Vibrant Neighborhoods of Havana & Hemingway’s house

The first day we arrived in Havana, Cuba, we had lunch, dropped our bags off to our casa particular and boarded our tour van for a panoramic tour of Havana and Vedado. The main sights included the Malecon coastal boardwalk and Revolution Square (which will be featured on another blog). Everything was so vibrant. That is the word that everyone seems to use when referring to Havana, especially.Right outside of our casa, a flock of chickens grazed and clucked. Every morning, we were awakened by a very dutiful chicken or rooster…. probably this one!

The tour around Havana and Vedado exposed us to color, activity, workers, government-run hotels, and the local casas particulares. By staying in casas with the locals, we were directly supporting the Cuban people on this People to People educational trip. I liked this concept. 

Friendly Cubans walked over to greet me while I took photos. They asked where I was from (In Spanish) and luckily, I was able to answer basic questions. I found the people very accommodating about having their photo taken and I either tipped them or let them see the photo on the camera but they never pressured me for a tip. I found the latter detail interesting.

These grand homes painted in beautiful muted pastels have such great bones! The lush, tropical plants in front of them frame them perfectly. It was very rustic to see chickens fluttering by outside the entrances.

After seeing pedestrians and workers, we started to see the sassy vintage cars adorning the streets. Everyone associates Cuba with these vintage cars which decorate the cityscape. As people think of Cuba as “stuck in time”, the cars definitely take you back to that vintage era.

our breakfast cook at the casa

Now that we got acquainted with the area of Vedado where we were staying, our next stop would include a rainforest, Malecon boardwalk,  Revolution Square with the sassy vintage cars and Hemingway’s house!

Hemingway’s house was a lovely drive into a lush valley town of San Francisco de Paula, outside of Havana. We viewed the rooms of his house through big, open windows.

After climbing the stairs to his writing studio tower, we enjoyed the grounds. It is said that Ava Gardner swam nude in his pool. We also viewed his boat, the Pilar. 


Leaving the grounds, we drove to the seaside town of Cojimar where we had lunch at Bodega Las Brisas and met a fishermen who showed us photos of himself with the famous author. Hemingway’s experience in Cojimar is said to have been the inspiration for his novel, The Old Man and the by Gina Kingsley

Among the itinerary highlights of Havana and surrounding cities, a panoramic tour by car was definitely one of my favorite activities on our trip. You can absorb so much visually and up close. It was never a dull moment watching the street life and walking through a neighborhood or village.

photos by GIna Kingsley

Other blogs about Havana…..

A Santeria ritual in a Havana Rainforest

Planning a trip to Cuba

Architecture and Faces of Old Havana

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