Day 20 - La Paz
We enjoyed the relaxed start and late hotel breakfast. As we walked out the hotel front, we were immediately hit by the noises and smell of a busy city and the steepness of the streets.
La Paz is surrounded by mountains and from everywhere the residences clinging to the side of the hills are visible. In a reverse of most cities, the rich live down the bottom at 3600m and the less well off live up the hills at 500m higher and spectacular views. Our hotel was between the main square (Plazo Murillo) and the main church (San Francisco) where we first walked.
We then climbed the narrow, steep streets to explore the Witches Markets, which comprised of all sorts of stalls selling both locals needs and tourists clothing and sovereigns. Crossing the streets is a challenge as cars, and both regulated and unregulated buses go everywhere. Minibuses pull up at their wim to pickup or drop off passengers and pedestrians navigate between the moving mass.
After the stalls and markets we sat in Plaza Sucre to give my back a rest. It has been playing up a bit and the steep walking didn't help.
We saw a large park on the map and walked over to have a look. It's a massive park and we just had a glimpse from one entrance. Needing fuel and rest, we found a very trendy coffee shop, called "The Writers Coffee" which was inside a book store. We enjoyed the hot drinks, slice, music and decor full of books, old typewriters and clocks.
At Plaza Murillo we saw a lot of security and also the changing of guards. On one side is the Legislative Palace, commissioned around 1900. Also situated on one side is the principal church of Calibro. In 1962, the "zero-mile" mark from where distances are measured was established at this square.
We then looked closer to our hotel for lunch and decided to have an afternoon rest after lunching in the hotel. The hotel food was good as was the afternoon kip. The hotel looks and feels like Don Quixote could have stayed here- it was another of Karen's excellent selection of boutique hotels.
We walked to the new cable car and paid 3B (70c) to ride to the top of one of the residential areas at 4117m, a climb of almost 500m. The cable car network is expanding and this one was just over 1 yr old in April, 2014. It's a great idea to move residents as the 1hr bus trip down the steep, windy road was cut to 10 mins, and as part of the work they renovated the old train station to be a bus terminal.
At the top, we wandered through the local markets which are on Thursday and Friday night. The range of products was intriguing, including car carburetors, movie DVDs, floor covering and kitchen wares. There was no 100% alpaca scarfs for tourist to purchase, something we have seen everywhere.
On the way down, it was getting to last light and the rain started. We passed by the Cemetery stop, which is massive in acreage and looks like rows of tiny apartments.
Being the heaviest rain we had seen in 3 weeks and fortunately this time we had carried our goretex coats which did their job.
We started to look for a dinner spot and found a restaurant area near Plaza Geson Velasco. We settled on "The English Pub" and had a healthy serving of mash with chicken, whilst we watch the first round of the Sth American pool elimination for selection to play in 2016 World Cup in Russia. Bolivia beat Venezuela 4-2 in La Paz, so there was a lot of radios playing from 16:00 and excited locals. We think they were expected to win.
After dinner we slowly walked back to the hotel. We did the travel chores of washing some cloths, updating this blog, planning our money so we exhaust our last Bolivia Bobs, and checking flight times and booking a taxi for tomorrow's flight to Santiago on the start of our journey home. In the background was CNN's analysis of Donald Trump's presidential policy to send back million of immigrants without proper residency.