|The journey took longer than we thought as we had a diversion down a bumpy dirt track for about 10km. A bus journey advertised as 3 hrs thus took 5 hrs !
La Paz is the highest capital city in the world at 3600m. It is huddled at the bottom of a huge canyon and the snow capped triple peaked Illimani rises above the city. It boasts the highest commercial airport, the highest golf course and ski slope, as well as the highest microbrewery in the world ! There are a few examples of colonial buildings but the city is not particularly beautiful in itself. The other striking appeal of La Paz is that it appears to be one giant street market. Even spare inch of street space is taken up by Aymara women in traditional bowler hats and voluminous skirts squatted on their haunches yelling at passers by to buy their wares.
We had booked a hotel but it didnt turn out to be very good so we changed in the morning to a much better one for nearly the same price.
We spent a day looking around and trying to organise our stay in Bolivia. We had a look at several markets including the witches market where you can buy Llama foetuses, as well as good luck statues for every occassion. We bought one for happy travels ! We also visited the Coca museum where there was a history of the coca leaves as well as the process to change the leaves into a certain white powder. We are now amassing the coca leaves to give the process a go, Nick having done a chemistry degree should have no problem doing this........
We took a day trip from La Paz to the Valle de la Luna (valley of the moon) where there is weird terrain that look like the moon. After a look around we took the minibus up to Chacaltaya which is the highest ski station in the world at 5300m. The ski resort is no longer open as the last El Nino melted the snow ! We then walked up to 5400 metres which was exhausting at this height. This is now the heighest that we have been so far ! The views were amazing over the nearby mountains and the whole of La Paz.
As the highest grass golf course in the world is in La Paz, Nick thought that he should give it a go, even though it was quite expensive. It is at Mallasilla (and is called this too) and is a nice course. A caddie was a requirement, and although he didn`t speak much English it didnt matter too much. Nick didnt exactly play brilliantly (he puts it down to the clubs being shorter by quite alot.....!!!) however the he hit the ball well on the important shots (first and tenth holes when everyone was watching !).
Monica spent the morning shopping and on the telephone !
The other days we just wandered around La Paz looking at the street stalls and sites in the many Plazas. We also visited a few churches along the way.
We enjoyed La Paz, it was a nice place to relax in and there are many good restaurants and bars around.
Estrella Andina hotel - Rooms nice and comfy. Breakfast included. ($26)
Wagamama - Unfortunately not the same as the ones in England but great Japanese food nonetheless. Great selection of Sushi and the whole meal costs about $15 for two !!!
Ram Jam - Good bar with the highest micro brewery in the world. Good curries ! and good atmosphere
La Terraza - Great sandwhiches for lunch.
Angelo Colonial - Rustic feel, with antiques everywhere. Good quality food.
Tambo Colonial - Good quality food and service.
Hostal Republica - Overpriced and the worst exchange rate ever !!!!