Keeping Safe In Caracas.

Trip Start Feb 01, 2005
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Trip End Dec 31, 2018


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Where I stayed
Hotel La Floresta Caracas
Read my review - 3/5 stars

Flag of Venezuela  , Central Venezuela,
Saturday, November 12, 2011


I've always loved the sound of the city name, Caracas. It sounds festive and musical as it rolls off the tongue.

Caracas!

Poor Caracas has such a bad reputation. Since 2008 it has the dubious honour of being called the "Murder Capital of the World". Caracas has a dark history of kidnappings, bag snatching, random violence and gang and drug related crime. Most travel forums say just pass through the airport and get on your way to elsewhere – don’t stay, there is nothing to see. Most travel forums and some guide books say the overland borders are dangerous and don’t recommend arriving in Caracas by bus.

As is often the way with our own travels, we have, so far, found the opposite.

We travelled overland by bus and encountered courtesy. We changed money at the border without getting ripped off. We had help to get a “safe” taxi on arrival at the bus station and to our delight the manager at our booked hotel spoke English!

Our 24 hour bus trip to Caracas from Cartagena, Colombia was not without dramas though. The border crossing went smoothly enough, then around 6 passport checks after the border went without any incident. However, we were a couple of hours out of Caracas, when some sort of commotion ensued on the bus, with a lady quite upset and hassling, (then bribing) the driver to make a phone call. Some time later we pulled in to where a Police Car was parked in a lay by and we gathered we were all being ordered off the bus. This was VERY un-nerving! We asked the police officer if he could speak English (as we knew no-one else on the bus could) and he said “a little”. We asked what was going on and we eventually got the gist of the problem was that while the lady was asleep on the bus she was robbed and the police had been called to meet the bus.     

Now this was rather alarming as we were the only foreigners on the bus. We thought we might be accused of the theft! However, the police searched the bus and asked questions but didn’t question us for long, realizing we had no Spanish, so it wasn’t going to be easy. After about 15 minutes, we gathered the Police probably told the woman there was nothing they could do, (Particularly as a women with a child had already gotten off the bus earlier) because we were all  allowed back on the bus and were on our way again.

Caracas bus station did look a little scary, with huge big, beaten up “Yank Tanks” as taxis. We had some breakfast then found an information booth and whilst the attendant didn’t have any English, we were able to make her understand that we wanted a “safe” taxi to our hotel address and that we wanted to know how much to pay. She said “Momento!” and came back a few minutes later with a lovely looking older man in tow, and wrote down how much we needed to pay him to take us to the address. Feeling OK about this we followed our driver outside, but to our dismay his vehicle was also one of the “Yank Tanks” albeit with a supposedly legal yellow taxi sign. All was well though until we arrived at the address and Avan went to get out of the car and got a huge electric shock! I think the taxi driver needs to get his car earthed. 

We had booked the Hotel La Floresta as part of a package through Osprey Expeditions for our visit to Angel Falls and found it to be in upmarket residential suburban area, considered safe. We felt quite comfortable walking around. One of our first jobs was to find a watchmaker to get a new watch band. This was achieved and the store owners had a good laugh with us about the fact that I had sticky-taped the old broken watch band together as an interim measure. We found 2 lovely restaurants nearby for lunch and dinner that had some English spoken and gorgeous food.

The next day we asked the hotel to organize us a safe taxi to take us to Ciudad Universitaria de Caracas which is UNESCO Heritage listed. It had been listed primarily due to unique architecture. Whilst rather run down looking, we could see that it was rather unique. We wandered into the library and  asked if anyone spoke English, and Elias, a lovely young man, came forward and offered to show us around. He was pleased and proud to have some foreigners wanting to see the University. 
  
So our first impressions of Venezuela, and Caracas in particular, were good.  

There is another little matter to talk about in regard to Venezuela, the country. The beauty of Venezuelan women is legendary! Venezuela has won more Miss World competitions (6 times) than any other country and is second to USA in the Miss Universe competitions (also won 6 times, USA 7 times). Yes, they are beautiful, busty, tall, and just simply stunning. Our limited contact with Venezuelan women also makes us think they also have nice personalities too!

Next it is off to Angel Falls, Venezuela’s draw card destination and the highest waterfall in the world. It is an expedition which will see us travelling in boats, hiking, and overnighting in hammocks. 

