Cuba- Vintage Grand Tour

creative artistic havana, the museum city trinidad
and the land of tobacco and viñales
A creative and welcoming old style vintage heaven.
Inspiring creativity rooted in an electric culture, an old style feel, classical architecture with a colorful twist, and a vibrant music scene with first-rate dancing (it is a real treat to see the national ballet).

AN INVITATION TO CUBA

Right there, amidst the big seas (Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico) there is an island that has kept its vintage lifestyle and its unique attitude towards life. The people of Cuba are warm and welcoming, and so are the rhythms of their music and the steps of the dance, salsa. But there is so much more to Cuba than rum, cigars, dancing, music, and their world famous politics! We have prepared our program with a big love for this country, its creative impact, cultural riches, its many stories, talented people, and exciting places. Cuba is not among the wealthiest countries in the World, and also not the easiest to travel in, but we are sure it is the most interesting and inspiring place one can ever visit!

 

If you feel our passion for Cuba, and you wonder about the program we have prepared feel free to contact us:

- by calling (we use Skype or IMO, but with prior arrangement only),

- or sending any other request or question via our inquiry form.

 

We will be happy to hear from you, present our program to you in a live call, reply to your questions, send you the Brochure of our Cuban Tour, and maybe also proudly take you on a tour with us.

Basic  information on a tour

TOUR DIRECTOR AND GUIDES
Alja, accompanied by a local tour guide and local experts and artists
GROUP SIZE
10 to 18 guests
ACCOMODATIONS
4- or 5-star hotels in city centres, or a private boutique and elegant accomodations (so-called Casa Particulares) both on a Bed and Breakfast basis
DINING
in sophisticated private restaurants called Paladar with a special historical, art,
or creative athmosphere
LEVEL OF FITNESS
moderate (there isn't a lot of walking on this tour, but it adds to experience to be able to dance a few steps of salsa every now and then and walk up the stairs to the room in some private accomodations)
BEST TIMES TO VISIT
from December to May
(check the section Tips)
ARRIVAL AND DEPARTURE
Havana, (International Airport Jose Marti) / Havana or Santa Clara International Airport (or other, accoridng to the group's flight arrangements)
POSSIBLE EXTENSIONS AND VARIATIONS

Add four days to visit the second largest city, Santiago de Cuba
(both ways from Havana with an inbound flight)*


*Know that inbound flights in Cuba can be unpredictable and might be cancelled last minute.

VISA REQUIREMENTS

Guests attending our tour (from outside of USA) should arrange their oun documents according to the Cuban laws applied to the country of their citizenship. The visa can usually be obtained from the Cuban embassy, Cuban mission, tourist agency, or in some countries even online. A visa (or a Cuban Tourist Card) is called Tarjeta del turista.

TRAVEL TO CUBA FOR OUR USA GUESTS
read the newest official data on the legal travel category for travel in groups to Cuba.
For more details on traveling to Cuba with us, please see our section below.
MEDICAL INSURANCE
must be obtrained by the guests before the arrival to Cuba.
LAND ONLY
Elegant Cultural Tours organises group programes on a basis of Land Only (no flights).

THE TOUR

We spend most of our time in fascinating and eclectic Havana. The cultural capital of the country hosts us for six full days before we move on to the museum city of Trinidad. We also visit the elegant French style city of Cienfuegos on the way. At last, before our departure we travel through Che Guevara's Santa Clara to the landscape of tobacco fields and spectacular nature in Viñales.

 

The extenssion to Santiago de Cuba includes a stop in the mysterious Camagüey with many artistic suprises.

 

This is a short description of the program. Our tours are filled with love for the beautiful detail, small suprises, and elegance. Should you wish to recieve the full program in our Brochure of Cuba, please send us the inquiry.

