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South America » Bolivia » La Paz Department » Copacabana
October 15th 2011
Published: October 17th 2011
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Rob Writes

Once we had arrived in La Paz we just wanted to get to our hostel but we still had to find it. The air was thin and our bags were heavy (the ones under our eyes) and we were hungry, which made the trek to the hostel even more demanding on us. We found it eventually and it was a nice enough place so we got settled in. We soon headed straight out in search of food and found a nice (cheap) place just around the corner where we each had a set menu meal for 15Bs (£1.50). The menu consisted of a soup starter, a main featuring a meat of your choice, rice and vegetables, and a desert of which seemed to be whipped cream with a strawberry. Couldn’t go wrong for £1.50 really.

After lunch we had a look around the town centre. It didn’t take long for us to agree La Paz didn’t seem to offer much. The views of the city from the bus on the way in were quite spectacular, but the city itself just didn’t seem to deliver once we set foot inside it. There were more pigeons in the square than I have ever seen in my life though, so I suppose that was something. When we went into the town later that night to get some dinner things proved difficult again. Obviously we didn’t want the same meal we had earlier but it seemed the only other choice was pizza or deep fried chicken which was twice as expensive. We did get a good look around for the few hours it took for us to find somewhere to eat but it didn’t change what we thought of the city. However, there did seem to be something going on in the main plaza as it was heaving with the Bolivian army all stood to attention holding rifles, then there were a few serious looking guys with automatic rifles guarding the place. After about thirty minutes of watching them hunger got to us and we never saw what the fuss was about. If you’re interested, we eventually found a hole in the wall where we got a couple of cheap burgers.

We had booked tickets through the hostel to Copacabana (£3 each) for the next day so were up at 7am for the bus at 8am. We thoroughly enjoyed the bus ride on this occasion. The bus wasn’t full and no one was honking cocoa leaves up in the seat behind. The bus had to stop to cross part of Lake Titikaka, which meant we had to get off the bus and get a small boat across for $1bs each (£10p) while the bus went on its own raft to cross. It was all very good fun! We then got back on the bus and within an hour or so were in Copacabana.

Initial impressions of Copacabana where good. First and foremost we had to find somewhere to stay, so with no rush we attempted to find the best and cheapest place we could. We must have been to about six different hostels/hotels comparing rooms and prices before settling in the biggest hotel on the lake-front, which was surprisingly one of the cheaper places. We were three stories up and had an excellent view over the lake from our picture window. We almost dismissed the place assuming it would be the most expensive from its appearance, which I’m sure most people do because it was almost empty and felt a bit like we were in ‘The Shining’. After checking in we went out for something to eat before heading back to the hotel to chill out a bit.

That evening we decided to climb up the nearby hill/small mountain to watch the sunset. It took us from about 3800m to just over 4000m and was quite steep, probably taking us about 20 minutes to get to the top of, which it shouldn’t have done. A dog took over us on the way up, probably laughing at how slow we were. We had thirty minutes to wait before sunset, so plenty of time to gather our breaths back once we were at the top. Climbing at 4000m like we did was a stark reminder of how much the altitude takes it out of you. All we could think about was the Inca Trail which we do on the 21st October, where we will have 4 days of it, 6 hours a day. We weren’t alone at the top of the hill; there were about two-dozen people up there once the sun was due to go down. The view was fantastic over the lake and we got some good pictures. Fortunately the decent was much easier than the climb as it was dinner time and we were hungry.

Copacabana’s main street is very touristy. We found a bar there that evening where the prices were very high for Bolivia, the service was dire and the food was... well quite frankly shite. I don’t remember its name unfortunately. I had spaghetti bolognaise which I’ve never cooked but could probably do better. It took about 40 minutes to get to me and the texture of it was comparable to eating a bag of crisps. How they managed that I don’t know. Tina had an omelette which arrived about ten minutes after I had finished my meal. We should have taken a picture of it. It was the sorriest looking omelette I had ever seen covered in herbs, probably to try and cover up how much of a disaster it was. I was expecting more from an omelette which took over an hour to make, I really was. Anyway, we justified our stay in this bar by using their WiFi.

The next day we got a boat from Copacabana to Isle del Sol, an island just off the coast of Copacabana. The boat cost us 15Bs (£1.50) for the both of us for a return journey, which took about an hour and a half each way. We only had an hour on the island before the last boat back, so had a bite to eat and a look around. We planned to go to the island earlier in the morning but Tina had not slept the night before, so stayed in bed a bit longer, which meant getting the afternoon boat to the island. That evening we booked our bus for the following day to our 4th country, Peru.

I wasn’t feeling great the following morning. My insides were not happy and I didn’t have time to sit on the loo all morning as we had a bus to catch. This made me very nervous for the bus ride to Puno. I could only hope that I could stay in complete control of myself for the journey, which I’m happy to report went well and every pair of boxer-shorts I own are indeed intact. The border wasn’t busy so we got through pretty quickly, although on the Peru side the authorities did conduct a search of the bus and one person got hauled off and left behind for some unknown reason.

We arrived in Puno for approximately mid-day and took the first hotel we were offered by the touts at the bus station. Easy peezy.

Additional photos below
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17th October 2011

I was just thinking about you today
I was wondering if you budget had improved any? Budget or not looks like you are having a fabulous time. Can't wait to keep reading.
18th October 2011

Improving budget
Thanks so much for reading. I guess the budget has improved but not because we are doing less, just because Bolivia was so cheap. It really helped level it out. Onto Peru and Chile now, so I guess it will shoot up again :S

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