ASJA Cuba Trip 2019 - Itinerary


For the itinerary, other information, or to register, contact Charles Bittner at
For questions, call Charles at 617-833-1435.


Saturday, March 21

1 – 6 pm Settle into the historic Hotel Capri, which was one of the first hotel casinos built by the American mafia in Cuba. Owned by mobster Santo Trafficante and run by actor George Raft, the hotel housed at a time one of the largest casinos in Havana. Located blocks from the University of Havana, Coppelia ice cream, and the Havana seawall, the recent remodeling provides first class amenities.

6:30 pm Orientation meeting and welcome drinks at the hotel

7:00 pm Enjoy a traditional Cuban meal overlooking the Straits of Florida at the Hotel Nacional. Tasty Cuban food served family style with a great view of the Havana sea wall and the old Spanish fortress.

Sunday, March 22

10:00 am Socio-economic discussion with urban planner Miguel Coyula, whose presentation will touch on housing, infrastructure, investment and restoration programs. It’s bound to leave you with a better understanding of why Havana looks the way it does today and possibilities moving forward.

11:30 am Guided walking tour of the Old City. Wander through the Plaza de Armas, a scenic tree-lined plaza formerly at the center of influence in Cuba. It is surrounded by many of the most historic structures in Havana as well as important monuments.

See the Plaza de San Francisco, a cobbled plaza surrounded by buildings dating from the 18th century, dominated by the baroque Iglesia and Convento de San Francisco dating from 1719. Visit the Plaza Vieja, surrounded by sumptuous houses of the Havana aristocracy from the 18th and 19th centuries. Visit Plaza de la Catedral and the Catedral de San Cristóbal de La Habana.


1:30 pm Lunch at Doña Eutimia paladar. Famous for its ropa vieja and frozen mojitos, this cozy paladar made Newsweek Magazine’s top 100 restaurants in the world in 2012. The restaurant is located in the beautiful Cathedral Square.

3:30 pm Discussion and private performance by Yassek Manzano, the most exciting young trumpet player to come out of Cuba in the last decade. He is also a composer and has performed with major figures like Celia Cruz and the British band Simply Red. At Mamy’s Café

4:45 pm Discussion on Cuban culture and literature with Susana Haug, professor of Latin American Literature at the University of Havana. At the Hotel Capri

5:30 pm Return to our hotel.

7:15 pm Dinner at Paladar San Cristobal. Located in the heart of Central Havana, this celebrated paladar offers delicious local cuisine and libations. The staff is particularly proud of their photos with President Obama, who ate here (and left a very good tip) during his historic visit.

Monday, March 23

11:30 am We’ll start our day with a private performance by the celebrated dance troupe at Habana Compás Dance. This remarkable company has performed all over the world. Their style reflects the rich history, diversity, rhythm and flow of the island.

1:00 pm Lunch at Mediterraneo Havana, a modern, family run paladar in the Vedado neighborhood. This cozy paladar produces much of what it serves at a nearby farm in Guanabacoa Cuba.

2:30 pm Discussion with Cuban poet and novelist Wendy Guerra, described as the “diva of contemporary Cuban literature.” Praised by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Wendy is the author of several acclaimed novels, including Todos Se Van (Everyone Leaves), Posar desnuda en la Habana (Posing Nude in Havana), and Domingo de Revolución (Revolution Sunday). She has won recognition in international circles, and her works have been translated into thirteen languages. Guerra has been a guest lecturer at Princeton University and Dartmouth College.

4:00 pm Private musical performance by renowned activist, singer and songwriter Frank Delgado at Café Madrigal. Café Madrigal, owned and run by film director Rafael Rosales, is housed in a beautiful colonial mansion. Enjoy tasty tapas and cocktails while discussing the nueva trova movement in Cuba.

6:00 pm Conversation with Dalila Castro Fontanella, a writer, reporter, commentator, and news anchor for Cubavisión Internacional television. Trained in political science and hypermedia journalism at the José Martí International Institute of Journalism, Dalila has also directed documentaries on social, health, and political issues in Cuba. She writes regularly about the environment for a variety of Cuban and International magazines. At Altimia.

Evening free

Tuesday, March 24

9:00 am Depart for Cienfuegos, one of the country’s oldest and most beautiful cities, which is located approximately three hours from Havana (we will travel in a very modern, air-conditioned bus). Cienfuegos, referred to as the “Pearl of the South,” is one of Cuba’s only cities to display French and Spanish architecture. Housed on one of the country’s largest Bays, the city offers beautiful ocean front landscapes, and is deeply rich in culture.

12:45 pm Lunch at El Lagarto, a picturesque, outdoor restaurant with views and breezes from the Bay of Cienfuegos. The menu features fresh seafood from neighboring waterways.

2:15 pm Discussion with members of the local chapter of UNEAC, the National Union of Artists and Writers of Cuba.

3:15 pm Tour the local art galleries of UNEAC members, which surround Jose Marti Park in downtown Cienfuegos.

4:30 pm Continue to Trinidad, a UNESCO world heritage site, known for its history, cobble-stone streets, pastel colored homes, art and music.

6 pm Check-in at bed and breakfasts, known as “casas particulares,” or “private homes.” Since the 1990s Cuban families have been permitted to rent rooms in their family homes to foreigners. The rooms are all air-conditioned with modern amenities. 

