February 27th, 2008 – by: sissanoel
Presidential Palace, Plaza Murillo, La Paz.
Had a very relaxed and enjoyable day today. Slept in a bit, had a slow brekky, then followed part of a walking tour from the Lonely Planet book. The Witches Market is just down the hill from our hotel, so wandered through the stalls selling amulets, candles, powders, dried llama foetuses and almost every other esoteric thing you can think of. From here, we followed the road down to the Plaza San Francisco, site of the large church. We went in for a quick look, but really more of the same - lots of gold and artwork in shrines up and down each side. We´re probably nearly reached our maximum church quota! From here, we walked up to the Plaza Murillo (ably assisted across the zebra crossing on the main road by two zebras!) to see the government buildings.
Courtyard of the National Art Museum, La Paz.
We saw a government minister come out of the palace-everything was peaceful, and then suddenly security ran everywhere, press took off across the road, and he jumped into his motorcade and left. One of the side streets was hosting a protest of some sort, and the fire works being detonated were deafening. Decided to walk up a different street! We stopped at the National musuem of Art for an hour or so, full of some very well-restored and maintained paintings, plus lots of contemporary sculptures. The museum is housed in an old courtyard building, and is a lovely oasis in the city. We wandered down the pedestrian mall past more fried chicken restaurants than you could poke a stick at, and finally found a little local restaurant where we ate a four course meal, including coca cola, for Bs12 each (about A$2).
Police on duty in Plaza Murillo, La Paz.
Food may not be anything particularly special here, but at least it´s cheap! Mind you, the soup was delicious, full of veggies, noodles and even a bit of meat. Headed back to the hotel via the markets clustered around the pedestrian overpass, which was an interesting exercise. Saw lots of the local shoe-shine boys, who are identified by wearing ski mask balaclavas, with just holes for the eyes. This is quite disconcerting when you first see them, and would certainly cause stress in other countries with a fear of terrorist attacks! The markets were just alley upon alley of little stalls selling anything you could want, we got some chips and a bottle of wine, so went back to the hotel to enjoy them. Had a very lazy afternoon with our snacks then off to dinner with the new group to Olivers Travels, a 100% fake British pub (in the words of the flyer). The food was pitiful (apart from the mashed potatoes which Noel said was really nice), the beer tasted very weak and the owner was so busy being cool that he kept messing up the orders. Won´t be going there again.