Saturday, June 8, 2013

Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, Caribbean

Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, West Indies
The Heart of Trinidad and Tobago

By Daniel Maharaj


The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, located on the northern most edge of South America, is home to one of the most vibrant, festive and lively cities in the world, Port of Spain. It is here that a melting pot of the multicultural and multi-ethnic diversity of the country is displayed, in all its colourful glory. Port of Spain boastfully prides itself with being the capital of Trinidad and Tobago, a title it is worthy of possessing. The capital city has greatly shaped the country into being what it is to the Caribbean region, a gem! A population of approximately 50,000 people; Trinidad and Tobago has a total population of 1.3 million people; and with residents from other parts of the country visiting (they’re mostly likely jealous) the capital, means that Port of Spain is always buzzing with activity. This has no doubt contributed to making it the heart of Trinidad and Tobago, without it the country would just be, well, ordinary. A question that most tourists ask is what makes Port of Spain worth visiting? Well its people, transportation, food, nightlife, sites and festivals! Let’s enjoy some of what Port of Spain has to offer.

The City and It’s People

In any city, its people are the nucleus and this fact is true about Port of Spain. Upon entering the city, one can get a sense of hustle and bustle, but at the same time a prevailing attitude that life is too short to waste. Streets are filled with vendors trying to make ends meet, people hurrying off to work (everyone knows that Trinidadians are usually always late); while still there are those whose time is best spent enjoying the atmosphere to a refreshing beverage. The traffic is usually heavy, causing citizens to leave home early, only to realise that others were thinking along their lines. Vehicular traffic is not the only traffic in the city, as human traffic is quite heavy as well, this being even more so on Fridays when the streets are rammed pack with pedestrians; probably shopping, heading home from work or doing what ‘Trinis’ (local term for Trinidadians) do best, party. One would do well to be very cautious around the city at this time and even more so at night (like any other city in the world), as there will be those bent on spoiling your visit. However, despite all of this, one will find that the citizens of Port of Spain are quite hospital and willing to help in almost any way possible. You will find the people of Port of Spain to be extraordinary, adding essence to the city.

Exploring Port of Spain Equals Transportation

Port of Spain isn’t a very large city. In fact, if one is up to it, the only transportation that you will need are on you and your feet! Most of the landmarks located in and around Port of Spain are in walking distance from each. It’s not uncommon to see tourist walking from location to location, which makes the experience even more memorable. However, if one prefers to use a vehicular means of transportation, Port of Spain is the place to be. The city is the heart of the country’s transportation network. There are taxis everywhere, willing and
able to take you wherever your heart desires, all for a price of course. In addition to regular cars serving as taxis, one will find it interesting to see panel vans serving as taxis, locally termed a ‘maxi taxi,’ recognizable by a completely white painted body with a yellow painted band on the sides, front and back of the maxi. Port of Spain is begging you to visit. What, you haven’t arrived already?

Yummy Food

There’s an old saying that the elderly explain to young women “The way to a man is through his belly.” This is ever so true about Port of Spain, it being the woman, you being the man. The diversity in Trinidad and Tobago has given rise to many different food dishes. Some include doubles, bake and shark, curry crab with dumplings, paratha roti with curry, callaloo, coo coo, pelau and the list goes on. One can locate these foods in one of the many food courts and food stalls scattered across the city. The Breakfast shed is a popular food outlet in Port of Spain that specializes in local cuisine. These foods are finger licking good. They are definitely a prized possession by Port of Spain, a prize that it is willing to share will you.

Nightlife In The Capital

One might find the nights more active than the daytime, since Trinidadians love to party, a fact that everyone in Port of Spain gladly accepts. The city comes to life to awakening the drained bodies that have worked tirelessly throughout the day. Clubs like 51 Degrees and Zen, will open their doors at nights to welcome partygoers. Even more popular for nightlife in the capital is Ariapita Avenue, commonly termed ‘The Avenue.’ There partygoers lavish in food, alcoholic beverages, music and dance. This is especially so from the start of the weekend to the end, Friday to Sunday. Of course, a Trini doesn’t need an invitation to party, so the weekend can be any day of the week! Port of Spain extends an invitation to you, come enjoy yourself!

Wow, These are Sites!

Even locals express this sentiment. Port of Spain houses an array of sites, particularly historical sites. One of the country’s oldest colleges, Queen’s Royal College, founded in 1859 resides opposite another landmark of the city, the Queen’s Park Savannah. The Queen’s Park Oval, where a number of sporting events take place; cycling, cricket, and soccer; is found not too far away. There’s also Stollmeyer's castle, the Royal Botanic Gardens, the Emperor Valley Zoo and the historic Gothic Rosary Church. You need to see these sites to believe it!

Don’t Miss Out on the Festive Festivals

Do yourself a favour and heed the admonition above. Being the capital of the country, almost all national festival needs a input from Port of Spain. However, there is one that highlights the city chiefly, Carnival, Mr Carnival at that. Oh my, Carnival is magically spectacular! It all begins from Carnival Friday and ends the following Tuesday. The country literally shuts down and during this time, all eyes are on Port of Spain. Carnival is a festival that has evolved from the country’s former colonial masters. Port of Spain literally turns into on huge club. Persons express there innovation and imagination in the form of skilfully and intricately designed colourful costumes, dance and music. The streets of Port of Spain are painted with a sea of colours, thanks to the numerous masqueraders (people who wear the costumes) parading around the city on Monday and Tuesday with their expensive costumes. Port of Spain is urging you to please visit.

Many cities there are in the world, but none as unique as the city of Port of Spain. Its people, transportation, food, nightlife, sites and festivals are mouth wateringly magnificent! Port of Spain is waiting for you to experience it, the question is, do you?

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