Hot Pink Travel
Around 11 a.m. our cruise ship sailed into Havana Harbor. It was an awesome experience heightened by the vintage cars heading down the Malecon to the cruise terminal awaiting our impending arrival.
For our first day in Havana, we set out to learn more about Earnest Hemingway, exploring his favorite haunts as well as his home.
The first stop was the bar the Floridita, birthplace of the daiquiri. It opened in 1817 as a fish restaurant and cocktail destination in the older part of Havana (La Habana Vieja). It lies at the end of Calle Obispo (Bishop Street), across Monserrate Street from the The National Museum of Fine Arts of Havana. The place was packed and there was a band squished into the corner playing some of the best Latin music I've ever heard. We checked out the Hemingway photos on the wall as well as the bronze sculpture in the corner and then slowly made our way to the back of the bar. The place was beautiful. Light blue fresco on the ceiling, deep red counter behind the bar and lots of brass metal. And did I mention the music? Barbara and I sat with a few new friends from the ship and toasted Mr. Hemingway with a pretty strong daiquiri, supposedly his favorite drink. It was an amazing place and I could have stayed for hours. It's touristy for sure, but if you come in the afternoon after all of the tour buses head back to wherever they come from, I heard you can find a table and enjoy the music in a slightly less frenetic setting.
Next, we drove a few minutes to another Hemingway haunt, La Bodeguita Del Medio where Hemingway supposedly enjoyed the mojitos. It is a famous tourist destination because of the personalities which have patronized it: Salvador Allende, the poet Pablo Neruda, the artist Josignacio and many others.
La Bodeguita lays claim to being the birthplace of the Mojito cocktail, prepared in the bar since its opening in 1942, although this is disputed.
The walls are decorated with signatures of everyone who had dined there before us, as well as photos and memorabilia from Nat King Cole. We had lunch of shrimp, sweet potato and red beans and rice and the food was much welcomed as we started everything off Mr. Hemingway's favorite drink: the mojito. As we ate family style we also enjoyed a Cristal beer and continued the conversations of the first stop. Again, the music was amazing and the whole atmosphere was fun and warm. Before we left, we were handed a black pen and asked to sign the wall. Something I relished.
Stop number three was the piece de resistance, Hemingway’s home.... Finca Viglia. It was quiet and lovely, the perfect retreat to write. The house was built in 1886 by a Catalan architect named Miguel Pascual y Baguer on a hill about 15 miles east of Havana. Hemingway lived in the house from mid 1939 to 1960. He rented at first and then purchased the property in 1940 for $12,500. It was at Finca that he wrote much of For Whom the Bell Tolls as well as the 1951 book Old Man and the Sea.
You can't go into the house, but only look into the rooms from the doorway, but you still got a sense of his style and the comfort of the home as well as his love of cats. He built a "tower" with a writing room on the top, but he preferred to write in the house.
We made one more stop at yet another bar and then it was time to head back to the ship. In the end, I was wondering if all I learned was that the great author liked to drink, but it was so much more than that. The places he liked to "hang" were warm and fun and real. Hemingway had a great sense of style and seemed to embrace friendship as vital to his being. People, regardless of their status, were what he really enjoyed. In fact, when we were at his home the docent told us that when Hemingway won the Pulitzer Prize he declined the invitation to the award ceremony and instead threw a party in the streets of Havana, choosing to be with his true for friends. You get the feeling that he loved the country and its people deeply. and after just a small amount of time in Havana, I completely understand why.
How to Feel Good and Do Good on Your Next Hawaiian Vacation
COURTESY OF PIXABAY.COMHow to Feel Good and Do Good on Your Next Hawaiian Vacation
As anyone who’s fallen in love with Hawaii knows, even during a quick visit, you’ll quickly start wanting to give back to the island chain. Luckily, that’s easy to do. Hawaii is home to a number of initiatives and companies that harness a craft to serve the greater good and to spread awareness of a certain cause, be it Hawaiian culture, history, or the environment. Of course, the tried-and-true beach cleanup sessions are always going on, but a new wave of local do-gooders has made it even easier to have your cake and eat it too—that is, to support the community at large while enjoying the tropical vacation you’d planned.
