As a lover of maximising my time in a destination we opted to fly from London to Dublin late Friday night to be ready to begin our week long Irish trip on Saturday morning. That plan worked perfectly apart from the fact our hotel (as gorgeous as it was) basically became a night club on a Friday and Saturday night.
We woke a little tired but ready to get going. Of course, first up was some food as exploring on an empty stomach is never a good idea. TripAdvisors number one place for breakfast was a small place called The Beanhive which was a short walk from our hotel through St Stephen’s Green. When we arrived it was packed, luckily for us just across the road was a place called Tang.
It was a very instagram friendly place with wooden benches outside and an open kitchen inside. We opted for two different versions of avocado on toast. One with toast and one with a sweet potato rosti. They were both excellent and we were a very disappointed the next day when we returned to find it shut!
Cuba is overwhelming, it is a culture shock for those of us who live in the UK, they speak a foreign language and the weather in warm. All in all after 2 weeks of on the go travel we knew we would need a rest. We went to an all inclusive resort in Mexico for our honeymoon so thought we would give it another go.
Varadero is renowned for being the all inclusive centre of Cuba. It’s not far from Havana and is set up on its own little spit away from the rest of Cuba. We were a little dubious that the American orientated resorts wouldn’t be what we were looking for but for 3 days what was the harm!
We opted for a bungalow rather than being in a hotel block, which had its advantages as it gave us more space and somewhere to relax if we’d had enough of people but it was a little walk (or golf cart) away from the main areas.
As I mentioned in post about what to do while you’re in Trinidad, it stole my heart. I still think about spending time there now and it was 100% my favourite place in Cuba.
So, you know how to spend your time there but what to do when you fancy stopping for some food and drink?
Small disclaimer – I am rubbish at taking photos food and drink and I am not a food blogger so you’ll have to take my word on some things – or go and visit yourself!!!
Where to eat
Trinidad has its fair share of restaurants, some of our favourites were Giroud, Los Conspiradores, La Redaccion and Taberna El Barracon.
If you’re looking for some pizza or Italian food then head to Giroud. Great little place with interesting interiors and hanging tables. The menu is written on a blackboard on one wall and they quite often have live music.
We opted for a couple of pizzas while we were there, they were pretty good (obviously not Italian standard) but the cocktails left much to be desired.
Part of Trinidad’s charm is that it’s a small city that has plenty of roads to wander, parks to sit in and architecture to admire. It also has its fair share of museums and things to do but if I’m honest my favourite thing was just sitting and watching the world go by.
I feel head over heels for Trinidad. We spent a good few days here so got to know it’s streets and it’s quirks more than the other places we had visited.
National Museum of the Fight Against Bandits
This museum is recognised more for it’s iconic tower that dominates the skyline as its highest viewpoint.
The museum itself does have some interesting exhibits around Cuba’s history with revolutions, in particular the events in the mountains between 1959 and 1965. The tower is what you want to go for though. Climb to the top and get some incredible views over the city.
I have to remember that comfort zones are there to be stood outside of. Becoming braver has enabled me to see the world. I still panic, I still have anxiety and at least one meltdown per trip BUT without that I wouldn’t feel the highs.
Much like Cienfuegos, Trinidad is a great place to base yourself for some day trips. We ventured to Santa Clara and also into the sugar mill area around just outside of Trinidad.
Our first stop on our half day excursion was the lookout point at Mirador del Valle de los Ingenios. A great stop where you can climb up to the top of the hill and look out over the Cuban countryside.
If you’re up to it you can take a zip line for another angle on the view. If I had one regret from our time in Cuba it was that I didn’t partake in the zip lining!
It’s important to remember that travel can make you complacent. It can make you view the world in a skewed way, just catching a glimpse of a place or a few weeks in a country. Stereotypes can build. It isn’t just for those who stay at home.
Santa Clara is located in almost the centre of Cuba in the province of Villa Clara. It was founded in 1689 but is perhaps most well known for its part in the Che Guevara story.
Santa Clara is home to the last battle of the Revolution in 1958, two groups of guerilla fighters attached the city to gain control. One group was led by Camilo Cienfuegos and the other by Che Guevara. They first gained control of the Formeto garrison and then destroyed the railway line to derail a train full of supplies sent by Batista. They managed to gain control of the city and Bastita fled the country 12 hours later.
As a short trip from Trinidad (1.5 hour drive) its worth a day trip or a stop on the way to your next Cuban adventure.
The further outside Havana you get the less and less tourists you find. If you head all the way down to Santiago-de-Cuba then you’ll barely find any.
One stop that is popular but not as much as nearby Trinidad is Cienfuegos. A small town that’s had a varied history. A UNESCO heritage site known as the Pearl of the South, it’s famous for its French architecture that populates most of the town. It’s different and a refreshing change from the Spanish influenced towns of Cuba.
You could easily spend a few days here, we spent 36 hours exploring that was a perfect amount of time. So, what should you do with your 36 hours, I’d recommend a good dose of wandering but here are my top things to do.