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Cuban classic trains & Cars
Tourist / Railfan tour
SEPTEMBER 17-28, 2016
rescheduled to mar 2017
We invite you to come with us to Cuba before the flood gates of Americans Tourist ruin this very unique culture forever! This will be our 10th tour to Cuba since 2001. For your comfort we have chosen top of the line hotels most being five star and two rated at three star. We will present to you the Classic Cuba with a focus on the wonderful old American built cars most dating from the 1950's and still in everyday operation. Then we will present to you the Classic Trains of which most of the steam locomotives and some of the diesels are American built. Oh, one cannot over look the wonderful feel for Classic Cuban culture and of course the amazing people that keep this country going.
Many European visitors just go to Havana or the tropical beaches, but we aim to deliver the Classic Cuba to you, visiting provincial towns and the countryside where the passage of time has been suspended since the 1950's. Explore Cuba with us before time catches up to this island nation. We explore the back country both by chartered motor coach and train and try and give you a feel for Cuban life and the outdated transportation system. This tour will appeal to both the dedicated railway enthusiast and those intrigued by many of the outlying places we visit. Our itinerary requires flexibility, and we will plan to incorporate most all steam operations which are available during 2016, but always we must be mindful of the mañana culture and the former Soviet legacy.
You need to keep in mind that with the opening up of Cuba to Americans things are changing fast and so our itinerary could change too. Please take note that we priced this tour assuming that by September 2016 the travel restrictions for Americans will have been lifted. If this has not happened we will still run this tour but it will be under licensing from the US Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). If this happens it will increase the tour price to cover the US license fees and air from Miami. Remember, time is now catching up to Cuba and if you would like to step back in time it is now to do it
A STEP BACK IN TIME WITH CLASSIC AMERICAN CARS AND TRAINS
Day 1 Saturday september 17 (D)
Arrival in Havana on your own. There are several flights a day between Miami and Havana by American owned airlines. As Cuba opens up more flights will be added. We expect by September 2016 many most American airlines will be allowed to sell tickets from the US to Havana to anyone.
Transfer yourself from the airport to our hotel by taxi. Very cheap and you can even choose one of the Cuban taxi's operating with the classic American cars. Check-in to the five star luxury Hotel Nacional for three nights. After hotel check-in then free time to explore downtown Havana on your own. Welcome to Cuba dinner in the evening where you will be introduced to your guides and a brief rundown of your tour will be discussed.
WE SPEND A TOTAL OF FOUR NIGHTS DURING
THIS TOUR AT THE FIVE STAR HOTEL NACIONAL IN HAVANA
Day 2 Sunday september 18 (B-D)
You will have the full day to explore colorful Havana. Enjoy all of the classic American built cars in operation in downtown area. Many are being used as taxi's. You will be amazed at how many different model, makes and color schemes are in use. Our hotel will be right downtown and you will be able to walk to Old Havana and the Cuban Capital buildings. Sit down in the main downtown plaza and watch the parade of American built cars pass by. There is no where else in the world where you can experience so many beautiful cars. Not even Hot August Nights in Reno, Nevada can come close.
Day 3 Monday september 19 (B-L-D)
Today we will present to you a Havana city tour taking in all of the points of interest around the city including the Havana Central train station where the station master will greet the group and give us a walking tour. This station is closed at the moment for restoration so trains are using other city stations. Later on in the day we will give you a close up look at the great efforts that Cubans need to take to keep their American cars in good operating condition.
Our tour will include taking some rides in your favorite American cars around the city. We will also visit the Cristina Station that now houses the new Cuban Railway Museum which documents the importance of the rail system to the Cuban economy. Another place we will visit is the Havana Club Rum Museum. This museum has an interesting operating model railroad and sugar mill.
