5 Things to See in Cuba, Beyond Havana & Trinidad



1. Cienfuegos
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Cienfuegos is a showcase of Neoclassical architecture. The city feels laid back and even prosperous. Jose Marti Park in the center of town is a shady spot to take in the elegant surrounding buildings. Then stroll the country’s longest promenade, Paseo del Prado. On the waterfront are more stunning buildings and views of the beautiful bay. Continue reading

5 things to see in Old Havana

As the name suggests, Old Havana or Habana Vieja is the oldest part of the city, founded by the Spanish in 1519 around the Bay of Havana. As an important link in the flow of treasure from the New World to the Old, the city was very rich and the streets and plazas were lined with grand Neoclassical and Baroque buildings. Many of those buildings still stand today, some beautifully restored, some crumbling. Spend at least a few hours here just wandering the narrow streets and people-watching in the many squares. Continue reading

10 things to See and Do in Havana

Plaza de Armas
This is where Havana was founded, originally the governmental and ceremonial center of the city, where military exercises and parades were held. Today, you’ll see lots of book sellers, a shady park and the Hotel Ambros Mundos, where Hemingway lived for a while. The stately 18th-century Palacio de los Capitanes Generales, which now houses the Havana Museum, forms one side of the square and Castillo de la Real Fuerza fortress is nearby.

Plaza de Armas

Plaza de Armas

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Saint Joan of the Worms

“Worms?  You brought worms?”

We were on a motor coach on a busy street In Havana, on a legal ministry trip to deliver lotions, soaps and medical supplies to the Cuban people, and this was the question as we gathered some of our supplies for a stop at one of the churches.

“I thought that was something you brought home with you,” said another traveler.


“Not real worms,” said Joan, the worm carrier.  “Fake ones.  For bait.”

Our trip through Cuba took us to a number of stops, but finally the right stop for the delivery of the worms took place not far from the Cuban home of Ernest Hemingway, the famous American author of The Old Man and the Sea.  Hemingway lived in Cuba from the 1930’s to just after the Cuban Revolution of 1959.  There he wrote and he drank and he was known as “Papa Hemingway.”

Not far from Finca Vigía or Lookout Farm, there is a bust of Hemingway  on a pillar near the sea. The motor coach stopped and while some of us – okay, only me – sat and relaxed in the heat of the sun, others, including Joan, walked to a nearby pier where children and men were fishing. That is where she delivered her worms.

I can only imagine the sight. A bus full  of Yanquis arrive from nowhere and deliver what might be the first rubber worms ever in Cuba to an unsuspecting village crowd one afternoon and then disappear forever. It might go down in Cuban legend and lore, especially if those worms catch some big fish.

And with every legend there is a hero or a heroine, and that would be our own St. Joan of the Worms. 

Saint Joan may get her own bust right next to “Papa Hemingway.”

Guest blogger Rich Davis is the Ya’lla Tours Midwest regional sales manager.
He just returned from escorting a group in Cuba. Check out his previous posts RevisitingTrinidad de Cuba and The Old Man and His Pee.

The Old Man and His Pee

Hemingway's bathroom, Finca Vigia, Cuba

Hemingway’s bathroom, Finca Vigia, Cuba

Most all of us do it: we read while on the throne. Today that reading can be done with an iPad or the old-fashioned way, on paper.

While visiting Ernest Hemingway’s home on a legal trip to Cuba I became curious as to what the most famous American author of the 20th Century might have read while going potty.

Hemingway lived in Cuba from the 1930’s to 1960, when he left due to the Cuban Revolution of 1959.  He had a beautiful home just outside Havana called Finca Vigía or “Lookout Farm.” When Hemingway left Cuba the government took possession of his home. After his death in 1961, his widow was allowed to come back and take some personal things back with her, but the house remains as Hemingway left it, lined with books and trophies of his big game hunting days in Africa, and, of course, his reading material in the bano.

Hemingway and Cuba have quite a history together. Hemingway wrote a number of his famous novels there, including The Old Man and the Sea, which was based on a local fisherman. So intertwined with Cuba is Hemingway, that many people when visiting go to some of his favorite haunts, including his home and the El Floridita Bar, where the Daiquiri was invented.

We were on a legal trip to Cuba, whose purpose was to deliver much-needed goods to the Cuban people, such as soaps and lotions and medical supplies, but I had a chance to see what Hemingway read while pooping, so I examined the bookshelf next to the commode. You can only view it from the outside, as with all the rooms in the house, and I craned my neck to take a look at some of the volumes.  A few stood out.

One book was on the adventures of big game hunting and one other that caught my eye was a biography of Houdini.

Houdini was of course the famous escape artist of the early 20th Century, and I couldn’t help but wonder if, for all his bravado, whether Hemingway suffered from constipation and if he was reading about different escape methods that might have included ingested food.

The next time I go to Cuba, I will search out the el supremo story of what the most famous person in Cuba reads on his throne.


Guest blogger Rich Davis is the Ya’lla Tours Midwest regional sales manager.
He just returned from escorting a group in Cuba. Check out his previous post written from Trinidad.