Dollar run – Ciudad del Este

THE DOLAR BLUE NO LONGER EXIST, READ MORE HERE

After exchanging our 265 dollars that we had from before we realized that they would not last until we would get to Uruguay and be able to get more. And we do not want to have to pay 40% extra for everything in Argentina.

When visiting Ciudad del Este two days earlier we found an ATM that gives the choice of withdrawing dollars. It has a 5 dollar fee, but on a US$200 withdrawal this is only 2.5%, a lot less than the official rate for the peso would cost us.

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Said and done, we bought tickets for the bus from the company Rio Uruguay, at €2 one way it was a cheap trip, considering that we would save 30-40% on all the money we could carry when getting back.

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The ATM is on the 11th floor of this building, known as the King Fong mall. It is on the right hand side right after the bridge, we asked the bus driver to stop and he stopped right outside.

As we got there a little bit late everything seemed to be closed, except the VIP entrance on the west side of the building. It leads right in to the elevators. We got in, put in floor 11 and emptied our trusty ATM of dollars. I think we got somewhere around US$700 with us.

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A three hour trip later we had dollars to last us until Uruguay. We exchanged enough for the bus and some food in Puerto Iguazu, as we expect a better rate in Buenos Aires.

Ciudad del Este

This Monday we went to Ciudad del Este in Paraguay, a 20 minutes bus ride from Foz do Iguacu.

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The bus, showing by its interior that we are going to a less developed country. We actually had to choose a seat that was not rusted to pieces in its foundation, the first one we sat down in swayed back and forth in a not too comforting way.

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The bus runs from the bus terminal in Foz do Iguacu to the bus terminal in Ciduad del Este, crossing the friendship bridge connecting Brazil with Paraguay. We had to get off at both ends of the bridge in order to get stamps from both countries. Being EU citizens we do not need a visa of any kind. We got a form on the plane when flying into Brazil, this was necessary to get an exit stamp, and was left with the lady giving us the stamp. The bus waited for us on the Brazilian side, and on the Paraguayan side we said goodbye to our bus driver and continued on foot.  Here we just got our passports scanned and stamped. We were officially in Paraguay!

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Okay, so what are we going to do in this mysterious little city. It is more or less a city filled with people selling cheap stuff to the Brazilian and Argentinean visitors. Cheap and counterfeit stuff, and lots of scams. If this is not a place to check that what you buy is genuine, actually is inside the box, and working then I do not know what is. But you can find almost anything, cheap!

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The interesting thing is that it is not only the street vendors who sell all kinds of junk, the same things fill floor after floor in malls as well!

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After getting fed up with cheap strange things to buy we went to get some lunch. Our choice landed on a restaurant that had a good review on foursquare called Oriental. It was good, nothing out of the ordinary, chinese food. And they had Coca Cola in 1 liter glass bottles.

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All in all, a very strange city. I bought some shisha tobacco for next to nothing and we left on foot. Below is probably on of the best addresses in the city, for some reason it is a pile of sand at the moment.

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We left on foot and walked over the supposedly dangerous bridge. It was not more dangerous than any other sidewalk, maybe safer as it had a fence between us and the cars. We did not see any shady persons on the bridge, but we did see a family or two. Upon entering Brazil we had to get a new stamp, this was given in a small booth similar to the ones you pay a highway fee in. We did not get a form to fill in as we did on our first entry. We were assured by two different immigration officers that this was not necessary. We can also confirm that we were allowed into Argentina without the form.

Itaipu Binacional

After visiting the falls and the bird park there is not much more to do in Foz do Iguacu, except for the Itaipu dam. Until two years ago this was the worlds biggest hydroelectric plant considering the power it collects. Now the Chinese have a bigger one.

We chose to take a day to visit this plant and take one of the tours offered. Some quick research let us know that the “Panoramic Tour” is the best value for your money and also the one that contains everything necessary.

To get there we took bus 102 from the TTU terminal (101 is also supposed to take the same route), and after 25 minutes we arrived at the visitors center. The tickets are something like €6 and includes a short movie letting us know how amazing the plant is!

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The bus that the panoramic tour consists of takes a tour with three stops, the first one is this view above of the flood ramps, they open these to let out excess water from the reservoir, at full speed they let through more that 40 times the water of the falls. We were apparently lucky to see this, as they only open them 10% of the year.

An interesting fact is that the dam is owned by both Brazil and Paraguay, and the land it sits on is more or less both Brazilian and Paraguayan. It produces 80% of the electricity used in Paraguay and 20% of the Brazilian consumption.

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The above picture shows the dam as the huge 70s concrete structure is it, it reminds of something one might find in Ukraine, build before the fall of Soviet. Gigantic, concrete and functional but not too beautiful. It is an amazing structure, and the trip is well worth it if you have the time while here, and the guides on the Brazilian side speak Portuguese, Spanish and English!