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Bespoke Cuban Holidays for the Discerning Traveller

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Hidden Havana

Bespoke & Luxury Cuban Experiences

The grand dame of Cuba seduces with her fading elegance. Delve behind the facades of Havana’s decaying urban veneer and the street stereotypes to experience life with habaneros. 

Esencia Experiences can introduce you to artists, writers, musicians, colecionistas and historians who can spotlight the capital’s growing cultural life. Capture the permanent and witness the ephemeral with Esencia’s guides on the ultimate insider tours.

Spend an afternoon with an avant-garde artist in their studio as they explain their muse. Attend a private view of a gallery show and meet other Havana-based artists who, year on year, garner more international recognition. For art lovers, behind the scenes tours of the 2012 Art Bienal will ensure an understanding of the visual vocabulary of this growing Latin American art show.

By day, literature lovers and cinephiles can walk the streets with novelists and filmmakers who have captured Havana in words and on celluloid. Explore Graham Greene’s Havana and film set locations by movie masters Tomás Gutiérrez Alea and Juan Carlos Tabío.

Lunch with locals in their own homes. Appearances are deceptive: behind the cruddiest of doors are furniture, paintings, artefacts and family heirlooms lavished with care.

In the late afternoon, skirt the scrum of gossip that steams at the esquina caliente (hot corner) as baseball fans banter about the latest match. Befriend a fan and get hot tickets for the next stadium battle.

Marvel at the richly textured urban fabric of Havana with a city historian who can unravel and interpret the architectural timeline from the city’s foundations in 1519 to its post-Revolution communist monuments and gain access to hallowed buildings normally closed to the public.

Live like a local and experience ‘la lucha’ (the struggle); journey through the city searching for food using the local peso. Visit agromercados with a local as they look to buy melon-sized avocados and the sweetest of mangos in the small burgeoning fruit and veg markets.

In the evening, learn to cook with Cuban chefs in private restaurants (paladars) as more ingredients make their way to the Havana table.

After dinner, limber up for a night of dance moves. Salsa savvy pros will guide you through your steps before taking you to palaces of music and dance and introducing you to the etiquette of dancing and drinking under tropical nights.

Lovers of music can also explore roots of rhythm with maestros of creative sound. Visit Alamar where Cuban hip-hop was born, and the Buena Vista barrio that triggered the 1990s revolution of Cuban musical musings and, while touring the sights of sounds, hope for a spontaneous shindig of timba or temba or whatever frequency is being mixed up on the street.

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