Travel: Insider's guide to... Caracas

What is the weather like now?

Caraquenos argue that their city's temperate climate beats any of the world's capitals, though at present it's cats and dogs with the most torrential rainy season they've had for years.

What are the locals complaining about?

With unemployment topping 20 per cent, the economy shrinking, political instability and rising crime, what aren't they complaining about?

Who's the talk of the town?

Ex-paratrooping President Hugo Chavez Fras. You just can't get away from the man, or his weekly talk-to-the-people radio shows, or his wife for that matter, whose spin-doctors mould her Evita image at every photo opportunity. Chavez's red beret-ed portrait is graffitied on to half the nation's houses, and will doubtless soon become as ubiquitous as Che Guevara's in Cuba.

What's the cool drink to order this year?

Beer, because it's cheap, and then there's a singa parao, a speciality from eastern Venezuela: a Machiavellian concoction of cherry, pineapple, passion fruit, guava, orange and white rum whose name translates as a "stand-up shag".

What are people eating?

Hot dogs and arepa (maize bread) for the poor. Sushi for those who can afford it. Tambo's in Chacaito offers an interesting mix of Peruvian and Japanese cuisine in an exotic setting, while the shades-on-for-Sunday- brunch bunch head for Barrock in Altamira.

What's the latest outrageous stuff on TV?

Lottery-crazed game shows, littered with blonde bimbos and push-up Wonderbras, are the national obsession along with soap operas. Meanwhile, the dubbed Spanish version of South Park premieres this week on national TV.

Where would the locals not dream of going?

Their museums, art-house cinemas, theatres and dance venues. The economic crisis has taken its toll, and Venezuela was never a cultural heavyweight to begin with. Their 40-odd national parks are full of foreigners, since getting to them might involve the locals sullying their jeeps.

Where are the locals going that tourists don't know about yet?

They Grand Old Duke of York up to the peaks of the Avila mountain, with the blues of the Caribbean on one side, and the chaos of Caracas on the other.

And what do they do up there? March back down again, of course.

Where are the chic doing their shopping?

Miami, or else the Sambil shopping mall with its rooftop views and restaurants.

What's the trendy place to escape to for the weekend?

The Los Roques archipelago, for the discerning. The beaches that are a two-hour drive from the capital for the post-pubescent would-be surfer crowd.

Dominic Hamilton is currently living in Caracas while researching the `Traveler's Venezuela Companion' guidebook).

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

    £15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

    Recruitment Genius: Transportation Contracting Manager

    £33000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A global player and world leade...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel and Spa Duty Manager

    £18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are friendly, sociable, ...

    Recruitment Genius: Payroll and Benefits Co-ordinator

    £22300 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This museum group is looking for a Payro...

    Day In a Page

    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
    10 best statement lightbulbs

    10 best statement lightbulbs

    Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
    Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

    It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
    Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

    Dustin Brown

    Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
    Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
    Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

    Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

    Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
    John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

    Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

    'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
    Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

    Forget little green men

    Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
    Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

    Dying dream of Doctor Death

    Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy