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Caracas
 
  To Airline   Fare  
  Caracas Delta Airlines fr £365
  Caracas Air France Airlines fr £280
  Caracas Air Portugal Tap fr £190
  Caracas Iberia Airlines fr £250
 
A fast-paced cosmopolitan cocktail, Caracas is tough, but charming.

Hemmed in by green forested hills, Caracas squeezes the tremendously wealthy and the desperately poor into a single chaotic city. This fascinating disorder is reflected in the gravity-defying skyscrapers in the center, and in the teetering shantytowns covering the surrounding hills.

Caracas doesn't inspire love easily, though it can romance the more intrepid traveler. Pollution, poverty and overpopulation may initially overwhelm your attention but, on a closer look, the city has a wealth of international cuisine, plush hotels, theaters, fashion, museums, shopping and nightlife.

Weather

The wet season in Venezuela falls between June and October, but Caracas is the happy exception: the city has a mostly dry climate. Temperatures are consistently mild, averaging a perfect 25°C (75°F) year-round, and rainfall, even in the wet season, is usually little more than 100mm (4in) each month.

A Top Day in Caracas

As the cathedral bells toll 09:00 , I'm having coffee atop the Plaza Catedral Hotel. It's an inspiring start to the day: the rooftop restaurant overlooks the tropical trees that canopy Plaza Bolívar, the city's historic core. I descend for a stroll through the plaza, where an impromptu quartet is playing guarachas . I join the onlookers to groove to these incredible musicians.

Later a carrito (a cross between a bus and a taxi) carries me up Av Urdaneta to Plaza Candelaria. Inside the plaza's 18th-century church, I revere the shrine to Dr José Gregorio Hernández, Venezuela's 'saint in a suit', and continue down to another kind of shrine: Doña Agapita's house of cachapas . The sweet corn pancakes are whipped up by the boys behind the counter. Mine is folded over a slab of white cheese, accompanied by a papaya shake.

The tour concluded, I hop back on the metro, emerging on Plaza de Francia to meet Altamira resident, Teresa, and her pals in front of the signature fountain/obelisk. Tonight's dinner is at a little place in Los Palos Grandes specialising in Chinese-Peruvian cuisine, where I have chupe , an Inca-style seafood soup. Afterwards we're beamed up to the Altamira Suites hotel's rooftop bar for martinis with panoramic views of the city. Everyone wants to go dancing, so we cab it over to El Maní Es Así in Sabana Grande. Tonight Alfredo Naranjo and his combo are putting down some irresistible polyrhythms, and we manage to slither onto the packed dance floor.

 
 
 
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