Land of Soca

Aspects of my trip to Trinidad


Trinidad Transportation on the Cheap

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by Jodeci527 on December 13, 2012

Getting around in Trinidad by public transport is an adventure all by itself. On first glimpse, the system appears to be confusing and downright chaotic, and it takes a bit of time to get used to. I studied in Trinidad for a few months, and it took me over two weeks to really get a good understanding of the public transportation network.

I'm hoping that this review will help others who intend to visit the country, so that they can find their way around with greater ease than I did. The first thing that needs to be understood is that the system comprises of three main aspects: The route taxis, the maxi taxis and the PTSC buses.

The Route Taxis:

These are mainly cars or sometimes vans, and most can be distinguished by the letter H on the liscense plate. This type of public transportation are of the 'shared' variety. You would find these vehicles at any taxi stand, but they run regular routes for a nominal fee. For example, at the Trincity taxi stand, you can hop into any of the cars lined up there, and after the vehicle is full of passengers, the driver will take you to Trincity mall for $3 TT, which is the equivalent of $0.50 USD.

In the case of which a taxi is needed to take you somewhere off-route, such as to your hotel or guest house, this will cause a considerable hike in transportation cost. The price may jump from $0.50 to $5 - $10 USD.

Note of caution however, is that some of the vehicles which run on the routes are not licensed for taxi services. These are locals who are trying to earn a few bucks on the side, and I would advise visitors not to hire them.

Maxi Taxis:

These 'maxi taxis' are actually white buses with coloured bands. The colour of the band tells you what region of the country you are in, as well as the route that the maxi taxi is running on. Each bus has the names of the places between which it runs on a sign stuck on the windshield, so visitors shouldn't have a problem figuring out which one to board. The Red Band maxi taxi runs on the Priority Bus Route, and is the fastest way to get to the capital of Port of Spain from airport area of the country.

The reason why using maxi taxis get you around faster, is that no other vehicles are allowed on the bus route except for emergency units. This results in absolutely no traffic jams, and the fact that this method is very inexpensive makes it the best choice to get around in Trinidad. A 45 minute drive from the airport area to Port of Spain is only $2 USD.

PTSC Buses:

These belong to the Public Transport Service Corporation, and mostly consists of deluxe coaches. This is the most comfortable way to get from Port of Spain to the further flung destinations such as San Fernando, the other capital city which is located in the south of the nation.

These buses are large, with some seating over 60 persons. They are fully air conditioned with perks such as flat screen tvs and soft seats complete with matching window curtains. The price of this type of public transportation is $10 TT or $1.75 USD.

Summary:
Some visitors may rent a vehicle to get around in Trinidad, but for the budget traveller, I hope these tips will help to make your trip easier.

Harry's Fun For Everyone!

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by Jodeci527 on December 13, 2012

Trinidad is one of those few Caribbean islands, where becoming bored requires serious effort. There is always something going on regardless of the time of day. These activities cater for a wide age range, and one of the best family oriented attractions is none other than Harry's Water Park.

Located deep in the Southern section of the island, getting there either requires a personal rental car, or a vast amount of time and patience to undertake the journey by use of public transportation. I visited the water park with a large group of friends, so we hired a sizable taxi for the day. For the ten of us, we paid $100 TT each, or roughly $17 US for the trip.

The route to Harry's Water Park from Port of Spain took us through countless small villages via a long winding two way lane after we turned off from the national highway. Eventually, the view became really monotonous, so I highly recommend visitors to bring along a book or some other form of entertainment for the 3 hour long drive.

On arrival at the park, the vehicle had to be left in the customer parking lot, so we jumped out and walked up the small hill to the entrance gate. A security officer took our entrance fee of another $100 TT each and an additional $200 for us to rent a shed for the day. Total cost so far: $200 TT or $34 US individually, plus $20 TT or $3.50 US each for the shed rental.

There were a lot of attractions at the water park, and after consideration, we decided to try the paddle boats first. Each boat accommodated two persons, who would paddle and steer the vessel around a man-made lake. It was quite relaxing, apart from the time we got bumped from another boat! Definitely a gentle way to start the water soaking fun.

Since we had already been splashed, we made our way over to the water slides. Everyone had to use the public shower stalls available to ensure that we were slippery enough so that we wouldnt get stuck halfway down a slide. There were 4 large slides: three of which were adrenaline inducing, while the fourth had a more easy going pace.

