Staying at The Black Cat – El Gato Negro, Asuncion, Paraguay

The Black Cat!!! This was a gem of a hostel for the ardent traveller. I had heard of it a few times even before my weary head popped up in the unknown Paraguayan capital city of Asuncion. The above yellow and brown building, shyly central, unadvertised and cosy, this hostel is one of my favourites.

The first ever Paraguayan guy I met in my life was Xavier who was working in the bar and reception in the funky Limehouse Hostel in Buenos Aires, Argentina. As I sipped the Quilmes beer with Xavier, I spoke of how I had to see Paraguay while in South America. In fact I put it as a must see ahead of Ecuador, Colombia, Chile and Venezuela. The reason being hardly anyone talks about it. And those are the places with more charm I find. Which was so so true in the Asuncion instance. I uncovered a gem. He also told me about the Black Cat, which wasn’t even in the “South America on a shoestring” book by Lonely Planet.
The best ones often aren’t. I booked it online about a week in advance if I remember correctly. I knew I wanted to visit Asuncion and I knew I wanted to stay in The Black Cat. While living in Uruguay, I had been researching ahead on my trip and by that point, 3 different people had recommended The Black Cat.
Not just Xavier, from Asuncion, but also Panny Yu (who stayed there only a week or so before me) and Harriet Adams, who studied Spanish with me in Montevideo. So The Black Cat it was!! That’s me chilling in the reception with the Black (and white) Cat!
It was homely, welcoming, cosy, friendly and relaxed from the second I stepped through the door (the journey to get there was also very exciting and interesting – having crossed the border in a crazy city called Ciudad Del Este and got a long bus journey cross country to Asuncion, before a local bus dropped me nearby the hostel). Lilia Valdez, the excellent host above, is a local, she holds the cat (which is more white than black incidentally!!). Immediately I was greeted with a smile, a free map, a guide to what to do tonight, tomorrow and a cosy wee hostel. I was bombarded with positive vibes, and sitting down in the reception I also met Gregory, who became my best mate for 2 days!!
A wee night out in Asuncion. Not for the un-travelled I might add. Bliss to find a decent pub – 2 new friends in Gregory (from USA) and Pawel (from Poland) and a bar that played music, sold decent beer and stayed open late. Lilian from the Black Cat had also recommended going to this area for a bar. This pub was called Britannia Pub.
My superb cosy bed in The Black Cat hostel. The room wasn’t full which was great. I loved the privacy and comfort of it. Lockers were also provided.
The dining room area – the kitchen beside it was also great. Very homely and clean.

Breakfast was included in the price and was superb. All you can eat and drink. I had orange juice, tea, yoghurt and bread with jam and butter.

That’s my Black Cat breakfast in Paraguay.

I’d picked up a few bites in my previous place, Iguazu and they got bigger and worse in Asuncion. I called them Paraguay Parasites. I was on anti-malaria tablets at the time.

The cosy lounge. Didn’t spend too much time in there as it was summer and the back yard was the hostel place to hang out! But this would be great in the winter.

The logo, and the only sign out the front that lets us know this is The Black Cat!

Paraguayan Guarani. I’ve used this photo before but I loved the fact I was a millionaire in Paraguay!
Mark Knopfler had a song called “Postcards From Paraguay”, not many would get one, but my brother got one. I hope it arrived safely, I posted it from the main Post Office in Asuncion, which isn’t too far from the Black Cat.

The trendy back yard – great place to meet people, hang, read, relax, play guitar and drink a coffee or a beer. Loved it! Private, safe and sociable!

Of course my travelling Northern Ireland flag had to get an airing in the Black Cat.

Gregory and I enjoy a beer together. I haven’t seen him since he said goodbye to me at the bus stop near Heroes Square, the night I left Asuncion. He was a great lad to hang out with and hope to see him again sometime. A budding musician with a love for people, animals and the truly sublime.

My last Pilsen in Paraguay. Surprisingly great stuff!

Gregory plays me guitar in The Black Cat hostel – he played a few songs, one of which, “Marissa” I recorded below.

Art in the Black Cat. A funky hostel.

And of course the proud and patriotic side of Paraguay. An extremely proud nation, must be great when the World Cup comes round.

Myself and Lilia!! Hope to see her again someday – and if you’re heading to Asuncion – only one place to stay – The Black Cat!!

I’ve covered Asuncion quite a bit on here before, I just really liked it. It reminded me of Belfast in some ways – people got on with their daily lives, and no tourists about. It felt like a real raw city and I loved it. Above, I fly the Northern Ireland flag at their national football stadium, Estadio Defensores Del Chaco, not actually that easy to find and hop on and off local buses. Very interesting country Paraguay – in that it has a population of around 6 million and is very poor, in parts it is third world, yet they have qualified for so many World Cups. Fantastic achievement.

Paraguay’s Parliament. Guards let us walk around freely, despite there being a military parade on nearby. So final piece of advice – go to Paraguay, go to Asuncion, stay at the Black Cat. Love it.

Nationalities I Met – Paraguayan, US, Australian, Polish, Spanish, Venezuelan, French, South Korean, Bolivian.

Address – Eligio Ayala 129 casi Independencia Nacional, Asunción, . +595 21449827

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