The mere thought of Cuba conjures up images of Hemingway, exotic cuisine, vintage convertibles and the glamour of days gone by. While most of what we know is gleaned in historical photos, television clips, books and movies, it remains a place of intrigue and mystery. This destination is indeed one for your bucket list.
Should you find yourself in the capital of Havana, may we recommend a few classic Cuban experiences upon arrival at the Havana Harbor:
Courtesy of Regent Seven Seas Cruises, take a tour of the Legendary Tropicana Cabaret and see where crooner Nat King Cole and dancer Josephine Baker dazzled audiences. Built in 1939, the cabaret is located in the heart of Havana in what can best be described as an enchanted forest filled with Royal Palms, mango, cedar and Mamoncillo trees. Guests are treated to a musical production under the stars that accounts for the fact the tour is one of the most popular venues.
Colorful vintage classic automobiles are a mainstay of Cuba and it’s not uncommon to see a Chevrolet, Ford, Buick or Mercury on every street corner. The Modern Havana in an American Classic excursion offers a visit to the Delirio Habanero piano bar at the National Hotel (be sure to snap shots of the Revolution Square) and the local cemetery where the tombstones and monuments are said to be works of art. A drive down Carlos III Street (named after the Spanish King’s statue placed in there in his honor) will display the city’s architecture while a nature trip to Havana Forest by the Almendares River rounds out the tour.
Experience a rum-based Mojito and stock up on homegrown and rolled Cuban cigars (the country’s hottest commodity) on the Cuban Rum, Cigars and Art tour. Visit Casa del Habano, named one of the top Editor’s Picks in Cigar Aficionado magazine, and ponder which of the 27 Habano brands to bring home to your friends. Learn the process of the making of the rum that is said to have “conquered the world” at the famed Museo del Ron and sample the wares.
See Cuba through one of the country’s most famous residents, Nobel Prize-winning author Ernest Hemingway who spent his time in the country writing (his most famous work The Old Man and the Sea), marlon fishing and frequenting his favorite bars (La Bodeguita del Medio and La Floridita). Legend has it “Papa” Hemingway would stop in La Floridita every morning for a glass of what he heralded as “the worlds best daiquiri” while he favored the mojitos at La Bodeguita.
On the Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ excursion The Life of Hemingway in Havana, you can also view the Museo Ernest Hemingway at his home Finca Vigia that is located ten miles from the city and situated on a scenic hilltop. Purchased for $12,5o0 in 1940 and designed by Spanish architect Miguel Pascual y Baguer, the rooms of the one story villa are filled with original artifacts, books, magazines and even his bar cart. Details of his life abound right down to the author’s notes of his weight and blood pressure scribbled on the bathroom wall.
Conclude your day of Hemingway with a visit to Room #511 in the eclectic 1920s Hotel Ambos Mundos where he composed the majority of For Whom the Bell Tolls and finished his book Death in the Afternoon. Renting a room for 1.50 a night, the hotel was home to the author for seven years during the thirties.