Wandering the streets of Trinidad, one finds herself immersed in another time when the slaves were working in the sugar fields and Spanish showed their wealth by importing French furniture and Bohemian crystal from Europe.
Architecture, colonial splendour and sugar mills
Founded more than 500 years ago, Trinidad is the best preserved and still with authentic colonial charm town in Cuba. People say that in Trinidad time has stopped and if they weren’t the tourists wandering the streets, it would be so. The city is part of the world cultural heritage of UNESCO with a reason.
The architecture you will see on the streets of Trinidad is exquisite and it is a gallery of different styles of Spanish colonial heritage. The beauty of the old central part is closely linked to the city’s past as a centre of sugar production. The Sugar Mills Valley, situated not far from the town, which is also in the list of UNESCO’s cultural heritage (In Spanish – Valle de Los Ingenios), you can see some preserved colonial plantations as Managa Iznaga Estate, where you can get an idea of what life was like for people in the time of colonialism.
What you have to know about the climate of Trinidad
It is hot. Trinidad is one of the hottest places in Cuba because of the proximity of Escambray Mountains that stops the fresh air and makes the city a hot, dry hell in the early afternoon hours, even in winter. Bring a hat and sunscreen product. The humidity is high, so use cosmetics that are suitable for these climatic conditions.
People, life and locals-tourist relations
Cubans are people who do not complicate life with superfluous thinking about “what I can do and what I can’t.” They are natural in their actions, warm in their words and make everyone feel good in their presence. However, in popular tourist destinations, such as Trinidad, people are used to seeing tourists as a source of income.
You will not be annoyed or aggressed. Rather you will feel their attitude towards you more commercial, but still much more softened than in Havana, where it has evolved into a profession. In a word – you are tourists in Trinidad and in no way you can feel like a local even if you stay in a guest house and eat together with the local people.
The population of Cuba is varying between regions and people have a diverse background. The people who you will see in the streets of Trinidad are mostly descendants of slaves who worked in the sugar cane plantations as the rich Spanish lords have returned to their homeland after production has declined. Remaining are only their beautiful Spanish mansions which are now converted into museums.
Museums, Towers and everything tourist would like to see
For a visitor who came from far away to see Trinidad the most interesting are the museums. These houses, as I mentioned, are a delight to the eye. History lovers will also find abundant material in which to dig. But this part of Trinidad’s allure I will leave to each individual to discover for himself. In short, the museums and the most intriguing that you can see in Trinidad:
– Plaza Mayor is an open air museum. It represents the historic heart of the city, around which are gathered all the landmark buildings, which of which more beautiful and each bearing its particular importance to the development of Trinidad.
– The most interesting and beautiful are the Museo Romantico, also called Palacio Brunet. The building has central, I would say strategic location on Plaza Mayor and it is former residence of Jose Mariano Borell y Padron. The family had 12 (!!!) daughters and the female’s presence can be seen in the furniture and all stored items. Real gem!
– Palacio Cantero which today is Museo de Historia Municipal. It’s interior is interesting but even more the view from the tower, which can be reached by steep, narrow stairs that can bring you a heart attack in the summer heat. 🙂
– The local master’s pottery – family Santander. Visit them in their houses and see what they traditional creations. Frankly, their style does not impress me much, but if you’re collectors you can visit the place and see if these ceramic works are interesting for you.
– Tobacco houses or Casa del Tabaco, as it sounds much better in Spanish. Generally, these are the stores that sell Cuban cigars. There are cigars for all tastes, in different packages and for every budget. Even just entering into such store is an experience because the atmosphere is very special. Almost like a visit to the temple. Cigars are stored in special glazed areas where maintaining proper temperature and humidity to keep cigars’ qualities and flavour. A store clerk in Trinidad was an elegant lady who impressed me with her professionalism.
– Casa de la Musica is an outdoor bar which is located in the city centre. Numerous stairs that at night are filled with people sitting or dancing on the Cuban son will lead you to the bar. More about Casa de la Musica you will read in a later article about my new 2015’s Eve in Trinidad. So follow these publications.
The ambiguity with the street names in Trinidad
Hopefully, you do not have to search for addresses and to navigate the streets of Trinidad. Because, as our tour guide Gladys explained, city streets have two names, and even to ask one of the locals it will not help you.
Often local people know the streets under different names. Perhaps you will not need to ask them for help because the town is small and all the streets leading to the old central part where the Plaza Mayor is. You cannot go wrong. What can happen to you is to get a bit lost and wandering around the colourful small streets to witness interesting stories.
La Canchanchara or where to enjoy the mix of unique Cuban experience
I read about Canchanchara cocktail, a trademark of bar “Canchanchara” in Trinidad. To be honest, I did not try it. At the moment I entered the yard of the house-bar, the music completely overwhelmed me and I did not think about tasting the drink. Apparently, the other tourists also felt the same because they all were seated comfortably on the sofas and didn’t look like they intend to continue the tour of the city soon. At the expense of missed alcohol, we have left the bar with a CD with a music of the band playing in the restaurant. Music that will warm our short cold winter days in Europe.
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