Travel: Insider's guide to... Caracas
Sunday 12 September 1999
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).
The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
£240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...
Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...
£27000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - near S...
£23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This successful group of compan...