The Way of Hemingway
American writer Ernest Hemingway’s love for Cuba is widely known. Living there for 20 years, it was where he wrote his most famous novel, The Old Man and The Sea and became a friend to Fidel Castro. His love for the island was so great, he even gifted them with his Nobel Prize for Literature.
As such, Hemingway became a Cuban institution. Fans of the author can learn more about him by visiting “The Museo Hemingway” which houses thousands of books and photographs from his private collections. Those who fancy a drink can stop by some of his former hangouts, La Floridita and La Bodeguita del Medio to sip his favorite daiquiris and mojitos.
When planning out my Cuban vacation, I included a visit to both of these bars on my list of things to do. It seemed a cool idea. So walking around Havana one afternoon, I stopped at La Floridita looking forward to a break from the heat and a chance to have a cold drink. I had hoped to take out my notebook and write for a while. Cuba leaves an impression on you, especially as a first timer and I was anxious to put it on paper.
What did I find? An old bar that wasn’t really that nice. Overpriced food and drinks. American themed music playing in the background. A small space crowded with tourists, fighting their way towards the Hemingway statue for that token photo opportunity. Drunken men paired with local women who could only afford to be there because of their companion’s financial generosity. Pressure by wait staff and fellow tourists to consume my drink and meal as fast as possible so someone else could occupy my seat.
Both bars are a tourist trap and a complete rip-off. Stay away!
For those of you who would like a more authentic Cuban experience. Try staying at a casa particular instead of a hotel. Walk along El Malecon at sunset. Check out a live rumba performance at Callejón de Hamel. Do something, anything, other than visit these bars.