KLM Travel Guide

Hemingway Was Here

Ernest Hemingway instantly fell in love with Cuba when he sailed there in 1932 to go on a fishing trip. The American Pulitzer and Noble Prize winner roamed the world, from Chicago and Milan to Paris and Key West, but nowhere did he spend as much time as he did here: he lived in Cuba for almost quarter of a century. Following in the trail of the most famous Cuban import.

Arts & Culture
Hotel Ambos Mundos

Hotel Ambos Mundos

Hemingway’s first house: Hotel Ambos Mundos

The dark hallways of Hotel Ambos Mundos, inaugurated in 1925, just exude history. This is where Hemingway lived for 7 years in the 1930s, before settling in his own house in Cuba. He wrote one of his best novels in room 511: ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’, which in 1943 was made into a film with Gary Cooper and Ingrid Bergman. The hotel bar, the turtle pond in the lobby, the antique cage elevators are still exactly the way they were in the days of Hemingway, and his framed bar tab hangs on the wall. Room 511 has been transformed into a miniature museum.

La Bodeguita

La Bodeguita

Hemingway’s favourite bars in Havana

‘Mi mojito en La Bodeguita, mi daiquiri en El Floridita’ – the saying still graces the wall of La Bodeguita del Medio, in Hemingway’s handwriting. The booze expert knew exactly where to go for the best mojito in town. He loved to drink those in La Bodeguita, a tiny bar that was also visited by writer Gabriel García Márquez and poet Pablo Neruda. For his daiquiri Hemingway would head over to El Floridita. Both bars claim to have invented the respective cocktails.

Hemingway’s desk

Hemingway’s desk

Visiting Hemingway: Finca Vigía

Martha Gellhorn, Hemingway’s third wife, got tired of living in a hotel room. That’s why she looked for a real house: Finca Vigía. Hemingway would live here for 21 years. It was in this house on a hill 11 kilometres outside of Havana that he wrote 2 of his classic novels: ‘Islands in the Stream’ and ‘The Old Man and the Sea’. After Hemingway left Cuba, Fidel Castro, a great admirer of the writer, immediately transformed the house into a museum.

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