By MARÍA FORNER PALANCA
Last 25th of October 2015, Turiart organised an excursion on the writer Ernest Hemingway guided by Bob Yareham, editor of VI. The route started at the Estación del Norte, where Hemingway got off the train more than eighty years ago and saw this fantastic Modernist building as he carried his suitcase full of hope and tragedy, the same sense of tragedy that explains his love for bullfighting. As a matter of fact, Hemingway came back to the Feria de Julio on several occasions and stayed overnight in a number of hotels. For example, in the Hotel Metropol, the second landmark of our tour, just in front of the bullring. This building still exists today but it does not operate anymore as a hotel.
Hemingway stayed in other places such as the Hotel Inglés, still open nowadays. But it was between the walls of Hotel Reina Victoria in Calle Las Barcas, now reopened, where Hemingway started writing “The Sun also Rises” according to what he states in one of his letters. But no plaque informs the tourists of this fact.
After stopping in front of these buildings to comment on some interesting facts or anecdotes about his life and his works, we went to Calle de la Paz, which used to be a crowded street during the first third of last century as it is still today. In Café El siglo, Hemingway had enthusiastic discussions with other intellectuals of the time. This place was on the first floor of the current Café Capuccino and its old name can still be read from the outside. It is interesting how buildings speak, whispering their secrets to those willing to know them. All you need is to pay attention.
Lastly, we finished the excursion having a drink in the recently reopened Ideal Room, which was a corsetry shop for a long time, although since this article was written it has closed tomake way for a clothes shop. Ideal Room existed with the same name in the epoch in which Hemingway used to visit Valencia. He spent hours surrounded by the smoke of cigarettes and the smell of alcohol. Writing and drinking was his way to face his monsters: call them despair, folly, Fascism, or even himself. Maybe it was why he admired bullfighters that much, because a bullfight is a fight face to face. And Hemingway had fought in the First World War, and understood the cruelty and absurdity of human existence.
Unfortunately, many Valencians ignore that the walked in the streets of this city. In fact, he spent more time in Valencia than in Pamplona. But, as he wrote between the walls of the Hotel Reina Victoria, the sun also rises. Even if no plaque points to the places where he used to be, we can always go on a guided tour to discover new things about the passionate relationship of this well-known writer with Valencia.