31 March - 7 April 2012 ESUA successfully completed its second study tour to Cuba in 2011. The tour was the sixth in row organized by Claus Zapffe and prof. Julio Cesar Hernandez Perez, with 6 participants from Norway. The tour was organized as a private tour for a group of freinds. The next tours are sheduled for 31. March - 7. April 2012 and for Autumn 2012.
AN INTRODUCTION TO THE HISTORY OF CUBAN ARCHITECTURE AND URBANISM
The one week tour 31 March - 7 April 2012 will include an introduction to the history of Urbanism and Architecture of Havana, Cienfuegos and Trinidad, all of them listed as UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. It will involve insights into the regeneration of Old Havana, and a tour by bus to two smaller historic towns, Trinidad and Cienfuegos.
Our expert guide will be Prof. Julio Cesar Perez, who has been a speaker at countless international conferences. A Loeb Fellow at Harvard Graduate School of Design 2001-2002 and Adjunct Professor at the School of Architecture in Havana he has lectured widely in the US and Europe about Cuban architecture. He is also the author of the major book INSIDE CUBA published by Taschen in 2006.
Who it is for: Anyone with an interest in Cuban history, culture and architecture. Our previous participants have had a wide range of different backgrounds, with the common nominator that they have been culturally interested people.
The tour programme is based on 5 previous successful tours that we have organized to Cuba since 2007. Subject to changes.
Arrival in Havana. Accommodation.
Accommodation at either Casa Particular (private homes, a unique Cuban experience) or the renown Hotel Nacional (or similar, depending availability).
Welcome in Cuba, introduction to tour program, orientation in Havana.
Rooftop restaurant in the Vedado district*. The restaurant is currently among the best private restaurants in Havana, with excellent service and a great rooftop terrace, located centrally in the Vedado district.
WALKING Tour of Old Havana by Prof. Julio César Pérez. Visit the 4 oldest squares of Old Havana and the most representative colonial buildings:
Classical restaurant at the Plaza San Francisco*. The restaurant has excellent selection of dishes in an upscale classical setting. The restaurant is air-conditioned.
Afternoon FREE. Some suggestions:
Seafront restaurant on the Malecon*. The restaurant is newly opened right on the famous Malecon seafront promenade with great views of the sunset.
Day 3 – Monday – 2 April
Morning. 9.00 am- 1.00 pm.
WALKING Tour of The Walls District (XIX century/ early XX century) by Prof. Julio César Pérez.
Lunch suggestion: 12:30 - 2.00 pm
Prado y Neptuno Italian Restaurant across Parque Central, designed in 1999 by Italian architect Roberto Gottardi, author of the Drama School at the Schools of Art Campus.
Afternoon 2.30- 4.00 pm.WALKING Tour of El Vedado district led by Prof. Julio César Pérez:
See day 2
Day 4 – Tuesday – 3 April
Morning 9:30 - 1:00 pm.
BUS Tour of West Havana. The suburbs, the new modernist hotels.
Afternoon 2.30- 5.00 pm.
From the bus see the westernmost suburbs inspired by the City beautiful movement from Frederick Law Olmstead with isolated villas in ample lots with huge gardens and eclectic and modern houses.
On the way back, drive along the tree- lined avenues of Paseo and G Street (Avenue of the Presidents)
A world famous private restaurant* in a derelict classical building in the heart of the Centro district. A bit more expensive than other restaurants, but good food and a unique experience.
See day 2
Trip from Havana to Cienfuegos.
The city is is dubbed "La Perla del Sur" (Pearl of the South), and the name Cienfuegos literally translates to "Hundred Fires". Cienfuegos was settled by French immigrants from Bordeaux and Louisiana in 1819. The settlement became a town in 1829, and a city in 1880. In 2005, UNESCO inscribed the historic centre of Cienfuegos on the World Heritage List, citing Cienfuegos as the best extant example of the 19th-century early Spanish Enlightenment implementation in urban planning.
Accommodation at either Casa Particular, or at Boutique Hotel La Union (or similar, depending availability). The hotel is accomodated in historical buildings with a swimming pool in the back yard. The hotel is located right in the center of the historical district.
Lunch suggestion: 1.00- 2.30 pm
Palacio del Valle Restaurant by the sea, a former private home built in Moorish style. After the food is ordered, one can explore the building and take a drink on the roof terrace.
Afternoon 2.30- 5.00 pm.
WALKING Tour of the Historic Center of Cienfuegos by Julio César Pérez and possibly Historiador Architect Irán Millán.
Cienfuegos Yacht Club by the sea.
Overnight in Cienfuegos.
Trip from Cienfuegos to Trinidad.
