La Paz, city of hills

Trip Start Nov 03, 2012
Trip End Dec 31, 2012

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Flag of Bolivia  , La Paz Dept,
Thursday, November 15, 2012

Our overnight bus, recommended to us by the Joy Ride company, was the Trans Copocabana MEM company.
Was a lemon.
A stinking lemon.

Once we boarded at 7:30pm there was a gentle waft of urine that was so regular and so imminent that it was less likely that it came from a msshap in the bano (toilet), and more likely it came from the bus carpet or even seats itself.
The tv screens, erected for long travel entertainment were all missing bar the one at the front. That one packed up 20 mins into a jackie chan flash back by giving a whimper, a fizzle and a puff of expensive smoke.
The sound, dubbed in Spanish, Continued.

The driver was less risk taking than our taxi from Pototsi, possibly only because he was on a bus, at night, with touchy breaks.

How do we know they were touchy you ask? Because at 1:44am I awoke near the base of my reclined chair because he touched them too hard, too late after missing a random pothole/speed hump/llama.

That was not the only touchy thing on the bus. Minutes later we could tell by smell alone, someone had been really scared.

5 hours more and a combination of scents and navigational bingo we arrived alive at the terminus of the bus centre in La Paz and surprisingly on time. First impressions - large, steep, densely populated, and well, Bolivian

It was a relatively short walk down (what would be a long walk up if we didn't use a taxi in the future) to the main district for all a traveler would want to see in La Paz.
Without 'too' much trouble, using the Lonely Planet guide's map, we arrived at Hotel Fuentes.
Thinking we were more than a little early we intended to ask just to store our bags and return later, the welcome surprise was that we were checked in and up to our room before 8.30.

Showers were desperately called for and only a few items needed to be incinerated. The rest were piled into a bag for laundry purposes that are provided by the hotel (fast=same day, normal=next)
The map provided by the hotel was a little wanting in detail so we grabbed the guide, went around to Pepe's cafe for breakfast (strong coffee, good fruit salad and yoghurt, satisfying egg and tomato roll) and planned the day.

We had a handful of brochures from the hotel, giving us options, ideas and one giving us an idea for cross border travel.
One option was days of wandering the city followed by a few days cruising the lake before heading to Puno.
We needed more information. So we walked down to the city's main information booth at Plaza del Estudiante where we met a very helpful and informed woman who gave us all the bus related info we could need, scrawled onto a massive city map with times and suggested outings.
Armed with more info, we went back to Fuentes to use the wifi and plan further.
A tour company 'America Tours' came up in many ways as one to consider and we discovered they arranged a 3 day 2 night tour that would take us from La Paz, to the island of the sun, to Copocabana and finally onto Puno, Peru. Sold!  We headed to the tour office and booked to depart on 17 November. 
That would leave us just tomorrow to fill in the city or out of it.

It was well and truly lunch time.  On the recommendation of the guide book we crossed the main road and headed back up in the direction of the bus terminal. We were seeking out a cafe which has some acclaim as being the spot to be; to see important local figures in the area.  (Not that we would we know who they were).
That it may be. And it may also have a claim to fame for coffee and cake. But for lunch it had little to crow about.
Though it did re awaken my childhood love of the submarine, it's chips were soggy.
Soggy chips can destroy a mood.

Fortunately our mood was bolstered by the knowledge there were sights to see up the hill (Alexis wrote this, the only up hill thing I'll be excited about is Macchu Pichu).
A few blocks from the main drag we found, according to our map, multiple cultural spots of interest (political palaces museums etc).
We photographed them all.
We saw them all, mostly from the outside.

Went to Oliver's Pub, and 'English' pub for a cider and a relax while we plotted our evening.
Seems 'coming back to Oliver's Pub for a smurf themed evening was on the cards. So that's what we did.

Woo hoo.
Went shopping for a blue top.
Quite a hard ask in a country where 7 colours in one outfit is considered conservative.

Returned to the pub for English food, Bolivian wine and a parade of smurfs.

We were to old to see out the 4am closing time so headed back to Fuentes for a good sleep.
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