 

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE TOUR

DISCOVERING AND NEW INSIGHTS

• An inspiring talk on the (History of) Cuban Music

• An informal expert talk on how to understand Cuban reality, politics, economy, life, its present and its future

• Private 2 hours 1:1 salsa lession with a very own salsa teacher followed by a night of dancing (or just people watching) in a famous local salsa club where Habaneros meet and dance

ELEGANCE AND BEAUTY

• Elegant authentic accomodations in colonial style private houses or beautiful 4- or 5- star hotels

• An elegant ride in Havana in old convertible American cars

• A dinner in a small museum

• An evening Gala in National Theatre (Gran Teatro de La Habana) - a ticket to an evening of the Cuban national ballet or a classical music concert (depending on the program of the theatre)

CREATIVITY

Why we add creative hands-on workshops? Please, read here.

• A private visit to a villa and a relaxed photoshooting with a professional photographer

• A creative hands-on workshop in
an art studio or writing oneʼs (the guests) name in Arabic

The whole experience of Cuba feels like acting in an old vintage movie.
A NOTICE ABOUT OUR TRAVEL We travel elegantly and luxurious, but we do not intend to travel isolated from the country and the culture we visit. We aim at keeping our travel real. We do not avoid the hosting cultures, their traditions, and customs, but rather explain and encounter them, and accept them for what they are. If the country's standards are lower than those at home, we understand it and try to appreciate the efforts local people put into trying to meet our expectations.

ACCOMODATIONS

We choose from two options: boutique accomodation in private houses (called Casa Particulares), or four- or five-star hotels in the city centers.
It has been only in the last few years that the boutique hotels have started to emerge in Cuba (and Havana), and we have been following those developments cautiously. We will be eager to add them to our programmes very soon.

STAYING IN COLONIAL CASA PARTICULARES is an exceptional experience, though. We always try our best to choose the houses that are beautiful and authentic, with art and a cultural milieu feel, and also that are close by for the group to stay in contact. Sometimes though, that can't be done and then the houses are chosen according to their quality and beauty. We adore the old colonial villas in a district called 'Vedado' (in Havana), and in the city centre of Trinidad.
Those villas are usually colonial in style (or totally eclectic), filled with Cuban art works, ancient elegant furniture, and with a beautiful

patio or a terrace, where in the morning they serve our guests a tasty homemade breakfast (read more on breakfasts in the below section with Tips before travel).

THE ROOMS IN PRIVATE HOUSES have a bathroom ensuite and are fully air conditioned. The rooms are either single (one bed), twin (two beds), double (one big bed, usually king-sized), or even triple bedded (with one double queen or king-sized and one single bed). The houses are owned by local people, of which some are being lived in and others are only for rent. Cubans are very outgoing and love hosting friends and family in their homes. Accordingly, the houses invest all their resources and energy, and all their taste in decorating the main salon or living room where people socialise. Sleeping rooms in Cuba are usually not as attractive as the main area, but they are meticulously clean and calmly charming, with elegant furniture and colourfully painted walls. Some of them are real palaces!

decoration
Topics we cover on this tour
ART
painting and architcture,
sculpture as we go along
PHOTOGRAPHY
on a photoshooting with
a professional photographer

CUBAN ART
visit to the National Gallery and Modern Art Gallery in Havana, artist studio visit
ARCHITECTURE
Spanish collonial, classical, neoclassical, art deco, art nouveau, eclectic, modernism

SOULFUL BUILDINGS
elegant palaces, city villas, fortification castles



CONSERVATION
old Havana/Havana Vieja

CUBAN MUSIC
history of Cuban music, traditional music (son, salsa, danzon, mambo, and more), classical music, jazz music

DANCE
Salsa, Cuban Ballet, or
Spanish Flamenco

CREATIVE PEOPLE and ARTISTS
talking and socializing with local
interesting and creative people
THEATRES
a guided visit (and an evening gala) to the best theatre in Cuba, Gran Teatro de la Habana


TRADITIONS
Santeria religion


CUBAN HISTORY - HISTORICAL PERIODS
Spanish colonial period,
20th century


REVOLUTION
Santa Clara city and Che Guevara
EVERYDAY'S LIFE AND ECONOMY OF CUBA
how the Cubans live and survive



EXPLANATORY GEOGRAPHY
as an expalanation on why the surroundings, country, city, environment is as it is; looking at the spaces and understanding how they function, learning about the social and cultural forces that shape the life of a person (or a cuban nation)
TASTES
apart from the excellent cuisine and local rums, we also find a lot of pleasure in exploring new (and old) teas, and Cuban coffee. We top our dining experiences with tasty deserts, or fresh local tropical fruits and a Cuban cigar.
TOPICS YOU WILL NOT HEAR ABOUT
sports, popular politics,* or popular culture. Academism as only dry lectures and the extensive accumulation of information. Instead,
we prefer useful knowledge, interesting insights, and lovingly brought presentations.

