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Trip report - activities, dining reviews, lodging.

Saint Paul...
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Trip report – activities, dining reviews, lodging.

My wife and I recently returned from a wonderful trip to Trinidad and Tobago.

This is our Trinidad Trip Report. I have posted the Tobago report in that forum.

This report includes reviews of the activities we did while on the island, reviews of the restaurants where we dined, and a review of our accommodations.

Accommodations:

We stayed at a small, private home/villa in Tunapuna called Papaya House (www.homeaway.com/vacation-rental/p95207).

The home was just as advertised on the web site. The rental was about 8 miles from Port of Spain, but was one of the very few rentals we could find on the entire island that had its own private pool.

The rental was well equipped and clean, and was a great place close enough to town, but far enough away from the crowds.

The accommodations were not luxurious by any means, but were very comfortable for the price. We wished that the bed was king sized and had a bit softer mattress, but it was okay. The sofa and love seat were also a bit hard and uncomfortable – but we did not spend much time on them.

We thought that being in a local neighborhood, that we would have access to a lot of local dining options for dinner, but unfortunately that was not the case. While there are many roti shops and local food available in the area during the day, most restaurants close in the afternoon and are not open for dinner. It seemed that only the Chinese and fast food places were open in the evening. It was a real surprise to learn how much the locals seem to love fast food chicken and Chinese food. We learned that the KFC in POS was the busiest franchise in the entire world – they even deliver to your home!

We had to go into the Port of Spain area for real, evening dining.

While the location was a bit far from POS, it was not a problem because the local caretaker, Michael, was available every day to provide personal taxi services for us. He took us everywhere we needed to go and basically gave us door to door service for no more than the price of a rental car. Check out the activities section of this report for some of the places he drove us. He also provide transportation from/to the airport.

Thanks, Michael for your services and for sharing the wealth of information about the island.

When renting the unit, the owner was very responsive and timely in getting back to us and all aspects of renting the villa were quick and easy. She was always willing to answer any questions we might have and was even kind enough to ensure that we had some basic food supplies when we arrived to the island.

Restaurant/dining comments - these are also posted on Trip Advisor in the restaurant section.

Veni Mange:

We had a great dinner here. While the restaurant is open for lunch most days, it is only open for dinner on Wednesdays and Friday. So, plan a meal here on one of those days. We dined one Friday and arrived about 10 minutes before they opened. The doors were locked and we had to wait until they unlocked the doors for diners to enter. Since we were the first to arrive, we were able to have the pick of the tables in the colorful dining room. We chose a table by the window.

The dinner was as good as we expected (this is supposed to be one of THE places to eat in POS). We started with callalloo soup ($35tt). We had never had this before and it was FANTASTIC – one of the best tasting soups we have ever had (almost as good as a famous lobster bisque we once had in Boston, Massachusetts).

We had the salt-fish appetizer ($40tt) and had the creole lamb ($145tt) and red snapper ($155tt) for our entrees. Both were very tasty and came with sides of macaroni pie, plantains, chick peas, beans and rice, garlic/buttered vegetables. For dessert, we had the mango/soursop sherbet – an interesting tasting combination. The wine list is really nothing to speak of – just a couple of choices – we stuck with a couple of Caribs.

The service was good. The owner stopped by twice to see how we were doing.

Certainly worth planning a dinner here when on Trinidad.

This is the only true local restaurant where we ate dinner at (see comments about this under accommodations). If we had time, other places that were on our list to try were Sweet Lime and Verandah.

Activities:

We were only on the island for 5 days. Since we wanted to spend a couple days by the pool to start our tans, read and relax, we had to pack a lot of sightseeing into a couple of days.

Our villa caretaker, Michael, drove us everywhere we needed to go. The first afternoon, he drove us up to the St. Benedict Monastery where we had a great view of the valley. It had been quite dry and there were a few grass fires that we could see – some very close by, and others off in the distance.

He then drove us over to the Caroni Bird Sanctuary/Swamp tour. We took the tour ($10US/each) in the afternoon to see the flocks of Scarlet Ibis returning to the trees to roost for the night. The boat tour in the swamp is really nothing special, but it is very relaxing and is interesting if you have never seem mangrove trees before. The time to get to where the Ibis roost was well worth the trip. What a sight – seeing hundreds of birds flying in high and low to roost in the trees for the night. A truly unique experience.

We took this tour from Nanan’s. When planning our trip, they were the most responsive to our emails than the other vendors. Their tour guide was informative and their boats were clean and comfortable.

On another day, Michael provided an island tour for us and drove us around much of the northwest part of the island. The tour took about six hours – a lot of driving, but a number of stops and some great sights.

He drove us up through the rain forest for some great pictures up in the hills and explained how the mining companies were tearing up many of the hills and accounted for some rough parts of the road.

We made a quick pit stop at the home of Michael’s friend so we could use the restroom. We then stopped at Blanchisseuse for a stroll on the beach and a refreshing Carib and visit with the owners of the Laguna Mar beach hotel.

We stopped for pictures at Las Cuevas Bay and then lunch at Maracas Bay. We think Las Cuevas was a prettier beach than Maracas, but of course Maracas has the great shark & bake. We did stop at Richard’s for the shark & bake and a couple of Caribs. The sandwich was one of the best fish sandwiches I have tasted. There are 3 or 4 other vendors that sell shark & bake and we really would like to have had time to try them all – we heard that they are all very good – some may even be better than Richard’s.

We drove all the way out to Chaguaramas and also stopped at Queen Anne Savannah.

We had our hearts set on seeing some steel pan bands, but to our dismay, most of these take a much needed break after Carnival and it is very hard to find one playing anywhere on the island. Michael did some checking around and we were fortunate to listen to the PCS Silver Stars practicing on the night we were in POS for dinner. While it was great to hear them play most of one entire song, it was nothing compared to what one might hear during Carnival or in the time leading up to Carnival. Michael told us how large these bands (orchestras actually) are (100 players) and how hard they work to prepare for the Carnival. He said it is truly majestic to hear a full orchestra during competition. I guess I need to find a CD of one of these orchestras and listen to what I have been missing!

General Comments:

We flew into Trinidad on Caribbean Air. I am so glad we chose them for a leg of our flight. They were like the airlines of years ago – no cost to check baggage and they provided a hot meal, beverage and movie at no additional cost! Their check in process was quick and easy and their counter staff and flight attendants were friendly. We were able to sit in exit rows on each leg of our flight. Certainly the only way to fly in coach class these days – nice job!

We were surprised to learn how many earthquakes occur in the area. While we were on the island there were two small quakes (3.8 and 4.8).

We did not feel them, but read about them in the newspaper.

The island is certainly very large and has a lot of people and traffic. It is hard to believe it is an island in the Caribbean. I am glad we had someone to drive us around.

We had a lovely visit, but prefer the quietness of Tobago.

Toronto, Canada
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11. Re: Trip report – activities, dining reviews, lodging.

I agree. This should be reported. If care had been taken with regard to Bucco Reef and all the elements that have almost destroyed it were considered, the reef would not be in the condition it is today.

12. Re: Trip report – activities, dining reviews, lodging.

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