Trinidad was founded in 1514, and is thus one of the oldest settlements in America. It is one of the best preserved cities in the Caribbean from the time when the sugar trade was the main industry in the region. Only a few square blocks in size, historic Trinidad is famous for its colonial architectural heritage. Together with the nearby Valle de los Ingenios (which we will visit the following day), Trinidad has been inscribed on the UNESCOs World Heritage list in 1988
Accommodation at either Casa Particular, or at Hotel Brisas Trinidad del Mar. The hotel is just one of two resorts located right on the beautiful Ancón beach a ten minutes’ drive outside of Trinidad. The beach has a relaxed atmosphere and good conditions for swimming (or similar, depending availability).
The Casa Particular houses are located in the small historical center of Trinidad, within close proximity of Plaza Meyor (the main square).
Morning 11:00- 13:30 pm.
Walking tour of the center of the city led by Julio César Pérez and possibly Historiador Nancy Gonzalez.
Local restaurant to be defined.
Afternoon FREE. Suggestions:
Casa de la musica. Outdoor restaurant on top of the stairs leading up from Plaza Mayor. Life salsa music and outdoor dancing until late in the night
Overnight in Trinidad.
Day 7 – Friday – 6 April
Morning 9.00- 10.30 am
Trip to the Sugar Mills Valley in Trinidad outskirts. Visit Hacienda Iznaga and Tower Iznaga.
Roadside restaurant on the way back to Havana. Buffet.
Afternoon 12.00- 4.00 pm
Return Trip to Havana.
Accomodation at either Casa Particular, or at Hotel Nacional (or similar, depending availability).
Rooftop restaurant at El Paseo de Prado in the Walls district*. A beautiful small rooftop restaurant with excellent service and great atmosphere.
*) We intentionally do not publish the names of all restaurants on our website. All tour participants will get a full program with names and directions to all the suggested lunch and dining venues.
Prof. Julio Cesar Perez Hernandez:
Prof. Perez will be our expert guide throughout the entire tour. A Loeb Fellow at Harvard Graduate School of Design 2001-2002 and Adjunct Professor at the School of Architecture in Havana he has lectured widely in the US and Europe about Cuban architecture. He is also the author of the major book INSIDE CUBA published by Taschen in 2006.
Mr. Millán has been the Historador and Head Architect of Cienfuegos for many years, and has contributed significantly to the preservation and restoration of the historic center in Cienfuegos.
Ms. González is the newly appointed Historador and Head Architect of Trinidad. She is charge of all preservation and restoration projects in Trinidad.
Juan Carlos Toledo Martínez:
Mr. Toledo is a recent graduate at the Havana School of Architecture. He is working at the Office of the Historador in Havana, where he is the project architect of a number of restoration and conversion projects in Old Havana. He has detailed knowledge about several of the rehabiliation projects going on in Old Havana.
Yanei Garcia Polo:
Ms. Polo is currently finalizing her Master in Heritage Regeneration at the Havana School of Architecture. She has been a lecturer at the School of Architecture where she has been teaching her own classes in building physics. She is also working on her first book, to be published and used in the architectural education on Cuba. (Note: It is uncertain if Ms. Polo will be available for the Spring 2012 tour.)
Above: Typical street in Cienfuegos. Photo: Claus Zapffe
indicative cost of the tour programme is estimated at - CUC (Cuban Convertible Pesos) for participants choosing to stay at Casa Particular (see under "Accomodation" below). For two persons sharing a room the tour price per person is - CUC for the Casa Particular option. Both for single and double occupacy we can also arrange for alternative hotel accomodation in Havana. And of course we can arrange accommodation for additional nights in Havanna if you arrive early or stay on, and we can customize your stay according to your individual requirements.
Please find below indicative prices for the various accomodation and currency options. The tour fee will be invoiced by Moderno AS and is payable by bank transfer prior to departure:
The price includes:
In Havana you can either choose to stay in a Casa Particular (room in a private apartment), or in an hotel of international standard. We are continuously working on securing good deals with top rated hotels. In Cienfuegos and in Trinidad we will all stay in Casa Particulars. We can give you a special offer for the tour if you wish to organize your accommodation by yourself. But for the sake of simplicity we recommend that you let us handle the accommodation.
The participants are asked to arrange for their own travel to and from Havana. We are not a tour operator, but can mention the following airlines servicing Cuba from Europe: Air France, Virgin Atlantic, Iberia, Air Canada, Air Europa and various charter airlines. Participants can fly both to the Jose Martin Airport in Havana (30 min driving distance to Havana), or to the Varadero Airport (2 hours driving distance to Havana). To find the best rates we recommend a search on Kelkoo or similar sites. Most of our previous participants have been travelling with Air France directly to the Jose Martin Airport in Havana.
