One of the main reasons I started my blog is because of Trinidad. When researching and planning my travels, there was not a whole lot of information (unless it was about Carnival). I had to do a lot of research and reach out to my one Trinidadian friend (luckily I had one) to really get a good itinerary. With very low expectations, I was blown away by the beauty the island had to offer. I truly wish I could have stayed longer to explore more and do some hiking and zip lining in the gorgeous mountains!
Without further ado … Trinidad through the eyes of the wanderlusting yogi
This trip included myself and three of my friends and we were in Trinidad for two days.
We were flying in from Tobago on a Sunday afternoon. The most stressful part of our trip was at arrival, but in all reality, was not too bad. Our Inn had made arrangements for us to be picked up by a Caribbean Experience driver. The Inn said the driver would be waiting for us with a collared shirt that had the company logo and a name sign. We get our luggage and look around for the driver, which was no where to be found. Thank goodness I had screenshot the information from my email before leaving the states since the WIFI at the airport was not working. My one friend had an international calling plan on her phone and was able to call the company (This was the first time travelling abroad I was happy to have a phone that worked … if you are willing to spend the extra money, it could be worth it to have phone access). After a few phone calls, the company finally arrived about 30 minutes late and sent the wrong size vehicle. Needless to say, we were packed like sardines, but all four of us girls fit and our four bags of luggage.
We arrived at Inn at 87 in the Woodbrook district in the Port of Spain. We picked this Inn for the decent price and proximity to Ariapita Avenue, or as the locals refer to “the Avenue”, which is where all the nightlife happens. It was around a 15 minute walk to the Avenue. The room was snug for 4 girls, but very clean and cute. The Inn has tea and coffee in the lobby area throughout the day, which was great upon check-in for a quick (and free) caffeine boost. Breakfast was included and we had made-to-order eggs, toast, choice of breakfast meat, and fresh fruit. Perfect fuel for adventuring. Breakfast is over at 10am everyday, and one morning we were a little slow to get moving and they still made sure we had breakfast after the time. The staff was very friendly and helpful with recommendations. Just FYI, they do charge for late checkout (checkout is at 11am). All in all, I would definitely stay with Inn at 87 again!
To begin our exploration, we sought out a quick snack. Around the corner from Inn at 87 was Bob’s convenience store. We had yummy beef patties. Perfect stop for snacks, beverages, and some medicine (I needed cold medicine and they had my favorite brand for cheaper than the U.S. … Bob’s saved my nose and my hangry attitude). We begin walking around and very quickly realize two things … there is trash everywhere and Sunday in Trinidad is a day of rest. Almost all the restaurants and bars were closed. We walked down to the Avenue and only found one bar open (Captain’s Tavern) so we stopped in for a Trinidadian Carib (local beer). It was perfect timing because we all were hot and tired from walking around trying to find something open. Air conditioning and ice cold beer rejuvenated us all!
Realizing there really was nothing happening, we walked to Queen’s Park Savannah. I read about this spot on TripAdvisor. Fortunately, it was close to our Inn (I would have been annoyed if I paid a driver to take us there), because it was nothing but burnt grass and Rastafarians. We stood under a banyan tree and looked around confused as to why this is a top tourist attraction. We found out later that during Carnival, it is the main location for liming. People will also use it for recreation and setting up street vendors. Locals will go there to breath the fresh air from the few trees. I do think my runny nose stopped while under the banyan tree! Maybe it is a miracle location.
At this point we are starting to think we may go to bed hungry. On our way back to the Inn, we spot an open restaurant, that was not Chinese food. We have never been so excited! We go into Trotters and it is comparable to a nicer sports bar. Our waitress was extremely friendly. She gave us samples of Callaloo (a Trinidadian soup) and even gave us her friends number who is a driver. She told us he has drove around celebrities on the island, and is very safe and reliable. Trotter’s was like a one stop shop. We had good food and arranged a driver for the next day. Can’t get much easier than that!
We wake up ready to see what Trinidad has to offer. After a Sunday in Port of Spain, we all were not sure what to expect of the day. My expectations were low, but being a yogi, I stay positive and hope for the best. The receptionist asked what our plans were for the day and we explain how we have a driver coming to show us around. She gave us a look of concern. We left her with the name of our waitress, the restaurant name, and our drivers number. She said she would come looking for us if we did not return. Very comforting way to start the day. However, I did have faith in her detective skills.
Much to our surprise, our driver, Kevin, was FABULOUS. He picked us up, exactly on time … which does not happen very often in the United States. We drive high into the mountains to our first stop at Fort George. This is a small fort, compared to other ones I have been to. However, the view from the top of the mountain is gorgeous. The view is looking down on all of Port of Spain and the ocean. Fort George has a little house, jail, and cannons to look at. There are also picnic benches, which would make a cute place for a romantic or family picnic. The best part is the fort is FREE to visit. Definitely worth the drive up the steep mountain and make sure to sign the guest book inside the house!
