Here we are, its day two of our excursion exploring Santa Clara and Trinidad. Day one was just remarkable. Both of us saw and experienced so much. We woke at 6am to the sound of a cockerel crowing and birds singing and dancing on the roof of our room.
This hotel was fantastic and not at all what we expected. As explained in Part One we stayed overnight in a hotel complex just outside Santa Clara. Typically Cuban in style and design. Set out with a mixture of small and large shack type buildings nestled between palm trees and gardens. We had a shack of our own.
The room was very clean. We had all the usual things like a safe and TV, free toiletries, air conditioning and very hot running water. The bathroom was a bit like a walk-in shower room, again exceptionally clean. To some degree this room was better than the one we had at the Iberostar Daiquiri, our hotel for the two weeks.
With breakfast had and bags packed we checked out and were ready for the next part of this wonderful adventure. Thanks for having us Los Caneyes !
Time For Trinidad
Trinidad was only about 2 hours away. Once again we drove through some beautiful countryside and small villages. The town is on the South of the island close to the Caribbean Sea. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1988 but was founded way back in the year 1514. Nowadays the towns main income is from tobacco and tourism. However, it is one of the best preserved colonial towns in the Caribbean from when the sugar trade was a booming industry.
Our first stop today would be Casa del Alfarero. A studio and shop belonging to one of Cubas most famous potters. It was located just on the outskirts of the main town. Owned by the Santander family, Don Secundino Santander, award winning potter and man in charge was on hand to give us a demonstration. This guy makes some incredible bits of Clayware both decorative and useful. I could have spent a fortune in this shop but getting it all back in a suitcase would have proven extremely difficult. Instead we bought a couple of Canchánchara cups. We will talk about Canchánchara a little bit further into this blog.
Cigars, Churches, Cocktails
Next we were taken to the Museo de Arquitectura Colonial (Colonial Architecture Museum) for a free tour. Our group learned about the history of the building process of the town from its early settlers to the present day. The building itself was very pretty and held some great artefacts. Worth a look yourself if you visit. There is also a archaeology museum here too but we missed that and didn’t realise it was there until after we returned back to the UK.
Now it was time for, cigar rolling. Another demonstration, but this time from a lady who used to work in one of the many tobacco factories here in Trinidad. We were told all about the tobacco process and the leaves they use to give each cigar its unique taste and flavour.
Apparently Che Guevara’s favourite cigar was the Montecristo No. 4, Fidel Castro’s favourites were made by Cohiba, especially the Laguito No. 2 and Winston Churchill favoured the Romeo y Julieta brand. Interesting huh !
The Church of the Holy Trinity (Iglesia Parroquial de la Santísima Trinidad) stands proud over Plaza Mayor, the main square. It was built during the late 19th century and is home to a statue of Christ that was meant to be installed in a church in Veracruz, Mexico. The ship who’s cargo included the statue was turned back many times due to bad weather. It finally made its journey by offloading much of its belongings, including the statue. The locals took this as a sign and it has lived in the church ever-since. It also houses a huge wooden Gothic revival alter.
The Canchánchara is a drink born in the town of Trinidad. Invented by Guerrilla fighters during the Cuban War of Independence it is said to be the countries oldest cocktail.
A simple mix of Rum or Aguardiente (a type of strong alcohol made with sugarcane) lime juice, honey, ice and sparkling water this was one very tasty and refreshing drink. On this tour you visit a bar named after the said drink to experience one for yourself with some amazing salsa music in the background. The drink is traditionally served in small clay cups, like the ones we bought from Casa del Alfarero mentioned above.
Time To Explore, Free Time
This was the last tour of the day before lunch. After-which we had a few hours free time to explore the streets, shops, museums and bars of this beautiful town ourselves. One place I had researched before our visit was the Museum of the Struggle Against Bandits. The building is a short walk from Plaza Mayor. You can climb the tower here for a small cost of 1CUC and the views out over the town are incredible.
We had the best time in Trinidad. Both of us would love to return again one day and maybe even stay in a Casa Particular for an even more authentic experience. I am sure there is still so much this town has to offer.
The journey back to our hotel in Cayo Guillermo would take around 4 hours. It had been an incredible two days. Something that we will cherish forever. The bucket list gets some new ticks too. The whole experience is something we recommend. If you visit Cuba and get the chance to visit any of the towns or cities mentioned in this two part blog, do it.
For now though, we will leave you with more photos. We really hope you enjoyed reading both parts of this blog. Let us know in the comments section. Have you been here before ? I hope we have inspired you in someway.
Full details of this excursion are as follows –
This was the “Tale of Two Cities” excursion, booked in the resort via our Thomas Cook rep. The price was 160CUC per person. This included everything below.
- Coach travel for the entire trip
- Drinks and toilet stops during the journey
- Stop in San Juan del los Remedios, including guided church tour and free time
- Stop in Santa Clara, including Che Guevara Mausoleum tour, Armoured Train memorial park tour, free time in Santa Clara
- Overnight hotel stay at Los Caneyes, including lunch, evening meal and breakfast (one free drink included)
- Stop in Trinidad, including Casa del Alfarero pottery studio, tour of Architecture Museum, Cigar Rolling, Church visit, lunch and more free time
- Lots of interesting information from our tour guide both at the destinations and on-board the coach