If participants wish to stay longer on Cuba, they are welcome to do so. In Havana we can arrange for additional nights at either Casa Particular or hotel upon request.
Meals will be both collective and on an individual basis, but all meals except breakfast will have to be paid locally by the individual participant. We have previously expereinced that participants have very different preferences regarding food.
Above: Old city center of Havana. Photo: Claus Zapffe
Above: Old city center of Havana. Photo: Claus Zapffe
email@example.com and briefly mention what university you are studying at and which study direction you are taking.
firstname.lastname@example.org and briefly mention how many you are and what accomodation alternative you prefer.
Above: Havana Riviera Hotel, Havana, originally designed by architect Philip Johnson. Photo: Claus Zapffe
Above: Club Nautico, Havana, another 1950's icon. Photo: Claus Zapffe
Casa Particular is a uniquely Cuban form of accomodation, and is highly recommended for those who want to have a more personal experience during their trip. Most rooms are either in apartment buildings from the 1950s, or in colonial style houses from the 1920's, all in the El Vedado area of Havana, just a few blocks from the historic Hotel Nacional, where we can have lunch, dinner, pool, gym, or simply drinks at any time. Many of the rooms have air condition, and each appartment has common areas such as living and dining rooms that are shared with the Cuban family living in the house / appartment. The Cuban family will prepare breakfast for you, and if you want, also any other meals (against a small surcharge). All guests will have single rooms unless otherwise specified. Some bathrooms might be shared with one or two other guests. All rooms and bathrooms are clean and of decent standard. The buildings are just 5 minutes away from the Malecón and just around the corner from the iconic Coppelia icecream parlour. We will stay in the same area as during our last three trips, the location has proven as a superb starting point for exploring Havana. The approximate location is indicated on the map, all Casa Particular are within about 200 metres of the marked location (subject to availability).
Our hotel alternative is located in the city centre and is equiped with a swimming pool (subject to availablility).
Our hotel alternative is located on the Ancon beach outseide of the city centre. See picture of the beach below. (subject to availablility).
Above: Ancon beach outside of Trinidad. Photo: Claus Zapffe
Above: Old city center of Havana. Photo: Claus Zapffe
For registration for the tour, or if you have any more questions, please e-mail Claus Zapffe.
Prof. Julio César Pérez Hernández
Havana, Cuba. Loeb Fellow at Harvard Graduate School of Design 2001-2002 and adjunct professor at the School of Architecture in Havana (1998-2006), has lectured widely in the US, Canada and Europe about Cuban architecture. He is a member of the Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba and the recipient of several international and national awards. His writings have been published in the New York Times, Arquitectura Cuba and Arquitectura y Urbanismo.
Julio Cesar Perez is the author of a major book on Cuban architecture and culture, "Inside Cuba", published byTaschen. He is the President of the Cuban Chapter of the C.E.U. and the author of "A Master plan for 21st century Havana". Julio speaks fluently English and of course Spanish.
M.Arch. Claus Zapffe
Oslo, Norway. Consulting architect with his own practice, Moderno AS. Project Manager of ESUA - European School of Urbanism and Architecture. Claus has more than 5 years experience in organizing tours to Cuba, and has been organizing numerous educational events in various European countries. Claus speaks fluently English, Norwegian and German, and some basic Spanish.
Nonetheless, Cuba is a very special place, and the system sometimes work in ways that can seem odd to visitors. But as long as you are aware of these few oddities, your stay on Cuba should fascinating and rewarding. So we have written down some of our experiences so that our participants are prepared. We are looking forward to welcoming you on Cuba!.
As of writing (spring 2010) the CUC is pegged to the US Dollar at a fixed exchange rate: 1 CUC = 1,08 US Dollar.
You can exchange all mayor international currencies to CUC at exchange offices, banks and hotel receptions (see point on money exchange further down). But please be aware that the Cuban government will charge you a 10% tax when exchanging US Dollars to CUC.This is a tax that the Cuban government has put exclusively on conversions from US Dollars, and it does not apply to conversions from other currencies. So please add 10% to any stated prices if you wish to bring US Dollars. We do thus recommend you not to bring US Dollars, but rather other mayor international currencies such as Euros, Canadian Dollars or British Pounds.
For carrying cash we would recommend a money belt. You should be able to get one at a well sorted outdoor / sports shop or at a specialist travel shop.
At exchange offices or banks always ask for a receipt, and do not leave the exchange counter before you have checked that you have received the actual amount as stated on the receipt. Especially at the airport we have heard about people being given too little in exchange (although it has not yet happened to any of our own participants).
