Art Deco to Art Now
Continuing our series Art Deco to Art Now, Claudia Chan Shaw embarks on her next adventure. Beginning in Miami to explore its vibrant art deco heritage and contemporary arts scene, Claudia then takes you to Cuba, famous for its rich historical heritage, magnificent beaches, dramatic landscapes and passion for music and art.
For over five hundred years, Cuba was a major gateway between Old and New Worlds. Its exotic cities are graced by a distinctive mixture of architectural styles, from Colonial to Baroque, Neoclassical to Art Deco and Modernism to Post-Modernism. Cuba’s love affair with music is legendary and its poetry and writing form part of the unique Latin American literary heritage. Art lovers are also waking up to Cuba’s long tradition of visual arts, from pre-revolutionary modernism to contemporary.
‘Shabby chic’ after half a century of Communism, post-revolutionary Cuba is about to change forever – make sure you see it now!
This tour is part of the World Art Tours program organised by the Art Gallery Society of NSW in partnership with Renaissance Tours.
Suggested departure from Australia on flights to Miami (via Los Angeles or Dallas Forth Worth).
Same day arrival and check-in to your hotel.
Join Claudia and fellow Art Lovers for a welcome breakfast and briefing. Begin your exploration of Miami’s thriving contemporary art scene with a visit to the Wynwood Art District. Enjoy a guided tour of the ‘Wynwood Walls’, ever-changing murals by some of world’s most legendary graffiti artists and iconic street artists.
After lunch, visit the Margulies Collection, featuring the finest contemporary and vintage photography, video, sculptures and installations, all displayed in a retro-fitted warehouse space. Then continue to the Rubell Family Collection and Contemporary Arts Foundation, one of the biggest private contemporary art collections in North America, showcasing established and emerging artists.
Tonight, attend an optional performance at the Adrienne Arsht Centre for the Performing Arts (program to be confirmed, not included in tour cost).
This morning enjoy a guided walking tour of the Art Deco District of Miami Beach, boasting one of the largest concentrations of 1920s and 1930s architecture in the world. Explore three distinct styles, Art Deco, Mediterranean Revival and MiMo (Miami modern) as you visit hotel interiors, bars and commercial buildings that capture the spirit of the time.
In the afternoon, tour the sights of the Miami districts including Coconut Grove, Little Havana, Coral Gables and Downtown Miami. Drive along Millionaires’ Row and past the Biltmore Hotel, Freedom Tower, the Venetian Pool and Vizcaya Museum.
Transfer to Miami Airport for a morning flight to Havana. (NB Flight subject to government approval).
Following hotel check-in, begin your Havana stay with a walking tour of Old Havana, a UNESCO world heritage site and the best-preserved colonial city in the Americas. Visit the city museum housed in a superb baroque palacio (subject to renovations).
Tonight, walk to one of Havana’s favourite private restaurants La Guarida, location of the famous Cuban film Fresa y Chocolate (Strawberry and Chocolate), nominated for an Oscar in 1992.
Spend this morning exploring Havana’s rich array of Art Deco buildings, sculptures and monuments, including the magnificent Bacardi Building and the recently restored Cine-teatro Sierra Maestra.
Lunch at a local restaurant (Paladar). In the afternoon take a classic car sightseeing tour including the Jose Martí house and the Martí monument at the Plaza de la Revolución, to learn about the writer, a national hero who was killed in 1895 during the war of independence against Spain.
In the morning, drive out of town to San Francisco de Paula to visit Finca Vigía, Ernest Hemingway’s house from 1939 to 1960 and the place where he wrote both For Whom the Bell Tolls and The Old Man and the Sea, now a museum operated by the Cuban government.
During the afternoon visits artists’ studios /galleries (TBC).
Tonight enjoy a dinner at one of the most beautiful Paladares La Esperanza. Following dinner visit a performance by the Havana Queens dance ensemble under the direction of Rosario García Rodríguez and Balbina Asprón Chavez – an evening showcasing outstanding movement, from classical ballet to flamenco to modern dance, with characteristic elements of rumba and salsa.
