anniversary, and featured in the New York Times, it is todays best cultural proposal in the city, you can use the space according to your own mood. it is located in the ruins of an old cooking-oil factory, it hosts one of the biggest exhibition of contemporary art in the island together with interior and architectural design shows, it has become a hot-spot for Cuban university students and locals to gather on weekends to listen to music, enjoy theatre live performances and see old movies projections, you will have an hour and half to mingle with Cuban students who in vast majority speak English, as it is mandatory in school. (This visit is only offered from Thursday to Sunday.)
Departure to visit the Hemingway’s museum, seven miles outside of Havana “Finca Vigia”, the home of writer Ernest Hemingway for two decades. He bought the house in 1939 and it was opened as a museum in 1964. It contains more than 22,000 original items that belonged to Hemingway, including records, books, paintings, personal documents, photographs, and hunting weapons. Peering inside the house through large windows and strolling around the peaceful grounds, visitors get a good feel for the daily life of the great writer.
Visit and Lunch at the whimsical home of artist Jose Fuster who has made a major contribution to rebuilding and decorate the fishing village of Jaimanitas located in the outskirts of Havana where he lives. This town is now a unique work of public art where Fuster has intervened over 80 houses with colorful ornate murals and domes, you will have time to walk through the neighborhood and talk to some of the numerous families who had benefit from this cultural project.
Visit studios of more Cuban photographers.
Return to Hotel
Dinner – at Paladar.
In the evening, we will visit the world famous nightclub, the Tropicana Cabaret. You will enjoy watching the glittering spectacle at this beautiful outdoor theater known as “Paradise under the Stars.”
Arrival at “Viñales Valley”. UNESCO World Heritage site since 1999. Considered by the New York Times the most beautiful place in the island, the “Viñales Valley” National Park holds stunning landscapes and jaw dropping vistas. This region is also known for being the premier tobacco growing area in the world.
Visit the “Despalillo”(The Sorting House). We will be welcomed by its principal. She will show us around this (mostly-women) institution that takes care of the process of selection of the Tabaco leafs according to their quality, color, position on the plan. This procedure happens before the leafs are send to warehouses for fermentation (1 to 4 years) and then to the factories mostly located in Havana for the final rolling. As we walk through, there will be an opportunity to ask the ladies working here about their daily life and how they combine their jobs hours with motherhood and the house tasks.
Lunch – Eat at local private farm.
Back to Havana.Visit the home of local visual artist, Ramon Vasquez. Despite his high education level at Havana’s National School of the Arts, this incredibly talented humble, local man differentiated himself from most of his classmates when he decided to come back to his hometown, Vinales, to build his home. Together with his college sweetheart, he produced art inspired by his surrounding landscape’s beauty and social dynamic of this remarkable settlement.
Dinner – Eat at local private restaurant “Paladar”
This morning, visit Matanzas, known as the “Athens of Cuba” for the many renowned artists and intellectuals it has produced. Visit TRIOLET PHARMACY, which dates back to 1879 and is preserved in its entirety. Then, interact with workers at EDICIONES VIGIA, a print and binding shop, and learn about the traditional craft that is still done by hand. Before returning to your hotel, stop at CASA DUPONT, built in 1926 by American millionaire Irénée du Pont. See the lavish grounds and admire the detailed architecture of this former mansion, nicknamed “Xanadu” by its owner.
Lunch – Eat at Restaurant
Back to Havana
Dinner – Eat at local private restaurant.
Breakfast – included at the hotel.
Now depart for an Architectural tour of Vedado neighborhood with our local tour guide.
We will get to see representative buildings of the variety of styles introduced in the island by urban planners and designers from different parts of the world, we will visit the monumental Christopher Colon Cemetery: This elaborate massive necropolis covers nearly 8% of the City of Havana, and contains and endless sea of poignant memorials, architectural jewels and human-interest stories. We will visit the “Plaza de La Revolucion”, the center of political and cultural life of the country, and architectural landmark of the city. The construction of this square and the Jose Marti (Cuban National hero) monument commenced during the Presidency of Fulgencio Batista, but it was completed in 1959 (the year Fidel Castro came to power. During their visits to the island all three last Catholic Popes have given mass at this upstanding place.
Lunch at Paladar. This stylish private restaurant is located in “Miramar”, the residential embassies district. Enjoy views of the bay and gentle ocean breezes from the terrace; the food is upscale and contemporary with European influence. The service is impeccable and refined.
PALADAR: this is the name Cubans have given to privately-own family restaurants.
After lunch we will stop at “Callejon de Hamel”, this place is “the afrocuban Santeria religion home base”. Art related to the subject will be displayed and explained by our guide as well as some local craft artists that work and live in the area.
Visit to Fototeca de Cuba and visit to the photography workshop for Cuban quinceaneras.
We’ll end the day with a stop at the SAN JOSÉ MARKET to meet local artists and see the wares sold at this area market.
Breakfast included at the hotel. Transfer out after breakfast to arrive at airport 3 hours before scheduled.
Breakfast is complementary throughout the whole trip; most hotels have it available from 7 to 10 AM.
The hotel provides a delicious complimentary breakfast throughout your stay. For most days, dinner and lunch will be at ”Paladar”, a progressive private restaurant located inside a late XVIII century mansion, that was partially restored keeping the layout from the original design; most of these family-owned restaurants were someone’s home before. We will also be dining at other great locations throughout Havana.
Not just a sightseeing cultural exchange, our visit includes meetings with Cuban photographers and artists in venues such as their 3 year old “Fabrica de arte Cubano,” featuring one of the island’s largest contemporary art exhibitions. We’ll mingle with Cuban creatives and explore their art, music & theater. Explore Cuban landmarks, galleries, museums and streets such as “Plaza de Armas”, Plaza “San Francisco”, “Taller de Grafica Experimental ”, “Plaza de la Cathedral” and more.
Please call me at 801-949-1001 to reserve your spot on Neil's Cuba Photography Adventure. Trip reservations as well as room availability will go fast so we recommend booking your flight and booking your hotel immediately. We will be staying at the Famous “Hotel Nacional”. Designed by the New York Architectural firm “McKim, Mead and White” and developed by “Purdy and Henderson” in a mix of styles. This impressive structure will take us back in time and provide unique memories of the Havana life style before 1959.
We encourage participation by photographers of all skill levels. As with any Neil’s Great Photography Adventure, we’ll take time to answer your photography questions, familiarize you with your camera equipment and help you learn to take your perfect picture exploring Cuban landmarks, galleries, museums and streets as we make new friends. For those wishing to enjoy shooting in peace at one of Cuba's unique locations, you may do so. This will be a wonderful photo experience for all levels.
Come join Neil for a photography adventure of a lifetime!