Trinidad & Valle De Los Ingenios
Being around the friendly Cubans of Trinidad as they go about their daily lives can sometimes make the best of memories.
Hostal Maria Novoa
This is where we stayed in Trinidad. It was arranged by neighbour (across the street) Hostal Anay y Jesús (see below). Albeit in need of repairs, the accommodations were simple, tidy and clean. Adjoining bedrooms are rented to one party (using both rooms is an additional charge). Each room has a double bed. The bathroom is attached to the second bedroom. There are two access points to the rooms – one through the first bedroom and one in the bathroom (this one is secured from the inside). The bathroom is spacious and “funky” with old sink and taps and an open shower. The room offers air-conditioning (not needed while we were there). The garden with its rocking chairs and table set offered a pleasant, cool, quiet, oasis in which to eat and relax.
Owner: Maria Novoa speaks limited English, we speak limited Spanish, but through smiles and gestures we were able to communicate.
Address: Francisco Cadahia (Gracia) #229 e/ Colón y Lino Peréz, Trinidad, S.S., Cuba
Email: contact through Hostal Anay y Jesús (information below)
Hostal Anay y Jesús
Although we did not sleep here, we did spend enough time to feel comfortable in recommending them. Jesús speaks English well and is an outstanding host. Friends who did stay reported their sleeping rooms and bathrooms were clean and comfortable. Anay y Jesús can arrange numerous activities including salsa lessons right at their hostel. Upstairs a rooftop patio has tables and hammocks for relaxing. Evening meals can be served on the rooftop as well as on the main floor. Friends told us the meals were so plentiful they had to request smaller dishes.
If full, they make arrangements with other casa particulars in the same area.
Owners: Sra Anay Lichilin Miranda & Sr Jesús A. Pineda Tamayo
Address: Francisco Cadahia (Gracia) #228 e/ Colón y Lino Peréz, Trinidad, S.S., Cuba
Mobile phone: 01 52949444 or 01 52753465
Our #1 choice in all of Cuba. Elsa & Julio Roque (speak English) are welcoming hosts who take the time to talk with guests about Cuba and make suggestions for seeing Havana. They are well located, just one block off Paseo de Marti (Prado) (see map), keeping the most popular areas of La Habana within a comfortable walk. Hostel Peregrino is fresh, modern (without losing Cuban charm), spotlessly clean and well priced. Two room sizes. Each room has private bathroom, small fridge and air-conditioning. Rooms have both 110V and 220V outlets. Larger rooms have balconies. Common rooms are comfortably inviting. Meals are plentiful, well priced and tasty. Beer, soft drinks and water are available for purchase. They kindly accommodated our request to invite four friends for dinner and it was enjoyed by all. If they are full for the dates you want they can usually arrange other rooms/apartments close at hand.
Contact: email: firstname.lastname@example.org
tel: 537 860 1257, 537 861 8027
Address: Consulado No 152 1st Floor, between Colon & Trocadero, Habana 10200
SIGHTSEEING IN TRINIDAD
Trinidad and the Valle de los Ingenios (Valley of the Sugarmills) have been designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1988. Trinidad’s historic core boasts many surviving colonial buildings while the Valley is a testament to Cuba’s once thriving sugar cane industry.
Walking around Trinidad is easy and comfortable with plenty to keep eyes, ears and taste buds busy. Having a guide map to navigate is fine but don’t be restricted to tourist sites; tuck the guide book away and just wander. Being around friendly Cubans going about their daily lives can sometimes make the best of memories. Getting tired? take a bicitaxi.
Cocotaxis or horse drawn wagons (which act like buses) shuffle to and from Casilda. It’s a small village which was once the port for exporting local sugar cane; now it attracts divers and snorkelers to its bay which is shelter by a curved peninsula. Horse drawn wagons or cocotaxis can take you around to the beaches on the ocean side of the peninsula. Its worth a look even if you don’t plan to swim or sunbath.
Go directly to/from Trinidad or, do as we did, make a circle tour from Trinidad to Casilda, to the beaches, to Valley de los Ingenios and Manacas Iznaga Plantation then back to Trinidad.
Manacas Iznaga Plantation with it’s landmark tower is a pleasant stop. Climb the 136 wooden stairs to the top and enjoy outstanding views of the valley. Built in 1816 the tower’s tolling bells once marked the beginning and end of working hours on the sugar plantations and sounded alarms for fires and escaped slaves. On the grounds you can also see a sugarcane press, a large 1846 bell and a few surviving buildings such as the refurbished hacienda, the warehouse/ironworks/kitchen and a few barracones (slave quarters) which now serve as family homes.
Night life in Trinidad
When the air cools and the music begins, locals sway their hips to Cuban beats. It’s contagious and feels good. There are some clubs, but on a pleasant evening we suggest heading to Casa de la Musica on the stairs beside the cathedral. Dance to the music or just sit and listen. Sitting on the stairs is free (you can still get drinks from the local bars or bring your own), sitting at the tables is for those buying drinks from the bar.
GAP Adventures has a number of tour options for Cuba; the longest being their 15 day Colonial Tour. Many of the historical city centers are small so we encourage you to tour on your own by walking and/or using bicitaxis and cocotaxis. It can be more affordable, more flexible and more fun than an organized tour. Take a Lonely Planet guide book with you for detailed information about the sights to see.
FOOD & DRINK IN TRINIDAD
For decades Cuba has been criticized for its bland and unimaginative food. Other than street pizzas, Cubans tend to eat at home … mostly for economic reasons. When Cuba reopened it’s doors to tourist in 1997 and began allowing casa particulars (similar to B&Bs) visitors to this country had an opportunity to enjoy home cooked meals. Some of Cubas best and most reasonably priced meals can be enjoyed in casa particulars. For dinners and lunches the choice is usually chicken, pork, fish or vegetarian.
Breakfasts, Lunches & Dinners: In Vinales we had breakfast and dinners at Villa Basita which were tasty and always plentiful; so much so that we only had a light snack mid-day. After touring the island for three weeks we rated Basita’s chicken the best in Cuba.
Water: Drinking water in Cuba, for visitors, should be bottled. Most Cubans boil the water they use. At Villa Basita guests are treated to complimentary bottled water.
Drinks: Cuba is famous for it’s rum. Individual purchased drinks are tourist priced. Buying a bottles of rum and mix at a bar and mixing your own is common in Cuba. Beer brands ‘Bucanero’ and its lighter version ‘Cristal’ are the two most popular beer offered. A great people watching place with reasonably priced individual drinks in Vinales is a little bar with outside tables on the north-west corner across from church square.
Snacks: Pop, chips and cookies are luxury items and are sold in Cuban Convertible pesos (CUC$) – the “tourist pesos”. National pesos (CUP) which you can get at a Cadeca (change booth) – CUC$1 = 24 national pesos. You can buy local goods like street pizza for around 45¢ US, a fresh loaf of bread (approx 12¢), ice cream cone (approx 7¢) or a glass of sugar cane juice (approx 8¢).
GETTING AROUND TRINIDAD
An easy, comfortable and inexpensive way to go between Havana and Vinales is by ViaZul Bus. These buses are equipped with toilet and air conditioning. Two trips per day book up ahead of time so make sure to buy your ticket at least the day before departure. The trip will take 3.5 – 4 hours and cost approximately CUC$12.
For places in and around Trinidad horsedrawn wagons and cocataxis make the short trips.