When we took travelers to Cuba in November 2016, they were awed both by the experience of Cuban baseball and the mystique of a country that calls the 1950s to mind. “It was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever done, and I’ve traveled all around the world,” Chuck Carter of Spokane, Washington, told us after that first trip three years ago.
Jeffrey Grossman of Redmond, Washington, who went on the trip with his son Seth, agreed. “Seeing Cuba was really the highlight,” he said. “It was less about the baseball and more the experience of visiting this country that has been off limits my entire life.”
Seth said, “It was just the right amount of baseball. It was fabulous to have the opportunity to meet authentic Cuban baseball celebrities.”
This year, we will head back to Cuba in the fall, and we invite you to explore this Caribbean nation. We head off Monday, November 4 through Sunday, November 10 on a getaway for baseball fans and explorers alike.
When travelers on this year’s trip touch down in Havana, they’ll start by enjoying lunch at El Aljibe, renowned for its 62-year-old secret recipe for roast chicken that has drawn the likes of Hollywood star Jack Nicholson and former President Jimmy Carter.
Once they’re satiated, travelers will head to Proyecto Cultural Muraleando, a neglected neighborhood on the outskirts of the city that has been transformed into a community art gallery of sorts. Dinner will be served at the luxurious La Guarida, Havana’s most well-known paladar (a privately-owned restaurant allowed by the Cuban government). Make sure to pack your appetite!
During most of their stay, travelers will bunk at a premier hotel situated on the Havana coastline called Meliá Cohiba, featuring a lovely breakfast buffet, three bars, and a tobacconist from whom travelers can buy Cuban cigarettes and cigars.
Day two of the trip starts at the expansive Cementerio de Colon (Columbus Cemetery). Laid out between 1871 and 1886, this cemetery is known for its elaborately sculpted memorials, including some dedicated to baseball players. Keeping in the historic theme, the next stop will be Ernest Hemingway’s home, Finca Vigia, featuring original furniture, artwork, and personal memorabilia collected by the author.
Tuesday afternoon is full of baseball—lunch with a former ballplayer at Il Divino, a visit to a baseball school, and then a game if everything goes as planned. Itinerary changes are often brought about by the Cuban government and an unusual league baseball structure, but our travelers are always impressed by the new plans we create on the fly.
Day three starts with a trip to a tobacco factory, followed by a tour of the top baseball park in Latina American, Estadio Latinoamericano. The afternoon will include lunch at La Moraleja with a representative from the Institute of Sports, Physical Education and Recreation (INDER) and a guided walk around the University of Havana.
We will once again have the privilege of a local guide, Edgar Perez Gonzalez, who will offer information on everything from the Cuban school system to its military to religion.
Thursday takes travelers outside the nation’s capital to Matanzas, where they’ll have lunch at the recently restored Hotel Velasco, tour Palmar Junco Stadium, which is said to be the oldest continual-use baseball stadium in the world, dating back to 1874—and watch another game in Varadero.
Just for the night, guests will stay at Melia Varadero, a truly unique hotel shaped like a six-petalled flower with direct beach access. Indeed, there’s plenty of beaches to go around in Varadero, which covers Cuba’s narrow Hicacos Peninsula. There are 20 kilometers’ worth of beaches, to be exact, giving travelers an easy option during Friday’s morning leisure time.
Returning to Havana on Friday afternoon will mean a walking tour of the city’s historic squares, featuring breathtaking colonial architecture and friendly businesspeople. Guests can also meet with a sportswriter before dinner.
On the last day of the trip before travelers hop back on a plane to Miami, they’ll visit the Habana Compas music and dance company, enjoy a reception and farewell dinner of tasty Cuban-Creole cuisine at San Cristobal, and witness one last ballgame. That’s seven days of once-in-a-lifetime experiences, creating memories that will last a lifetime.
Chuck said, “I thought I knew all about Cuba’s government and economy, but when I got there, it was so different from what I had in mind. We found warm, friendly people who were excited to see Americans come to their country. I was certainly surprised, in a good way.”
To make reservations, visit http://www.sportstravelandtours.com/WebPackage.asp?PackID=19GCUBA.