Posada Don Carlos

Posada Don Carlos“The Posada Don Carlos guesthouse is a colonial mansion, built in 1876, carefully restored by its owners. Located in the heart of the historic quarter in Ciudad Bolivar, it is only steps away from Bolivar square and 200 meters from the Orinoco River. Combining traditional atmosphere with modern conveniences, the options range from sleeping in a hammock to staying in very elegant rooms.” (quoted from the website)

Having booked our tour to Canaima, Kris and I took a taxi straight to Posada Don Carlos, situated on the corner of Calle Boyacá and Calle Amor Patrio, in the casco histórico (historical part) of town. We stepped up to a large heavy door with an ornate brass door knocker (and a modern doorbell) set into a discreet terracotta-coloured wall. A friendly face appeared at one of the wrought iron windows for a second, disappeared, and then the same smiling lady was at the door.

Posada Don CarlosStepping into the mansion from the hot streets of the town was like moving into another world. A shadowy hallway opened up onto a dappled central courtyard, with cool green light filtering through the delicate leaves of a tree with outspread branches.
Posada Don CarlosTwo big, serene dogs lolled on the cool tiled floor. In places, the ancient red brick walls have been tastefully exposed, and all the doors are tall enough to accommodate the colonial men and woman of old as they entered their home astride their horses (I guess horses were watered and stabled within the walls of the house, in the courtyards).

Posada Don CarlosThe owners have put a lot of work into filling the mansion with Venezuelan antiques: not only large pieces of furniture, but little curios like old irons, typewriters, cameras and kitchen utensils pepper the corners of the house the way they must have, back in the day.

Posada Don CarlosAlso, many really beautiful old pieces of Pemon basketwork and weaving, together with cow and deer skulls, and a few rustic objets d’art, hang from the walls, or swing gently in mid-air, suspended from the high ceilings.
La cocina en Posada Don CarlosI love the high, open ceilings of colonial homes…in the tropics, it’s a great way to deal with the incredible heat. The extra wall space means that windows and doors were made much taller than their modern counterparts, letting in more wind and a really marvelous ambient light.

Posada Don CarlosA room with a double bed, our own shower and toilet, and an electric fan (because we don’t like air-conditioning), was $3.00 per night (at the time of writing…prices change very fast, here…it is even cheaper now…$2.85 or something) Incredible.

Breakfast can be requested, but we preferred to eat outside, so I don’t know how good it is. No lunch or dinner, although you can use the kitchen to cook your own food (you may or may not need to have your own dishes, pots, pans…they haven’t got a lot of kitchen gear). There’s always coffee in the morning, two big flasks of it, and it’s good, strong coffee. The atmosphere is very “relaxed” and a bit “rustic”…meaning the staff sit around a lot, and don’t seem particularly eager to get to their feet when you ask them for something. It can be noisy, too…what with the dogs barking at pedestrians from the windows, the car alarms in the street going off now and then, and the owner’s wife spontaneously picking up a cuadro (a small guitar) and, together with some of the staff, bursting into the loud ballads typical of Los Llanos (The Plains). Out of tune. At seven in the morning. Outside your bedroom window.

But, for the excellent price and the beauty of the place, it’s totally worth putting up with the desperate, unrefined singing of The Lady of The House!

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Ciudad Bolívar

Casco Historico

After much trouble trying to rent a car and make various other complicated travel arrangements, to no avail, Kris and I just packed a couple of backpacks last Monday the 21st, and went to the central bus terminal in Puerto La Cruz at 7 a.m. We’d decided to catch the first available bus (that didn’t have huge queues) to any of the states in Venezuela that were on our wish list.

There were no buses, except to Venezuela’s capital, Caracas (definitely didn’t want to go there!) but, as luck would have it, a por puesto taxi (literally ‘per position’: one seat in a regular air-conditioned car that takes four passengers, $3.00 each) was leaving for Ciudad Bolívar. We were thrilled, as this destination is at the top of our Venezuela list, so off we went.

Casco Historico

Ciudad Bolívar is the gateway city to Canaima National Park, which is the place to experience, among many other stunning natural wonders, the famous Salto Angel, the world’s longest waterfall, as it plummets silently for nearly a kilometre, down the sandstone rocks of Auyantepui in the Gran Sabana region of Bolivar State.

Casco Historico

We arrived from Puerto La Cruz three hours later, then spent most of Monday at the city’s small airport—where all the tour agencies for the remote Canaima are located, and little four-seater planes take off throughout the day, carrying people across the vast wetlands and the Gran Sabana, through which there are no roads—haggling and pitting one agency against the others in order to crank the prices down as low as possible. Finally we made our choice, pushed one agent against the wall (metaphorically!) and booked with a small agency run by a family of Peruvian immigrants ($200/pax)

Casco Historico

We had to spend a night in Ciudad Bolivar, and would leave the following morning. We took a taxi to the casco historico, the old colonial part of the town, built on hills overlooking the Orinoco River, and booked at Posada Don Carlos, a really lovely bed & breakfast located inside a meticulously restored colonial house on a quiet street.

Casco Historico

We deposited our bags, had a shower, changed, and then went out to wander the streets of the old town, with camera. Also, we were looking for dinner of some sort, as the Posada doesn’t do lunch or dinner. The rest of these photos are pretty much more colonial streets and houses…

Casco Historico

Casco Historico

Casco Historico

…except for this last one, where we turned a corner at the top of a hill, and I managed to snap a bit of the state’s beautiful bridge, Puente Angostura, before night fell. The great river it spans is The Orinoco, river of legends, songs, explorers, and dreams of centuries.

Casco Historico