Date of stay: Oct 2011
Where you stayed: Hostal Dr Juarez & Sra. Addys (Casa Particular)
Travelled with: Wife
Tour or pre planned: Pre-planned
While Havana is a huge sprawling city, Trinidad is quite the opposite; a small colourful colonial town in a very picturesque location surrounded by mountains and close to the Caribbean Sea.
You can walk everywhere in Trinidad, and whether it’s on a central dirt road or wonky cobblestone street you’ll be treated to a dizzying array of colourful colonial houses that surround you. The old classic cars make a welcome return, but many are also replaced with a simple horse-cart combination. Everybody’s front doors are open day and night, and as you walk in the evenings you can see and hear whole families sitting in the lounge watching TV as you pass from house to house. Men set up tables on the street to fiercely compete in matches of dominoes, people play baseball with no more than a stick and what looks like a walnut or dried fruit of some kind, and kids fly dozens of kites in the early evening, many of which get stuck in the power lines above.
It’s all so relaxed and chilled, especially when compared to Havana where everything is a lot more frantic. At night it gets pretty quiet and it doesn’t take long for you to wonder where the hell everyone went. A stroll just to the right of the cathedral gives you the answer; La Casa De La Musica. This is where the whole town congregates every night and listens to top-class outdoor Jazz, Salsa and other Cuban music types. Grab a beer, sit on the steps and just let it all soak in. The atmosphere is fantastic.
There are so many great casas to stay at in Trinidad, but the one that stuck out for us was
Dr Juarez & Sra. Addys. Once again we were welcomed into a Cuban home with open arms, and couldn’t help but smile every time Addys burst into fits of her infectious laughter, which was quite often. They fed us huge lobster dinners, did our washing, bathed and clothed us (ok, not those last two) and arranged everything we needed; from bike rentals to salsa lessons on their roof terrace. What a place! And what people!
For things to see and do in and around Trinidad, again just walking around will show you much of what it has to offer. It’s quite a small town and easily walkable. Here are a few other suggestions:
The main square is a nice tranquil place for a stroll, as is the surrounding area. You’ll see the yellow bell-tower from here which is climbable and I highly recommend doing so. You’ll get some impressive views over Trinidad and the surrounding countryside. Entry is CUC1, and there’s also a small revolution museum inside which is worth a gander.
As the evening draws near, head straight up Calle Simon Bolivar toward the radio tower for a panoramic view over the entire town and surrounding coast. This is a great spot for watching sunsets.
Hire a couple of rusty old one-speed bikes and bike the 12km down to Playa Ancon where you’ll be treated to a beautiful secluded strip of Caribbean beach all to yourself. The water here is clear and warm, and guys will come up to you on the beach to sell ice cold beers and fresh coconuts for next to nothing.
For the ride back I suggest going via La Boca; it’s a nice scenic ride along the coast. As you come into La Boca there is a little hut with wooden tables that serves ice cold beer for .50c a pop (called Gastronomia La Dispensada Tinima; you can’t miss it). Carry on a little further up and you’ll hit La Boca beach where you can witness spectacular sunsets. This poses a dilemma though as if you stay to watch the sun go down the light will go with it, making the half hour (mildly uphill) journey interesting as you navigate back to Trinidad in the darkness.
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Points to highlight:
Trinidad is a great place to soak in the Cuban life and culture in a relaxed atmosphere. You’ll love the architecture, the music, the home cooked food, the relaxing beach nearby and the feeling of staying in a very friendly neighbourhood for a few days. If you come to Cuba and have to choose between going either West to Vinales or East to Trinidad, go to Trinidad! You don’t want to miss this place.
Would you recommend this destination: Yes
Would you recommend your accommodation: Yes
Overall rating: 4.5/5