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Friends Cooking Eating

A TASTE OF CUBA COOKING TOUR
Enjoy every Bite!

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Step into the lively realm of Cuban gastronomy and embark on a journey to "Meet the People Behind the Food!" Delve into the island's rich cultural heritage through its tantalizing cuisine on this delightful food tour.

Mariah Travel's authentic and legal experience offers an immersive experience into Cuba's vibrant culinary landscape. Aside from exploring the captivating sights of Havana, including its remarkable architecture, vibrant art scene, and soul-stirring music, you'll journey through the diverse facets of Cuban food culture, from visiting organic farms and bustling agricultural markets to experiencing government ration stores and authentic Cuban home kitchens. Indulge in the culinary creativity showcased in the most refined and inventive paladares, privately owned restaurants. By the tour's end, you'll depart Cuba with a profound understanding of how food serves as a cornerstone of its rich cultural tapestry.

 

Explore several UNESCO World Heritage Sites, as well as the enchanting Viñales Valley, celebrated for its verdant tobacco plantations. Continue your adventure to the unspoiled beauty of Playa Larga and the historic Bay of Pigs, where echoes of Cuba's past resonate. Engage with local farmers, chefs, and artists, immersing yourself in their stories and craftsmanship. Let the infectious rhythms of salsa, rumba, and other dances ignite your spirit as you learn to move with the vibrant pulse of Cuban music. Indulge in the flavors of farm-to-table delights sourced from organic farms, and craft your own signature rum concoction. Beyond culinary delights, discover iconic landmarks such as the historic squares of Habana Vieja and Revolution Square, adding depth to your exploration of Cuba's rich cultural heritage.

Highlights:
           
• Participate in Cuban cooking demonstrations, an experiential experience!

            • Visit a sustainable farm, learning the techniques and its necessities.

            • Savor an organic farm-to-table lunch.

            • Explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Vinales Valley.

            • Visit Playa Larga and historic Bay of Pigs, Playa Giron.

            • Make your own mojito taught by a master mixologist.

            • A daiquiri-making happy-hour session in a world-famous bar/restaurant!

            • Gain insights into the daily lives of Cubans by visiting an agricultural     

              market, Cuba’s ration store, supermarket, and local homes.      

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Abel welcomes you to Havana!

Day 1: Arrival in Havana

Welcome to the vibrant streets of Havana! As you step into the warm embrace of Cuba, a

classic 1950s car awaits to whisk you away—a charming highlight of our Cuban food adventure. Sit back and soak in the nostalgic aura.

 

Tonight, enjoy a lovely welcome dinner at one of Havana's finest dining establishments. It's the perfect introduction to the rich gastronomic heritage that awaits you. Later, settle into one of our favorite casa particulars (Private B&B) and soak in the lively atmosphere of the city.

 

Day 2: Exploring Habana Vieja, Old Havana

Get ready to dive into the heart of Havana and immerse yourself in its vibrant culture. Our day begins with a captivating walking tour of Havana Vieja (Old Havana), where we'll uncover the charm of its iconic squares: Plaza de la Catedral, home to the magnificent 18th-century Catedral de San Cristóbal, and Plaza San Francisco de Assisi, nestled near Havana's picturesque harbor, Plaza Vieja and its architectural heritage, and finally Plaza de Armas, built in 1519 as home to military and government offices.

As we meander through the colorful streets, make a delightful stop at one of our favorite lunch spots, renowned for its delectable cuisine and exceptional service. Visit La Bodeguita del Medio where the mojito was born, and the renowned Hotel Ambos Mundos, where Ernest Hemingway lived for a while.

After lunch, prepare to be enchanted by Havana's renowned street art scene as we explore the captivating gallery of muralist and painter Salvador Gonzales. Influenced by the rich traditions of Santeria, an Afro-Caribbean religion, Salvador's artwork adorns walls with creativity, using unconventional canvases from bathtubs to car parts. Engage with the curator, who eagerly shares insights into Santeria and the artist's intriguing creations.

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Next, it's time to embrace the rhythm of Cuba with a salsa class at one of the best dance studios in Havana, where our talented dance instructors await in a time-worn location that offers a glimpse into Cuban resilience and resourcefulness amidst challenges. Once inside the infectious energy and passion of the dance troupe will have you moving to the beat in no time!