Apart from the adult slides, there were several kiddie slides available, and from the loud cheers which we constantly heard throughout the day, I would say that the children had a blast! There were also the regular park attractions such as swings, see-saws and jungle bars, so if you intend to bring along your young ones, there's a lot to keep them busy.

At this point, we were all pretty hungry so we made our way to the cafeteria. There was a large selection of local food being prepared with lots of curried meats, barbequed chicken and fried fish, along with several sides to choose from such as seasoned rice, baked macaroni pie and steamed vegetables. Roti and other Indian treats were available for sale as well.

Harry's Water Park also serves as a small nature reserve. There was a zoo of sorts, with many of the resident wildlife, some of which we would have never have seen on our own. The nature reserve is included in the price of admission.

I had a great day at the park, and I encourage anyone who loves to have a big splash to take the drive down to the south of Trinidad to check it out for themselves.
Harry's Water Park
160 Tabaquite Road
Trinidad and Tobago, Caribbean

Great Food Every Time

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by Jodeci527 on December 10, 2012

Located right in the heart of one of the largest malls in Trinidad is the Trinicity branch of J. Malone's Irish Pub. The greatest draw of the pub in my opinion, is not necessarily the drinks, but rather, the food. The menu is sufficiently diverse, and offers a lot of international choices, in addition to several local dishes.

The pub has a laid back and unassuming ambience, and I absolutely enjoy eating there. The pub is quite spacious, and is capable of seating a relatively large number of person, as opposed to the majority of other eateries in the Trincity Mall.

The main layout of J. Malones Irish Pub consists of a large dark wooden bar with about a two dozen matching bar stools surrounding the counter. Along the walls of the room, and many other wooden tables and chairs, with different seating capabilties. The arrangement is organized, but not stringent enough to be classified as stuffy.

The menu is split into various sections such as appetizers, pastas, sandwiches, entrees and desserts.
The most decent appetizer that I've chosen from the menu thus far, is the chicken quesadilla. Four pieces of pita bread filled with a mouthwatering combination of grilled chicken, cheese, tomatoes, onions and various diced vegetables.

The quesadillas are served with two small containers of dipping sauces, one of ranch and the other of sour cream. I thoroughly enjoyed each bite, and it definitely did its job as an appetizer, as it opened my appetite for a larger meal.

The best meal that I've eaten at the pub so far, was the seafood pasta with linguine in alfredo sauce. The pasta was perfectly cooked, the sauce was nothing short of delectable and the seafood was tasty and in abundance. The portion was very decent, and I had to pace myself in order to eat most of the meal.

The constant ebb and flow of patrons in and out of the pub stands as a true testament to the commendable standard of the dishes which are served at J. Malones. However, depending on the time of day that you drop in, the majority of the customers may be at the bar.

The prices at J.Malones may be considered somewhat expensive from a local's point of view, however I found the costs to be quite decent, considering the portion and caliber of food being served. Appetizers are usually in the range of TT $33 or USD $5.50 , and my delightful quesadillas put me back a grand total of TT $55 or USD $9. Pastats start at TT $80 or USD $13.50, and my seafood hits the wallet with TT $110 or USD $18.

Of course, a pub wouldnt be a pub without the alcohol. Almost every drink which comes to mind, whether Caribbean or imported, can be ordered at J. Malones. The drinks are definitely overpriced in relation to the prices found on the streets, but for the comfort which you get when you relax at the pub, it's a price difference that I am more than willing to pay.

Examples of drinks and costs are as follows:
Long Island Iced Tea: TT$ 25 or USD $11.50
Heineken Beer TT $25 or USD $4
Pina Colada: TT $45 or USD $7.50

For great service, lovely ambience and food to make your tastebuds swoon, J. Malones Irish Pub is a worthy candidate. The price may not be the cheapest around, but your satisfaction is guaranteed, and I for one will continue to be a customer there.

Maracas Beach, Trinidad

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by Jodeci527 on December 10, 2012

There are a few spots in Trinidad which any local will insist that a visitor should go. One of these places is none other than Maracas Bay, the most visited beach on the island. Trinidad itself, is not a beach destination, as many oil rigs are scattered about the Western, Eastern and Southern coasts. However, that is not an issue in the North and that's where the famous Maracas Bay steps in.

My classmates and I had a day free from studies thanks to one of the many public holidays. Due to the many different resident ethnicities of the country (Caribbean, Indian and Chinese to name a few), Trinidad actually is one of the top 5 countries in the world with the most public holidays. The local students decided to organize a trip so that the foreign students such as myself could pay a visit to this beach which we've been hearing so much ago.

