We spent one full day in La Paz, Bolivia, and that truly was plenty. We were pretty beat from the go-go-go traveling from Cusco to Puno to La Paz, but we also knew it wasn't going to slow down until Argentina.
We took advantage of the two days by sleeping in both mornings.
We had breakfast at the hostel and chatted with two couples, one from Australia and one from Ireland, about traveling and received advice about Salar de Uyuni. They also reconfirmed our decision to fly from La Paz to Uyuni, after hearing about their miserable bus trip from Uyuni to Potosi and on to La Paz. It is a 14+ hour bus ride, and only about 1/3 of the road is paved. Contrast that with a 45 minute flight on a comfortable jet, and the decision is easy, even if it is 3 times more expensive.
We did a bit of research and walked around the city. We walked through the witches market and then grabbed lunch at Paceña La Salteña for delicious salteñas. A salteña is similar to an empenada, but the dough is sweet and the filling is juicy chicken or beef. We placed an order of 4 and then ordered another one. So good.
We left Salteñas in search of an old, historic street called Calle Jaen, named for a rebel leader who fought the spaniards. It was a quaint street full of well-preserved colonial buildings. It's a nice change from the overbuilt, shabby modernism of most of La Paz.
We had heard about a lookout called Mirador Killi Killi, but after walking into a not-so-great part of town, we still couldn't figure out how to get up to the top, so we threw in the towel and got a cab back to the hostel to catch up on the blog.
After relaxing for a good portion of the afternoon, we decided to grab some comfort food from a nearby Cuban restaurant called Sabor Cubano. What a treat! The food was good, not quite Tampa-Cuban-good, but pretty good. Brian tried 2 Cuban beers and we both enjoyed live Cuban music.
We were certain at least one of the two-man band was Cuban, but after Brian thanked them for the jam session and told him we were from Tampa, the guy said he was Peruvian not Cuban. We were so surprised! We had the opportunity to briefly tell him about the history of Tampa and its ties to Cuba.
We started our short walk home along our street that is bustling during the day, but totally locked up at night. This caused us to completely miss our hostel. After backtracking and paying closer attention, we realized it was also locked up, with no one in sight. I began to have a bit of an anxiety attack in my mind. Brian found a door bell but after ringing it, no one came to the door. He rang again and finally someone unlocked the doors and let us in. I was so relieved. My mind was racing to a million possible scenarios and I was so relieved we didn't have to figure out a Plan B at 11 pm.
La Paz still isn't our favorite city, but it definitely grew on us. It's very gritty, but also has some great places. It's a city I feel comfortable in during the day, with all the hustle and bustle, but late at night is a bit unnerving.
We flew out the next day to Uyuni on Amaszonas Airlines, which was an easy 45-minute flight. We had a wonderful view of the altiplanos dipping into the valley where La Paz is. The lights start and stop again in an incredible fashion.