Yesterday was another great day in my cultural and historical learnings of Asuncion! A few of the girls from the office took me on a “SuperTour” of downtown Asuncion to see the key sites and learn a bit about the history of the city. Our first stop was La Catedral in which we took about 25 photos each! There are some shady types that hang around that part of town, right next to Rio Paraguay, and either beg for money or offer to sell you something. You have to be very careful though because if you aren’t holding your purse tight enough, they just might grab it from you! For the next stop, we decided, it was safer to leave our purses in the car. And on we went to the Palacio de Los Lopez, (the President’s office,) or as the Paraguayans joke, “our White House.”
A little bit of history: It was originally built in 1857 as a house for the son of the President at the time, Francisco Solano Lopez. It took longer than expected to build – likely due to the import of every material for its construction from Europe – and by the time it was finished, Paraguay had entered into a war against Boliva, Brasil, and Bolivia, known as the War of the Triple Alliance. The President and his family had to flee the city for safety. It wasn’t until 1894 that the Palace was instated as the Presidential Office and has remained that way ever since. The building is better viewed at night because they light up the entire place and it really is beautiful!
The next stop on our SuperTour took us across the street from Palacio de Los Lopez to the “Manzana”. This building is a very typical Paraguayan home which has a big outdoor corridor outlining the outer limits of the house and a thatched roof of Bamboo and another tree that I cannot remember the name of! Inside there is a restaurant/bar on a terrace overlooking the Palace as well as a show room with various cultural and artistic exhibits on display at any point in time. Laura, knowing the city inside and out, was able to take us up a rickity hidden staircase to stand atop the building and look out on the Palace with a less obstructed view. It was awesome. I was terrified.
From there we saw a few other key sites, most of which we were unable to enter because of how late it was. We stopped at the main theater in Asuncion – Teatro Municipal, Casa de Independencia (Independence House,) Panteon Nacional de los Heros (National Pantheon of the Heros,) and the famous Lido Bar -which I’m told has incredible bread that I will need to try, (and other food as well!) We also had a chance to Palmear, which is to say walk up and down a street called Palma. Palma is a street which connects most of the downtown and is filled with famous landmarks, restaurants, and bars and there is also a lot of shopping. Apparently in High School that was the thing to do for fun, sure beats our parking lots in Westchester!
Our tour concluded with about a hundred photos snapped and thirst for a SuperTour Part II, this time in the daylight!