Havana Nights – November 5-13, 2023
Based on the overwhelmingly positive response from our trip to Miami & the Keys, during which the group toured Little Havana, we have created an alliance with Centerline Adventures. Centerline Adventures has been leading tours to Cuba for 12 years and owner, Trish Ellington, has a great deal of experience and a deep knowledge of the local culture. We are thrilled to offer this opportunity to our OregonWest Travel Community. We will see amazing beauty and customs while enjoying the incredible kindness, food, and culture of the Cuban people.
Due to the complexity of rules around money and Cuba and with Centerline Adventures’ already proven track record, all payments will be submitted through Centerline Adventures. Once you have chosen to book this tour, Trish will reach out to you directly to explain the payment process. There will be a $500 deposit for this trip. Regular payment options will be available. Please note: the ‘BOOK NOW’ button will take you to the Centerline Adventures website.
You are always welcome to reach out to us at OregonWest for questions as well. We are so excited about this trip, we are coming along too!!
Arrival in Miami! Today we will travel from Portland to Miami. Once there, we will check into the Hilton Blue Lagoon hotel and have the evening to relax and prepare for the start of a wonderful experience.
Welcome to the Magic City! Also known as Miami, a city founded by women in 1896, and one of the most amazing places on Earth! Known now for its Latin culture, we will join Charles Kropke, CEO of Dragonfly Expeditions, as he leads us through Little Havana to meet and enjoy the Cubans who came here to escape tyranny in their own country. Today we will visit businesses owned by those people who have made their lives in Miami – many generations ago! Charles will tell the story of the plight of the Cuban refugees and their determination to create a greater future for their families. An award-winning tour, Charles and Dragonfly Expeditions will bring to life the success stories starting in 1960 to the present day! Tonight, with dinner on your own, you will be able to experience the fabulous delectables offered through multiple cultures throughout Miami! We’ll share experiences on the ride to the airport in the morning!
Our private bus will pick us up at 8:00AM for a short ride to the airport and a short flight to Havana! Once in the air, we will arrive at Jose Marti International Airport within an hour! After going through immigration, we will be transported by our private bus to Old Havana! Dating back to the days of Christopher Columbus, we will walk through the four squares of La Habana Vieja and marvel at the architecture, some built in 1500’s and still visited by many who come to Havana. Cuba is one of the safest countries in the world and we will meet some of her people on the street who are the kindest and most humble we’ll ever see! Get your supply of Havana Rum at their factory and cigars at the Partagas Cigar Store for your adventure this week! Lunch will be served at Chacon 162 by our friend, Jose, owner of this fun place where you’ll see an old Harley Davidson hanging over the bar! Cuban’s love American culture! Tonight, we will be treated to a fabulous dinner at Al Carbon, owned by Chef Ivan Justo, where he welcomes many Internationally known famous and infamous people! And the jazz band you’ll enjoy will keep your feet tapping all night long!
After breakfast at our hotel, the newly constructed Aston, we will venture out to Finca Vigia, owned by Ernest Hemingway from 1939 to 1960. It’s a beautiful home overlooking the city of Havana from his own hilltop where he wrote two of his famous books – For Whom the Bell Tolls and Old Man and the Sea. His boat, the Pilar, is located at the “farm” and in great condition! From here we will go back to Old Havana and visit one of the historic museums, Belle Artes Museum, then to El Floridita where Hemingway created the Papa Daiquiri and enjoy lunch before heading a short distance to Fusterlandia where Jose Fuster, an artist who uses mosaic tiles, has created a world in a neighborhood of Havana where he has tiled his entire home! When his neighbors wanted to do the same, he helped them create this amazing area as colorful as any painting! You should definitely take a souvenir from his gallery! Now let’s return to the Aston and relax before dinner at La Vitrola! It’s Wednesday, so our favorite band, Big Bros, will be playing classic rock including Rolling Stones, ZZTop, Led Zeppelin and Tom Petty! Yes! They love American music in Cuba!