Upon leaving Fort George, Kevin asks us if we have tried any Trini food. We explain how we have not, besides the callaloo sample. Once off the mountain, Kevin takes us right to D’Bess Roti Shop. He comes in with us and orders our Roti for us. Roti is a dough like bread and you dip it in different sides. Kevin ordered us a sampler platter with 5 different sides (curry chicken, potatoes with chickpeas, mango, pumpkin, and a green vegetable, which I believe was called dasheen). It was a amazing. Each side had a different flavor and spice, but it all went together wonderfully. Roti is a must in Trinidad. FYI, there are not a lot of sit down Trinidadian restaurants, so to eat all their delicious dishes, you need to find small, take out restaurants … and I promise, it is worth it!
Our journey continues to Maracas Beach. On the outskirts of the beach, there is a scenic lookout with amazing views of the ocean and mountains. And in my opinion, this combination of scenery is my favorite. It always takes my breath away! We stop and take pictures.
There is also a food stand and Kevin had the sweet lady, Sandra, explain all the different Trinidadian delicacies and history to us. She also gave us samples of different flavored prunes that they import from China, and spiced pineapple and mango.
We drive down the mountain into the valley. And we reach Maracas Beach. It was stunning. Mountain view three-fourths of the way around, then the ocean! I could have stayed there forever in pure bliss. I did some beach yoga, took pictures, and took in the beauty. FYI … to use the restroom, it will cost $1TT, but there is a free foot wash outside of the restroom.
Before leaving, we walked across the street and went to the famous Richard’s Bake and Shark. Bake and Shark is the Taj Mahal of sandwiches. The bread is a fried flat bread type, nothing I have had before, filled with fried shark. I am not saying this is healthy. Once you get the Bake and Shark, you can add different sauces and toppings. I added a mango slaw, a regular slaw, a garlic sauce, a fruit sauce (I cannot remember the name of it), tomatoes and pepper sauce (this sauce is HOT, be careful not to add too much). After doing some mouth stretches to prepare for this giant creation, I took my first bite. It was like nothing I have tried before. The shark meat was tender and mild flavored, and paired with all the different toppings was a blast of heavenly flavor. Between the landscape and cuisine, I had found my happy place!
Unfortunately, Kevin had planned for us to go on a bird sanctuary tour, so we could not stay at Maracas forever. On the drive to our next destination, I was trying to figure out how I could move to Trinidad and eat bake and shark daily. Maybe in retirement that dream can come true!
We arrive at Nanan’s Bird Sanctuary Tours at exactly 4pm. We hopped on the boat and set off down the Caroni Swamp. This tour is two and a half hours from 4:00-6:30pm. Not knowing much about this tour, I sat back and enjoyed the safari type atmosphere. Along the way, we saw a snake in the tree, blue herons, egrets, screeching owls, and mangroves with oysters hanging from the bottom. We learned about the swamp environment and about the animals and vegetation we were seeing and not seeing. I wanted to see a caiman, which is in the alligator family!
We finally make it to the grande finale. It was a large open space and thousands of scarlet ibis (bright red bird) are flying to the same area where they all sleep at night. It was incredible to see so many of the same birds flying in from all different directions. It was a fascinating experience. FYI … I only had my GoPro with me, and I wish I would have had my regular camera that I could zoom with. We could not get too close to the birds without disturbing them, so you would want a camera with a zoom. One man had a professional camera and the pictures he was shooting were spectacular.
We head home to shower and Kevin says he will come back for us! He truly was such a hospitable man! He takes us to Movie Town because the Avenue restaurants would have been closing (however, when we drove down he Avenue, there were people out at some of the bars). Back to Movie Town (a place with different shops and restaurants), we ate at Zanzi Bar, which I would not recommend. We each got different sandwiches but the bread was stale, the chicken sandwich was dry, and my shrimp sandwich barely had any shrimp. Please skip this restaurant. Kevin takes us home and we pack for our flight back to the states.
Check out was 11am, and our flight wasn’t until 4pm, so Kevin picked us up and took us to the Trin City Mall, which is right next to the airport. A nice place to shop around, buy souvenirs, and get some food before going to the airport.
Once at the airport, we were told to try Kentucky Fried Chicken. It is supposed to be a trillion times better than the United States. I had KFC in Jamaica and it was better, but Kevin said it is even better than Jamaica because of the Trinidadian spices. However, the line was too long and we didn’t want to miss our flight. Just another reason to return! Once through security there is nothing but one store selling souvenirs and snacks. There is also a stand selling sandwiches and beef pies/patties. I got beef patties and the girls got beef pies. We are on the airplane and I eat the beef pattie and it was not good at all … but the girls eat the beef pie and find mold on the meat. Seeing that made my stomach turn, but moral of the story, DO NOT GET FOOD FROM THAT STAND! I am thankful for not getting sick on the flight home!
After a couple days, it truly was not enough time. Trinidad was an amazing country. As long as you keep an open mind and enjoy the beauty the island has to offer, you will have a wonderful experience.
- Mr. Kevin Peters (Driver) firstname.lastname@example.org