Hole in the Donut Cultural Travel
The room at Finca Vigia, Ernest Hemingway's home near Havana, Cuba, where he wrote novels

Click on above photo to view it in large format: Room at the Ernest Hemingway House in Cuba, where the famous author wrote Old Man and the Sea and other novels. Interested in traveling to Cuba? Read my story about Discover Corps, the company that sponsored my trip, and arrange for your own authentic Cuba experience.

Many homes in Old Havana, Cuba await restoration

Click on above photo to view it in large format: The Cuban government plans to restore all the old buildings in Old Havana, but with limited resources many, like these, have been on the waiting list for years. Interested in traveling to Cuba? Read my story about Discover Corps, the company that sponsored my trip, and arrange for your own authentic Cuba experience.

For decades, travelers to Cuba have raved about the island’s stunning beaches, sipped icy cool Mojitos…and complained about the food. With dining options limited to State restaurants, run by government employees who had no incentive to get creative, Cuban food was monotonous at best. Thankfully,  paladars – restaurants in private homes – are rapidly changing that stereotype.

Lobster lunch at Bodega Las Brisas, a paladar in the small village of Cojimar, near Havana, Cuba

Lobster lunch at Bodega Las Brisas, a paladar in the small village of Cojimar, near Havana, Cuba

Paladars have always existed under the communist regime. Prior to 1993 they were illegal and thus hard to find, but during Cuba’s economic crisis of the 90’s, the government rethought its policies. In 1993, they legalized 117 forms of self-employment, which included enterprises such as home barbershops, mechanics, and and massage therapists. Paladars were legalized and given the right to have 12 seats and serve up to 20 clients per day. It was a slow beginning. The government still controlled what could be served (the sale of seafood, horsemeat, and beef were prohibited), and severe shortages of even the most basic ingredients, like salt, made it difficult to get creative with the cuisine. Read More

Hotel Nacional in Havana, the most famous hotel in Cuba

Click on above photo to view it in large format: Hotel Nacional, the most famous hotel in Cuba, has hosted heads of state, Hollywood stars, dignitaries, and even scores of Mafia heads, who brought the first casinos to the island. Interested in traveling to Cuba? Read my story about Discover Corps, the company that sponsored my trip, and arrange for your own authentic Cuba experience.

Booksellers surround Plaza de Armas in Old Havana, Cuba

Click on above photo to view it in large format: Booksellers surrounding Plaza de Armas in Old Havana are always willing to discuss the impact that literature has had on Cuba. Interested in traveling to Cuba? Read my story about Discover Corps, the company that sponsored my trip, and arrange for your own authentic Cuba experience.

Bronze sculpture of Ernest Hemingway stands at the end of the bar in La Floridita, one of his favorite watering holes

Click on above photo to view it in large format: Bronze sculpture of Ernest Hemingway stands at the end of the bar in La Floridita, one of the writer’s favorite watering holes in Old Havana, Cuba. Interested in traveling to Cuba? Read my story about Discover Corps, the company that sponsored my trip, and arrange for your own authentic Cuba experience.