Four Cuban locations for living and drinking like Papa Hemingway

Posted: 30-May-16 15:21

On the heels of the release of "Papa Hemingway in Cuba", an American film shot on-location in the country, a writer for Forbes magazine offers readers some insight into four notable sites open to visitors and important to Hemingway's life on the island. Following alongside the film, the author describes the relevancy of the locations to both the American novelist and to the movie that now carries his name.

Four Cuban locations for living and drinking like Papa Hemingway

Following the footsteps of renowned American author Ernest Hemingway, a newly published article details four locations in Cuba where visitors can recapture the novelist’s lifestyle, as portrayed in the new film, “Papa Hemingway in Cuba”.

The recently released, 1959-circa American film was shot on-location in Cuba, highlighting places where Hemingway once lived, sipped cocktails and likely gained inspiration for several of his novels. As described in a Forbes Magazine lifestyle article, contributor Michael Patrick Shiels leads readers through four distinct sites, realistically featured in the film as places Hemingway once frequented.

Finca Vigia

The first location described by Shiels is Hemingway’s former home, now a museum to the literary giant, located ten miles north of Havana. The Forbes author recounts that Hemingway’s personal effects still grace the home where he wrote “Old Man and the Sea” and “For Whom the Bell Tolls”, including his typewriter, magazine rack and a cocktail cart.

According to the article, while the film was shot on-location and actors were allowed inside the home, visitors are only able to look through the home’s windows and doors. Shiels points out there are efforts to renovate the Cuban landmark, led in part by consultation from American home remodelling TV star Bob Vila, best known for hosting the PBS program “This Old House”. Vila is quoted as saying recent foreign policy changes have allowed for the raising of money to help construct a paper conservation lab and storage facility.

As well, Christman Company, a national preservation group, is supplying technical expertise. According to the group’s vice-president and executive director Ron Staley who commented for the article,

“We’re trying to preserve Hemingway’s 9,000 books, trophy animal mounts, and his clothing in the home. The property has been getting a lot of attention and this movie will help.”

Staley tells Forbes magazine that termites have heavily damaged the property’s garage and guest house, but some new items are being installed, like updated plumbing and electrical systems, roofing materials, ceramic tiles and hurricane windows.

While the film prominently features Hemingway’s swimming pool and boat, Staley writes that visitors will find that they do not appear in real life as they were depicted in the film. Normally empty, the pool was filled with truckloads of water during filming, and then emptied again while Hemingway’s renowned fishing boat, the ‘Pilar’, is actually covered up and on display over the former tennis courts. Visitors, he claims, can easily view the boat Hemingway took to fishing tournaments and used to hunt German U-boats. The author claims while the actual boat is not in the film, a similar boat was featured, albeit several feet smaller than the real Pilar.

El Floridita

One of Hemingway’s favourite hangouts, El Floridita, also makes a showing in the film and is open to the public. The author says visitors are greeted in real life by a life-sized statue of Hemingway sitting at his favourite location, a corner seat at the bar. Behind the bust, Shiels writes, is what’s believed to be the only photograph in existence of Hemingway alongside former Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

The hangout, the author continues, is where the novelist also notably brought friends like American actor Spencer Tracy, who appeared in the film version of one of Hemingway’s novels, and where he brought the Duke of Windsor. Noted as the birthplace of the daiquiri, Shiels describes the bar’s 1950s era décor as including red-coated bartenders and waiters, period decorations and featuring the live music of a supper club.

In the film, Shiels notes that Hemingway brags of downing a record 16 double daiquiris here, now referred to as the Papa Double, made with double rum and no sugar. The drink is still sold to guests today, made to Hemingway’s specifications.

La Bodeguita del medio

Another of Hemingway’s favoured drinks, the mojito, can be purchased at La Bodeguita del Medio, also one of Hemingway’s favoured locations, still displaying photographs of Papa Hemingway on its walls along with famous and not-so-famous signatures of guests. Shiels describes one hand-written and framed writing that reads “My mojito in La Bodeguita, My daiquiri in El Floridita”, which he says is credited to Hemingway, but may not be authentic.

The author writes the location of La Bodeguita is more casual than La Floridita is, found just steps away from the centre of Old Havana and the Cathedral of the Virgin Mary of the Immaculate Conception in Plaza de la Catedral.

Cojimar Bay

The articles concludes with a reference to a bust depicting Hemingway’s likeness, staring off to the sea on Cojimar Bay. This is where Shiels proclaims visitors can reflect upon the location where Hemingway once launched boating and fishing trips. The location also inspired Hemingway in writing “Old Man and the Sea”.

Shiels continues by writing that the location serves as the site of Hemingway’s victorious fishing tournament, which to this day carries his name. The article proposes that visitors can come to admire the sea air, but should stay long enough to possibly meet someone who once knew Ernest Hemingway personally.

While Papa Hemingway in Cuba stars Adrian Sparks as Hemingway, Shiels adds the film also features a small cameo from the novelist’s granddaughter, Mariel, in a dinner scene. Actress Joely Richardson plays the writer’s wife. The film debuted in both Cuba and the United States earlier this year.


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