Port-of-Spain On a Budget
Located on the northwest coast of Trinidad island, Port of Spain is the capital of the Caribbean island nation Trinidad & Tobago. It is a hub of activity, especially during the celebration of Carnival for which the island nation is famous.
Located at the center of the city is The Queen's Park Savannah, a circular park with a circumference of about 3.5 kilometers. It is a frequent leisure spot for pedestrians, especially popular around sunset. With traffic circulating clockwise around the park, it is also one of the world's largest traffic circles. Near the park are the Royal Botanical Gardens which display plants from around the world including 700 species of trees. Established in 1818, these are some of the oldest gardens in the Caribbean. The area of the gardens also encompasses the Emperor Valley Zoo. Another sight, also near Queen's Park, is the "Magnificent Seven" - a row of extravagant mansions dating from about 1900.
Other attractions include the waterfront skyscraper called the International Waterfront Centre, the unique building which houses the National Academy for Performing Arts, and the many beaches of Trinidad's northern coast. Don't miss the National Museum and Art Gallery which holds a permanent collection of displays for Carnival, life during the World War II, and artifacts from the country's earliest settlers, the "Amerindians". The museum also features leading local and international artists, changing exhibits throughout the year.
While Port of Spain does not cater to tourism, it has flourished as an industrial city and has developed to embody an atmosphere like no other Caribbean city. Due to the lack of tourism there are not a great number of designated sightseeing locations, but the downtown area is vibrant with market stalls and plenty of shady squares. The main shopping area of the downtown is located between Frederick Street and Charlotte Street, running south to Independence Square. Also thriving is the district of Woodbrook which hosts a number of busy restaurants, bars, and clubs in addition to many parks and impressive architecture. For nightlife, Saint James, just north of Woodbrook, is considered to be "the city that never sleeps" by locals.
Vacationers who travel to the area often head right to the resorts of Tobago for an easy-going beachside holiday of rest and relaxation. There are also a number of beach locations along the northern coast of Trinidad that are within reach for those visiting Port of Spain. Some of the more popular beaches along the north coast include Maracas, Tyrico, Las Cuevas, Toco, Mayaro, Chagville, Los Iros, and Quinam - most of which are beautiful with powdery sand and clear blue water. Beyond beach-going and seaside leisure activities, the annual festival of Carnival is one of the most well-known attributes of Trinidad and Tobago. Each year on Carnival Sunday a competition is held to award the King and Queen of Carnival. Then on the Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday during the season of Lent, thousands of costumed merrymakers parade on the streets for an annual street party. They are accompanied by music from steel bands, with calypso and soca music played on large loudspeakers.
Food and Dining
Cuisine of Trinidad and Tobago is a unique blend of influences, largely African, Amerinidian, British, Creole, French, Indian, and Spanish. One specialty dish of the culture is side called callaloo, which is both creamy and spicy made from ingredients like taro leaves, okra, crab or pig tail, thyme, pumpkin, pimento, onions, coconut milk, and other local herbs and spices. As a side dish, callaloo is often served with cornmeal, plantain, cassava, sweet potatoes, dumplings, and curried crab. A rice and meat dish called pelau is also common as is stewed chicken, macaroni pie, and oxtail. The three main methods of cooking are curried, stewed, or barbecued, while meals are often accompanied by condiments like pepper sauces, chutneys, and pickles. Dining options in the city are diverse and range from street snacks to restaurants serving traditional food, western fast food chains to markets selling fresh produce.
The main airport serving the city is Piarco International Airport, located on Trinidad, approximately 25 kilometers southeast of Port of Spain. Direct air service is available from Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Houston, Orlando, New York (JFK), and Newark, from the United States, as well as Toronto from Canada, London from the UK, Caracas and Porlomar from Venezuela, Panama City from Panama, Paramaribo form Suriname, Georgetown from Guyana, Barbados, and other islands in the Caribbean. From the airport, buses are available for transportation into the city.