Mama and I are now back in the USA (and back online) after an amazing journey to Cuba. We had a wonderful time following in Papa Hemingway’s footsteps.
For the first two nights in Havana, We stayed at the Hotel Ambos Munos, the hotel where Papa lived in room 511. Here he wrote A Farewell to Arms. The hotel lobby is adorned with his photos, and is a "must-see stop" on the tourist walking tour. Guests of every nationality stopped by to pay homage to the writer.
Room 511 is now a museum, and it remains just as Papa left it.
We learned that Papa liked his bed in the corner, so he could feel “Havana’s sun on his face” when he woke up.
I’m not sure anything in the room has been changed since the hotel was built. Our room was on the 4th floor, almost directly beneath Papa's room, so we shared the same view. Luckily, our room had been slightly buffed up, so it was quite comfortable.
The original 1921 elevator that transported Papa to Room 511 is currently out of order, so most guests climbed the stairs to their rooms. But, since I was traveling with a “senior citizen”, we were allowed to use the Service Elevator. We learned how to negotiate through the maze of the kitchen to reach the small elevator. Often we traveled with the staff.
In Havana, I (once again) sampled Papa’s favorite drinks at the famous watering holes. A mojito at La Bodeguita del Medio:
And a daiquiri at La Floridita, where a bronze of Papa sits at the bar:
A highlight was the tour of Finca Vigia, Papa’s house in a suburb of Havana. He moved here from the Hotel Ambos Munos. We had a hard time finding the house, as signage in Cuba is quite limited. We found that one of the best ways of navigating was to pick up a local hitchhiker, who often could direct us to our destination.
We peeked through the windows and felt like we were flies on the wall. Had Papa just left his glasses on the table to go into the other room?
We especially enjoyed the “up close and personal” walk around the Pilar, the boat which was the protagonist of Hemingway’s Boat. We could imagine the many antics and adventures enjoyed by Papa during his 20 year tenure in Cuba.
So Papa, thanks for the memories and inspiration for these great trips! Mama and I had a fabulous experience and feel very fortunate that we could share this week together.