Estamos en La Paz

We’ve made it to La Paz, and it’s quite unlike anywhere we’ve been on the trip so far – but don’t get worried, this is a positive thing… we think La Paz is awesome 🙂 🙂

No plastic ‘La Paz’ sign for the defacto capital… instead a beautifully manicured garden bed with the words ‘Marvellous La Paz’… AND we agree – La Paz is AWESOME 🙂

La Paz sits at the dizzy height of 3640m – so gains the award for the highest place that I have ever slept in my life!!! PB has slept at an altitude higher than this… so will need to wait to beat his current record of 3689m – which was in Yushu, China, in case you’re interested!?!…

We stayed in a nice hostal in La Paz – the adventure brew hostal… however being old folk (or just 2 people looking for a double room as opposed to a couple of beds in a dorm room?!?) they put us in the ‘old peoples’ wing (also known as a quieter section of the hostal) a couple of doors down from the action packed young person’s hostal…

One of the things that makes this hostal stand out from others is that it’s also a microbrewery… yes… craft beer in Bolivia… and with a free beer included each night you stay, it sounded perfect… That was until altitude sickness hit us… not seriously… but after travelling from sea-level to 3640m in one go (yes, stupid us!) enough to stop us from partaking in a FREE IPA 3 nights in a row in La Paz… 🙁 🙁

Saya Microbrewery was attached to our hostal… and the IPA was AWESOME… here’s hoping we get to drink it EVERY night when we’re back in La Paz and not just 2 out of 5 nights…

The hostal also had an awesome breakfast room with a great balcony overlooking the street… it was a perfect vantage point from which to observe, but not be observed!!!! I liked people watching a lot… so much so… I’m dedicating a seperate blog post to it… so watch this space 😉 From the balcony there were also some pretty good views of La Paz and the cable cars (well the orange line anyway) that run through the city.

A view from the lovely breakfast room balcony in the hostal… check out the cable car…
Another view from the same balcony…
La Paz’s signature backdrop – Mount Illimani  🙂
A standard day in La Paz – blue skies and views of Mount Illimani… lots of traffic… AND a protest/parade of some sort blocking part of the road!?!

Being in La Paz opened up a whole new world of food to us too…  Navigating menus no longer felt an easy thing to do – Bolivians seem to eat a VERY different diet to the countries in the Southern Cone – and our standard food staples of pescado frito (fried fish), mote con huesillos, porotos granados, and cartons of Wasil branded beans from the fully stocked supermarkets of Chile ceased to exist…

Five days in La Paz was however enough time for us to find Llajuita, and Api Happy… 2 super awesome fast food chains that saved us –  they came with picture menus (!?!) -and the staff were helpful and spoke slowly to help us out when we ordered!!!

PB waiting to tuck into his mani soup in Llajuita
CC is happy in Api Happy – she’s now a big fan of drinking api  (purple maize mixed wih water, sugar, and cinnamon, and served hot…) YUMMMM… perfect for a cold afternoon on the Altiplano 🙂

Although we took it pretty easy in La Paz, as we were getting over the shock of being at 3,640m… we did spend quite a bit of time just strolling around the streets… it was a fascinating city just to be in… and the contrast of the different areas was pretty stark… from squares with old colonial buildings… to the witches market which sells just about anything… from the usual tourist tat to traditional potions to help bring you luck, fertility, wealth and happiness…BUT perhaps the most confronting items for sale are the llama foetuses… for Bolivians who believe in Pachamama these are essential offerings… but for outsiders it might come as a bit of a shock to see llama foetuses avaible for purchase!?!

The Plurinational Legislative Assembly and Bolivia’s Government Palace both sit on Plaza Murillo.
San Francisco Basílica.
A busy street in downtown La Paz.
Welcome to the Witches Market.

When we were feeling a bit better we took our short strolls to the next level and made it to a couple of miradors (viewpoints) – going uphill is harder at altitude!!!

Our first viewpoint was the Mirador Monticulo – which is located in a park in Sopocachi – a posher part of town – the view point inspired us to get higher even still, so after the viewpoint we took our first cable car ride to the end of the yellow line 🙂

Our second viewpoint was Mirador Killi-killi… the hill to get to the mirador was STEEP… but the views of La Paz were stunning from the top 🙂

The view from Mirador Monticulo in Sopocachi.
Yay – we’re about to ride the famous teleférico in La Paz 🙂 🙂
The view from the top of the cable car (teleférico ) station.
Another view from the top of the cable car (teleférico) station.
It was a steep climb… but the view from Mirador Killi-killi was impressive.
A close up of Mount Illimani from Mirador Killi-killi
Looking south from Mirador Killi-killi
A close up of central La Paz from Mirador Killi-killi

Five days in La Paz (feeling the effects of altitude) were not enough to discover all that this city has to offer… we left with at least 5 cable car lines still to ride, a tour of San Francisco Basílica still to go on, El Alto still to visit, and a llama foetus still to buy (joking!!!)… But as we can’t get to Peru without visiting La Paz again (as you know our route is all over the place!) we left happy… knowing that there would be more awesome stuff to do on our return 🙂 🙂

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