Dig Into Eco-Friendly Local Fare
When you’re looking for a restaurant to try, forgo Yelp in favor of another list: More than 100 establishments in Hawaii operate without the use of foam or plastic as part of the Surfrider Foundation’s Ocean Friendly Restaurant Program. The goal is to eliminate the use of non-recyclable material, like plastic and foam, that typically ends up polluting the ocean and harming marine life. Go green with the breakfast sandwiches at Ed Kenney’s |
in Honolulu, the garden-to-table vegetarian entrées at | in Waimanalo, or the beach sandwiches at Kalapawai Café | in Kailua
Toast to a Local Cause
Kailua’s newest neighborhood craft beer tasting room, | , features a selection of locally brewed beers on tap and a bring-your-own-food philosophy. Even better, the tasting room was created by Tim and Holly Veling specifically as a way to fund and spread awareness of the ONEninetynine Initiative, which (among other things) provides laundry services to the homeless on the windward side. Some locals who frequent Grace in Growlers even go on to volunteer at the nonprofit. “Sometimes people will come on a Saturday to help with our laundry service, and then they’re back in here drinking beer again the next night,” says Tim Veling. “Which is the most amazing thing. It’s exactly what we’re trying to do here.”
Home of the Brave Brewing
Another unique craft beer establishment doing good is | in Honolulu, which pairs craft beer and World War II/Pearl Harbor history. Originally (and still) a World War II history museum, the brewery was created to introduce younger people to the museum and its mission. Home of the Brave recently opened a speakeasy inside the museum, but its main watering hole is a brewpub adjacent to the museum, called the Brewseum. Proceeds from the Brewseum and speakeasy go toward the continued funding of the museum.
Keep Cane Alive with a Distillery Tour
Earlier this year, the last commercial sugar cane plantation in Hawaii shut down. While it is certainly the end of an era, it’s also an opportunity rediscover the history and tradition of cane that the commercial industry overshadowed for so long. One Oahu man has taken it upon himself to do just that. Over the past few years, he has cultivated the largest collection of native Hawaiian cane in the state, growing more than three-dozen varietals at his farms in central Oahu. But he’s not a botanist or historian—he’s a rum maker. The tour at | is half educational, half indulgent as you learn about the role of cane in ancient Hawaii and enjoy a tasting of rum made from different varietals.
Go for an Island-Friendly Paddle
Hawaiian Paddle Sports | offers several different tours on Maui, including kayaking, outrigger canoeing, surfing, and standup paddle-boarding. But they’re not just tours you dream of taking in Hawaii—each month, the company highlights a charity, organization, community group, or nonprofit as part of its Malama Maui Monthly Give Back. The company then makes a financial contribution to the group or organization from its profits and donates volunteer hours to raise awareness of the charity’s cause. Hawaiian Paddle Sports says supporting its own community is part of its kuleana, a Hawaiian word meaning “responsibility.
Hundreds of potters throughout Oahu have joined together to make more than 3,000 clay bowls for the upcoming Empty Bowl Hawaii food festival and fundraiser on March 31. Each attendee will receive a handmade ceramic bowl and a locally sourced soup prepared by one of 22 Oahu chefs. The event is a symbolic salute to the local nonprofit it supports, Aloha Harvest, which “rescues” excess quality food from restaurants and delivers it same-day, free of charge, to nonprofit agencies. It took the Hawaii Potters Guild and the potter participants two years to make all the bowls, which attendees get to keep.
The Maui County Agricultural Festival aims to spread awareness of Maui’s agricultural community and to showcase its vital role in the economy, environment, and lifestyle through a series of programming events. The festival features food booths and special events, like the not-to-be-missed Grand Taste, which pairs 12 Maui chefs with different farmers. The event is held annually and takes place this year on April 1.
If you’re up for taking a trip this Thanksgiving and want to try out the ancient Hawaiian art of paddling, check out the annual Paddle For Hunger event, also on Maui. It’s a leisure race that raises money and food for the Maui Food Bank. In 2016, 264 paddlers were on the water and the event raised $8,000 and 1,050 pounds of food.
Cruises are increasingly offering innovative wellness options to health-minded passengers. One example: Canyon Ranch SpaClub aboard the ultra-luxurious Regent Seven Seas Explorer. It provides a range of wellness experiences, including yoga sessions on deck, a thermal suite with hot and cold experiences and exclusive body treatments inspired by locations the ship visits.
Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection provides ample active opportunities such as cycling and hiking. Passengers can even borrow Nordic walking sticks for a brisk stroll. The line offers certified on-board wellness instructors, a fitness center, yoga and exercise classes, and light and vegetarian meal options. Uniworld also offers TRX suspension training, which uses the body’s weight for exercises to develop strength, balance, flexibility and core stability.
Un-Cruise Adventures offers active experiences in nature, such as stand-up paddle boarding (credit: Un-Cruise Adventures)
Un-Cruise Adventures offers active experiences such as core strengthening while kayaking, as well as paddle boarding and snorkeling. An on-board wellness instructor provides massages and conducts yoga and stretching classes.