Ciudad del Este is a dump. I swear the entire city uses the streets as their own personal garbage; garbage which gets burned at night so the air becomes very thick and painful to breathe, just like in Bangkok. The city is also very unattractive and doesn´t have a lot to offer. We were told that it is ¨the¨ place to be if you want to shop (especially for electronics) however everywhere was over-crowded with people selling useless junk. There are a lot of electronics vendors but nothing is overly cheap and that is with the assumption that the materials are of good quality and not cheap knock-offs. Needless to say, we did not shop long or buy anything.
Nor did we stay long. We arrived in the afternoon of the 8th following a 6 hour bus ride from Encarnación. We checked into ¨Hotel Austria¨ which was much more expensive than we hoped to pay (170000Gs/2ppl/night - approx. $36USD) but after checking out a few different hotels which were around the same price, we just settled with Austria as it was clean, had a private bathroom, fridge and TV in the room and was recommended in the Lonely Planet for
providing a great free breakfast (they didn´t lie, it was really good). Since Ciudad del Este borders with Brazil we expected to pay more for a room than in other parts of the country. We spent 2 nights at the hotel, visited the dam on our 2nd day then made plans to head on to Asunción for the 10th. Surprisingly, we met a nice English-speaking couple our age from Belgium/Turkey so had a couple drinks with them the night before our departure; they too were moving on after only 2 days. I don´t think it is a city that any of us would recommend spending a lot of time in.
As for the Itaipu dam, it was worth seeing; and it was free which was a pleasant surprise as nothing is ever free these days, especially as a tourist. The tour was quite short though and we were not shown around the inside as much as we were expecting, but it was still very impressive to see. The Itaipu Binacional is recognized by the American Society of Civil Engineers as one of the “Seven Wonders of the Modern World” and is one of the largest hydroelectric power plants in
the world. It is located at the upper region of the Paraná River where the borders of Paraguay and Brazil meet and was a joint venture between both governments in 1975.
I wish we had pictures of the city to show just how filthy it actually is as you really do have to see it to believe it - boxes, styrofoam, diapers, plastic bottles - you name it, it´s in the streets. Unfortunately, the city has a reputation for being theft-heavy, especially in the crowded markets and at night so we did not carry the camera around as it wasn´t worth tempting anyone. That is why we only have pictures of the dam but I guess some pictures are better than none
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