Discover Cuba: Gardens, History & Culture


​March 20-27, 2019

Join me on a garden and cultural adventure to Cuba. We’ll combine visiting botanical gardens, an organic CSA, an orchid garden, a forest sanctuary, and private gardens with visits to museums, artists’ homes and music and dance performances. We’ll tour Havana, the colonial towns of Trinidad and Cienfuegos and Ernest Hemingway’s home. This journey has been specially designed for the curious traveler who has an interest in gardens, music, art, history and culture. Space is limited!


Wednesday, March 20: USA to Havana, Cuba Depart for the airport to check in for the flight to​ Havana​, Cuba.

After clearing Cuban immigrations and customs, we will be welcomed by our Cuban National guide outside the terminal. Our guide will assist with our transfer to Old Havana (​Habana Vieja​) where we have lunch together in the heart of the old city. After lunch, our guide will lead us on a stroll through the colorful cobblestone streets of Old Havana. We check into our hotel later this afternoon.

Tonight we’ll enjoy dinner this evening at one of Havana’s best known paladars (restaurants).

Overnight in Havana at the Hotel Nacional Meals included: Lunch, Dinner


Thursday, March 21: Soroa Orchid Botanic Garden, Las Terrazas & An Organic Farm

After breakfast we’ll drive two hours west through the lush countryside planted with sugarcane, corn, rice, and taro to visit the ​Soroa Orchid Botanic Garden​. With few vestiges of modernization, the region seems set back in time with farming communities still harvesting by hand and using horse and carts to transport goods to free markets. (The horse carts date back to the 16th century when the Spaniards used them to haul sugar cane to the factories).

The Soroa Orchid Botanical Garden is now home to over 700 types of orchids with specimens from all around the world. This garden owes its life to Tomás Felipe Camacho, a well-to-do lawyer and naturalist who dedicated his garden to his daughter in the early 1940s.

Then, it’s just a short drive to ​Las Terrazas​. Las Terrazas in Pinar del Rio province is now part of UNESCO’s Biosphere Reserve. It is an eco-community, now open to tourism, dating back to the 1960s. It was developed to reforest this area on miles of terraces. Much of the reforested land is an old coffee plantation. Upon arrival we’ll enjoy a delicious lunch at a farm and a lecture on the history and importance of this UNESCO recognized biosphere.

The Artists of Las Terrazas
Las Terrazas is also home to many Cuban artists. ​Polo Montanez ​made his living initially as a farmer, but he would entertain his neighborhood at night with songs he wrote about the rural life of the tobacco farmer. The Montanez family will show us his home and discusses how he helped his community by giving back financially to Las Terrazas when he became famous. Lester Campas​ is a young artist known for his unique paper recycling process, which he then uses for artistic expressions. This movement to recycle in Cuba is not new – it was born out of the necessity in the late 1990s during the “special period” when the Soviet Union collapsed leaving Cuba without a major donor and trading partner.

En-route back to Havana we will stop to visit the ​Finca Marta Organic Farm ​to learn about the small scale organic farming and beekeeping from this innovative farmer. Return to Havana in the late afternoon.

Overnight in Havana at the Hotel Nacional Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


Friday, March 22: Organic Farm & Hemingway’s Haunt

We’ll visit the​ UBPC Vivero Organopónico Alama​r, 15 km (9.3 miles) east of Havana. It’s one of the most successful urban organic farms in Cuba that raises ornamental plants, medicinal herbs, and millions of seedlings for neighboring residential and collective farms. Established in the early 1990s by a dozen people, today the Alamar cooperative has over 400 members and provides a range of healthful, organic vegetables to nearby communities. Produce is raised employing the practice of permaculture: no chemical fertilizers and pesticides are used. Instead, natural biological methods are used to nourish the soil, frustrate pests and conserve water. The result is an increased rate of yield and reduced costs.

Then we are off to ​Finca Vigía (​Lookout Farm​) ​where North America’s literary giant, Ernest Hemingway, spent twenty-one of his most important and productive years penning some of his most famous books. Claimed by both the United States and Cuba as their son, it was Hemingway himself who declared the island his true home. Before returning to Havana we stop by the​ quaint fishing village of Cojimar​ which served as the setting for ​The Old Man and the Sea.