Footnote: Ciudad Universitaria de Caracas is UNESCO World Heritage listed.

My Review Of The Place I Stayed



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Comments

Bernie on

I am a little baffled by some of your reasoning, you say that you had been advised by a number of books not to arrive in Caracas by bus for safety reasons, yet you found the opposite. However, on the bus you travelled on, there was a theft of a woman's belongings, the police were called which you found "VERY un-nerving", you even felt you may have been accused of the theft, yet you claim all the books advice is wrong?! I only comment because I feel this blog entry is massively misleading to other potential visitors to Venezuela and I feel you should take others safety into account before falsely glorifying your own trip. I myself have travelled to Venezuela and 114 other countries, I never encountered any dangers in the country myself but I know a number of people who have and I don't want misguiding information such as this to cause others to run into similar difficulty.

heatheravan
heatheravan on

Thanks for the comments. We apologise if you found our report baffling, however we do not feel the incident on the bus was anything like the type of issue that we mentioned the guide books warning about. We simply stated that in our experience we did not encounter problems at the border or encounter muggers or kidnappers. Yes we were unnerved by being the only non Spanish speaking people on the bus when having to deal with police. However the concern was unfounded, the police were excellent (no bribes, no nothing and no encounter with the alledged thief). At no time have we suggested that other travellers should follow our lead, we have simply stated our experience, we did not say the guide books were wrong, only that it was not OUR experience, hardly massively misleading!!. Nothing in our story is false or glorified.
Surely though your mention of your visiting 114 countries has little or no relevance to your problem with of our story?.

Bernie on

I must disagree with you again I am afraid. You claim that it was not your experience to encounter kidnappers or muggers, you only encountered thieves, or should I say an "alledged thief"? Surely that is simply splitting hairs, what most muggers generally end up doing is thieving anyway? Would you be of the same opinion of the bus if it had been you who had been robbed? I think not.
Regarding your blog, although you didn't directly suggest that people follow your lead, surely you would understand that many people who are travelling will consult other travellers blogs as a guide, or would you not be aware of this type of behaviour? You hardly think there are a lot of people just reading about you visiting a number of world heritage sites and boasting about how proud you seem to be of the fact that you don't speak Spanish for their own pleasure? I think they may opt for a novel instead, less fiction!
And regarding my mentioning that I have travelled to the other countries, I noted it so that anybody reading my comments knew that I was a more seasoned traveller than either of you, and also that I had also been to Venezuela, hence my advice is probably far more useful as a guide than where you "stated" your experience.

heatheravan
heatheravan on

There seems to be some confusion about the purpose of this or any other blog that we are aware of. They are written for the main purpose of relating ones personel experience, not as a travel guide. Sure other travellers read them and we have a large following, however we are totally convinced that the readers are intellegent eneogh to know that it is a personal experience story for them to weigh up against everything else before making a travel descision.
If we are making actual travel advise we clearly mark it as such at the bottom of the account being told.
Having said that we believe that it is helpul for future travellers to Venezuala to know that some people are finding it a friendly and rewarding destination if aware of the potential problems, not that it is totally a no go zone, as some guide's suggest (and apparently yourself).
Yes of course we agree if we had been targetted as travellers, and personally subjected to a theft, of couse we would have a different attitude and have written a different story, because we would have had a different experience to write about. But that is NOT what happened.
We do not know how you arrived at us boasting and being proud about having no Spanish when the truth is that anyone who knows us is aware that we are actually embarressed about our lack of Spanish, please do not make up stuff to make a point, nor do we understand your claim that your advice is far more useful than our stated experience, given we do not profess to be guides? Perhaps you can provide your URL to your blog so that readers can make their own judgement on your experiences.
As to your mention of us visiting UNESCO locations, yes we do prefer to mention the sights or sites seen in a country rather than dwell on the number of Countries we have been to.
We trust you will continue to enjoy your ideals and style of travelling and allow us to continue to enjoy ours.

Rob on

What the?... Not the dead Bernie from the movie, certainly smells like it, what a rant...your an embarrassment mate, you are the one that needs to get a life, a group of us read Avan and Heathers blog and enjoy it immensely, you must have caught some kind of delerium whilst in one of your 144 countries (what a hero!), most people are smart enough to understand that these are the experiences of a couple of people travelling for enjoyment and (heres the clincher!) it is how they experienced it!... my advice (not travel related...), pull ya head in!

