Cochabamba - completely missable

Trip Start Sep 29, 2010
Trip End Nov 30, 2011

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Hostel Elisa

Flag of Bolivia  ,
Friday, November 26, 2010

Thursday morning we left La Paz headed for the city of Cochabamba – supposedly a 6-7 hr bus trip. We were fortunate that we ended up on a very spacious sleeper bus rather than one of the more cramped local buses – certainly one of our more comfortable journeys thus far. It also turned out to be doubly fortunate as our 6-7 hr journey ended up being nearly 8 hrs by the time we arrived in Cochabamba.

Coming into Cochabamba, the city had a very industrial feel. Lots of low-rise buildings lined both sides of the street with various building material depots, truck and vehicle part outlets and other industrial-type businesses.

Our hostel looked fine from the outside, but inside it was a slightly different story. After being given a room that looked like it came from the 1940s, we were moved to another, slightly more modern room, with a blown power outlet, only one working light and no hot water – needless to say, we weren't entirely impressed. Fortunately the bed was comfortable, the internet was free, and we only had to put up with the room for one night.

Our tour leader, Zaida, took us to a local restaurant for dinner. Considering the size of most of the restaurants that we go to, this place was huge – It looked like it could easily accommodate at least a couple of hundred people at any one time. It was full of Cochabamban locals, and it really did look like we were the only foreigners in the restaurant. The menu, as well, was almost entirely Bolivian. Despite a little apprehension at trying to pick something off a local menu I managed to select very well and had a fantastic meal – very happy.

With not a whole lot to do in Cochabamba we all hung around the hostel until midday on Friday, to relax and use the internet. And with our night bus not departing until around 7.30pm we still had the afternoon to explore the city.

After checking out of the hostel we walked up to the main square and promptly went straight to lunch – of course, if there’s nothing to do, we can always eat. The only activity that really appealed to everyone was heading to the hilltop east of the city centre where the Cristo de le Concordia stands, and looks out over the city. To save our legs the 30-40 min walk to the base of the hill we grabbed a couple of taxis, and once there jumped on the teleferico (gondola) to the top of the hill. The Cristo statue is reportedly the largest in the world – even larger than the one that stands on top of Sugarloaf Mountain in Rio de Janeiro. It’s quite impressive, although being up close to it I would have thought that the one in Rio would be taller, but apparently not. The views out over the city weren’t particularly spectacular so after about 30 mins at the top photographing Cristo, and hiding from the warm sun, we headed back down.

For some of our group, that was enough exertion for one day as they headed back to the hostel , but Kerry and I headed back to the main square to take a few more photographs, wander around, and to get some ice cream before heading back to the hostel ready for the night bus.

Sadly, at the end of the day, we felt that Cochabamba was entirely missable, and that our time could have been spent much better elsewhere. It came as no surprise to us to hear that GAP have decided to drop Cochabamba from their tour itinerary for next year on the basis that they would be much better served going straight from La Paz to Sucre – a good idea from our perspective.

Our next stop is the colonial town and former capital, Sucre.

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Tracey on

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! Sorry it's a day late, I couldn't remember my login password. I hope you had a great birthday, and managed to spoil yourself. Wishing you the best my love!

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