Today journey along the ‘tobacco route’ to Pinar del Rio, the greenest of all Cuban provinces with the best tobacco-growing ground and imposing limestone towers (Mogotes). Enjoy a panoramic tour through the Viñales Valley, where time seems to stand still. Visit a local project ‘Patio de Pelegrín’ – the huge property of 2,500 sqm owned and converted by the artist Mario Pelegrín, to a place of art and a meeting point for the rural population.
Continue to Las Terrazas, a UNESCO biosphere reserve with an artist colony and nostalgic coffee plantation. Following lunch at a private Paladar, visit Orquideario de Soroa, a sprawling botanical garden park with over 700 different types of orchids.
Return to Havana late afternoon.
Following a morning talk, visit the National Museum of Fine Art (Bellas Artes), widely considered the best art gallery in the Caribbean, which houses in two superb buildings, an outstanding collection of Cuban and international art. The Cuban collection, displayed over three floors, embraces colonial and contemporary art, while the international collection ranges from classical, including a surprising number of European Old Masters, to modern.
The afternoon is at leisure. You may wish to browse the exceptional arts and crafts market of San José right behind the museum, or take a Cocotaxi ride to visit Callejón de Hamel. This street is the capital’s centre of Afro-Cuban culture, with colourful murals, art and craft shops and iconography of Santería. Artist Salvador González Escalona has led its conversion into a major cultural centre.
Following dinner at a local restaurant, head to the world-famous Tropicana cabaret to enjoy Cuban music and dance performed by a cast of more than 200 in a tropical garden setting.
Begin the day with a guided tour of the Wilfredo Lam Centre for Contemporary Art, Cuba’s finest contemporary museum, named after the outstanding artist. Visit the Taller Experimental de Grafica, Cuba’s leading printmaking workshop established in 1962 by mural artist Orlando Suarez with the support of Che Guevara. You will see printmakers at work and visit the small gallery where prints and etchings are on sale.
Following lunch in a local Paladar, drive to the fishing village of Jaimanitas on the outskirts of the city. Visit the house, gallery and street art project of naïve artist José Fuster, known as ‘Gaudí of the Caribbean’. Fusterlandia encompasses 80 houses, a chess park, an artists’ wall, as well as a theatre and community swimming pool.
Early in the morning, drive to the “Pearl of the South”, Cienfuegos, which has the Caribbean’s finest collection of French neo-classical buildings, built by immigrants from Bordeaux and Louisiana. It then benefited from Spanish Enlightenment urban planning, all of which combined for it to gain a UNESCO World Heritage listing. Its 18th century fortress, a cathedral and extensive botanic gardens are renowned.
Stroll over the Plaza Mayor with the nostalgic Terry Theatre where Caruso used to sing, and visit the most famous building in Cienfuegos, the 1917 Palacio de Valle, with its Gothic, Venetian and Moorish elements.
Continue along the panoramic coastal road to Trinidad. Take an early evening stroll through town before dinner followed by a visit to the local music bar, Casa de la Trova.
Trinidad, another UNESCO World Heritage site, is one of the most beautiful towns on the island. Founded in 1514, it is effectively one big open-air museum, with well-preserved Spanish colonial architecture, and cobbled streets where transport is still mainly by horse or bicycle.
Starting in the Plaza Mayor in the heart of Trinidad, visit some of its fascinating museums and galleries, beginning with the pre-Columbian archaeological collection housed in the 18th century Casa Padrón. Take in the Romantic Museum housed in the Palacio Brunet, with its collection of 18th and 19th century fine and decorative art, as well as the Museum of Colonial Architecture.
After lunch, visit the Art Gallery with its fine collection of local work, and also visit the pottery studio Taller Alfarero to see ceramicists at work.
Drive through Sugar Cane Valley, off the beaten track of tourism, to the unspoilt colonial town of Sanctí Spiritus, now home to Cuba’s Medical University.
Slavery in Cuba was at its height in the sugar industry in the early 19th century, when the many thousands of African slaves, whose influence has contributed so much to the nation’s culture, were kept in subjugation. From the Iznaga Tower in the Valley their movements were closely watched. You will have the opportunity to ascend the Iznaga Tower to behold its panoramic views over the canefields.