*We include politics as much as needed to understand the environment and the visited culture and no more.

TIPS BEFORE TRAVEL

Best times to visit

from beginning of December till May (this is the dry season with less rain and pleasant temperatures)

CLIMATE and TEMPERATURES

Carribean sub-tropical with rain and hot temperatures during the wet season (from April till the end of October), and dry weather with moderate temperatures in the winter (from October till April)

WEATHER AND TEMPERATURES:

average December-February
temperatures (in Havana) are
26°C/79°F and around 28°C/82°F
(in the south of the country).

TEMPERATURES OF THE SEA:
Atlantic Ocean (December
26.2°C/79.2°F and in March
25.7°C/78.3°F), Carribean Sea
(December 27.8°C/82°F and in
March 26.6°C/79.9°F)

SAFETY

Cuba is a safe country (despise its fame of not being so) - crime rates are low and mostly consist of petty thievery of non-attended items, but its important to always use a common sense (keep your valuables in the safety box in the room, avoid exposing expensive cameras, and in city centres always take care of personal belongings).

HEALTH

there are no special health hazards for traveling to Cuba, read more

The biggest disturbance are the insects (mosquitos, sand flies, houseflies, etc. in the dry season there are very few of them) and hygiene (its a good idea to clean and sanitize hands as much as possible).

 read here. Ramadan times change yearly in 2020 from the 24th of April till the 23rd of May, and in 2021 from April 13th to May 2nd. On our tour we travel through different parts of the country, and the climate changes intensely- from the Mediterranean, to Mountainous and then the Desert . . . that means in some parts of the county it can be warm, and in others very cold, at the same time.

OFFICIAL LANGUAGE

Spanish

money

MONEY and CREDIT CARDS
CURRENCY: Cuba has a dual currency. Foreigners need to exhange their currency to the Convertible Pesos, called CUCs (for the informative exchange rate, please check here). The best rates are those for exchanging anything but a US (or Australian) Dollar (so its better to bring Euros or British Pounds). So far there has been another currency used by the locals called a Cuban/National Peso or CUP (1 CUC is worth around 24 CUP).

CREDIT CARDS: Among credit cards, Visa is most likely to be accepted at most of the places that offer credit card payments. The best idea in Cuba is to bring cash, change it to a local currency, and don't rely on ATMs or credit cards. American credit cards are not accepted in Cuba.

ATMs are in bigger cities and tourist areas, like Havana, Trinidad, and Cienfuegos

PRICES: 0.5l water 1 CUC (roughly 1 eur), a cocktail (with rum) from 5 to 7 CUC, fresh fruit juices from 1 to 3 CUC, lunch in a private restaurant in Havana 15 CUC (and more).

TIPPING

an average Cuban's salary is around 30 EUR/month. Tipping is the reason why so many highly educated people work in tourism or as taxi drivers. Cuban people appreciate tips and presents very much and will accept them gratefully.

PRESENTS TO THE PEOPLE

there is still a shortage of daily necessities in Cuba. People will be very happy to receive pens, clothes (just a note: the climate in Cuba is very warm), nail polish, soap, deodorant, perfumes, shampoos, anything connected with USA baseball, etc.

INTERNET

wifi at hot spots, hotels, some private houses, and parks (with a payable internet card), or the 3G in the mobile phones (it is quite pricely), roaming prices are very costly.

PHOTOGRAPHY

Cubans love to be photographed and Cuba offers a mass of opportunities for a great photo with its many colours, moods, and beautiful people. Most of the people expect a small tip for posing in a photograph (1 or 2 CUC).