THE HAVANA CLUB RUM COMPANY MUSEUM AND MODEL RAILROAD
Day 4 Tuesday september 20 (B-L-D)
Morning transfer from our hotel to the Casa Blanca train station across the Havana Bay. This is the terminus of the famous Hershey Electric Railway. We will board one of the regular scheduled trains which use the Spanish built railcars for the run to the far end of the system at Matanzas. The historic Brill cars are down for parts and repairs.
After inspecting the Matanzas Station we check out some of the classic autos in operation. We then board our waiting charter motor coach for the ride to nearby Varadero and hotel check-in. The town of Varadero is located on the ocean and a short walk from our hotel you can enjoy the beautiful beach. Check-in to the 5 Star Hotel Milia Varadero for two nights. Your stay at this luxury hotel should be very relaxing.
WE SPEND A TOTAL OF THREE NIGHTS
AT THE FIVE STAR BEACH RESORT HOTEL MILIA VARADEERO
Day 5 Wednesday september 21(B-L-D)
You will have the morning hours to sleep in or explore Varadero or if you like take in some sun on the wonderful beaches or go swimming. Early afternoon we head for nearby Cardenas which is only 10 miles away. The first thing that you will notice about this town is the unique taxi service. In fact we will put you in one of these cabs for a ride around the town.
So what makes these taxi's so unique? It is not the American built cars but it is the fact that these taxi's are horse drawn buggies. Cárdenas has played an episodic role in Cuban history as it is here that the Cuban flag was raised for the first time in a vain attempt to free the colony from its Spanish colonizers. Parque Echeverria, the city's main plaza, is one of the main reasons for our visit which has a couple of important Museums. Cárdenas can be a shock and if you want to see a picture of real Cuban life, it doesn't get more eye-opening.
We will also visit a Cuban Rum factory. The Havana Club Rum Company was founded in 1878 and we visited their museum in Havana but now will visit the location of their main factory. We then return to our hotel in Varadero.
Day 6 Thursday september 22 (B-L-D)
After breakfast, departure by our charter motor coach to Australia. Whatever the history of the name comes from, the town itself played a significant role in the history of Cuba. Castro arrived in Australia on the afternoon of April 17, 1961, after CIA-backed Cuban exiles launched a failed invasion of the newly formed communist state. The tiny township, some 30 miles from the Bay of Pigs, served as Castro's base of operations during the three-day offensive. The Bay of Pigs invasion is commemorated with a propaganda mural at the entrance to the town, while steam trains, once used to transport sugar cane, still operate from time to time for tourist. The closed Australia Sugar Mill is now a railroad museum with all kinds of interesting equipment including several locomotives originally built for steam power which had subsequently been converted to diesels.
Later we continue to Santa Clara on our bus. We will have sometime to visit the city with some of the important attractions including the square of the Che, beautiful downtown plaza and some historical locations of the Cuban Revolution. We will also make a stop at the railway station. Hotel Check-in at the three star Los Caneyes for two nights.
IN SANTA CLARA WE STAY AT THE THREE STAR HOTEL LOS CANEYES FOR TWO NIGHTS
Day 7 Friday september 23 (B-L-D)
Just after breakfast, we depart by charter motor coach to the city of Caibarien and the sugar mill of Marcelo Salado. We will visit the old mill and the steam locomotives on display of which have been made into a nice museum. After enjoying the exhibits one of the museum and former sugar mill employees will give us a presentation and talk that will cover the operation of the Marcelo Salado Sugar Mill and the railroad that served it plus the history of the steam locomotives on display here. We then board our charter train pulled by either No. 1549, an Alco 2-8-0 built in 1920 or N° 1429, BLW, 2-6-0 built in 1916. Our charter train will take us from Caibarien to the town of Remedios. Want some cab time with the engineer, just ask. Here our charter motor coach will be waiting to take us back to our hotel in Santa Clara.
CAB RIDE ANYONE?
