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Spanish in Trinidad

How to Spend Your Downtime in Trinidad

A Colonial Dreamland

Parque

In terms of orientating yourself there are two key central hubs to Trinidad, the Casco Historico's Plaza Mayor and the Parque de Céspedes a little further south. The Plaza Mayor in the Old Quarter is the epitome of colonial architecture of a golden age when sugar and tobacco flowed and the city's newly wealthy inhabitants began decorating the city with grand mansions, decadent palaces and ornate churches. People come here to soak up the other worldly ambience and grab a few moments respite beneath the shade of the leafy palm trees.

One of the best things to do when you arrive in Trinidad in order to embark on your Spanish language course, is to simply go for a wander through the streets. Trinidad is a compact town and there are no cars allowed in the cobbled streets of the Casco Historico making exploration on foot very easy. The area in general is a colonial architecture dreamland with neo-Baroque buildings and luxurious mansions. The decline in the sugar trade led to a lack of development of the old part of the city, which you will probably come to realise as you move around the town from one beautiful construction to another, has turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

On the north east edge of the Plaza you will find the Iglesia de la Santsima Trinidad whose simple exterior should not fool you. Inside you will find some truly breathtaking and ornate Gothic designs and elaborate alters. On the other side of the Plaza you will find the Museum of Arquitectura Trinitaria, housed in two conjoined mansions and filled with examples of 18th and 19th Century upper class architecture from the sugar boom years in Trinidad. A few blocks away from the Plaza Mayor is one of Trinidad's perhaps most recognisable and certainly most photographed buildings, the former Convent of San Francisco de Ass with its pretty yellow bell tower. It now houses the Museum of the Struggle Against the Counter-Revolutionaries, an interesting collection of maps, weapons and photos relating to the struggle of the groups of counter-revolutionaries in the years following Fidel Castro's takeover.

Street

Also nearby is the Romantic Museum, enclosed in the Brunet Palace, an old colonial mansion. It has many interesting displays of furniture, porcelain and various bits and bobs from the colonial period. Another mansion nearby with a totally different objective is Canchancharas, named after the specialty local cocktail drink that it sells in its tavern, made with honey, lime and raw rum. It also sells some traditional souvenirs for those essential suitcase fillers. More of these can also be found at the artesanal market in the colonial old centre.

Sugar Cuban

If you fancy getting out of the town for a bit then there is plenty to do on its outskirts. As most of the sugar production took place in three valleys just outside of Trinidad, collectively called Valle de los Ingenios, there are numerous tours on offer that will take you to the site where once there were 70 operating sugar mills and around 30,00 slaves working in them. Whilst many of the old plants are now in ruins if you head to the Manaca-Iznaga Estate you will be able to see a lot of remnants from the era such as slave quarters, the bell used to call them to and from work and an old manor house. This area is now a UNESCO protected site and of much importance in the history of Trinidad. Without it, Trinidad would probably not exist today, or at the very least it would look a lot different.

Cigars

Another industry that has shaped modern day Cuba is that of Tobacco. In Trinidad you will find a quaint little tobacco workshop called Piro Guinart Fbrica de Tabacos (it isn't really big enough to be called a factory or to allow tours) and you can take a peek in and see the rolling of the famous Cuban cigars live and direct. A lot of the time in Trinidad, between the still very much alive traditional industries, or at least very much alive memories of them, and the cobbled streets and colonial buildings everywhere you look, you could be forgiven for thinking you had stepped back in time. To truly take indulge in this feeling to the maximum, why not take a spin around the old quarter in a horse and cart, taking in the pleasant patrimonial surroundings in the most traditional form of transport available.

Away from the town's activities, Trinidad is in an ideal location to enjoy both the beach and a bit of nature while you are there for a Spanish language course. The beach of Playa Ancon awaits you only 15 kilometres away with its heavenly caribbean sandy stretches and sunbathing opportunities. Also within easy reach is the Topes de Collantes Natural Park which has numerous tourist areas suitable for hiking, running, swimming in cooling streams and pools, scenic trails and energetic waterfalls

Time spent at one of the Spanish language schools in Trinidad is definitely time well spent. You will get to see and experience not only modern Cuba, but also its past, its friendly locals and its warm and welcoming vibe, and all of this on top of picking up some Spanish skills!