TRAVEL TO CUBA FOR OUR AMERICAN GUESTS

TRAVEL TO CUBA FOR OUR AMERICAN GUESTS
Travel to Cuba for USA is legal within certain tour programs.
Our tour to Cuba has been prepared according to the demands and the regulations of the U.S. Department of the Treasury and it is legal.
Necessary travel documents for our USA guests (Cuban Visa/Tourist Card (unless otherwise noted) and a Letter of Authorisation from Elegant Cultural Tours) are prepared by our US-based partner that has a licence to organise US travel to Cuba and delivered to our guests by Elegant Cultural Tours before the tour. For that the guests do not need to send the passport to Elegant Cultural Tours. The guest needs to obtain a medical insurance before proceeding with the visa aplication to Elegant Cultural Tours. All travelers must have either a United States passport or residency card that is valid at least six months after the planned travel dates.

For more, our guests can check Our General Terms and Conditions Page, or contact us here.

DRESS CODE

Guests should wear clothes they feel comfortable in and beautiful wearing them. According to the warm and humid weather, comfort, and protection from the sun come together with the elegance.
For the general impression, here are some guidance lines:
Daily wear: country club casual dress is comfortable, yet chic. Or dressy resort with a beautiful long maxi-dress for the ladies and smart casual for the gentlemen.
Dinners: dressy resort, lounge dress code, semi-formal dress code for the ladies and Coctail Attire or Black Tie Creative Attire for gentleman.
LOCAL CUSTOMS - what do the Cubans wear when they make up? In our Blog

DOOR TO DOOR LUGGAGE SERVICE

our guest's luggage is always
taken care of, so they do not
need to worry about carrying
heavy suitcases in and out of
their rooms, and onto the coach.

CHALLENGES

Morocco seems like a modern (Europeian) country at first, but the people are traditional and appreciate modesty in dress and behavior. 2. The Kingʼs royal visits (and whereabouts) and the Moroccan weather- two components of Allahʼs (Godʼs) will that influence everybodyʼs life and travel in and around Morocco. The King loves to move about and when he does, the streets, squares or roads might be closed. The weather is unpredictable and its changes are sometimes a matter of minutes.

CUBAN CUISINE

FOOD: white rice, black beans, sweet potato (and not that much potato, though), plantains (similar to bananas), chicken and pork, sauces based on oil, lemon, and garlic, shrimps, fish, seafood, TROPICAL FRUITS: bananas (March to July), grapefruit (August to December), mango (May to August), avocado (April to October), mamey (April), watermelon, papaya (all year), Guava/ Guayaba (all year), coconut (all year), pineapple (all year). VEGETABLES: green and red tomatoes, cabbage, cucumbers, onions, carrots. SPICES: not many, onion, bell peppers, garlic, oregano, and cumin; DRINKS: cuban sweet coffee (with milk or black, or with rum called Carajillo), cocktails (Mojito, Daiquiri, Piña Colada, the cuban Cuba Libre, and others based on rum and sugar cane sugar, cuban rum (Cuban rum is lighter and crisper than elswhere in the Carribean), fresh fruit juices/smoothies (mango, guava/guayaba, pineapple). SAUCES: mostly prepared of oil with added lemon and garlic.

CUBAN HOME MADE BREAKFAST (in private accommodations): an omelette or fried eggs, toast bread, butter and marmalade, fresh fruit juice (usually Guayaba or mango juice), coffe or tea, fresh fruit (according to the season).
BREAKFAST IN THE HOTELS: a rich continental or even english breakfast at some hotels, with plenty of fresh tropical fruit and juices.

SOUVENIRS TO BRING HOME

Rum in Cuba is the best in the Carribean., cigars and all the accessories, excellent music recordings, antiquities, original Art, coffee from Sierra Maestra mountains, delightful perfumes made of tropical plants and sold from a famous, lovely colonial shop Habana 1791, natural jewelery, famous and practical guayaberas (traditional men's linen or cotton shirts), Cuban straw hat Fedora, and lots of kitschy souvenirs that look the same everywhere in the world.

CONTACT FORM.
or call us via Skype or IMO
If you find our philosophy resonates within, we invite you to contact us.
We will be happy to hear from you.
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