This day is going to be great fun! We will visit the studio of Eduardo Cordova, an amazing percussionist who has developed a program to help children lacking in social skills or needing some extra attention because of a challenge in their own lives such as Autism. Centerline Adventures donates a portion of their proceeds to help Eduardo with his program. Some of these children might be there today to participate in the Percussion Show they will share with us. I guarantee that you will get up and move around!!! After this great performance, we will visit our dear friend, Milton Bernal! I met Milton in Little Havana in Miami in 2014 when he came for his art exhibition. Now we include him in our tours to his gallery in Havana where he treats us to espresso and cigars as he shows us his most unique way of painting with tobacco leaves! One of the things happening in Cuba right now is that more women are becoming business owners! So, when we leave Milton’s gallery, we will head to Plan H for a wine and cheese event! This afternoon we will have some free time to relax at the hotel or take a walk along the famous Malecon directly across the street…Charles may join us and share some great stories of Cuba, Pirates, and Schooners! Dinner tonight will be an amazing experience! We met Chef Fayad a few months ago and have added his culinary experiences to our culture tour. Sitting on the rooftop, we will be taught how to dance to Cuban music by a very talented couple while Chef creates his amazing multi-faceted culinary gourmet feast for our pleasure! We’ll finish up the evening with a game or two of Dominos!
We all know that Cuba is known for cigars, but do we know who grows the tobacco? Today we will take a 2-hour ride to Pinar del Rio and visit an award-winning tobacconist, Hector Luis Prieto at his farm! Suffering devastation in 2022 from Hurricane Ian, he has rebuilt his farm to a greater level and welcomes us to walk the fields with him and his staff. Before we leave, we will enjoy lunch with Senor Prieto and smoke a cigar!! On the way back to Havana, we will stop at the Caverns Santos Tomas, Cuba’s largest cave system with over 16 miles of trails, and the second largest on the American continent. Music is most important in Cuba – music and food! So tonight, we will enjoy both at la Terraza del Abel! A new restaurant in town and their business is flourishing!
BEACH DAY! Christopher Columbus said that he “never beheld such a beautiful place” and today you will find out what he was talking about! The beaches are so exquisitely beautiful with all colors of blue to enjoy! We will relax, drink some Havana Rum and Cuban beer, be entertained by the beach troubadours as they pass by our group and relax after a busy week of experiencing Cuban culture! Stopping by our favorite beach restaurant, El Patio de Aleyda before heading back to town, we will take some time to rest and prepare for our great evening at one of our very favorite places, CocoBlue y La ZorraPelua, owned by our new great friends, Jeff Fuentes and his partner, Rita McNiff. Jeff is a sculptor, and his creations welcome us as we pass through the threshold for dinner and live music! Rita is from New York and came to Cuba 9 years ago and never went back!!! That’s how much Cuba can get under your skin! She will share a very special story about Jeff that will hit your heart! Our last night in Havana will end with very special friends from Centerline Adventures and Oregon West!
Seems like the week flew by as we prepare for our flight back to the States! But before we do, remember the story Rita shared with us last night? This morning you will understand what she was telling us, and we think you will be touched by this greatly! Our last stop will be to visit our BFF, Vivian Melendez, who is highly regarded around the world for her knowledge of cigars. She will show us how to choose, cut, light, and smoke a cigar while paired with Cuban coffee or rum. She also has beautiful items you may want to take back to the US for friends and family! She has a great logo that you will appreciate once you see her!! Before we get back on the bus to go to the airport, we will walk down the street to El Biky for lunch of pasta and wine!
As we say adios to Havana and Bienvenidos to Miami, we greatly appreciate you joining us on our adventure to one of our favorite places – Cuba! We hope you’ll feel “Havana in My Heart” for years to come!
Today we will head back to Portland from Miami with wonderful memories of a fantastic trip to Cuba!!