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Posts Tagged ‘Colors of Cuba’

Getaway Dossier: The colors and culture of Cuba

As you might know, we recently received our people-to-people license renewal to travel to Cuba. If you haven’t yet made the trip, boy, is it worthwhile. I recently returned from my first trip to Cuba and had an amazing time. In fact, Cuba was the shortest distance I have ever traveled to enter a whole new world.

Since my return, I’ve had Cuba on my mind, and I thought what better way to share my Cuban enthusiasm than to feature it as my next Getaway Dossier.

The most common things people associate with Cuba are cigars, antique cars, and salsa, but there’s much more to the country than you might imagine. This small island contains some of the most creative, artistic, resourceful, cultural, and friendly people you’ll find anywhere, and that’s before we even get to the colonial cities, unique religions, and plentiful World Heritage sites. To help shed light on this mysterious island, here are some of my recommendations for things to see, do, and know if you’re planning a trip to Cuba.

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Friendly Planet Travel receives license renewal for travel to Cuba!

BACK TO CUBA: Friendly Planet receives its people-to-people license renewal to send travelers to Cuba!

BACK TO CUBA: Friendly Planet receives its people-to-people license renewal to send travelers to Cuba!

We have already sent over 1,000 travelers to Cuba in the first year of our people-to-people license (Jan.–Sept. 2012), and the year isn’t over yet. We’re hoping that many more travelers will take the opportunity to visit this unique country, rich in culture and history, because the U.S. Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) just renewed our people-to-people license through September 2014!

OFAC grants people-to-people licenses to travel providers that promote contact with Cuban people through educational exchanges concerning art, music, culture, and a whole host of other topics. It’s through this license that we, and our travelers, have experienced this wonderful country through meaningful and rewarding interactions with Cubans.

For travelers who travel because they love to explore new places for the purpose of meeting people in other lands, understanding how they live, what’s important to them, and being able to share the same about themselves, our people-to-people tours provide a perfect opportunity. We’re very excited to be able to continue offering these tours as one of a very select few tour operators fortunate enough to have this license.

We’ll continue to offer our two tours to Cuba: the five-day Discover Havana program, set in Havana with trips to Cojimar and Las Terrazas, and the eight-day Colors of Cuba program, which visits Havana, Cienfuegos, Trinidad, Santa Clara, and more. We also plan to offer a new tour to Santiago, pending OFAC approval.

These tours include round trip airfare from Miami via a U.S. government-licensed charter service and letter of authorization, as well as a Cuba entrance visa. They also include all land transportation, superior hotel accommodations, and meals. Travelers will engage in comprehensive programs of educational exchanges organized by Friendly Planet with a professional, English-speaking local guide who will facilitate these exchanges, as well as the benefit of a Friendly Planet representative who will lead travelers throughout the program.

Have you traveled to Cuba on a people-to-people exchange program, or are planning one in the future? We’d love to hear your story! Feel free to leave it in a comment below.

Pictures from the Grannies on Safari’s Cuban adventure

The Grannies on Safari have done a great job updating us about their Cuban adventure through our podcast series, but I’ve been itching to see some images from their people-to-people tour. Since their Cuba trip will not be aired on their PBS TV show until May of next year, I asked Pat and Regina if they would share some of their personal photos with us.

Because a picture is worth a 1,000 words, I thought I’d let their pictures speak for themselves. Here’s a snapshot of a Friendly Planet Travel people-to-people Cuba trip through the eyes of the Grannies themselves.

The Grannies first stop was Havana, where they visited Plaza Vieja,located in the center of Old Havana. Currently undergoing restoration, this square showcases the famous Cuban colonial architecture.

While in Havana, they also visited Revolution Square, which has held many political rallies throughout the years. An image of Ernesto “Che” Guevara is pictured on one of the buildings overlooking the square.

Regina and Pat pose next to a mural painting of Che Guevara. Known as a hero of the Cuban revolution, his image has become a cultural symbol in Cuba. 
Masks play an important role in Cuban culture. They are often carved by street artists and used as decoration or sold for profit.