We set out from the town of Trincity, which made for a 2 hour drive to Maracas Bay. Maracas Bay is easily accessed by either public transportation (no more than $2 USD) or by using a rental car.

The journey could have been shorter on a regular day, but given that most locals had the day off, we weren't the only ones with the same intentions. Traffic was pretty dense in the urban areas of the country, but flowed freely once we were out of the city limits.

The drive to Maracas Bay was really lovely. Due to the fact that Trinidad is only a mere 7 miles off the coast of Venezuela, the vegetation was quite similar to what one would expect to find in South America. The many mountains that we passed along the way were blanketed in a sheet of greenery, which starkly contrasted against the deep blue Caribbean sky.

Suddenly, we crested a hill and the sea appeared out of seemingly nowhere. You could tell it was the Atlantic ocean, from the deep shade and the white foam caused by crashing waves. The weird thing about this journey, was the fact that although we were heading to the coast, the road was severely elevated to the point that we were driving through mist, before sloping a few metres from the shoreline.

We arrived at Maracas Beach where the party had started long before our 2pm arrival. Many booths were littered about the sand fringe, selling all the dishes indigenous to the country such as Doubles, Pholourie and Roti. You'd find most Trinidadians demolishing these meals with the local drink of choice 'Red Solo'. (This is a brand of red soft drink manufactured in Trinidad)

My classmates didn't eat any of the afore mentioned dishes. We came to Maracas Bay to sample Bake and Shark. This dish consisted of a large fried dumpling split in two, with a fillet of fried shark meat inside. It was served with lettuce and tomatoes, along with your choice of condiments including ketchup, mustard and the local shado beni sauce (shado beni is a leafy herb found in the West Indies).

We found an uncrowded spot on the beach and set up camp. Soca music pumped from the many speaker systems set up at various points on the shore. Children built sand castles, teenagers surfed on the waves which crashed on the beach and others like myself walked along the shoreline.

Indeed, this was not the type of beach that I've grown accustomed to from the various Caribbean Isle which I've visited. You won't find bright blue waters and colourful coral reefs. What you will see is a beach lined with palm trees, which is heaven for surfers and other water sport junkies.

You can still take a swim in the sea, but I would only recommend this to those who are pretty good swimmers. The main attraction at Maracas Beach is not the beach itself, but the culural explosion of food. Maracas Beach is a great place to hang out in Trinidad, and it's a great addition to any trip to the island.

King Room at the Crowne

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by Jodeci527 on December 10, 2012

I felt the need to review this hotel since my point of view significantly differs from the others posted on this site. I visited the Crowne Plaza hotel after it was remodelled, and I had a great stay there. I had no major issues with the room nor the building itself.

Lobby and Front Desk
The Lobby was really nice, immaculately clean and tastefully decorated. The polished tiled floor shone to the extent that it reflected all the overhead lights, thus adding to the golden ambiance of the room. There were several seats in the lobby for guests while they waited to be checked in.

I arrived just before a group of flight attendants, so I had to wait for quite a while before I was attended to. When my turn finally came about, the check-in process was quite swift, seeing that I didn't make a reservation in advance. After collecting my room card and the related documents, I took the lobby elevator to my room on the seventh floor.

The Room
I had booked a Deluxe Room with a King Bed and upon entering, the first thing I noticed was how spacious the room was. The air was fresh, indicating that it was recently cleaned and after a quick inspection, I decided that the staff did a thorough job. The bathroom was spotless with clean towels and all of the complimentary bath items were on the counter.

All of the usual furniture that one would expect was provided. There was a dressing table with a large flat screen television perched on top, and a small table and a swivel chair for guests who need to use a laptop or any such activities. A pair of soft arm cairs and a small coffee table completed the list of furnishings in the room. The bed was really comfortable, and provided a great night's rest, so definitely no grumbles here.

Service
I found the staff at the Crowne Plaza Hotel to be very helpful, and a few went the extra mile to assist me at times. The lady at the front desk answered all my questions about the Independence celebration that was taking place that very night as best as she could, and the security guard at the door organized a ride for me to check out the Independence fireworks. I didn't personally meet the cleaning staff, but their work spoke on their behalf.

Summary
The Crowne Plaza Hotel has been remodelled, and I highly recommend it to anyone who is visiting the island. The location is right in the middle of Central Port of Spain which makes getting around simple, the grounds are secure and the rooms are large and comfy.
Crowne Plaza Trinidad
WRIGHTSON RD AND LONDON ST
Port Of Spain
868-625-3366

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