Robaina's plantation

Tuesday 28 April 2015

Trinidad (Cuba)

                Trinidad is a town in the province of Sancti Spíritus in Central Cuba and has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1988. This is only my second visit here but definitely better explored than my first one. That's not saying that I've seen everything there is to see, the opposite, I've only scraped the surface. The town itself can take a few days at least, never mind the Valle de los Ingenios or Ancon beach nearby....and let's not forget the waterfall 'El Nicho' which is an entire day trip alone. I'm sure there are a few other things that I haven't mentioned but you get my point. It's a wonderful place to visit that boasts a wide variety of things to see and activities to participate in.
                A word of advice if you should decide to visit here one day, bring comfortable walking shoes. The old historical center of Trinidad has to be navigated on foot, there is no other way, cars aren't allowed. It consists of a maze of narrow cobblestone streets that are very uneven making walking quite difficult and tiring for anyone. Ladies, wearing high heels is not recommended, opt for comfort instead of fashion. Your ankles will thank you, trust me. A lot of people selling stuff in Trinidad with a couple of markets set up around town, drawn thread table clothes and linens seem to be the specialty here. I ended up buying a tablecloth for my mom who used it this past Christmas. A good deal at $25 or $30, since my mother didn't complain after washing it, I'm assuming it's of relatively good quality. Since my last trip there has also been an explosion of commercial activity, especially in the restaurant industry. Since Raul's changes to the law allowing more businesses to open, Trinidad has given birth to an obscene amount of eateries in varying degrees, from infusion oriented to a wide scale of food genres (upscale to sandwich shops). The place looked very different from the last time we were here, quite the jump in activity. As far as where to spend night goes, we stayed in a Casa. We've been told, and this is the case with most places in Cuba, Trinidad has more beds available for tourists in private Casas than in Hotels....and it's a lot cheaper. We stayed steps away from the Colonial part of town and it only cost $25cuc per night (for the two of us). It wasn't the best bed I've slept in but our hosts were very gracious and that was better than any comfortable bed (it wasn't that bad).
               Trinidad was founded in 1514 by Diego Velázquez, the fourth of the original seven settlements established in Cuba. It was on the site of a native Taino village between the Escambray mountains and the Caribbean sea. The Sugar Industry began in the Valle de Los Ingenios around the end of the 1700's and as it prospered so did the town of Trinidad. Immense mansions of lavish proportions were being built in the next century as the sugar mills increased through the years. Who would of imagined they would be visited by tourists as museums today. This is when Trinidad would have been at it's peak, the third largest city in the country, in 1790, 56 mills were in operation and the region was home to 28,000 people (12,000 slaves). But then around the 1860's the bottom dropped out of sugar and the economy collapsed. The town was forgotten as it fell into disrepair. However, the town's bad luck in it's past is our good fortune in the present. The town remained how it was, that is to say that there was no further development or modernization that would have surely changed how Trinidad looks today. Walking through the streets nowadays brings you back to a bygone era. Someone told me that the city had asked to have their cobblestone streets paved but were declined, the government opted to do it for the town of Sancti Spiritus which had the same type of roads previously. Today Sancti Spiritus gets very little tourism, while Trinidad is one of the busiest tourist attractions in Cuba. Trinidad is one of the best preserved cities in the Caribbean. Besides tourism, tobacco processing is one of Trinidad's main industries today. Not all of Trinidad is like the Colonial part that the tourists visit. As you walk out from the main core you notice the decline in the quality, style and prosperity of the buildings. That isn't to say that I noticed any horrible part of the city, I'm just saying what you see in postcards is only a small part of what is really there. I felt safe wherever I was but as always, take more care at night. 
               How to get there? Viazul buses have 3 departures to Trinidad from Havana 07:00, 10:45 & 14:15. Varadero to Trinidad one bus at 7:30am. You could check outside the bus terminals for a taxi taking people to Trinidad but I don't know how much that would cost (less than the bus, maybe 10cuc). If the taxi (car) doesn't break down on the way there, it would be cheaper and faster. The way I went this time was a service that takes you from door to door with brand new air-conditioned vehicles. They picked me up at my front door and brought me to the front door of my destination. No transfers, no questions, the driver knew exactly where I was going. That cost $30cuc per person, the bus would cost $20cuc but would take more than an hour longer and then I would have to cab it from the bus terminal to the Casa. However you get there, get there, it's worth a visit but plan to do more than a day trip, at least 3 days is a must in my opinion. The pictures I posted below are just a fraction of the ones I took. I'm going to have to do another Blog Post for Trinidad to include some of the pictures that didn't make this cut.

Palacio Cantero — Museo de Historia Municipal

Iglesia y Convento de San Francisco

Iglesia Parroquial de la Santísima

Plaza Mayor

Terpsichore - Muse of Music and Dance

Plaza Carillo

Iglesia de Santa Ana 

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