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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.
The first Hollywood film crew authorised to film in Cuba since the Revolution of 1959 was that of director Bob Yari. The subject of ‘Papa’, the biographical film that will be released in cinemas in 2015: Ernest Hemingway. It is obvious why Yari insisted on filming here: Cuba is where we find the hotel where the writer/journalist stayed, the bars where he drank his mojitos and daiquiris and the house where he settled and wrote his masterpieces. All of these have hardly changed - no film set can compete with these locations.
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.
‘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.
La Bodeguita del Medio, Calle Empredado, Havana. El Floridita, Calle Obispo, Havana.
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.
Finca Vigía, San Francisco de Paula, Havana