Our next destination La Paz took us a lot further into Bolivia. La Paz (3640 m) is the seat of the Bolivian government and by population the second largest city of Bolivia after Santa Cruz de la Sierra. It was established in 1548 by the Spanish conquistadors and is located in the middle of the Andes.
After leaving Copacabana around 1pm the bus headed along lake Titicaca until we reached the Port of San Pedro de Tequina. This is where the official national route #2 passes across lake Titicaca to San Pablo de Tequina and supplies a big shortcut towards driving all along the coast line of lake Titicaca.
The Bolivian fairy systems works as follows: All people leave the bus and get shipped to the other side via a small passenger or fisher boat:
The empty bus gets shipped on one of these ramshackled rafts:
And it’s quite amazing that they manage to cross…
On the other side people get to enjoy small snacks and refreshments while they wait for the bus to arrive.
As we continued our trip towards La Paz we passed beautiful landscapes and got closer and closer to the mountains:
A half hour from La Paz the bus stopped and the bus driver informed us that there was an organized strike. This meant the city entrances were blocked and no vehicles were able to enter…
Around us there were many other people waiting for the blockade to be removed and the traffic to continue:
10 minutes later our bus driver offered us the options to either wait until the strike had ended (which could easily take several hours), or to pay him another 5 Bolivianos (around 0.7 USD) per person and he would take us into La Paz on a secret path…
Of course we agreed to the second option thinking it was a cheap rip-off to increase the bus fare.
But as the bus continued to pass small villages, farm houses, dirt roads and even small rivers we realized that this extra effort and off-road driving did deserve an extra fee.
With over 2 hours delay we finally arrived in La Paz and while passing through the city we got a first grasp of the big city life:
During the next days we started out to explore La Paz and passed by many beautiful sites.
For example Calle Jaen which is one of the few places in the city with preserved colonial buildings which house several interesting museums:
Some less well preserved buildings:
The Plaza Murillo on the left surrounded by government buildings and the city cathedral:
The government buildings surrounding the Plaza Murillo:
And from the viewpoint on a small hill called Mirador Killi Killi (3685 m), the view over the different parts of the city:
Back down in the city center we saw many scenes seeming quite funny to us. For example a traditionally dressed woman pushing a wheelbarrow full of popcorn:
We found several interesting places serving all kinds of delicious food:
We visited the museum of contemporary Bolivian art. While they show interesting works by Aymara painters but also by students and up-comers the visit is already worth it for the building which is one of the very few restored 19th century mansions with a glass roof and stained glass panels designed by Gustave Eiffel.
On the outside the traffic lights managed to catch our attention. While the green “Go” manikin is animated and starts walking with increasing speed as the phase approaches its end, the “Stop” manikin reminded us of a wild west character ready to pull his revolver:
One of the other activities we carried out around La Paz was riding the “Most Dangerous Road of the World” by bike. We will report on this adventure on one of the following posts 🙂
Another one of our adrenaline rich activities was the so called “Urban Rush”. In this activity you run down the vertical side wall of the hotel Presidente in the center of La Paz. Of course we verified that the company used very good and up to date safety measures (Petzl equipment, 2 independent ropes, trained personal, etc.).
This Urban Rush activity was really a blast! Here the view from the top floor exit right over the plaza and the San Francisco cathedral:
Looking down vertically over 50m you must definitely be free from giddiness:
Not quite yet ready for take off:
First you perform at least one dry run under the eyes of your critical instructor:
Once you are standing at the edge of the exit, those 50m look very high …
And then the most difficult part starts: You have to overcome your fear and let go of the safety handle and walk the edge …
Hanging next to the suits they had an interesting citation of Mark Twain: “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.”
Walking face first makes it a lot more scary but also a lot more fun!
Once you are out it’s almost as normal walking. You walk down that wall, step by step:
The last 20 m they let you “free fall” to stop you few meters above the platform. You know its coming, but it still scares the heck out of you to see the ground approaching so quickly 🙂
Of course Tini also urban rushed down the hotel Presidente:
No, she definitely was not drunk, just taking very big steps 😉
Without the zoom to appreciate the full height of the building:
And a video of Tini’s free fall”. Unfortunately Andy zoomed back while Tini “fell” down, making the fall seem less fast…
Make sure you have the speakers on when you watch it 🙂
Once you have firm ground under your feet you just go crazy with all that adrenaline in your body…
After all that excitement we headed over to the San Francisco museum for a quiet place to calm down again. Once again there was a marching band performing together with local musicians from a nearby village:
On the inside of the cathedral we enjoyed the peace and quiet of the cloister but also the religious paintings and historical artifacts.
Right next to the museum is the basilica of San Francisco. The church was founded in 1548 by Fray Francisco de los Ángeles and on the inside shows 16th-century Spanish and mestizo trends.
Walking up a narrow passway…
one gets access to the roof:
With an interesting view over the San Francisco Plaza:
The next station visited was the witches’ market. Here vendors sell everything from Bolivian musical instruments, bags, clothes, soapstone figurines, aphrodisiac formulas, llama fetuses and dried frogs for Aymara rituals.
Before we headed for the over night bus to Potosi we had a small but typical Bolivian snack consisting of an empanada on the left and a salteña which is a type of baked empanada. The Huari beer is also typical Bolivian.
On the way to the bus station we passed by a Burger King and couldn’t believe our eyes when we looked inside, where they call it the “La Casa Del Whopper”…
Were wondering if on the inside of Mc Donald’s they write “La Casa Del Big Mac” 🙂
Luckily we had snacked already and headed on towards the bus station for the overnight bus to Potosi, the highest city of the world!