The Ernest Hemingway Experience in Havana
It’s no secret that Ernest Hemingway spent a large part of his life in Cuba, including his final years. There are monuments, pictures, plaques, and restaurants all over the country in his honor. Tour companies big and small also offer tours to head to his house outside of Havana and the bar that he used to spend a large majority of his time.
We opted for a 1956 Ford Fairlane to take us around for the day, and what a beautiful choice we made. Candy apple red and two toned, it caught everyone’s attention everywhere that we drove.
About 30 minutes after leaving Havana we arrived at Finca Vigía, Hemingway’s estate. After paying the 5 CUC entry fee we slowly rolled up the driveway to the estate. Sitting atop a hill, the home was open and airy with open doors and windows all around. A large patio was out front where Hemingway used to entertain his guests.
The two notable features inside the house were Hemingway’s books and his trophies. Every room (with the exception of the kitchen) had books, even the bathroom!
Three fun notes in the bathroom to take note… 1) He used a bidet, 2) He had a bone comb, and 3) He kept track of his weight up until the day that he died.
His guest bedroom was adorned simply but even had a modern (for the times) projector to watch movies with friends.
The tower on property offered not only a place for him to read and write and study, but also an amazing view of the entire city of Habana.
A short stroll to the east leads to a large swimming pool and Hemingway’s yacht, permanently moored now where the tennis courts used to be. They were never repaired after being damaged in a large storm on the island.
Everywhere you turn you’ll find pictures of Hemingway relaxing with friends and enjoying the slower paced Cuban lifestyle.
We got back in our amazing 56 Fairlane Sunliner, but not before being delayed by everyone wanting to take pics (and we did as well…)
The next stop on the tour was La Terraza de Cojimar. Hemingway used to spend a lot of time at this bar, and the scenery was gorgeous. Located just to the East of Havana, he used to come up in his boat to the docks and eat and drink with the locals. There’s a large picture of Hemingway shaking hands with a young Fidel Castro over the tables in the restaurant portion. The water was serene and there were some young men fishing in the bay, fighting for territory with the local pelicans. Notice his “boat” which is a large piece of Styrofoam.
We enjoyed an impromptu concert by three men including one hell of a percussion section by the man in the wheelchair. He was really getting into it! Remember folks, tip often, especially if you’re going to take a photo or a video. These guys were busting their butts in the hot sun, and so we made sure to tip them well.
The tour ends back in Old Havana, but not before passing by the PanAmerican Games Stadium and some great ocean views. The stadium is in a sad state of affairs and you can see cruise ships off in the distance, just having picked up their load of passengers off to the next island adventure.
A short tour through Old Havana before heading back to our hotel was a great last chance to drive around in this gorgeous classic car from the fifties.
We aren’t big fans of Hemingway, but if you’re someone who grew up reading his work or knew of his from when you were younger, this tour’s for you. It doesn’t offer up anything extraordinary and for a younger crowd like us, the meaning and historical significance of the tour is probably lost.
Old Cars Havana
We had the pleasure of booking all of this with Old Cars Havana a tour company based in Havana. They were super quick to respond to emails, had bilingual tour guides, and made sure to take extra good care of us. They have an arsenal of over 30 cars to choose from, so chances are really good that you’ll get the one you want. Check them out here at Old Cars Havana and when you do, make sure to tell them that you heard about them through No Mas Coach to get a special deal!