Juangriego, Venezuela
11° 4' N 63° 57' W
Jun 16, 2004 01:03
Distance 18km

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Text written in: English

Isla de Margarita quick tour (15 June 2004)

After an expensive but nice breakfast I left for the city centre of Porlamar, trying to find the nice places. The walk from Plaza Bolivar to my hotel had not been very interesting the night before and now I found out that all of Porlamar was nothing special. Actually I was surprised to see this big city on an island that is promoted as a tourist island around the world. No nice streets, lots of rubbish everywhere, no nicely developed boulevard along the beach, which could hardly be called a beach. Very depressing place really with lots of unfinished construction sites and barren places with more rubbish. What the hell are my parents going to do here?

It took some time to find the correct intersection from where buses were supposed to leave to Pampatar, 10 km away. Porlamar does not have an urban bus station. Buses leave from everywhere in the city, each and every destination has its own streetcorner, quite complicated for a stranger.

Pampatar was quite different compared to Porlamar. This little village of maybe 15.000 people was very quiet and did not have the endles shoping centres that lines the streets of Porlamar up to to Los Robles, halfway to Pampatar. It is one of the oldest settlements on the island and Castillo de San Carlos dates from the 17th century. They were reconstructing the old fort in such a way that it lost a lot of character. The view from the top was nice however. Along the coast there were small but nice and palm tree lines beaches which were very quiet. This would make an excellent first stop for a coffee and a swim bewteen the colonies of pelican birds that were sitting on the small fishing boats that floated on the clear blue water. Remarkable clean water by the way. maybe the people of the island had not thought of the possibility of throwing rubbish in the water from the pier yet? Let´s hope it stays like this. The old church across the street from the fort was nice inside and housed a special crucifix, still much venerated by local fishing men.

Next stop was La Asuncion, the capital of the state that consists of Isla de Margarita and the two small island in front of the main island. A very small village, but again much quieter than ugly and noisy Porlamar. This would make an excellent lunch stop. I found a very nice and cheap small family restaurant and the lunch was excellent, for just Bs 7000, almost two euros! Unbelievable those prices. For that price you can not even buy a Coke in the Netherlands, let alone a supurb two course meal!

La Asuncion has a few nice coulourful colonial buildings and a great fortress on the hill. I did not have the time to climb all the way up but made the plan to do it with my parents two days later. The view from the top over the green valley between the central mountains of the island is supposed to be nice. We will see the day after tomorrow.

After La Asuncion I took another small bus to Juan Griego, a beautiful fishing and tourist village on the north side of the island, just 15 away from La Asuncion. Another fort stood high above the bay that was dotted with pictoresque fishing boats full with pelicans. I walked to one of the nicest beaches on the island, Playa Caribe, about 3 km east of juan Griego. The beach was deserted and all restaurants were begging me to have a drink there as I was the only tourist. After a nice skinny dip in the warm water I returned to Juan Griego and took a bus back to Porlamar. The 20 km trip took over an hour as we stopped about evey ten meters to pick up more and more people.

In Porlamar I made a nice booklet describing my proposed excursion schedule on the island and on the mainland where I planned to take my parents to. It would be a bit of a waste of money only to see Isla de Margarita when coming over from Europe. I was not impressed with it at all.