Cash is king on Cuba. You will find a few ATMs in Havana, for instance in the business center of the Hotel Nacional. Please note that the Cuban government will charge you a 10% tax on all cash withdrawals and usage of the card. All withdrawals and usage of your card is debited in US Dollars (regardless of your nationality and the currency of your card account), and hence they charge a 10% surplus tax when converting into CUC (which is the only currency the machine will dispense). Please note that your card has to be issued by a non-American bank in order to work, American debit and credit cards will not work on Cuba at all (due to the embargo).
As impractical as it might sound, we would recommend you to bring enough money to cover your expenses on Cuba in cash with you, in another currency than US Dollars (for instance in Euros, Canadian Dollars or British Pounds). That way you will not be charged 10% on the money you exchange on Cuba. This is the way we are doing it ourselves.
While violent crimes are virtually non-existent, and Cubans generally are honest people, a camera or a purse that is not being watched might pose a temptation. Poverty is an issue on Cuba, so please be sure to watch your belongings. On our first study tour four years ago two cameras disappeared. One was taken out of a bedroom through an open window at ground floor (with a fishing rod), the other was left on a table unattended and hence disappeared in a restaurant. In both cases the owner was absent and left his belongings unguarded. So please do not leave your belongings unguarded. But this is not a situation unique to Cuba, in virtually any country this risk of theft applies. On our more recent tours we have not had any problems with theft.
The family in your Casa Particular (private accommodation) will do their utmost to watch after your belongings. They have a government license for renting out their rooms, and they do not want to risk their main source of income. But you should show some caution if you should let people into your room who are not part of the host family.
As long as you look after your belongings, it is safe to bring your camera, laptop computer, and similar. We are always bringing our mobile office, and have not had any problems with it.
Please be aware that the use of your mobile phone on Cuba is extremely expensive - both when making and receiving calls. Depending on your operator, it might cost about 4 Dollars / Euros per minute or more. Please check the prices for use on Cuba with your operator before leaving. We would recommend you to restrict your use of your phone to sending and receiving text messages, even though this can be expensive as well.
the exception being the Executive Floor on Hotel Nacional).
Once on Cuba we will advise you on where you can find an internet connection close to our accommodation.
United States Department of the Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control. Each participant is for himself responsible to decide whether the conditions of the general license applies to him, as the penalties for breaking the embargo are quite serious. Please e-mail Claus Zapffe or contact the travel agent below if you are in doubt.
Travel agents that have been recommended by some of our previous American participants:
If you are uncertain about whether or not you fall under the General License category, you may contact the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York (Phone: 212-614-6464; Fax: 212-614-6499; Email: email@example.com) for free legal advice on travel regulations.
One of our previous participant from the US has been to Cuba many times. He writes: "You asked me to write you about paperwork needed for permission to travel to Cuba. I'm a registered architect practicing in the US, and I teach studios and courses at a US architecture school. I have been working together with a professor on Cuba for 8 years now.
When I travel to Cuba, I go under the Treasury Department's general license. The general license authorizes travel for 'Full time professionals whose travel transactions are directly related to professional research in their professional areas, provoded that their research 1)is of a noncommercial, academic nature; 2)comprisesa a full work schedule in Cuba' and 3) has a substantial likelihood of public dissemination.'
As part of my preparation, I create a calendar of the work I intend to do each day, and I set specific goals for myself as to the particular parts of Cuban architecture and culture I intend to study. In the case of the charrette conducted by Audun, Claus, and Julio Cesar, the schedule of work is clearly mapped out. I can assure you there's not a lot of spare time for those days. As for your independent study before the Charrette starts, I suggest you put your goals for the districts or buildings you wish to study in a list, and then keep some notes about your observations. Should you get any questions when either leaving or entering the U.S. as part of the trip, you'll have your record to share."
Please note that at least 10 paying participants are required. In the case that less than 10 participants subscribe the offer might be reduced or changed as compared to the described tour program. But we will in any case welcome you on Cuba and make sure that you will have an unforgettable experience on Cuba.
The tour is an initiative offering colleagues and friends an academic programme on Cuba. Each participant has to arrange for his / her own travel to Cuba, travels on his / her own risk, and is advised to arrange his / her own insurances.
The tour to Cuba is not receiving any funding from the European Union in any kind, it is financially completely independent from any EU Lifelong Learning Program projects that ESUA was and / or is engaged in.
Neither ESUA nor Moderno AS are headquartered in the United States, nor are any of the institutions, associations or organisations associated with the tour. The purpose of the tour is not the promotion of tourism in Cuba nor other commercial activities involving Cuba, nor to foster production of any bio-technological products.