San Fernando On a BudgetAs the industrial capital of Trinidad & Tobago, San Fernando is an oil city which attracts more business visitors than tourists. While it is primarily focused on industry, the city has a certain charm with its old buildings and sloping streets that frame pretty views of the sea. It is the big city of Trinidad's southern half with plenty to offer in nightlife, especially during Carnival.
SightsThe centerpiece to the city is San Fernando Hill, also known as Naparima Hill or simply "The Hill" to locals. Lying at the center of San Fernando, the Hill reaches nearly 200 meters high with a summit featuring shaded picnic tables, a children's playground, cafe, public toilets, and several lookouts from which visitors can enjoy the views.
RegionsSan Fernando has a strong Indian influence throughout the city. The majority of the population is Indian and Chinese, but there is also a strong Latino presence due to the city's close proximity to Venezuela. Because of these influences, San Fernando's culture, flavors, and ambiance are very reminiscent of India. It is easy to get lost in the labyrinth of (largely unmarked) streets. While most of these are lined with charming old houses and Hindu temples, it is a very industrial city due to its chemical and Petrol economy. Bordered by the Gulf of Paria on one side and the San Fernando Hill on the other, the city's compact center can be easily negotiated on foot, with most of the historical sights, shops, and transportation hubs located on and around Harris Promenade, a broad boulevard running west from the main junction called Library Corner. There are also plenty of shopping opportunities on the nearby High Street.
ActivitiesYear-round, San Fernando features a slew of high-class bars, restaurants, and clubs alongside many local options for dining, drinking, and partying. Common to the rest of the island nation, San Fernando is especially active during the celebration of Carnival. 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.
Since the city is mainly one rooted in industry, it is common for visitors to venture out towards other parts of the island. Port of Spain, for example, is Trinidad's thriving city of the north. It has plenty to offer within its limits as well as easy access to other parts of the island. It is also in close proximity to the beaches of the northern coast. Some of the more popular of these beaches include Maracas, Tyrico, Las Cuevas, Toco, Mayaro, Chagville, Los Iros, and Quinam - most of which are beautiful with powdery sand and clear blue water. There are also many beach resorts on the neighboring island of Tobago.
Food and DiningCuisine 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 barbequed, 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. Due to its high Indian population, there is also an abundance of authentic Indian restaurants.
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