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Day Two On Our Excursion To Santa Clara & Trinidad
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 Santa Clara And Trinidad, Day 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 spotless. We had all the usual things like a safe and TV, free toiletries, air conditioning and boiling running water. The bathroom was a bit like a walk-in shower room, again exceptionally clean.
With breakfast ate 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. They founded the town back in 1514. Nowadays the town’s primary 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 Cuba’s most famous potters. It was located just on the outskirts of the principal 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 further into this blog.
Cigars, Churches & Cocktails
Next they took us 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 beautiful and held some great artefacts. Worth a look yourself if you visit. There is also an archaeology museum here too, but we missed that and didn’t realise it was there until after we returned 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 used 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 proudly over Plaza Mayor, the main square. They built it during the late 19th century and is home to a statue of Christ that was supposed to be installed in a church in Veracruz, Mexico. The ship, whose cargo included the statue, turned back several times from its journey due to foul weather. It finally made it to Mexico 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. They say it’s the country’s 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 delicious 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. They traditionally served the drink in small clay cups, like the ones we bought from Casa del Alfarero mentioned above.
Time To Explore Beautiful Trinidad
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 Iglesia y Convento de San Francisco, which is home to 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 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 offers.
Adios Trinidad, Thank You For Some Incredible Memories
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 total 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 (approx £120 each). This included everything below. Since writing this blog, Thomas Cook went into liquidation. However, the brand was since bought, and is now an online-only travel website.
- 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