The highest Capital City in the world... SMASH!!!
Trip Start Feb 26, 2010
371Trip End Feb 26, 2011
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Where I stayed
We arrived after a bit of confusion from the taxi driver as to where we were going but for 10 Bolivianos we couldn't face the steep up hill walk and we were near the Witches Market so the location was great. The hostel was lovely with trompe l'oeil murals all over the place and christmas decorations everywhere, we dumped our stuff in the room (very nice - with cable tv and en-suite) and then we were offered breakfast so filled ourselves with fruit, jam, bread, delicious butter, fresh orange juice and lots of coffee. We blogged a bit in the room and chilled out a bit (we also got the bad news that Andrew's mum had been taken in to hospital so spoke to his dad on the phone who assured us that there was nothing we could do - so get well soon Trish we are thinking about you and send you our love). We decided to have a look at a few tour options in the travel agents around the hostel. There is so much to do here that we weren't sure what to do first, we got a few prices for 'The Worlds Most Dangerous Road', Rurrenabaque Pampas trips and Tiwanaka tours and then decided to waste no more time and pay to do a city tour with an English speaking guide (it seemed the sensible option as it incorporated Valle de la Luna 12 kms out of the city and the mirador (viewing point) so we could kill a few birds with one stone and save ourselves time in the bargain.
Our tour guide collected us at the hostel about an hour later and we had a private car to drive us around the city. Our first stop was Valle de la Luna (Valley of the Moon) where huge spires of dried mud (sounds crap but check out the pictures) have been eroded to form a stunning landscape with a beautiful mountain backdrop. Next we were driven through one of the more salubrious neighbourhoods of La Paz where houses can cost over $300,000 US lots of them were on private estates and the shopping district was full of boutiques selling international brands. Apparently this neighbourhood is popular with holidaying Bolivians with money to spend. Our next stop was a fantastic lookout high up on the hillside from where we had fantastic views of the whole of La Paz, the Cholqueyapu Valley and Mt Illamani looming over the horizon. The view was breathtaking (quite literally) and the steps up there knocked a bit of the wind out of us but we recovered with an ice lolly each that cost 10p each.
Our guide then took us to Calle Jaen, the oldest street in La Paz a really narrow street full of colourful old colonial buildings that are a mixture of privately owned houses and museums. We chose not to go in any of the museums but wandered down to the Plaza Pedro D Murillo to check out the cathedral and Palacio Legislativo and Palacio Presidencial. The plaza was heaving with people and pigeons - everyone was feeding them and many people had them eating out of the palms of their hands. We looked around the cathedral which was really beautiful and an oasis of calm from the crowds and heat outside. Here they have a replica of the Virgin de Copacabana the original being at the pilgrim mecca that is Isla del Sol.
Our last stop was the Witches Market where it is possible to buy all kinds of strange items such as curse curers, potions and the infamous Llama foetus
We walked back to the hostel from here and decided to bite the bullet and book on to the World's Most Dangerous Road' trip for tomorrow. I was cacking myself but I agreed to do it and we booked with Gravity as Rorie had recommended them and they do have the best safety record - well you really can't put a value on life can you? We paid about seven hundred Bolivianos each which included a buffet lunch, sandwich, dvd, photos, t-shirt, and a trip to an animal sanctuary at the end (I was only going for the animals). We stopped at a small pizzeria on the way back to the hostel and got a medium pizza for about 2 pounds with a large bottle of Coke - yes I am addicted to the brown stuff it felt a bit wrong after the Coca museum. We got an early night in preparation for our 64km bike ride tomorrow - a different league to the cycling on our wine tasting tour of Mendoza!
Andrew Edit - we also got to see the Bolivian National football stadium, surely on of those with the highest on earth, Bolivia had trounced some of the major South American nations (e.g. Argentina) in this ground mostly due to altitude.