I never quite got round to writing my final post on Cuba: Trinidad. After Havana, this is probably the most well-known city and the one I had been told by everyone was a must. I do hate it when people hype up places too much because I feel that in most cases you are subsequently disappointed and I must say that coming from Viñales which I fell completely in love with, Trinidad at first didn’t have that WOW factor.
I’d seen so many pictures of the coloured houses in this Unesco Heritage city and many friends had described it to me as a colourful paradise, but honestly, I think that after the vibrant & lush Viñales, any place would suffer in comparison. Everything just seemed a little more old and faded, which definitely has a charm of its own, it simply wasn’t what I’d imagined in my head.
However what wins you over in Trinidad is the vibe – it’s electric. There is music everywhere, like in Havana people’s houses are just open, with music outpouring onto the streets. The infamous ‘steps‘ in one of the main squares are a constant source of enjoyment, with happy hours and live music. You can dance salsa or simply sip away at a 1 euro mojito while enjoying the sunset. That’s when I started to love it. Each city in Cuba has a different beauty and once you grasp it, it conquers you.
The architecture is unique and albeit old is very beautiful. There seemed to be a special light as well in this city throughout our stay, which enveloped the whole of Trinidad in a special warm glow.
We arrived in Trinidad without having booked any accommodation and it was pretty easy to just ask around and find a casa particular which had space for 4! That’s one thing I really enjoyed in Cuba – being able to just go with the flow and adjust the itinerary as needed with no real concern about finding accommodation since literally everyone rents out rooms in their house. The fact of staying with locals only adds to the authenticity of your trip.
The Steps (Casa de la Música)
As mentioned above, the steps of Casa de la Música near the main square are where it’s at. You’ll have no difficulty finding them as Trinidad is tiny and everything seems to lead you there. All the bars around there serve super cheap cocktails in plastic cups so that you can take them out and chill on the steps and enjoy the fun atmosphere & music. As cool as it looks, I wouldn’t recommend dining on the steps as the options are extremely limited (sandwiches etc) and prices are inflated.
I’d recommend Taberna la Botija which is excellent value for money and you can eat a bit of everything – from Cuban to European food if you are missing it as much as we were after 8 days of rice & beans 🙂 Also has a fun vibe & live music.
However our best experience was at a little new restaurant that a girl recommended to us as she overheard us talking about where to have dinner; the problem is, I can’t remember the name and since it’s quite new I can’t find it online either! It’s quite small and the walls are half green half red, covered in chalk writing because all tables have a little box of chalks for you to draw / write on the walls with! So I’m sure if you ask around you’ll find it 🙂 The waiter was the most hilarious person ever: a huge body-builder type with biceps that were almost ripping his shirt over but genuinely the nicest guy ever. It was also my best friend’s birthday, so we managed to improvise a cake – a flan of course and even found some candles (that honest to God looked like we’d stolen them straight from the church next door) and after our lovely meal, where you get half a lobster, prawns & fish with the usual rice & salad for just $7!
The best part was that after our meal they brought the ‘cake’ and the rest of the staff – waiter, chef, old unidentified lady all came to sing happy birthday, turned the reggaetón up and we all got up to dance dance dance! We have videos of us dancing with the muscly waiter (Daniel) as he moves his snake hips like Jean Claude Van Damme in his movie Kickboxer and we shake our maracas (literally, we had bought some maracas at the market). It was one of the highlights of our holiday!
Beach – Playa Ancón
I’m so grateful that we made it to Playa Ancón, because as far as beaches go, it was the most stunning one we saw in Cuba. Ironically we had a few days up North where the best beaches are supposed to be, however we arrived during the stormy & windy days, so the beaches there were nothing like the flat, crystal-clear waters I had seen in pictures. Luckily, Playa Ancón was exactly that: a Caribbean paradise with white sand, little palm trees, transparent blue water and even star fish! It was heaven, and only a 10 min taxi drive away from the centre of Trinidad. If you go early in the morning there is literally no one there.