Thinking of heading to Venezuela for the holidays? The capital is a great destination. With a population of approximately four million, Caracas is one of the most populated cities in Venezuela and is close to the coast. The uniqueness of Caracas is the perfect mingling of Caribbean heat with the crisp coolness of the Andes, giving it exquisite climate.
If you have a few days or even just a weekend, here’s my pick of a few experiences that you just must enjoy, before packing your bags.
Museo de los Niños or Children’s Museum
What started off as an idea for a big classroom where children could be given a hands-on experience that would help them discover, see and learn for themselves about the world around them, eventually became the hugely popular Children’s Museum. So popular that it very soon exceeded its own goal of a million visitors a year. Your little ones are sure to want to spend hours letting their imagination run wild as they explore first hand the mysteries of physics, biology, communications, ecology and the unique geography of Venezuela itself.
Caracas nestles under the mighty shadow of Avila – a mountain that soars to 2600 meters. One sure must-do is to take the Teleferico which is a cable-car ride to the top of the mountain. The summit provides amazing views of Caracas to the south, and of the ocean (Caribbean Sea) to the north on a clear day. The ride is free for senior citizens over 60. Here’s a tip: get on the ride as early in the day as possible, before the noon haze so that your view is not obstructed. The attractions on top include a small skating rink and a well known fondue restaurant.
Slightly different from the usual historical monument, but no less impressive, Ávila’s muralla (wall) stretches for 2.5km and is considered one of the world’s best-preserved medieval boundaries. It has 8 massive gates and 88 towers and was raised to a height of 12m between the 11th and 12th centuries. The gates you must get a closer look at are the Puerta de San Vicente and Puerta del Alcázar flanked by towers more than 20m high. When you tire of admiring the architecture, you can look down onto impressive views of the town. Access to the wall is from Puerta del Alcázar, Puerta de los Leales and Puerta del Carmen.
Had enough of walking around? Just about an hour’s drive of Caracas is a most unusual South American town. The town of Colonia Tovar located in lushly wooded country was originally settled by German immigrants in the 1800’s. The result? A little bit of authentic Germany in the heart of Venezuela! The European atmosphere is reinforced by the wooden church, the old-timers who still speak German, the blond and blue-eyed looks of the natives and the food – sausages, sauerkraut and German beer.
Arepas and Ilanero music
A great idea for a relaxing and quiet day is to go to El Hatillo, an Andean village outpost. A lavish lunch can be had on the canopied balcony of Mi Pequena Suiza, a Swiss restaurant. Most restaurants will serve up the Venezuelan staple, arepa, which is a warm yellow corn meal bun, stuffed with delicious filling, like arepas with melted white cheese such as queso de mano or queso guayanes. If you are especially lucky, you can catch some live “llanero” music from the Venezuelan heartland at some of these restaurants, strummed with four-string guitars peppered with the beat of maracas.