La Paz (01.12.12-02.12.12)

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December 2nd 2012
Published: December 2nd 2012
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After arriving so early in the morning and with so little sleep the last few nights, we had everything crossed we would be able to check into our hotel! Luckily for us, they were brilliant and we were checked in our room before 7am! So we went back to bed for a few hours to give us some sight seeing energy. La Paz is a city built at high altitude, 3660m! It is built into the hill sides and is really quite fantastic to behold! There are just thousands of houses up the mountain as far as you can see. Although there are specific sights to see in La Paz, a lot of the interest lies in just walking around the streets. It's a really busy market town, and we spent a couple of hours just walking up and down the crazy cobbled hills, bustling with market stalls and street sellers, offering everything from clothes to toiletries, DVD's to electrical items, toys to food and household goods. We managed to pick up all the things we needed and then a couple of souvenirs from the more touristy markets. We are told that in South America we should do gentle bartering, in reality it's obvious that when they know your English they just refuse to budge as they believe we can afford it. This is probably true, as it is very cheap here, but no one likes being ripped off even if only by a few pence!

After a good bit of market time we went for some lunch, it was not so easy to do this as everywhere seemed to sell either pizza or fried meat and chips not so veggie friendly! Eventually we found a nice cafe in a courtyard and had some lovely food for a crazy cheap price! After lunch we went to visit the museo San Francisco. An old cathedral with the grounds opened up as a museum. We were given a tour around the grounds and galleries, having the history of the building explained to us. Finally we went in the actual cathedral, but only up on the balcony at he back, we were not allowed down or to take any pictures. We were then taken up a narrow staircase onto the roof and into the bell tower, where we could see out over the city. After climbing back down we were promptly thrown out, no extra looking around time allowed!
We had a sit in the square outside for a while, where they appeared to be beginning a big concert lots of a screaming girls around and boy band posters. Then walked back through the city through another market and into the Plaza Murillo area, featuring the presidential palace and another cathedral. There was a pretty high police presence as we we walking round, including police with big rifles and security staff in full riot gear with pepper spray! After walking up and down all day, our heads were really starting to pound, so we went back for a rest.
In the evening we planned just to pop to a busy pizza restaurant round the corner for some food and then have a chilled night in. As we arrived at the restaurant, another couple who we seem to be following around (we saw them on the salt flats, met them at the bus station, are staying at the same hotel in next door rooms and we bumped into them at the cathedral!) were also just arriving there. So we had some dinner together before going back to the hotel to chill and watch some tv. Tomorrow morning we are on the bus again, this time on our way out of Bolivia and into Peru.
Although its been a very brief trip we are glad we made it. Bolivia appears to be an interesting country which has retained all its tradition. A lot of the women wear very traditional clothes, bowler hats, calf length full skirts with matching shawls and two long plaits down their backs. They tend to carry lots of things, or babies, on their backs, strapped on in large wraps of material. Tourism is growing here, so we think things are probably going to change over the next few years, so who knows how it will be if we visit again!

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