Caracas Travel Blog› entry 1 of 19 › view all entries
July 28th, 2007 – by: paulmclaughlin
Caracas airport at first sight seems modern, airy and efficiently staffed - more on this much later though. There's a handy money changing booth while you wait to collect your bags, and official taxi representatives just outside customs clearance, which is a simple check. Unless you're confident of your Spanish, make sure you write down your destination and get the price before you depart as there are no meters.
The roads from the airport to Caracas are wide, well maintained and flow well which is a nice change from Trinidad. You really know you're in Venezuela from the huge pictures of Hugo Chavez staring down at you from the sides of buildings.
The road winds up into the hills above the sea, and a series of tunnels take you through them, past multi coloured houses that are very basic but well decorated. As you approach Caracas, the houses deteriorate. After a few such tunnels, you emerge up above the city. Vast stretches of slums spread across the hills and down towards the city proper. The flowing highway soon turns into the traffic jam you expect in any major city.
Motorikes zoom between cars, horns are blasted at junctions while pedestrians take their lives in their hands to cross the road when they can. We eventually reached the eastern side of the city where I stayed for my first night at Hotel Mont Park.
After checking into the hotel, I took a walk out and up to the pedestrianised Boulevard de Sabana Grande, a long stretch of shops and cafes. There is a good selection of municipal art around the place, and on the day I went there were bike and skateboard ramps, plays for children, painting classes and boards for graffitiing legitimately due to the school holidays, plus a chess contest for older people!
I came here expecting Caracas to be totally overrun with crime and Soviet style queues for the basics of life after the media reports. While I would not venture into the slums, the city centre of Caracas could easily be in Europe. It certainly seemed like a thriving business district still caters to the middle and upper classes at least.
After wandering around and trying a nice - but strange - sweet pork roll for lunch I went back to the hotel and met my tour party. I'm looking forward to the next two weeks!
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