Overnight in Havana at the Hotel Nacional
Evening (optional): Cuban Jazz at the nearby Fox and the Raven Club.

Meals included: Breakfast & Lunch


Saturday, March 23: Travel South to Trinidad via Cienfuegos

After breakfast, we’ll depart for Cienfuegos province, also known as the “Pearl of the South.” En-route to Trinidad we visit the ​Cienfuegos Botanical Garden​, founded 1899 by a land owner from New England and later maintained by Harvard University. The garden harbors a collection of some 2,000 species and is maintained by the Cuban Academy of Science.

In ​Cienfuegos​, we will be able to see remnants of French style architecture built by immigrants from Bordeaux. The majority of the city however, displays 19th-century early Spanish Enlightenment implementation in urban planning and was declared a UNESCO heritage site for that reason. Upon arrival in the center of Cienfuegos, we’ll take a brief city tour to explore Cienfuegos’ magnificent wide boulevards and art galleries.

We’ll enjoy lunch in Cienfuegos. After lunch, we will continue on our drive to Trinidad and check-in to our beach-side hotel.

Overnight in Trinidad at Las Brisas Hotel – Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


Sunday, March 24: Collante National Mountain Park

After breakfast, we’ll take a day trip in historic Trinidad. Our first stop will be at the​ Topes de Collantes National Park​. To get there we’ll travel for 45 minutes in an open air, Soviet-era truck into the lush mountains. Upon arrival we’ll enjoy a stop at an ​organic farm​ and have a pig roast lunch. We’ll then hear a talk on the biodiversity, native plants and medicinal herbs of this region. There will also be an opportunity to take a light hike.

After lunch on the farm, we’ll return to Trinidad, where we’ll enjoy a walking tour of the colonial cobble stoned
Old City. Included in your visit is a visit to the a ​Santeria Temple​. Santeria is an Afro-American religion of Caribbean origin that developed in the Spanish Empire among West African descendants. Today in Cuba, nearly 80 percent of the population consults with practitioners of religions with West African roots.

Overnight in Trinidad at Las Brisas Hotel Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinne​r


Monday, March 25: Return to Havana via the​ ​National Botanical Garden

After breakfast we make our way back to Havana. En-route we’ll visit the ​National Botanical Garden. ​Time permitting we will have discussions with the General Director at NBG and/or Research Director of the Botanical Garden.

We’ll continue on to Havana and check into our hotel in the late afternoon. Dinner is on your own tonight. Your guide can make recommendations if you need them!


Tuesday, March 26: The Art and Culture of Old Havana

Early birds may wish to soak up the sun and walk along the Malecón before breakfast.

This morning we’ll visit the ​Cuba National Art Schools​ (​Escuelas Nacionales de Arte​, now known as the ​Instituto Superior de Arte​), whose structures are considered by historians to be one of the most outstanding architectural achievements of the Cuban Revolution. These innovative, organic, Catalan-vaulted brick and terra-cotta buildings were built on the site of a former country club in the far western Havana suburb of Cubanacán. This used to be Havana’s “Beverly Hills” and was then mainly reserved for Communist Party officials.

The schools were conceived and founded by Fidel Castro and Che Guevara in 1961, and they reflect the utopian optimism and revolutionary exuberance of the early years of the Cuban Revolution. Over their years of active use, the schools served as the primary incubator for

Cuba’s artists, musicians, actors, and dancers. The design fell out of favor by 1965 and the buildings were nearly completely decommissioned until preservation efforts were mounted in force in the 1990s. Now tentatively on the list of World Heritage sites, they are in use, though still in various states of disrepair.

After a traditional lunch, we’ll make our way to the Museum of the Revolution​. For those who are less interested in the of the history of the revolution, the ​Museum of Fine Arts ​is just steps away. Our day culminates with a visit to an ​Outdoor Art Market.