Continue to Camagüey. The nation’s third largest city, its centre is built like a maze to foil invaders after it was raided and burned by the Welsh pirate Henry Morgan in the 17th century.
Visit the house of Nicolás Guillén, the national poet born here in 1902.
Depart Camagüey and drive south towards Santiago de Cuba. Lunch stop at the town of Bayamo, capital of Granma province, and the place where Manuel Cespedes declared the war of independence from Spain in 1868, freeing his slaves to join the fight.
Continue to El Cobre in the foothills of the Sierra Maestra. Visit the basilica of El Cobre, Cuba’s principal place of pilgrimage, named after the copper mines that formerly dominated the region’s economy, and the place to which Ernest Hemingway donated his Nobel Prize, later stolen.
Begin the day visiting the 16th century Diego Velázquez house, built by the city’s founder, the Santiago cathedral, the birthplace of the poet José María Heredia and the Santa Ifigenia cemetery where Jose Martí is buried.
Transfer by boat to Cayo Granma for lunch.
After lunch, visit the 17th century fortress of San Pedro at the entrance to the bay, where Spain lost the key naval battle of the independence war in 1898, then view the Moncada barracks attacked by Fidel Castro in 1953 at the start of the revolutionary war.
Following a morning talk, visit the Centro Cultural Africano, named after the writer Fernando Ortíz who pioneered the analysis of Afro-Cuban traditions, to examine its collection of African art and objects. Then progress to the House of Popular Religions to learn more about Santería, the Cuban belief system that unites West African and Caribbean traditions.
Afternoon free to stroll through the city centre.
In the evening enjoy a farewell dinner at the private Paladar Compay Gallo.
Tour arrangements conclude after breakfast.
If returning to Australia today, depart Santiago International Airport, on suggested return flights, via Miami, Los Angeles or Dallas Fort Worth.
Early morning arrival in Australia.
*Single travellers may request to share.
Please advise at time of booking.
Final Payment due
21 February 2017
Please see booking conditions for fitness level definitions.
ESTA and Visas
All Australian Passport holders require an ESTA Pre-Authorisation application to visit the USA (completed on-line) and a Visa for Cuba. Renaissance Tours will arrange your visa for Cuba approximately 2-3 months prior to the tour – and processing takes approximately three weeks. (NB: express processing will incur additional charges).
American Airlines /Qantas and Virgin Australia / Delta have connections from Australia to Miami via Los Angeles or Dallas Fort Worth.
Please contact Renaissance Tours for assistance with airfares and flight reservations.
Tour price includes
- Accommodation in centrally located best available hotels with daily breakfast (B)
- Meals as per itinerary (L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
- Drinks with welcome and farewell dinners
- International flight Miami to Havana – economy class. (NB Subject to government approval, American Airlines and Delta will commence flights Miami to Havana in late 2016)
- Transfers on departure in Miami
- Transfers on arrival and departure in Cuba
- Comprehensive sightseeing including entrance fees as per itinerary
- Lectures and talks with your tour leader throughout
- Gratuities for local guides and drivers
- Cuban Visa
- Hotel porterage (one piece per person)
Tour price does not include
- International airfares (except Miami – Havana flight)
- Transfer on arrival in Miami
- ESTA Pre-Authorisation application to visit/transit the USA
- Items of a personal nature, including telephone, laundry, mini-bar etc.
- Drinks with meals
- Airport porterage
- Travel insurance
Miami – The Betsy South Beach
Havana – Hotel Saratoga
Trinidad – Hotel Iberostar Trinidad
Camaguey – Gran Hotel
Santiago – Hotel Meliá Santiago
***Important itinerary note ***
Intending travellers need to understand that the high tourism boom Cuba is experiencing is placing hotels and tour operators under immense pressure. For most of the year they are now working to capacity. Renaissance Tours works with an experienced and established Cuban tour operator that has been leading groups in Cuba for more than 15 years. They have advised us that every effort is being made to adhere to our requested hotels and itinerary, but given the current situation and high demand we may incur hotel or itinerary changes.