A visit to the white city...

Trip Start Jan 31, 2006
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Trip End Dec 11, 2006


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Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Richard

We set off from La Paz with four of our group, Richard and Laverne who we had met the night before, Sarah, who was travelling around S.America having given up her job back in Switzerland, and Toni, who worked for the BBC in London and was also touring through parts of S.America on her own and later with a friend from home.

At the airport we all checked in and then Fiona and I had some breakfast (we skipped it at the hotel as it meant more of a lie in) in Burger King; I know, I know, not very local but there really wasn't anything else bar some shifty looking cakes and/or chocolate bars and crisps... The flight itself was on Air Sur, a local airline whose planes were of a remarkably similar age to those of Rwandan Air. Suitably nervous our plane seemed to take forever trundling down the runway before lurching off the ground and getting us on our way. The flight wasn't too bad (no one threw anything over Fiona so that was a start) but the landing was something else. Either the pilot seemed to be having trouble deciding where the airport actually was or Sucre is a very difficult place to land because we went through a series of violent turns and changes in altitude before landing with quite a thump. I see now why some people feel compelled to clap when their planes land!

Having prized our fingers off the armrests and with the blood slowly returning to our faces, we were met in the terminal by the elusive Angel, our Venezulan guide, and the rest of the group. Unfortunately, just after Angel had introduced himself someone stuck out their hand and said "Hi, I´m Mike". I had no idea who this person was and therefore didn't respond (not very nice I know) only to be told by Angel, "this is Mike from our group". Oops!! Having 'met' Mike we were also introduced to Dustin and Susan, the final members of our group of nine who, along with Mike, were on a much longer tour around S.America and had already been touring through Brazil for the previous couple of weeks with Angel.

Introductions over we climbed onto our minibus and headed into Sucre to our hotel, the very lovely Independencia. After chucking our bags in our room and having a pizza lunch overlooking the Plaza 25 de Mayo, we headed out on a city tour with Noel (our local guide) and his unfeasibly glamorous assistant, Andrea. The city of Sucre is known as the white city due to the number of white colonial-era buildings there are, and is also a world heritage listed site. First off on our tour though we visited the textile museum to see examples of the locally woven cloth, followed by the Castillo de la Glorieta, a mansion built by the Argandoña family in a weird mix of architectural styles (it looks like a gothic castle from some sides but has a minaret as well...) before going back into the city to see the main plaza including the 17th century Cathedral, the Casa de la Libertad where the country's declaration of independence was signed (Sucre is Bolivia's constitutional capital and is named after the general who won the war of independence) and the Parque Bolivar which is styled on the Champs-Élysées in Paris and even has a miniature copy of the Eiffel Tower! After that we took a look around the city's market before calling it a day. The tour had been very long, too long in fact (we had ended up ignoring Noel by the end and speculating for how long or, alternatively, when Noel was going to make moves on Andrea...) and what with our early start and flight from La Paz, both Fiona and I were glad to put our feet up for a while. That evening Angel had to take Susan to the hospital as she had rolled her ankle in Brazil and the swelling was refusing to go down. While they were gone we went out to a local restaurant for some very tasty Mexican food but when Angel and Susan returned (Susan now sporting a very awkward looking cast on her leg!) we declined Angel's very kind offer of some absinthe to wash it down with! Some of the group did try the absinthe and went on after the restaurant to try some of Sucre's nightlife.

The next day was a free day on the tour so while some of the group went hiking we took it easy; we had lunch in the sun and wrote our diaries accompanied by several beers. As we were leaving the cafe we saw Angel and Dustin inside (the plan was to have dinner there that evening) but as we'd drunk far more than we intended to that afternoon, we skipped dinner and headed back to the hotel for a lie down. The following day was pretty much the same as the previous one as our tour itinerary had changed slightly since we arrived and we would be staying an extra day in Sucre rather than heading to Potosi, our next stop. We again used the opportunity to sleep in, write up our diaries and drink some beer in the sun. We were more sociable in the evening though and joined the rest of the group for pasta and more beer at one of the local restaurants. So ended our time in Sucre...
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