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Tonight, welcome to Cuba's legendary music scene with an optional musical performance or cabaret show awaits. Our guide will be on hand to assist with arrangements, ensuring an unforgettable evening of Cuban entertainment.

Day 3: Explore Havana’s Markets & Plaza Vieja

Understanding how food is procured in Cuba offers valuable insight into the daily realities shaped by communism and embargoes, making it a pivotal aspect of our Cuban food tour. Our journey begins with a visit to a mercado agropecuario (produce market), and witness the array of fruits and vegetables available to locals and engage in friendly conversations with vendors. Next door, we'll step into a ration store, observing how essential staples are obtained in precise quantities, highlighting the regulated nature of food distribution. Concluding our market exploration, venture into a supermarket, providing a revealing glimpse into the availability, or lack thereof, of everyday necessities for ordinary Cubans.

Continuing our cultural odyssey, explore the rich history of Havana with a visit to the Museum of the City located in Plaza de Armas. Following this enriching experience, savor lunch at the iconic La Guarida, celebrated for its inventive cuisine and immortalized in the film "Fresa y Chocolate."

After lunch, return to Plaza Vieja, steeped in history dating back to 1559, where meticulously restored buildings evoke the city's bygone era. Amidst this architectural splendor, explore art galleries and a charming coffee roastery, offering a sensory journey through Cuban culture. For those still craving a treat, a taste of refreshing coconut ice cream from a street cart awaits.

As evening descends, followers of Cuba's legendary music scene can opt for the Buena Vista Social Club show, a touristy yet entertaining spectacle hosted at a local hotel. Our guide will be at your service to facilitate arrangements, ensuring an unforgettable night immersed in Cuba's musical heritage.

DAY 4: Day Trip to Viñales Valley & Las Terrazas

Our day begins bright and early as we embark on a scenic drive to the tranquil Viñales Valley, a verdant oasis embraced by limestone karsts and designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here, amidst this idyllic setting, we'll examine the rich heritage of Cuban tobacco at an organic farm, where a third-generation tobacco farmer awaits to share his expertise. From the meticulous process of cigar-making to distinguishing between Cohiba and Montecristo varieties, you’ll gain firsthand insights into this revered tradition.

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Following this enriching encounter, proceed to a charming family-run paladar nestled amidst the breathtaking panoramas of the Viñales Valley. Here, a sumptuous farm-to-table feast awaits, served in true Cuban family style. Before indulging in culinary delights, take a leisurely stroll through the organic gardens that supply the homes and restaurants, immersing yourself in the essence of sustainable agriculture.

 

Our journey continues to the quaint town of Las Terrazas, revered as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Learn the history as we explore the ruins of one of Cuba's oldest coffee plantations, dating back to the 18th century. A leisurely amble through the picturesque, whitewashed village offers glimpses of native birds and serene lake views, with a potential stop at a local art studio to admire the creative endeavors of Cuban artists.

As the day draws to a close, embark on a scenic drive back to Havana, arriving just in time to savor a late dinner, reminiscing about the unforgettable experiences and breathtaking landscapes encountered in Cuba's countryside.

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DAY 5: Cooking Class, Hemmingway’s Finca & Jose Fuster Gallery

Start the day in the picturesque fishing village of Cojimar, renowned as the backdrop for Ernest Hemingway's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, "The Old Man and the Sea." At a local prime restaurant, kick off lunch with a lively mojito cocktail class at the bar. With freshly mixed mojitos in hand, step behind the scenes into the kitchen for an exclusive cooking demonstration led by the executive chef. Prepare to uncover the secrets behind crafting traditional Cuban dishes like paella or ropa vieja, infused with a contemporary twist.

In the afternoon, our journey leads us to Finca Vigia, Hemingway's former home just outside of Havana, where the literary giant penned three of his most iconic works. Delve into the ambiance that fueled Hemingway's creativity as we explore his cherished retreat. Continuing our artistic odyssey, visit the vibrant Fuster Gallery, home to José Fuster's mesmerizing mosaic sculptures adorning the neighborhood. Our return journey to Havana sees us traversing through Revolution Square, a symbolic landmark embodying Cuba's revolutionary spirit.

Upon our return to the city, the late afternoon will offer free time to wander the enchanting streets of Old Havana at your leisure or retreat to your accommodations for relaxation. Alternatively, indulge in a visit to the iconic El Floridita, a tourist hotspot but nonetheless enjoyable, for a daiquiri endorsed by Hemingway himself!