Day 8 september 24Saturday (B-L-D)
After breakfast, mid-morning, we depart on our charter motor coach for the ride to the city of Ciego de Avila. Our route will follow the railroad and this is a busy line. When we see a train well stop to allow you to take pictures of it if you like. Once in Ciego de Avila we will visit this unique railway station. It is unique because right in the middle of the station platform two mainlines cross in a 90 degree angel. Trains stop here to carry passengers to the north, south , east and west of Cuba. After our station visit we check into the three star Hotel Ciego de Avila for two nights.
TWO NIGHTS ARE SPENT AT THE THREE STAR HOTEL CIEGO DE AVILA
Day 9 Sunday september 25 (B-L-D)
After breakfast, we go to Moron where we will have a steam charter out of the Patria Sugar Mill. Once we get back in town we will stop at the Moron train station to check with the station master regarding the next local southbound passenger train so that we can pace it on the highway to Ciego de Avila. These local trains are amazing and are a true blast to America in the mid 1950's. The train consist is made up of heavy weight three axle truck equipment and if that is not enough how about a real operating RPO just behind the motive power. Oh, but the icing on the cake is the fact these trains are pulled by EMD built G-8's from 1955. But wait, it even gets better.
The Cuban Railroad has been having a hard time keeping the original G-8's running so they have taken Baldwin power plants and installed them into the EMD G-8 diesel housings. So what you have here is a unique Baldwin in a G-8 frame and housing pulling an American built heavy weight passenger train with an RPO. This does not get any more American than this and this could be any local branch line passenger train in the United States in the mid 1950's. This local train makes several station stops between Moron and Ciego de Avila and it is easy to stay ahead of the train so if you like you can board this American Classic train and ride to the next station then switch off with other tour members from time to time. Upon arrival in Ciego de Avila we return to our hotel.
Day 10 Monday september 26 (B-L-D)
We depart Ciego de Avila and head west towards Varadero on our motor coach but on our way we make a stop in the beautiful colonial city of Sancti Spiritus for lunch. This wonderful town was founded in 1514 by the Spanish explorer Diego Velazquez de Cuellar. After lunch you will have sometime to explore the cobble stoned streets and enjoy the many shops selling interesting Cuban souvenirs. Finally it is time to again board our charter motor coach for the ride back to Varadero and hotel check-in at the five star Melia Varadero for one night.
Day 11 Tuesday september 27 (B-D)
Mid-morning, we leave Varadero and head for Havana on our charter motor coach. Our Cuban guide will be checking on the timing of several westbound trains running into Havana. If the timing is right you will have the option of either riding our bus back to Havana or riding one of these trains which will give you a wonderful opportunity to sample this service and meet the local Cubans that ride these trains. We will check on departures from Matanzas and the town of Union to Havana. This will be a two hour train ride. Upon arrival in Havana we check back into the five star Hotel Nacional. In the evening we will host a Farewell Dinner in the historic "Old Havana" section of the city.
Day 12 september 28 Wednesday (B)
Free time in Havana until it is time to go to the airport to catch your flights back to the USA.
All Prices are per person
MAXIMUM IN THE GROUP 25
|DOUBLE ROOM OCCUPANCY.................................................................................||$4,795|
|SINGLE ROOM SUPPLEMENT.................................................................................||$995|
|DEPOSIT TO HOLD SPACE CONFIRMED..................................................................||$1,000|
|FINAL PAYMENT DUE June 3, 2016|
DOUBLE ROOM OCCUPANCY$4,795
SINGLE ROOM SUPPLEMENT$995
Deposit to hold space confirmed$1,000
FINAL PAYMENT DUE june 3, 2016
NOTE: CUBAN HOTELS REQUIRE THAT WE GIVE THEM THE NAMES OF THE TOUR MEMBERS SEVERAL MONTHS IN ADVANCE. IT IS VERY IMPORTANT THAT YOU RESERVE YOUR SPACE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
*2 STEAM CHARTER TRAINS
*ENTRANCE FEES TO MUSEUMS
*ALL ACTIVITIES PER THE ITINERARY
*11 NIGHTS LODGING IN GOOD CUBAN TOURIST CLASS HOTELS