Asunción, Paraguay

Arriving at the airport was a bit of a time warp, we were the only plane on the tarmac. The airport seemed little dated and quiet, "a last frontier outpost". Searching for X.

A good tip if you are planing a trip to Paraguay is to check if you need any immunisation boosters before you travel, Yellow fever which is a bit of a stumbling block needs to be taken two weeks in advance. And don't forget to take your immunisation documentation with you, some of Paraguay's neighbouring countries can be a bit finicky about immigration rules, I mean sneaking across the border is always a bit risky.

Asunción was founded as a city in 1541 when its town hall/military fort from 1537 was upgraded to city status and is the first colonial capital city in South America, Asunción is referred to as the mother of all cities. Today the city boasts a population of 500 000 with the surrounding areas and daily fluctuations amounting to many times this number, but nobody seems to know or care. The Paraguay river is a natural borders to the city with Argentina is a few few km to the south, driving north west out of the city and just across the bridge is the Chaco.

The green heart of Asunción

Although there are the nominal high rise scattered around the city most of the the old town area is only a couple of stories high, generally the roads and footpaths range from mediocre poor to dire need of repair through too dangerous as hell. The old town or city centre is in various states of decay with many empty buildings and boarded up shopfronts. There is an array of smaller smaller shops and street hawkers selling crafts & food.

Hawkers in the old city every thing from shoe polishing to food
Improvisation with out rules abounds in the city

The old city centre is full of grand old colonial buildings echoing better times gone by. If they were renovated, the old city would become the pearl of the south a new South American tourist magnet, as well as becoming a very charming and interesting city.

The Metropolitan Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption was built during the governmental term of Don Carlos Antonio López and inaugurated in 1845. It is dedicated to Our Lady of the Assumption, the patroness of the country's capital city. It features a high alter coated in silver. The cathedral is the seat of the metropolitan archdiocese of Asunción

The local cathedral theres one in every catholic city "ABC" nicely restored and i'm sure still playing an integral part of city life.

Trendy Restaurants in Asunción, Paraguay

As you move out from the city centre areas of development, supermarkets, banks, hotels and the sterile west inspired shopping malls that only sell products with logo types pop up some are very upmarket and would make any affluent city proud, but its still like giving beads to the natives, now-days its corporate logo types and western brands that dominate the "I'm trendy and have made it ideal, something that we in the west are good at, exploiting and creating dependency on material ownership even though there seems to be enough locals dazzled by the glitter to warrant such waste.

We've tried a few restaurants and nightspots spread throughout the city. Bolsi in the old city is a popular restaurant, an old school diner or the hip Negroni bar in the 14 floor, all the popular places are watched over at street level by in-official parking sharks that promise to watch over your car while you are inside, for a small sum. If you don't agree on a payment then you could loose a wing mirror.

Asunción has a trendy bar and night life scene with some cool places, that pop up in the leafy suburban middle class areas, Try Koggi, Muerto de Hambre or El Café de Acá concepts built in renovated houses in suburbia, so the front yard could be a bar, the house is the kitchen & toilet ect, and the back yard an alfresco dining room/night club. Out on the street is the self appointed parking tout, these in-official sharks are somewhat of a quality stamp, theres no money to be made hassling at a an unpopular place. They represent a Michelin star "a trip worth taking".

The local meat selection, street food is predominately beef, although some more international dishes are becoming trendy.
The other end of the spectrum, still only beef

Getting around in Asunción

Generally I didn't think Asunción was physically dangerous, there are security and armed guards throughout the city, banks, money exchange, shops, malls, service stations ect ect. The service stations are interesting most of the larger of course sell petrol but many have a bar and sell a full range of drinks, the locals hang out there. drink, socialise, then drive home. The footpaths are a hazard in them selves, with open storm water pits, uneven surfaces and trip obstacles. The road rules seem non-existent with the biggest going first.

You can take a bus, choose between a dilapidated 5 year old Chinese wreck, or a 30 year old Mercedes work horse. Apparently Taxi's will take a credit card if pre arranged, but don't expect seat belts or windows that wind down.

Trying not to sound negative, Asunción has a positive vibe about it . With lots of helpful and nice people.

The dead centre of the city.
Long stay parking is available just off the main road.