Take The Road Less Travelled In Cuba

With its centuries-old facades, cobbled streets and an abundance of classic cars, it’s easy to imagine a time when Ernest Hemingway roamed the streets of Havana in search of his next libation – in between, or perhaps, to fuel – his writing sessions, writes assistant editor, Ann Ruppenstein in this week’s Travel Courier cover story.

“He knew all the bars here in Old Havana,” tour guide Betsy Olivares of Cubatour muses as the group approaches one of his favourite former local watering holes, El Floridita, which today serves as a popular spot for tourists to grab a daiquiri and pose for a photo next to a statue of the acclaimed author behind A Farewell to Arms, The Sun Also Rises and The Old Man and the Sea.

Although Hemingway spent many nights in the heart of the old city, he actually took up residence in San Francisco de Paula, a suburb of Cuba’s capital, with his third (of four) wives, and a bounty of cats and dogs.

“There are a lot of bottles of spirits. Lots of books everywhere, even in the bathroom,” Olivares continues as we venture along the restored 12-acre villa. “Actress Eva Gardner used to swim naked in the pool while Hemingway and his wife were away.”

The house is filled with items one would expect from the novelist like a typewriter and hunting memorabilia, and more peculiar items like a reptile in formaldehyde, kept in a jar in the bathroom.

Following in Hemingway’s footsteps is just one of the many cultural immersions travellers can have in Havana, which is preparing to celebrate its 500th anniversary this year. From cruising around in vintage cars to getting to know the history of the Castillo De Los Tres Reyes Del Morro or exploring more modern aspects like the Fabrica del Artes, an art gallery meets nightclub space with live music and exhibits, there are no shortage of things to do in the city Camila Cabello sings about in the hit song Havana.

Coinciding with the 500th anniversary of the city, Iberostar Hotels & Resorts has opened Iberostar Grand Packard, its third and most luxurious offer in Havana.

While Canadians typically look to Cuba as a winter escape, Óscar González, global marketing director for Iberostar Hotels & Resorts says they’d like to build a more complete image of Cuba as a holiday destination.

For the full story, check out this week’s digital edition of Travel Courier.