The past week i have been in 2 Bolivian cities...certainly a tale of 2 cites...
Started in Sucre which is the capital albeit baby cousin to La Paz. It is where the declaration of independence was signed many years ago. It is a great university town with a nice cafe culture.
Essentially this is where i put the brakes on and took a holiday within a holiday. Did admin of photos, planning, researching and sleeping!! What was needed after the salt flats and noisy dorms. Even managed to hit the cinema and arcades for some retro fun with Double Dragon and Bomberman! Markets always provide a good insight into local eating habits and exotic fruit/veg but also some decent cheap eats!! Thanks to the fertile land the fresh fruit juices are a big draw to any market visitor.
La Paz on the other hand is the louder, bigger and brasher big brother. After an overnight bus where they decided to lock the loo you arrive at the top of La Paz at 4000m (Altiplan) and decent into the city to c.3500m (highest airport and city in the world!). Great views sweeping into the valley. But as you can tell this kind of altitude means you need to take things "Pole Pole" Swahili for slow slow i learned on Kili.
La Paz has a reputation for being a party town so i checked into an Irish party hostel to see what the craic was all about!! Oz guy in my room was going to bed as i arrived and proceeded to sleep all day!! The hostel was full of school leavers called "India" and "Henry" on their Garp Yars with silly haircuts all seeking cheap booze and cocaine (illegal but available...even bars where for sale over the counter)...first time on the trip that felt old but also in a hostel with people on different wavelength.
What better way for me to feel normal than heading to Gustu - a restaurant run by the management that own Noma (was best restaurant in the world!). Went for the 7 course taster menu with accompanying wines...everything is locally obtained except the cutlery and Riedel glasses! Nice way to spend $80...so much so that went again with some other friends! It was pay day after all!
As usual with big cities i do the free walking tour where you pay in tips...great way to familiarise yourself with a city...to be fair after 2 hr walking tour felt as though covered La Paz...not much else here to do.
You may of seen the Top Gear episode where they had the 4x4 in South America and i essentially am following their trip in reverse. One part of their journey involves the Death Road...named most dangerous road in the world! So i decided to mountain bike down it! Decent from 4400m to 1000m over 64km of tar but mainly gravel...if you like adrenaline sports this is one to do...they ask you for your insurance company when signing up! You get what you pay for so i went with the longest and most expensive operator which meant to bikes and superb guide. As you can tell by reading this i made it to the bottom in one piece and didn't help justify its name! The views and scenery are spectacular although we were a little unlucky with the weather.
Finally in La Paz went slightly out of town to some pre-Inca ruins at Tiwanaku with my pals Ellen and Nikita. Try Brits in shorts and T-Shirt we were under prepared for the cold and rain. These sites are interesting but a lot of imagination is required to see what it looked like years ago!!
Yesterday the La Paz marathon was on which started at 3500m upto 4000m and back again...now I need to do a SA marathon to help complete my 7 marathons on 7 continents but this is a step too far!! I helped cheer them on but considering I struggle up stairs here I think a marathon would kill me!!