Thompson Travelers

Travel is a way to be lost…and found…all at the same time

La Habana Vieja – Old Town Havana

Built in the early 1500s by the Spanish, Old Havana is a central section of town consisting of narrow streets built in a baroque Spanish colonial style.  The wrought iron decorative scrolling across all of the windows and doors serve also to protect since the windows are all open with no glass.  I guess it’s too hot here to ever have window panes.

Most Cubans like to hang out their windows and doors from inside to watch the world go by.  The palette is a colorful array of pastels with contrasting trim, an assortment of clothing drying on the line on the balconies above.  It’s a combination of constant renovation to preserve the old sandwiched between buildings that look like they are barely holding together.

Wrought iron decor over windows and doors

Lookout balconies

Living in the past in Old Town

Cuba was very popular then with many American writers, actors and actresses in the 1930s.  Old town was a frequently visited place of famed author Ernest Hemingway who first visited here in 1939 after the Spanish Civil war, and fell in love with the city.   It is here at the Hotel Ambos Mundas that Hemingway made his home for seven years before buying a small estate a few miles outside of town.  His reputation for being a hard drinking, cigar smoking adventurer made him quite comfortable here, where he could drink, write, and lodge his own personal battle with his fishing boat against the German U boats.

Hotel Ambos Mundos

Barb & Don under a wall dedicated to Ernest Helmingway at the Hotel Ambos Mundos

Constant renovation to renew among the old

The Floridita ~ One of Hemingway’s favorite bars in Old Havana, home of the famous frozen daiquiri created for Hemingway

Fruit vendor in the Old Town

School Girls in the Old Town

It’s the combination of old Spanish architecture mixed with the dilapidated falling apart that tugs at your heart, seeing the potential of what could be with a little money and time for both the buildings and the people.  It’s also part of it’s charm that brings people into this section of town to wander among the streets and watch the people going about every day life in Havana.

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Mixing old with the new – the Vedado District


Old Man & the Sea in Cuba


  1. Ginger

    Hola Amigos!

    Dan & I bought recipe tee shirts at the Floridita — Hemingway’s special drink is printed on the back!


  2. Albert Mock

    Looks a lot like Panama and other older cities in South America.

    How is the food and the Music?


  3. Teri Taylor

    Everything looks amazing. Love the colors!

  4. Janine Boehm

    Old town looks charming. Are there any resorts open that were built for tourists from other countries during our embargo?

    • Kinkazoo

      They do have some nice hotels and resorts but they aren’t quite up to our standards yet.

  5. Burt & Jan Lenell

    Surprised to learn where the masses live they have windows with no glass.
    How do they keep out the rain?

    • Kinkazoo

      They have wooden window coverings that hinge closed in the center of the window.

  6. Albert Mock

    Beautiful colors and vibrant energy thruout the town!

    Hemingway had a wonderful time in Cuba!

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