Caracas is more commonly known as the city of fiestas at which people traditionally dance to the pulsating rhythms of maracas and the four stringed cuadra guitar. Although much has been said in the news about Venezuela regarding peace and security, this did not stop me and my younger brother Paul from having a tour of the capital city. It was an adventure we relished up to now because of the amazing things we learned and discover on this South American nation. The seven days we spent immersing ourselves in the beautiful scenes and culture of Caracas was all worth it.
A few meters from the Metro station Altamira we found a great place to hang out and admire cultural art at the Centro de Arte La Estancia. More popularly known as CALE It is an ideal place to visit and relax. The art center is a small museum with rotating exhibitions where we found various activities to enjoy like learning yoga, music, art and sports. The beautifully manicured garden outside the museum boasts of unique specimens of flowers, tree, and plants. The cute and well maintained museum was formerly an old hacienda during the colonial times and has remained almost untouched up to now. Being inside was like entering another dimension that is very nice to experience. They have cultural activities every day and especially on weekends. A safe place with play area for the kids to enjoy every afternoon they conduct children’s workshops for drawing, painting, music and pottery. The free entrance to the museum is a sort of an oasis lying amidst the chaos of Caracas (people, traffic, noise). A visit here is a must!
After the museum tour, a wonderful funicular ride with an impressive view of the Caracas awaits us as we get to Teleferico. We rode above an impressive view of gorges on board an impressive piece of engineering. The sun was out and the view of the Caribbean from the top was wonderful. The experience of a cable car climbing almost one thousand meters up to the top of Avila was the best! The El Avila National Park (Guaraira Repano) is a mountain that is part of the Cordillera Del Costa and overlooks the panoramic view of the capital city. The mountain is home to many species of plants and animals protected and preserved by the government. At the top of the mountain there is a hotel, skating rink and restaurants with good food. Riding a jeep we reached the Galipan Village where we get to taste the best beef shawarmas and enjoy horse back riding, walking, picnicking, and visiting spectacular restaurants offering Galipanier cuisine. We also get to taste interesting wines made from blackberry and strawberries produced from this mountain. Galipan is a tropical green oasis in a big city and the perfect place to explore in Caracas. The site is very nice, well kept and well organized. When it started to get dark we ride the cable car down again and the colors of the sky gave a dramatic tone to the allure of this city. The awesome sunset view as we descend was a very comforting sight.
The works and thoughts of Simon Bolivar transcend time when we visited the Casa Natal & Museo Bolivar. It was a lovely experience to reconnect with history and take a trip through time to learn the heroic acts of the great liberator. The 200 year old museum is very well preserved; we saw a room with a replica of the bed where Bolivar was born. The three floor museum showcases old furniture, clothing, books, and a lovely garden. I like the way the curators have perfectly preserved his birthplace. It gives every visitor a quick passage to history by highlighting the stories of Simon Bolivar. Within the same day we have seen another interesting oasis along the green lawns of the Hacienda Floresta. The former premises of a coffee plantation were transformed into a cultural and recreational center for the purpose of tourism and economy. It is basically composed of three areas, first is the spacious grounds near the entrance that is beautifully decorated with colorful flowers and roadside benches to enjoy nature. Then there is the colonial home where various indoor exhibitions and cultural events are held. And finally, on the right side of the entrance lies a wide meadow that is ideal for outdoor recreational activities with playground included. The sum of all its attributes makes it one of the best options to visit in Caracas today. Admission is free and is located at one of the safest areas of the capital.
Later on we get to see a good range of Venezuelan artworks that represent the cultural vitality of the country at the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo. It is a very nice venue which enhances the many works on display including that of Picassos’ graphic works and other well known Venezuelan artists. The museum itself is a very good piece of art for its wonderful architectural style. At the end of the day we strolled along the safe walkways of Paseo de Los Proceres. It stands as a memorial to the many heroes of the South American nation and their struggle for total independence from Spain. Recently remodeled and restored it has plenty of space for biking, skating, jogging, strolling and many places to drink or eat something delicious. There was a cultural event for kids during our visit and it was fun. It is a perfect place for family bonding on weekends.
A few blocks from the metro train stations stands the Teatro Teresa Careno. We marveled more at the acoustic qualities of this modern theater. It was a Sunday when we got there and the shows started as early as 11 am. With free entrance we get to enjoy an afternoon of great symphonic orchestra. It was an honor to see an amazing performance from The Chamber Reina Rios one of the best orchestras in the world. It is worth going to for lovers of classical and modern music. The stately Capitolio Nacional was built in 1872 as a monument to Venezuela’s independence. Today it sits as a government building where the Venezuelan Congress sits. Inside the building is an urn in which the original declaration of independence of 1811 is kept.
Upon entering the Galeria de Arte Nacional & Museo de Bellas Artes we were awed by the sculpture of the La Tempesta that stands at the left side of its entrance. Along the entrance is a huge framework where people can make their own pose against the background of the central garden of the museum and create their own work. The huge museum looks so solemn and each era is provided with an artistic room. Each artwork is better appreciated with its accompanying explanatory text written under each frame. The museum has a very nice exhibition about Venezuela in which we saw photos, clothing, pottery, crafts and other objects that describe each region of the country. We had coffee at the garden where we still get to admire more paintings and other artworks. Restored after many years of closure it has a beautiful exhibition of paintings that are worth a visit. We ended the day here with watching a performance of a string quartet at the Bellas Artes. It was such a thrill to be enchanted by their guitar playing and singing.
We had very little time to explore the rest of the city but visiting this gem among the hustle left a good impression as we head back home. It was an experience worth repeating.