Overnight Havana at the Hotel Nacional Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner


Wednesday, March 27: Return home

We transfer to Havana’s Jose Marti Airport where we check in for our flight to the USA

Important: ​Tour Arrangements have been made by Goodspeed & Bach, Inc. which reserves the right to alter the order of events or to make changes in the itinerary deemed necessary for the comfort, convenience and safety of the participants. Every effort will be made to adhere to the printed itinerary, but weather conditions and transportation difficulties may arise beyond the control of Goodspeed & Bach, Inc., suppliers could force the cancellation or substitution of events or specific services.



3 Nights Havana
2 Nights Trinidad
Havana: Hotel Nacional Trinidad: Las Brisas or Iberostar Havana: Hotel Nacional



§ With hosts Charlie Nardozzi and Goodspeed & Bach’s Deb Flanders § Accompanied by a Cuban program director
§ “People to People” license
§ An expert bilingual Cuban guide
§ Airport transfers while in Cuba
§ Accommodations as listed in your itinerary
§ ​All meals​ except for ​(2) dinners ​in Havana
§ Bottled water daily
§ Transport by private motor coach while in Cuba § All entrances as listed in your itinerary
§ Special insider “People to People” experiences § Gratuities for your driver and guides
§ City and country maps

TRIP COST: based on a minimum of 25 travelers
$4,195* ​​per person sharing a double room (land only)
$699 ​per person single room supplement fee
*Cost will increase with fewer than 25 travelers – ​SPACE IS LIMITED TO 25 TRAVELERS!


Airfare from your home to/from Havana (Goodspeed & Bach can make your flight arrangements for a service fee of​ $65​ per person).
Cuba visa fee of ​$75​ per person
Travel Insurance is highly recommended and available through Goodspeed & Bach

Cuban airport departure tax of ​$30 ​per person

$1000​ per person deposit is due to confirm your space on the trip.
Balance payment due: ​December 19, 2018.
Note: $50​ per person non-refundable administrative fee is charged if you cancel your reservation after deposit is paid.

December 19, 2018: NO REFUND ​if cancellation is received after ​December 19, 2018 Travel Insurance is highly recommended and available through Goodspeed & Bach


Cuba is a developing country and still lacks many modern conveniences. It’s not unusual to experience short power black-outs or to find that your hot water, internet, TV or phone in your hotel room does not work properly (or at all). Further, the Cuban government and incoming Havana agency has the right to change the itinerary without notice (and often does).

We’ll be traveling under a “People to People” license, which means that our days will be filled with not only gardens, but also educational experiences. The day will begin around 8:30am and end around 5:00pm. This is not a trip for those looking for a leisurely, beach holiday.

Travelers who arrive in Havana with sense of humor, an open mind and are ready to be flexible will absolutely fall in love with the people and culture of Cuba.

The Hotel Nacional:​ The historic Hotel Nacional is located on the Malecón seafront. The decision to build a luxury hotel happened in the late 1920s. The American firms McKim, Mead & White and Purdy & Henderson Co., tasked with the planning and construction, completed the palatial edifice in 14 months. The same firm designed Pennsylvania Station and Washington Square in New York.

The hotel exhibits an eclectic architectural style, reflecting Art Deco, Arabic references, features of Hispano-Moorish, and both Neo-Classical and Neo-Colonial elements. There are even details from the centuries-old Californian style. The result of so many schools of architecture is the most unusual and interesting hotel in the Caribbean region.

Among its first illustrious guests were artists, actors, athletes and writers such as Frank Sinatra, Ava Gardner, Mickey Mantle, Johnny Weissmuller, Buster Keaton, Jorge Negrete, Agustín Lara, Rocky Marciano, Tyrone Power, Rómulo Gallegos, Errol Flynn, John Wayne, Marlene Dietrich, Gary Cooper, Marlon Brando and Ernest Hemingway.

In February 1946, Sir Winston Churchill visited Cuba, stayed in the hotel’s Republica Suite and was accorded diplomatic privileges by the Cuban government. In December 1946 it hosted an infamous mob summit run by Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky and attended by Santo Trafficante, Jr., Frank Costello, Albert Anastasia, Vito Genovese and many others. Francis Ford Coppola memorably dramatized the conference in his film ​The Godfather Part II​.

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