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January, 2017

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When we booked our trip to Cuba I am ashamed to say that I wasn’t even aware that there was a place called Trinidad in Cuba. Our itinerary was 3 nights in Havana (see previous review), 3 nights in Trinidad and 6 nights is Varadero (review to follow).

Trinidad, however, has been an Unesco World Heritage Site since 1988 and, after a 5 1/2 hour bus journey from Havana we arrived in the main square of a small brightly coloured town where the houses are alternatively pink, yellow, blue and green. Luckily our Hotel, The Iberostar Grand Hotel, was in the same square where the bus stopped. Once we had struggled our way through the locals offering us “rooms to rent”, “taxis” and “nice restaurant” we entered the very grand Grand Hotel. It is almost obscene how luxurious this hotel is in what is obviously a rather poor town. The courtyard reception is in the typical colonial style and is quite lovely. The only thing the hotel lacks is a pool or garden but it is right on the main square which is a lovely place to sit and people watch. There was a musical festival going on whilst we were there and there seemed to be music playing continually in the square. This was very pleasant until we realised that the music goes on until the early hours (necessitating us to change rooms at 2.30 am one night!)

Trinidad is easy to walk around and there are stalls selling souvenirs and even people selling from their own houses. We visited the main square (Plaza Mayor) and again live music is everywhere. We noticed a lot of “casas particulares” signs (rooms to rent in family homes) so the rather over the top Grand Hotel is not the only place to stay.

It’s worth visiting the Convento de San Francisco de Asis where I climbed the bell tower and also saw a small exhibition about the revolution (strange to have such an exhibition, complete with a tank, in a convent, I thought). Another trip to do is the train through the sugarcane fields. No longer a steam train, unfortunately, but this diesel locomotive pulls 3 open sided carriages and it takes you through sugar cane fields (not as prolific as they used to be), through villages, past horse drawn carts and gaucho style horsemen. The rail track is rather overgrown now so it is not unusual to have to chase cows and goats off the track (we had to slow down often to allow cows to move off the line!) The final destination is Valle de los Ingenios but there is not much to see there, just a dilapidated sugar mill. On the way back there is a much more interesting stop at Monaca-Iznaga where you can climb another tower and buy souvenirs from the locals. There is also an old Hacienda where you can get a coffee, tea or a quick meal. Although very basic, the train has a bar (very rum orientated of course).

One afternoon we hired a vintage car to take us to the beach, Playa Ancon (about 8 kilometres away) and we spent a lovely few hours on this beautiful white stretch of sand.

Eating out in the evenings again means live music in most restaurants and we found the people as friendly as those we had met in Havana. You wouldn’t need to spend long in Trinidad but it is definitely worth a visit.


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