7:30 pm Enjoy a home cooked meal prepared by your host family. Trinidad is known for its locally sourced shrimp.

Wednesday, March 25

10 am Discussion with Nancy Benitez, local architect, historian, and restoration specialist, who will provide an overview of the city’s history from an architectural, economic, and infrastructural point of view.

11 am Walking Tour of Trinidad’s Historic Center led by your guide.

1 pm Lunch at San Jose Paladar, a charming, modern private restaurant with a diverse menu featuring everything from lobster to pizza.

Afternoon free to explore Trinidad or the nearby Playa Ancon.

5:30 pm Discussion with Carlos Mata, Trinidad’s award-winning “Painter of the Night,” and his talented daughter, Amaya, about the city’s historic art scene. Carlos and Amaya meticulously restored their 18th century home, which now houses a gallery and studio. Enjoy local music, appetizers, and libations—try a canchanchara, Trinidad’s storied, local cocktail—at a private party in the courtyard of the beautiful home.

7:45 pm Trinidad farewell dinner at El Secreto paladar, located in the historic Plaza Mayor. This private restaurant is housed in a wonderful 18th century home, filled with antiques and even a Wurlitzer juke-box from the 1950’s. Chef Alejandro specializes in locally sourced seafood, fruits, and vegetables.

10:00 pm Enjoy dancing and live salsa music at the popular Casa de la Musica.



Thursday, March 26

10:00 am Check-out of casas and return to Havana.

3:00 pm Check-in at Hotel Capri.

5:15 pm Visit to the home and studio of a family of professors from Cuba’s most important visual art and cultural institutes, at AltaMira art loft. Well-known artists and professors, sculptor Yamilé Pardo, painter Edel Bordón, and photographer Pablo Pardo Bordon will discuss their own work and tell us about cultural education in Cuba.

7:15 pm Dinner at Havana’s 21, a paladar located in Vedado, Havana.

10:00 pm Optional – Enjoy an evening of jazz at La Zorro y El Quervo, a live music venue located just a block from the hotel.

Friday, March 27

10:00 am Afternoon talk with Cristina Escobar about her career as a Cuban journalist. Cristina is a political commentator and one of the most visible figures on Cuban television. At the hotel

Lunch on your own

2:00 pm Private performance and discussion with the classical musicians of the Orquesta del Lyceum de La Habana. These 20 young musicians just returned from performances in Paris and Berlin. At Seminario San Carlos

3:30 pm Discussion with Marta Nuñez, prominent Cuban sociologist and cultural critic, about her research on race and gender in Cuba. Her work focuses on the ways in which recent economic reforms are affecting Cuban women.

5:00 pm Visit to the Lizt Alfonso Academy, a women-led dance company and school for local youth, specializing in ballet, fusion, and flamenco. We will watch a private performance by the adolescent dance group and sit with the dancers to discuss how they came to join the school and the impact it has on them.

7:30 pm Farewell dinner at El Del Frente, one of the coolest restaurants in the city, located on a spacious rooftop terrace/bar surrounded by Old Havana’s historic architecture.

Saturday, March 28

TBD Free time pending flight departures

  • A blank piece of paper is God's way of telling us how hard it is to be God.
    – Sidney Sheldon
  • A critic is a man who knows the way but can't drive the car.
    – Kenneth Tynan
  • A good many young writers make the mistake of enclosing a stamped, self–addressed envelope, big enough for the manuscript to come back in. This is too much of a temptation to the editor.
    – Ring Lardner
  • A young musician plays scales in his room and only bores his family. A beginning writer, on the other hand, sometimes has the misfortune of getting into print.
    – Marguerite Yourcenar
  • All the words I use in my stories can be found in the dictionary – it's just a matter of arranging them into the right sentences.
    – Somerset Maugham
  • Asking a working writer what he thinks about critics is like asking a lamppost how it feels about dogs.
    – Christopher Hampton
  • Being a writer is like having homework every night for the rest of your life.
    – Lawrence Kasdan
  • Copy from one, it's plagiarism; copy from two, it's research.
    –Wilson Mizner
  • Everywhere I go I'm asked if I think the university stifles writers. My opinion is that they don't stifle enough of them.
    – Flannery O'Connor
  • I just wrote a book, but don't go out and buy it yet, because I don't think it's finished yet.
    – Lawrence Welk
  • I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.
    – Douglas Adams
  • I'm writing a book. I've got the page numbers done.
    – Stephen Wright
  • It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn't give it up because by that time I was too famous.
    – Robert Benchley
  • It's a damn poor mind that can only think of one way to spell a word.
    – Andrew Jackson
  • Most writers can write books faster than publishers can write checks.
    – Richard Curtis
  • No fathers or mothers think their own children ugly; and this self–deceit is yet stronger with respect to the offspring of the mind.
    – Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
  • There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.
    –Somerset Maugham
  • Writing a novel is like paddling from Boston to London in a bathtub. Sometimes the damn tub sinks. It's a wonder that most of them don't.
    – Stephen King
  • Writing a novel is like spelunking. You kind of create the right path for yourself. But, boy, are there so many points at which you think, absolutely, I'm going down the wrong hole here.
    – Chang–rae Lee
  • Your manuscript is both good and original, but the part that is good is not original, and the part that is original is not good.
    –Samuel Johnson