A luxury travel to Bilbao by Ernest Hemingway

When Hemingway came back to Bilbao in 1959, after winning Pulitzer & Nobel awards in 1953 & 1954, he could comfortably visit Bilbao with all luxuries he wanted. 

The writer arrived to Bilbao in a Lancia car with his driver M. Cassamassima, to enjoy the local festivals and bull fighting during Semana Grande festivals, tradition that still nowadays you can enjoy in August in Bilbao. And he did not wait long until meeting a building he knew well: Vista Alegre bull fighting arena. He has been there before (he got inspiration there to write his book "Death in the Afternoon" in 1932). In Bilbao's Bullfighting Museum "Museo Taurino" you can see some pictures of Ernest Hemingway. Once again, the arena would be the scenario of the last chapter of the book "The Dangerous Summer". The Bullfighting square that Hemingway knew got fired 2 months after his suicide, as if it would be connected to death as the writer.

During his stay in Bilbao he shared the fiesta and hotel with Lauren Bacall (widow of Humphrey Bogart). And from the hotel he wrote "we had good rooms in Carlton Hotel, it is an excellent hotel (...) the ground flor, the bar and the dinning room were full of people waiting for their tables".

The luxury interior of Carlton Hotel in Bilbao

Other options for luxury lodging that were not opened yet at that level would be Hotel Domine & Hotel Miro, close to the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum "Museo Bellas Artes". There you can see a picture by the Basque painter Ucelay where he painted the great writer together with his Bilbao friend J. Dunabeitia (a sailor mentioned in his book "Islands in the Stream"). In this Bilbao Museum, you can also see pieces by Goya, Zurbaran, Murillo, Gaugin, Sorolla, Zuloaga, Chillida, Oteiza...

And in the city center you can also still see the remaining of teh restaurant where Hemingway ate with his friends Ava Gardner, the matadores Antonio Ordonez, Manolete, the painter Gustavo de Maeztu, the dancer Antonio Gades... or enjoy bars that are exactly as E. Hemingway could have seen during his several stops in Bilbao.

And remember, if you are thinking to come to Bilbao, San Sebastian, Rioja, Vitoria, Pamplona or anywhere else in the Basque Country, you can get a better understanding with a local guide. 

 contact Aitor Delgado Basque Private Tour Guide

And always remember that you can also contact us through our new website launched in December 2019.