Havana, Cuba: February 13-20, 2016


CLASSIC CUBA, our 13th trip!

You are invited to join artists
Joanna Pinsky and Ellen Kamerling
on a unique People-to-People trip that provides a rare insight into Cuba.

Learn about Cuba’s
promises & problems first hand.

Explore Cuba’s artistic wealth through a lens that focuses on history, architecture, music, art and dance. 

 Discover Cuba’s national treasure –  its people! 

Come celebrate the heartfelt hope for the opening taking place between our countries since the announcement of restoring USA/Cuba relations
and the opening of embassies in both nations’ capitals.

Our hotel for 7 nights: Executive floor rooms at the historic Hotel Nacional  
Cost:  $4350 pp, $350 single supplement

ITINERARY  (subject to change)

February 12 (Friday)  Independent arrivals in Miami 

  • Overnight at a hotel of your choice. We recommend the Miami International Airport Hotel so there is no hassle for our early morning flight the next day.

February 13 (Saturday)  History & Old Havana

  • Your escorts, artists Joanna Pinsky and Ellen Kamerling will be on hand to meet you at the airport. A private motor coach awaits your arrival for an orientation tour. At the Plaza de Revolution discuss the immense sculpture of Jose Marti, Cuba’s national hero. At the Imperialist Plaza learn more of Cuban history when discovering another evocative sculpture of Jose Marti.
  • Get to know fellow travelers at our Welcome Lunch in Old Havana. Discover Old Havana on a walking tour to Plaza de San Franciso, Plaza de Armas and Plaza Vieja.
  • Late afternoon check-in at the historic Hotel Nacional overlooking the Malecon – your home in Havana. This art deco/neo classical architectural icon is steeped in the history of illustrious past occupants from movie stars to mobsters. Time permitting, relax at one of the hotel pools before our Welcome Dinner.

February 14 (Sunday)  Valentine’s Day: a love affair with Cuban artists

  • Bring your cameras and get your local bearings with Joanna and Ellen on a walking tour through the Vedado neighborhood. Discover La Rampa, famous jazz clubs and Coppelia -”the largest ice-cream parlor in the world …serving 30,000 customers a day.
  • Put Cuban art in context from the early days of the Revolution to the present on Art Encounter’s tour of the stunning Bellas Artes Museo. A private “art encounter” discussion develops an understanding of the ideas and amazing art generated during the past 6 decades.
  • Linger at a private lunch in the home of a curator/collector and discuss the impact of the Havana Biennial. Meet some of our favorite artists who were Biennale participants on exclusive visits to their homes/private studios. Over mojitos, enter the discussion of how current changes in the art market impact their ideas, content and careers.
  • Tonight is reserved for a surprise stellar Valentine Day Event.

 February 15 (Monday)   Advancing the Arts through Education

  • Today visit the Instituto Superior de Arte (ISA). Witness first-hand how Cuba’s education system promotes and provides the basis for the excellence in all the arts. Meet faculty and watch students working in a variety of media: ceramics, painting, print making and photography. Engage in “art encounters” about how artists are educated and supported in their careers. Family style lunch at Aljibi, known for it’s garlic chicken.
  • Meet artists who attended ISA and formed art collectives to help one another after graduating. Visit an all-male community of artists and an all-female community of artists. Get to know an exceptional artist who extends a long term commitment to mentoring his students. Compare and contrast the expectations of artists competing in art markets in Cuba and the USA
  • At the Ludwig Foundation, explore the impact this non-governmental, non-profit art and cultural institution has by fostering cultural exchanges that expand creative expression and enhance the professional careers of Cuban artists.
    Discuss the importance of dealers in the growing demand for Cuban art at dinner in a private gallery.

February 16 (Tuesday)   Roots of Afro Cuban Music & Community Projects

  • Meet our friend Elias Aseff Alfonso, authority on Santeria religion and assistant to muralist Salvador Gonzales. He invites us into Salvador’s home for an informal discussion of Santeria practice. Afterwards experience how Salvador’s amazing murals make Calle Hamel a showplace and meeting place for locals and tourists alike at a weekly event known as “Rumba Sunday”.
  • Lunch awaits at another art enclave known as “Fusterlandia“. Over many years Jose Fuster (known as Cuba’s Gaudi) has been transforming his neighborhood in Jaminitas with eye boggling mosaics. A man for all seasons, Fuster is an artist with a wild imagination and the ability to manifest his vision.
  • Finally, meet Pablo Menendez, another visionary who creates musical magic with his group called MEZCLA. His personal narrative is as inspiring as his music. Our intimate encounter reveals why he came to Cuba as a youngster and chose to stay. Now a Grampa, he introduces us to some of Cuba’s best musicians while sharing background on the roots of Afro Cuban music. Our private concert takes place on the rooftop concert of his home or club/art gallery recently opened by his family.

