La Paz

La Paz Travel Blog

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Our bus from Copacabana to La Paz finished with a stunning view coming in to La Paz. The city is in a very steep crater-like valley, and the bus drives in from the top so you can see right down in to the city.

We got a hotel close to the main plaza that was the first hotel with a lift that I had stayed at all of the trip. Shortly after getting there we went off to a French restaurant that Lonely Planet had recommended. The food there was fantastic and we had some fine Bolivian wine to top it off.

The next day we checked out some of the La Paz city sights. First we checked out the nearby coca museum, which was a small place that showed many of the aspects of coca leaf use, from traditional chewing to modern day cocaine and its uses and abuses. It was interesting enough to be worth a short visit.

We then went to the museum at the San Francisco cathedral. The first part of it takes you to a high section of the cathedral where the choir sits, and there is a tiny stairway passage up to the roof where the bells are. Other parts of the museum included some very cool art pieces. We thought we were at the end when someone working there offered to show us around the crypt. The cathedral was closed to the public but we got led in through a gate so we were the only ones inside. Near the front altar was a stairway under the cathedral into the crypt. Inside were some urns and some caskets of various important people. It was a very Indiana Jones experience.

We walked around the centre of La Paz some more and found an art museum that had many impressive pieces. We kept walking on until we came to the square where a Bolivian president was pulled out of his palace there by an angry mob and hanged from a lamp post. The square also stood out for its sheer number of pidgeons - they were everywhere! It was even hard to walk around without kicking any stumbling around. We went into an ice cream shop next to the square where I ate by far the biggest sundae of my life.

The next day Ryan and I decided to get some bragging rights under our belt by playing a round of golf on the highest golf course in the world - the La Paz Golf Club at 3352 metres. It is the only golf course in La Paz and it is very expensive, but it seemed like too good of a story to not go. Liz came along as our witness to the achievement. It took us about 30-45 minutes to get out there to a very wealthy suburb. The golf course is a private one but they were happy to accept tourists who want to pay the fees. Caddies are compulsory so we were assigned a couple of members, got some hire clubs, and headed out.

The golf course is very high standard in terms of quality of grass, landscaping, and some very challenging sections. I didn't really play anywhere near my best but it was still a lot of fun. We were well acclimitised to the altitude so we didn't really feel that we were on the highest course in the world. A couple of the par 3's were on this very steep and jagged landscape that you had to hit over. The 12th hole is quite famous for its incredible difficulty, but that is only during competition play. When we went through we had to play on an alternative but easier 12th hole instead. The weather looked like it was going to turn very bad but we managed to thankfully avoid the storm and got through the round with only a bit of rain at one point. We thanked the caddies and headed back to La Paz in a taxi.

That night we went to the Star of India restaurant that is known for its vindaloo that is so hot that you get a free t-shirt if you can eat it all. We didn't know where it was so we got in a taxi and asked to go there, who took us around the corner to the place. Oops. The restaurant was run by a British guy who had come over to set up shop in La Paz. I was too intimidated by the vindaloo challenge so I got the next hottest dish. It turned out to be average hot by my standards so in retrospect I regret not going for the t-shirt. The good news is I will be back in La Paz next year so I think I will have to have an attempt.

We had our last day in La Paz before getting the overnight bus to Uyuni to start our Salt Flats tour. I got a haircut at a random barber on the street which was better than I expected.
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La Paz
photo by: wilfredoc2009