Saturday, December 16, 2006

Byebye Copacabana, Hello La Paz

So, my last day in Copacabana. After coffee and cakes with lovely Lisa, I took some shots of my favourite bits of town. I present to you, the...

Crawley Copacabana Tourist Awards!

Hotel: La Cupula

My room!

The hammock holders

The hostel

The all important shower. Sorry it's not an "action" shot!

Not that I've had much experience of others, but it beats Utamu where I stayed the first night. Excellent showers (am I beginning to get obsessed?), pretty with whitewashed walls, domes and lots of plants and flowers, beautiful views. friendly behind the desk, and three gardens all equipped with hammocks! What more could one ask for? Wifi, yes, I know!

Cappuccino: Cafe Bistrot, on 6th August Street.

The only place which didn't try to make it really sweet, or worse, put cream instead of froth! Plus a bit over the magic 1/3 of froth for bonus points. Only negative was the sprinkling of ?nutmeg? on the top. Aesthetically pleasing but unnecessary IMHO!

Internet: Alf@Net

Best of a poor bunch I'm afraid. Expensive, at 12 Bolivianos per hour, slow, though this was allegedly a pan-Copacabana thing, as once after giving up waiting 5 minutes and still not getting BBC News or GMail up, I went to another cafe, where they also said it was unusable. However, good music played in the background, and relatively modern PCs.

Restaurant: Jardin

Is it a bird, is it a plane?

The garden and *outside toilets*!

I must buy some of these lampshades

At least I think that's what it's called. Touristico? Yes.. Vegetariano? Well not exclusively.. But if you make it past the confusing frontage, there is a friendly place with fairly good food and a great selection of Manu Chau music! They do make their pizzas with a muffin base, which takes some getting used to, and they're not overly generous with mozzarella on their salads, but they have a proper log fire, and crazy rastafarian decor, though on the bus to La Paz I suddenly got thinking that maybe this is just the Bolivian flag mixed up!

Pizza: La Posta

Good sizes - everywhere else tended to only have large pizzas at about 30Bl. They had personal sized pizzas, good selection of ingredients, and a friendly waitress. Downsides are that the olives were not pitted (an issue across the whole continent it would seem), and it seems to be a hangout for the local hippies, to the extent that half the restaurant was turned into a tattoo parlour when I was trying to finish my pizza!!

Trout: Shack Number 1
The first one I tried - always busy, and trout of a good standard. Only had a hair in my dish once!

Boating company: AndesAmazonia

The other company, Titicaca
Consistently faster than Titicaca (pictured), good price, and with the option of seeing the Inca ruins at Pilka Kaino ? on the South side of the island. Also always less busy which is important, you don't want a load of rude smelly French sitting on your lap for the hour or so it takes to get back and forth!

Final morning was marred with bad weather, the first since I've been here, with really nasty hail for a short time. What can I say, the place is sorry to see me go..

Paddle for the hills..!

To La Paz..

The bus to La Paz is relatively uneventful - I get "moved" from my seat by a middle aged French couple who insist I have their seat. I don't of course, it's free seating, but I move anyway, although this is when the bus is nearly full, so I get one of the worst seats. Their error then becomes apparent. Too late now. We also have a screaming child on board. Cue evil stares from all other passengers. Interestingly, the coach has to cross the lake at one point. [GPS:16.21925S, 68.85114W]. We all alight, then it is driven on to what is effectively a large wooden barge, and floated across. We go separately in small motor boats. Surreal sight!

Nobody rock the boat!

Ominous clouds loom as we approach La Paz, and sure enough it is raining as we descend from El Alto (the suburb town of La Paz which is the fastest growing city in South America (I think) into La Paz itself. The view is amazing as we wind our way down the hillside into town. I can only liken it to a goldfish bowl with city stuck to all sides. Going to be fun walking about!

Drip drip drip

First impressions of La Paz:

Aside from the goldfish bowl thing..
Seems safe. Lots of people have said to me to be careful, take taxis etc, but at least where I am, I don't feel threatened.
Very pretty girls, maybe it's a capital city thing?
The main danger here appears to be obesity from the number of fast food joints! On the street corners, and every other shop seems to be some sort of burger joint, or pizza takeaway place! The international one is BK, but the vast majority are local-brand.
In the evening I go to the Thelonious Jazz Bar. I discover that some beers and a bottle of wine is a bit too much for me on an empty stomach. I sleep well.. :)

Had a thought about stuff I've missed on my travels - here are a few things that I would still like to see - making the point that the journey is never over:
Mauritius: the Northern beaches
Egypt: Alexandria, Red Sea, Mount Sinai
Peru: Arequipa, Canyons, Condors, Volcano Misti, the Jungle
Bolivia: Trekking in the Cordillera Real, the Salt Flats at Uyami
Central America and Caribbean

Right, off to explore La Paz! Incidentally I'm staying at Hotel Rosario, at about 3800m, [GPS: 16.49558S, 68.14020W].

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