February 17 (Wednesday)   Dance and Art in Old Havana 

  •   Today, Ismael Abelo, former Minister of Culture, greets us at a private art space. His vast experience provides an astute overview of Cuban culture from Revolutionary times to the present. He is a national treasure! After our discussion, we are treated to work in progress by one of Cuba’s exceptional dance companies or dance classes at Escuela National de Cuba (ENA)
  • Sample lunch on your own in Old Havana. Stroll through Old Havana to the Plaza de la Cathedral to watch highly skilled printmakers working at the a famous Taller Experimental de Grafica. You may come home with a print or two. Discuss current exhibitions at new art spaces erupting in Old Havana. Our day ends with a private performance of Retazos – Isabel Bustos’ renowned dance company. In a Q & A, with Isabel and her dancers, learn how the choreographer mingles visual art and dance in her productions.
  • Tonight we join the “happening scene” at Fabrica de Arte Cubano (FAC). Night owls may choose to have drinks or dine next door on the rooftop of El Cocinero Retaurant

February 18 (Thursday)  Pinar del Rio Province: Las Terrazas & Tobacco 

  • Today we relax and explore the art of Nature in the nearby province of Pinar del Rio, known the “garden of Cuba” for its agricultural heritage. The land is protected with two Unesco Biosphere Reserves. This one of the best places in the world to grow tobacco. Learn about the fine local workmanship that goes into the art of making cigars. Enjoy the rural scenery and tobacco fields before lunch on the grounds of an old French coffee plantation.
  • Visit Las Terrazas, Cuba’s first model eco-village .This self-supporting sustainable settlement dates back to a reforestation projet in 1968. Today it is a Unesco Biosphere Reserve and includes La Moka, Cuba’s most authentic eco-resort. It was designed by a green architect, (Osmani Cienfuegose) whose commitment to “sustainable agriculture, environmental education, energy efficiency and a sense of harmony between buildings and landscape” is apparent today. Sample specialty Cuban coffees and the handmade arts and crafts of local artisans who live in the vibrant village. Bring your bathing suits along. Time and weather permitting, we might dip in the clean, cool cascading waters that fall into a series of pools at the at the Banos del San Juan, surrounded by naturally terraced rocks.
  •  Back in Havana, sample a paladar of your choice from our recommended list.

February 19 (Friday)  Cuban Art Goes Global

  • This morning Joanna and Ellen invite you to meet some of Cuba’s best artists who have become international art stars exhibiting at prestigious biennials in Venice, Tokyo and Madrid. This behind the scenes art tour includes emerging arts and collective art spaces popping up all over Havana’s ever expanding art scene.
  • Afternoon at leisure to explore your personal interests: museums, the Art & Craft Market, galleries, back street photography tour, Hemmingway’s finca.
  • Cocktails at a private gallery space and our Festive Farewell Dinner.

February 20 (Saturday)  Adios Cuba!

  • Transfer to Havana airport for Miami flights. Or you may choose to explore Cuba’s eastern coast on our 3 night/4 day extension to Mantanzas & Veradero.

Cost:   $4350 per person for double occupancy and $4700 for single occupancy.


  • Roundtrip airfare Miami / Havana
  • Check – in assistance in the Miami International Airport
  • 7 nights accommodation in Havana at the Hotel Nacional
  • VIP hotel check-in
  • Airport / Hotel transfers
  • Health Insurance while in Cuba
  • Private air-conditioned coach transportation
  • Daily breakfast
  • Five lunches
  • Five dinners
  • Cuban Visa
  • People-to-People License to travel
  • Daily services of an English speaking guide
  • 2 bottles of water per day on the bus
  • Daily services of Art Encounter co-founders Joanna Pinsky and Ellen Kamerling
  • All activities and exclusive events listed on itinerary

Not included: Items of a personal nature, tipping, trip cancellation insurance, baggage cost in Miami, internet or phone costs, Havana airport departure tax of 25 CUC

RESERVE A PLACE with a $1,000 non-refundable deposit (mail to us at address below)

QUESTIONS?  Contact Travel Director Ellen Kamerling at eldonkam@msn.com

TO PAY WITH YOUR CREDIT CARD, please select from drop down arrow and
then click the “Add to Cart” button (3% surcharge added)