David Martinez Palacio on

Woooww..Bernie...really get a life!! it seems like you have nothing better to do...if you don't like their blog...then don't read it...and F$%# off...
I had the opportunity to meet this amazing couple in Banos Ecuador, then i read their blogs, and i have nothing to say but FANTASTIC things about their attitude towards the spanish speaking culture. In addition to that, their blogs describe exactly their experiences and the way the face them. I hope they continue traveling and writing about it. BTW i am proud to say as a COLOMBIAN....Avan and his wife are tow of the nicest people i have ever me and they know that MI CASA ES SU CASA!!! hope to see you soon guys!!

David

Milla on

I actually stop reading Bernies messages because they make NO SENSE. It frustrates me when people forget to think and instead they attack others. First of all there is a SIMPLE rule for life no one ever agrees on everything so Bernie if you dont like what you read in this blog you are MORE than welcome to just STOP READING IT. why bother? i mean opinions are MORE THAN WELCOME thats what blogs are here for, but random-stupid and unnecesary comments are not.
I actually met Avan and Heather in Ecuador and their are the most lovely couple i have ever met. they have travel a lot of countries i am beginning to think that more than 114, perhaps? and they manage to take time and do this blog for us, so we can read their experiences in other countries like in this case Caracas, they are NOT discriminating latinamerican culture is the opposite they are helping others by sharing their stories so that we can travel for less. I actually would LOVE to do what they have been doing so far, i believe (if im not wrong) that this is their 3rd sabbatical year. i mean WOW!!, i guess that beats 114 countries, right?

Anyone can have the chance to travel, but i guess not everyone get the chance to be well educated? hummm, maybe.

Anyways,Avan & Heather it was a real pleasure meeting you guys, i hope David and i can go someday and visit you in Australia. I know that we would love do to that.

grahamandrach
grahamandrach on

There is a word for these posters...

TROLLS 

"In Internet slang, a troll is someone who posts inflammatory,[2]extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.  The noun troll may refer to the provocative message itself, as in: "That was an excellent troll you posted"."

Lest anyone doubt Avan and Heather, we met them travelling, and found them warm genuine people, we invited them to stay with us in London, which they have done several times. On each occasion we have had a delightful time, our kids loved them (20 months and 4yrs) and last time they 'earnt their keep' by helping build a shed.... We consider them true friends. 

We enjoy their blog in the spirit it is intended, their reflections on their travels, if I wanted a guide book I would look elsewhere, but if I'm interested in what my friends are up to, well then, it's great.

I would suggest ignoring or deleting these comments from people who obviously have too much time on their hands. (I just delete them from our blog).

Happy travels to all!

Grahamandrach

Phil on

What is wrong with everyone? My family and I met Heateher and Avan in 2006 when my family (2 daughters plus wife) were travelling for year. Sorry Bernie et al we have only visited 55 countries :( . You will never find a more sensitive, kind and welcoming couple than these two. Get a life, grow up and crawl back under your rock and leave the decent folk of the world alone. A & H have a great Christmas ( we're going to Jordan ) love Phil in sw France xx

Tim on

Bernie, It is very clear who needs to get a life here! move with the times, there is nothing better to keep up to date with my parents travel, their great times and real adventure.
Mum and Avan we can't wait to see you for Christmas! your darling granddaughter is excited!

Tim on

Bernie, this will be the last minute I waste in my life to reply to you. You know nothing about our proud wonderful loving family and it saddens me to think that there are people out there like you that sit on your lonely ass reading other peoples travel adventures with a clear jealous view. It really looks like you have nothing better to do and it’s very clear that you have embarrassed yourself. Our parents are very successful people in many ways and we could not be prouder. Please get on with your life and maybe get some help for that little troll issue you have. Good luck Bernie.

Carl Rumble on

I have been to Caracas 5 times, and each time has been very enjoyable. There are great restaurants to enjoy your favorite of cuisine, mine being Lee Hamilton's. My advice to new visitors is, take off all jewelry (even costume type) and don't try to draw extra attention to yourself. And with any big city, use common sense.

heatheravan
heatheravan on

Great advice Carl, agree totally. Happy travels. Cheers

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