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Stroll on the Costanera
This strip down by the Paraguay River used to be horribly polluted, but the area has recently undergone huge redevelopment and now makes the perfect place for an early evening stroll. Take a couple of beers down to the beach and relax amongst dog walkers, pram pushers and fitness fanatics, all of whom come out to play as the sun goes down. The beach is lovely but don’t be fooled into taking a dip; the river isn’t quite clean enough for swimmers.
Salsa in Loma San Jerónnimo
The oldest district in Asunción, this colourful little barrio is one of the city’s hidden gems. Go on Sunday when there’s a market selling arts and crafts, while street performers and salsa dancers give it a festival feel. Ask a local to point you in the direction of the mirador where you can pay 1000 guarani (about 13p) to climb up to a viewpoint with fantastic views of the city.
A huge market that sells nearly everything. I went when I first moved to the city and managed to furnish my entire apartment, buy enough food for a month and, best of all, kit myself out with a pair of flatforms (uneven pavements mean flatforms are de rigeur for any self-resecting Paraguayan woman). Get lost amongst pumping stereos, giant pig lungs (yes, really), medicinal herbs and mountains of counterfeit trainers (some of which look suspiciously real). Be sure to keep your possessions close, the street kids can be pretty sneaky.
Lounge in a Love Hotel
Frequented by the young due to Paraguay’s strict Catholic morals (Asunción is named after the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, after all), these motels range from the seedy to the stylish and have rooms to rent by the hour. Avoid the sleazy at all costs but the upmarket are borderline ridiculous in their extravagance and more like a spa experience. Crystal chandeliers, Venetian mirrors, flatscreen TV, your own bar, jacuzzi, sauna, solarium and even disco lights; they’re a fun(ny) place to chill out with mates. After all, you’re hopefully never going to be in the situation where you’re renting rooms by the hour again.
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