The Grannies loved the classic feel of Havana, especially the vintage cars scattered about the city.

They even got their photo taken in a classic car!

The Friendly Planet Colors of Cuba tour, which the Grannies traveled on, is a people-to-people trip that promotes contact with Cuban people through educational exchanges concerning art, music, and culture.

The Grannies learned how to make mojitos at the famous Hotel Nacional, and also had a great time tasting their creations.

Regina and Pat loved their tour guide, Alejandro, who helped the Grannies have a meaningful experience in Cuba.

The entire Grannies on Safari group posed for a picture in Old Havana, including Pat, Regina, Alejandro, the production crew, and Regina’s granddaughter Alessandra.

From the looks of it, the Grannies on Safari had a great time experiencing the colors of Cuba! If you can’t get enough of the Grannies, keep an eye out for the final installment of the podcast series where they’ll spill more details about their trip.

Grannies on Safari make their Friendly Planet Travel debut in Cuba

GRANNIES GO TO CUBA: Watch their adventures
in Havana and beyond

When we met the Grannies on Safari at The Philadelphia Inquirer Travel Show, we hit it off immediately. So even after the camera stopped rolling, the conversation kept going.

If you didn’t see our original post, Regina Fraser and Pat Johnson are two friends who travel the world together and film it for their PBS television series “Grannies on Safari.” They’ve turned their love of people, art, and travel into an Emmy® award winning TV series, sponsored by AARP.

In their interview with Friendly Planet Travel blogger Caitlin, Regina and Pat said that Cuba was on their short list for destinations to visit next. Well, it looks like the stars have aligned!

If you’ve been following the blog, you know that we’re one of seven tour operators nationwide offering ‘People-to-People’ tours to Cuba. Cuba was my #1 destination to visit in 2012, and I can’t say enough about this amazing destination.

It was perfect timing to learn that the Grannies wanted to go on a trip that only a few, including us, offered. So we’re sending the Grannies to see the culture and diversity of Cuba, all courtesy of Friendly Planet Travel.

The Grannies will be packing their bags and jet setting to Cuba on June 16. From there, they’ll be spending eight days getting to know the places and faces of Cuba. The People-to-People license that allows travel to Cuba requires that travelers partake in educational exchange activities. That means that Regina and Pat will spend time with local Cubans, learning all about their lives and sharing their experiences as devotees to culture.

They’ll be traveling on our Colors of Cuba tour, where they’ll see local Cuban schools, neighborhoods, and even visit an organic farm to lunch with local Cubans who benefit from the food grown there. We’ll be posting the details of their trip as the departure draws near!

The Grannies on Safari will be updating us on their experiences while in Cuba, so bookmark the ‘Grannies on Safari go to Cuba’ tag for the latest updates and keep your eyes on our blog to hear more about the wonderful destination of Cuba!

Grannies on Safari are traveling to Cuba on a trip sponsored by Friendly Planet Travel. The opinions expressed about their experience on the trip are their own. Friendly Planet Travel will publish their content unedited and in its entirety.

The best place to visit with your tax refund? Cuba!

With the deadline for tax filing just around the corner, a majority of Americans have already submitted their paperwork and are awaiting their refund check. If you are one of these people, then you’re probably already thinking about how to spend this year’s refund. What would I recommend you do with it? Travel, of course!

The choices of destinations are endless, so it might seem difficult to narrow them down. Luckily, ABC News compiled the “5 Places to Spend Your 2012 Tax Refund” which offers some guidance.

One of the five choices listed is our Colors of Cuba tour. I couldn’t agree more that now is the time to explore Cuba‘s beauty and vibrancy, as it’s the first time travelers have been able to visit in over 50 years.

It’s definitely worth the trip!

COLORS OF CUBA: Now’s the time to make your visit!  
Thanks for including us in your story, ABC News!

About Peggy

Peggy Goldman is a specialty tour operator and travel expert, who owns and operates Friendly Planet Travel, a full-service company that specializes in tour packages to exotic worldwide destinations at affordable prices.   More about Peggy

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