You cannot visit Havana, Cuba without having a tiny idea who Ernest Hemingway is and without running into some parts of his life on the island.
Hemingway first stepped foot in Cuba in 1928, but only for a 3-day visit to travel further to Europe.
In 1932 he came back with some friends to fish for Marlins in the Gulf Coast.
7 years later he came back to stay for good.
Hemingway loved Cuba and Cuba loved Hemingway.
Today a Hemingway industry flourishes in Havana – his image is seen nearly as much as other famous Cuban icons.
On my trip with my kids to Cuba back in 2013, we had the honor to get a deep insight of the great writer’s life and his view of his beloved island.
Hemingway in Havana at room 511
Hotel Ambos Mundos is a nice hotel located centrally in Habana Vieja.
The first home of Hemingway. Room 511 still stays exactly similar to when Ernest Hemingway lived there.
We paid 2 CUC pr. person (2013) to visit his room – the same as the author paid to stay per night.
The bed, the furniture, his old typing machine and some of his clothes are still in the room. You can sense his presence in the atmosphere with the old typing machine facing out towards the window and the view over old Havana.
He started writing For Whom the Bells Tolls on this typing machine in 1939.
Hemingway´s watering holes
Particularly two bars in old Havana became Hemingway´s preferred. El Floridita and La Bodeguita del Medio are both still open today and has kept his memory alive.
Hemingway’s signed quote “My mojito in the Bodeguita del Medio and my daiquiri in the Floridita” hangs on a small plaque in La Floridita.
La Bodeguita del Medio has the feel of the local crowd. A real bar, serving traditional Cuban food. Located on Calle Empedrado just west of the cathedral in Old Havana, this building and its interior are covered in graffiti. Much of it saluting Hemingway and Cuba.
More upscale than La Bodeguita del Medio yet authentically Cuban nonetheless, La Floridita is home to Hemingway’s favorite daiquiri – proclaiming it as the best in the world. Of course, I needed to check if he was right… and honestly, it was truly a very nice daiquiri.
Today, the place is very popular with tourists at any time of the day. We found Ernest Hemingway (a big, bronze statue) hanging in the bar at El Floridita.
In 1940 Ernest Hemingway and his third wife bought a beautiful Cuban house, Finca Vigia (meaning “lookout farm”) ten miles east of Havana.
Finca Vigia is located in the small, working-class town of San Francisco de Paula.
Hemingway spent twenty years in his Cuban home before he went back to the States in 1960 and never came back.
While he was staying here, Hemingway wrote Islands in the Stream, A Moveable Feast, and The Old Man and the Sea. Today his home is a museum. You are not allowed to go inside the house, but you can take a look inside through the open windows and french doors to see the rooms where Hemingway wrote, read, and slept.
Also Hemingway´s beloved boat, Pilar is on display in the backyard.
It costed us 5 CUC pr. person (2013) to visit Finca Vigia.
Cojimar and the Pilar
The small fishing town of Cojimar is where Hemingway docked his boat, Pilar. Pilar has a great history. It was a U-boat patrol, an adventure boat for the Hemingway family and a true fishing friendly boat for Hemingway´s many fishing trips for marlins and sailfish.
The town served as inspiration for the village in The Old Man and the Sea. This novel gave Hemingway wide acclaim and won him the Pulitzer Prize in 1953.
The year later, he won the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Cojimar was also home to Gregorio Fuentes. He was Hemingway’s fishing partner, captain and good friend who may have served as a model for Santiago in the novel. Fuentes died in 2002 at the age of 104.
Another visit could be La Terraza, a restaurant and bar in Cojimar where Hemingway often stopped after a day on the water. It is still in business and also worth a visit.
Near the restaurant, we found a bust of Hemingway. After his death in 1961 local fishermen donated metal from their boats to honor the great author.
Any Hemingway fan who really wants to see the places Hemingway truly loved should visit Cuba and these sites. I promise it will make the trip very special.
Have you read any of his books?
Or have you visited any of his places in Cuba?
We had a wonderful road trip exploring Cuba, read more…