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).

News
peoplePair enliven the Emirates bore-draw
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark episode 8, review
News
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26
General electionAndrew Marr forced to intervene as Boris and Miliband clash on TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ramsay Bolton in Game of Thrones
tvSeries 5, Episode 3 review
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
  • Get to the point
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

    Guru Careers: MI Developer

    £35 - 45k: Guru Careers: An MI Developer is needed to join the leading provide...

    Recruitment Genius: Fitness Manager

    £20000 - £22500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leisure organisation manag...

    Recruitment Genius: Visitor Experience Manager

    £25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Delivering an inspiring, engagi...

    Recruitment Genius: Learning Team Administrator

    £17500 - £20500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are looking for a great te...

    Day In a Page

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

    Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
    Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

    Aviation history is littered with grand failures

    But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

    Fortress Europe?

    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
    Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

    Never mind what you're wearing

    It's what you're reclining on that matters
    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence