Back in Santa Cruz, it was a relatively short walk to our hotel, the Backpacker Apart and Suites. It was fine. Clean and bright with very friendly staff. The only drawback was a pitiful shower. We went staight out to grab some lunch, keen to try Alexander's where we'd had coffee and cake at other branches before. This one proved to be miles out of town, and the food wasn't even that great tbh. Still, it was ok and did the job of giving us the energy to explore the town. I'll admit this didn't take long, but it is quite nice.
After a wander, and freshening up at the hotel, came the most important decision of our day, where to have dinner. We were not bowled over by our choices so decided to kill two birds with one stone and go to Estacion Rock Pub and Restaurant, which (the clue is in the name) allegedly played rock. The food was ok, and we did indeed get some rock. Then the music went a bit crap so we decided to leave.
Our best hope for metal was a place called OzPub. We were quite exited in
fact. Sadly when we got there it was closed. Very disapointing. We then had a dilemma. Due to various factors (wrong place, wrong night, food poisoning, etc) we'd not yet found a decent rock bar in Bolivia. So, we found ourselves doing something we swore we wouldn't do - blindly wandering through the deserted streets of an unknown South American city on the vague online promise of a possible rock bar (Autopista in this case). Needless to say we didn't find it and sadly had to return to our hotel.
We'd pretty much seen Santa Cruz, so the following day we set off for the nearby botanical gardens. We caught a minibus to Cotoca and half an hour later we were there. I'm not going to lie and say it was the best botanical gardens we've ever seen. But at least it got us out of the city for a couple of hours. Plus we did see alligators, which was pretty cool. Back in town we popped to the modern art gallery. Free, but disapointing.
For dinner that night we chose Factory, a sports bar with pretty good (but not exceptional) burgers. As it was our last chance
to find heavy metal in Bolivia we once more roamed the dark deserted streets in search of Autopista. Foolhardy I know. At least this time we found it. Shame it was closed. Foiled again.
After a quick breakfast the next day we caught the minibus to the airport, this time for an international flight. Just as well we gave ourselves plenty of time as the queue for passport control was huge (apparently it always is). We also had to take the padlocks off our packs as the guy at check-in warned us that all bags were opened by security. Seemed excessive, but we complied.
I think we probably had enough time in Bolivia. We've not fallen for it like Colombia or Peru. But we have enjoyed it a lot. There were some real highlights. The Pampas and Amazon tours were among the best experiences of our lives (and much cheaper in Bolivia compared to Peru and Brazil). Samaipata was also lovely. While it wasn't quite as cheap as we'd hoped, overall prices were reasonably budget-friendly. I'd certainly recommend Bolivia and would be happy to come back if we ever get the chance. Next stop - Brazil.
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