a guide to Hemingway's Havana

Let's not get silly. Ernest Hemingway was a flawed human. Like all of us are in some way. He drank too much. His jumped casually into bed with just about anything with a pulse and never quite figured out marriage. He cursed. He had a temper. He was restless. 

But man, could he write. 

So, what does a literature nerd do when they go to Havana? They traipse around the city in the footsteps of the 1953 Pulitzer Prize winner. Because Hemingway was a local, so spending a day like him in his city seems to be the cool way to get a local experience, right?

Here's how to spend a day like Hemingway. 

Early morning walk around the city //

It is said that Ernest came to Cuba on a layover and stayed because he was restless everywhere else. It only makes sense then to roam around Havana like a restless Hemingway, though he was likely too hungover to wake up early enough to catch the sunrise like I did. 

If you want to avoid large groups of tourists and snag shots of the city without tons of people in your pictures, you need to get up and start your day before 8:30. That's when cafes open and begin serving breakfast. If you begin wandering later than that, you won't get a peaceful or quiet morning. 

Mid-morning coffee at Hotel Ambos Mundos //

Hemingway often stayed at the Hotel Amobos Mundos. He actually lived in the hotel until he bought his own home and property out of the city centre. and he is said to have also found the atmosphere of the cafe at the bottom of the hotel to be conducive to writing. If it's good enough for Ernest, it's good enough for me. The tall, pink hotel is in the centre of Havana. It's almost impossible to miss. Inside the hotel is where the real magic is in the form of a cafe with live music!

Soy/almond milk pretty unheard of in Cuba, so I ordered an Americano. However, my Americano arrived in the form of a cappuccino. I drank it as to avoid embarrassing the waitress and myself with the whole language kafuffle. I pulled out my notebook and wrote for ages while a gray-haired man played the grand piano. 

Check out the photo gallery in the hotel //

In the bottom of the hotel, after finishing your latte, you can walk past the grand piano and look at the Hemingway photo gallery. Pictures of Hemingway smoking cigars or socializing at his favourite bars are all hung up for your FREE viewing pleasure. 

Spend the afternoon at the Hemingway House //

Technically, the house is not in Havana. It's located 9 miles away in the town of San Francisco {not California}. Catch a classic car taxi, which can be found anywhere around town, and negotiate your price. Keep in mind that your driver will wait for you at the house and then drive you back, so all prices will be round trip! For 5 CUC, you get to wander around the house for as long as you wish. The house is preserved very carefully and is definitely worth spending an hour or two exploring. You can also hire a guide on the premises {for additional cost} to explain to you more about the history of the property. 

Hemingway's bedroom

Hemingway's bedroom

Grab an evening cocktail at Floridita //

I didn't bring my camera to Floridita because I wasn't sure what the atmosphere would be like. I heard around from the locals that it was quite upscale, which makes sense given the area of the city it's located in. 

After being there, I can honestly say it's the place to be if you want an overpriced cocktail and a lot of hands on you. I went and found myself with approximately 800 'boyfriends' who bought me drinks I didn't ask for {or consume} and offered to walk me to my hotel room to 'keep me safe', surrounded by rowdy businessmen and tourists.  I was told that it never use to be a hook-up bar. Once Cuba became the travel hotspot, tourists flooded in and took over Floridita. When in Havana, do as Hemingway though, right? I'd suggest going earlier in the evening and getting the daiquiri before the late night drifters show up. Hemingway proclaimed it as the best in the world. You pay for what you get: the daiquiri was delicious and pretty darn strong. 

view from Hemingway's tower at his estate

view from Hemingway's tower at his estate

There you have it! How to spend a day in the footsteps of a man who wrote poetry like this: What is moral is what you feel good after, and what is immoral is what you feel bad after. And: Never go on trips with anyone you are not in love with. And also: Time is the least thing we have of.