Rain, tin barons and an enormous Jesus

Cochabamba Travel Blog

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Cristo de la Concordia, Cochabamba
Very wet day today, started to rain overnight and barely stopped all day.  But being the hardy, intrepid explorers that we are, we did not let a little dampness stop us (plus, being from southern Australia, rain is actually a bit of a novelty to us now!).  Walked from the hotel to the Plaze 14 de Setiembre to find nothing open, so continued up to the Avenida de los Heroines where we found a great little cafe called Dumbos.  And yes, there were lots of the floppy eared flying elephant decorating the walls, so obviously copyright infringement is not a huge issue here!  However, we had the best cup of coffee yet at this place, plus some delicious little pastries for breakfast, so went away very happy.  We then walked over to the Palacio de Portales, the amazing house built by tin baron Simon Patiño but never lived in by him.
View of Cochabamba from the base of the Christ statue.
  He built his home in the style of a European villa and then furnished it with incredible European antiques and fittings, including parquetry flooring from Roman villas.  He also imported the artists to paint the many murals and walls.  The Lonely Planet said the house was closed on Sundays, but we arrived just before 11am and were lucky to get on a guided tour (in Spanish but we got the general idea!).  This house is so worth a visit, it´s incredible to view the splendour, although not when you consider that in Patño´s lifetime something like 60% of the world´s tin came out of Bolivia.  Unfortunately, Patiño had a heart condition and just as the house was finished he moved to Argentina for the climate, so never actually got live in his creation.
The tin baron´s house, Cochabamba,
  Afterwards, his children created a cultural house with the property, for recitals, studies and all sorts of good works.
Seeing as it was still raining, we decided to get a taxi over to the Cristo de la Concordia and took a cablecar up to the statue´s base.  Surprisingly, the view was quite good over the city as we went up, even allowing for the constant drizzle.  This statue of Christ is actually bigger than the one in Rio and sits about 2900m above sea level.  WE walked back along the Heroinas and had lunch at a place just off it called Donals.  Interesting experience here - a bs15 set menu was advertised, but when we asked for it, the waiter said it wasn´t available and we would have to order off the meal list, where of course most dishes alone were twice the set menu price.  When we got up to leave because didn´t actually want anything that was on the meal list, the waiter rushed over and told us to sit down because he´d miraculously found just two extra servings of the set menu!!  In other words, lets scam as much out of the tourist as we can, but if they´re not prepared to be scammed, we might as well get something off them.  Also interesting that half a dozen locals came in after us and had no trouble getting the set menu!  Went back to the hotel, as we´d arrange a late check-out at Hostal Elisa (which it proudly advertises is recommended in Lonely Planet, Lets Go, etc), to find that our bed had been stripped, the towels removed and the hot water turned off.  And being able to speak some Spanish, we did not find it amusing to hear the owner outside our room (after I´d asked for a towel to have a shower and got one between us)  laughing that it didn´t matter, because there was no hot water anyway.  Another case of take the tourists´ money but don´t actually give them anything for it.  Think we´ll write to Lonely Planet about this one, because the hotel is using their fame to push an inferior service.  Some of the others in our group had rooms that were like dungeons with parts of the ceiling falling in.
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Cristo de la Concordia, Cochabamba
Cristo de la Concordia, Cochabamba
View of Cochabamba from the base o…
View of Cochabamba from the base …
The tin baron´s house, Cochabamba,
The tin baron´s house, Cochabamba,
Cochabamba
photo by: jendara