Trinidad and Tobago Journals

Trinidad Carnival

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A January 2008 trip to Trinidad and Tobago by MojoGoes

Maracas Beach Photo, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago More Photos
Quote: A week in Trinidad and Tobago for Carnival, the biggest party in the Caribbean

Trinidad Carnival

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Overview

Coast of Trinidad Photo, Trinidad and Tobago, Caribbean
Quote:
Trinidad and Tobago is not really your typical Caribbean island destination. While Trinidad maintains an industrialized feel, especially when compared to tiny Tobago and its ecological wonderland, their offerings are myriad and comparable to any destination in the Caribbean. Trinidad and Tobago were ruled by the Spanish, British, French, Dutch, and even Latvian governments, all of whom brought over slaves, indentured servants, colonists, and eventually prompted emigration from many other parts of the world. As a result, the islands maintain an exceptionally diverse population with a welcoming and accepting attitude. English and Spanish—and the patois developed from them—are the main languages on the i...Read More

COURTYARD PORT OF SPAIN

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Hotel | "Courtyard by Marriott"

Quote:
A five to ten minute drive from the center of Port-of-Spain (and most of the Carnival action), the Courtyard is convenient though not particularly scenic. The hotel property abuts a highway, across from which is the Hasely Crawford stadium where some of the pre-Mas events are held, but there are no views. It is next to a large mall which can provide decent shopping and dining, but nothing terribly authentic. The hotel itself is fantastic, and exactly what you’d expect of a well-run chain hotel. The staff is exceptionally courteous and helpful, and will answer any questions you might have. They can also call for taxis and maxis (minibuses) and even helped me arrange the collection of a credit card that...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on March 14, 2008

COURTYARD PORT OF SPAIN
Invaders Bay, Audrey Jeffers Highway
Port Of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago
(868) 627-5555

Woodford's

Restaurant

Quote:
In the mall next to the Marriott, there is a discount store, a movie theater, and a number of kitschy-looking stores. When I was there, the mall was undergoing a good deal of renovation and, towards the back, through the arched arcades, near the unfinished drywall and wiring, was a restaurant called Woodford’s. It has the feel of a tavern-meets-tropical-bar feel inside: brightly painted walls coupled with dark wood. The friendly and patient wait staff provides service that is good, though a bit slow, however, we were a large group, and you have to take into consideration that “island time” is in effect, regardless of the professionalism of the venue. Apparently, corn soup is a traditional dish in T&T,...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on March 14, 2008

Richard's Shark and Bake

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Restaurant

Richard's Bake and Shark Photo, Trinidad and Tobago, Caribbean
Quote:
This place could have been included in the Maracas review, but truly deserves its own. I’d never had shark in any form, so this was exciting for me. Richard’s is a typical Caribbean structure of low concrete and unassuming signage. Of course, the serpentine queue of human beings stretched out from beneath its small canopy gives Richard’s away instantly. Everybody goes there: locals, tourists, backpackers, surfers, writers, critics, and cool TV hosts/chefs. This is the place to be. A shark and bake is simply a fried shark meat sandwich, at least in description. In reality, ...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on March 14, 2008

Tribe Party

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Attraction

Carnival fireworks Photo, Trinidad and Tobago, Caribbean
Quote:
Each year, bands compete to be a part of Carnival and Mas. They write songs and dub old standbys, invading the airwaves months in advance of the festival. People then choose which band they want to be a ‘member’ of and to march with during Mas. We were part of Tribe, a popular band, known for great parties and costumes. On the Thursday before Carnival, Tribe had its opening party—one of many—at the Hasely Crawford Stadium across from our hotel, which was convenient. As you approach the entrance to the stadium, you can hear bass and steel pan drums and people. The atmosphere is very positive and, though there is some police presence, it is neither overwhelming nor unnerving; just enough to let...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on March 14, 2008

Kiddies Carnival

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Attraction

Lilipad Photo, Trinidad and Tobago, Caribbean
Quote:
Before Monday Mas and the grand poobah of parties that is Mas, there is Kiddies Carnival. Like normal Mas, it involves costumed groups and dancing. Unlike Mas, it forgoes the drink trucks and all day debauchery of the adults’ version. That said, this is way cuter. Children of all ages up until maybe 14 at the oldest get decked out in group costumes and huge, ornate pieces requiring harnesses and backpacks and dance and chip down the street. Their parents and older siblings escort them as onlookers cheer and try to get them to smile. Now, I don’t know how these kids learn to dance, but they put me to shame. Not only that, but when I was their age, I know I would not have been happy if my folks had aske...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on March 14, 2008

Panorama

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Attraction

Panorama Drummer Photo, Trinidad and Tobago, Caribbean
Quote:
Of all the things I did and saw in the week I was in Trinidad and Tobago, nothing impressed me more than Panorama. Trinidad is the home of the steel pan drum and soca music and calypso music both rely on it. It is such a distinct sound and, along with the bagpipe, is one of those instruments that universally conjure up images of a certain place. When you hear steel pans, you think of the Caribbean. Panorama is another contest between bands, judged by celebrities and local dignitaries as part of the Carnival celebration. Held at a large park with a grandstand, Panorama is another evening of dancing and drinking, though not quite to the extent of some of the others. A large stage dominates one half of t...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on March 14, 2008

Maracas Beach

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Attraction

Maracas Beach Photo, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago
Quote:
I’ve been to beaches all over the world and can easily say that this is one of my favorites. Maracas Bay sits on the north coast of Trinidad and is well protected both by its eponymous bay but also by Tobago to the northeast. To get there, you drive roughly an hour from Port of Spain (though probably a lot less without stops and not in a maxi) through the mountainous inner edge of the island along the narrow roads that are typical of the islands. The drive from Port of Spain is beautiful and once you get to the north shore, you are treated to sweeping views into peaceful valleys and, eventually out toward the sea. About 15 minutes before you reach Maracas, there is a nice overlook and rest stop. Bring...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on March 14, 2008

Maracas Beach

Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago

J'ouvert

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Attraction

Quote:
The official start to Carnival takes place before sunrise on Carnival Monday. This particular Carnival Monday happened to be directly after Super Bowl Sunday. Now, I was a little bit panicked having realized sometime in January, after I’d booked my trip, that I’d be in the Caribbean for such a serious American event. I also realized that Big Blue had a shot at making it. In the end, I had to tell myself that I’d rather be in Trinidad and have the Giants in the Super Bowl than be at home in New York watching some other team. We were spoiled by the brand new Hyatt Regency Waterfront, it had opened about three days prior, who ...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on March 14, 2008

Mas

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Attraction

Mas Madness Photo, Trinidad and Tobago, Caribbean
Quote:
Tuesday Mas is such a big deal in Trinidad that they have a practice run. Sort of like a rehearsal dinner at a wedding, where you don’t wear the full tux, and you don’t drink or dance quite as much, Monday Mas is held shortly after—as in a couple of hours after—J’ouvert. I’m skipping over Monday Mas for the most part because Tuesday Mas is just so much cooler. In fact, Mas is perhaps one of the more interesting experiences of my life. After Carnival Monday and all the partying that it entails, you’re bound to be exhausted. Once you tap out of the Monday Mas, get some rest. Seriously, you’re going to need it. On Tuesday morning, we woke up at another ungodly hour and donned our costumes. For t...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 14, 2008