For enthusiasts of Cuba's legendary music scene, the evening presents another opportunity to revel in an optional musical performance or captivating cabaret show. Your guide will gladly assist in arranging the details, ensuring a memorable finale to the day's adventures

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DAY 6: Playa Larga & the Bay of Pigs

Today's adventure takes us on a scenic road trip to Cuba's southern coast, where we'll examine the storied history of the infamous Bay of Pigs, forever etched in the annals of Cuban lore due to the ill-fated invasion of 1961. Enroute, pause at an exciting hummingbird sanctuary, a haven where the diminutive Bee hummingbird, a Cuban endemic, only found in Cuba and the world's smallest bird. Among this natural spectacle, savor a sumptuous lunch featuring freshly caught fish or seafood, expertly prepared by the welcoming chef. A mouthwatering experience!

Following our gastronomic interlude, amble along the calm shores of Playa Larga, immersing ourselves in the tranquil beauty of the Caribbean coastline. Take a swim in the inviting waters, soak in the sun's warm embrace, or simply bask in the idyllic ambiance of this picturesque beach.

Day 7: Sustainable Farm & Happy Hour

Today promises a double treat as we embark on a journey to a sustainable farm, immersing ourselves in the verdant beauty of nature's bounty. Meandering along scenic trails, glean insights into the intricacies of organic farming practices in Cuba, savoring the essence of agricultural sustainability. Our culinary adventure is highlighted with a delectable farm-to-table lunch, showcasing the vibrant flavors and colors of freshly harvested produce.

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As the sun sets over Centro Havana, prepare for an evening of unparalleled warmth and hospitality as we are welcomed into a dear friend’s home for a warm social gathering. Indulge in the art of crafting the perfect daiquiri under the guidance of our charming host, before enjoying a delicious meal and engaging in spirited conversation amidst the company of newfound friends.

 

DAY 8: Cuba Culinary Tour Ends:

As the journey draws to a close, our dedicated team will whisk you away to the airport, ensuring a seamless check-in process for your flights home.

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Viva Cuba!

Additional Important Details:

Before embarking on our tour, it's important to note that while it won't demand rigorous physical exertion, there will be some walking, often on uneven ground, and weather conditions in Cuba can vary from hot to rainy. Flexibility is paramount in navigating the Cuban landscape, as alterations to transportation, accommodations, and activities may arise. Yet, these adjustments pale in comparison to the authentic and enriching encounters awaiting you as you engage with Cuba's dynamic populace.

In recent years, Cuba has witnessed a surge in entrepreneurial endeavors, particularly within its culinary scene, where innovative and delectable dishes are emerging. This entrepreneurial spirit also shines through in the improved customer service evident in privately-owned establishments such as paladares (restaurants) and casa particulares (guesthouses). Despite these positive transformations, some goods and services remain constrained due to both the US embargo and Cuban governmental regulations. Nevertheless, Cubans epitomize warmth, resilience, and resourcefulness, ensuring that your visit will be nothing short of unforgettable. Prepare to be captivated by the Cuban spirit, leaving you with an undeniable desire to return time and again.

COST: Starting at $2399 per person, double occupancy

           Single supplement is $400

INCLUDED IN THE TOUR COST:

​•  Airport transfers: From José Martí Int'l Airport and return.

•  Cuba Tourist Visa 

•  All breakfasts and welcome dinner. Other lunches and dinners as listed in tour itinerary.

•  All activities, expert local guides, services, speakers, meetings and meals as described in tour itinerary except those noted as "optional" or "not included in cost."

•  Air-conditioned transportation and a full-time driver.

•  Mandatory Cuban medical insurance coverage during your island stay.

NOT INCLUDED IN THE TOUR COST:

​•  International airfare to and from Cuba. Mariah Travel will assist and advise with the coordination of the best flights.

•  Gratuities for Cuban tour guide, bus driver, chambermaids, restaurant staff, porters, etc. Please inquire about recommended gratuities guidelines. https://www.mariahtravel.com/planning

•  Any personal items.

•  Optional travel interruption and cancellation insurance is highly recommended. Mariah Travel partners with USI Affinity.   

​Please visit https://www.mariahtravel.com/travel-insurance

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