The streets of La Paz

Posted: June 1, 2012 by Ben Weber in English
Tags: , , , , , ,

La Paz is really one great city to wonder around in. It is busy – lots of pedestrians, lots of cars; police in the streets whistling at the traffic; lots of hills to walk up and down; hundreds of buses (probably more than have ever seen in one place at one time); loads of people in buses yelling at the people in the streets about which direction their bus is going in; musical cash machines; so many ladies dressed in traditional clothes, with bowler hats on at slanted angles, balanced on top of their heads, and long flowing skirts as well as decorative showls… it is difficult not to find something of interest whichever street you end up going along. The fumes from the traffic can be difficult to take – the black, unfiltered, smoke does poor into the street – but, with the exception of when we got fumigated along the main avenue going towards the city’s bus terminal (if there is a next time during our time here, we will get a taxi to this place… but mountaineering is starting soon, so I doubt this will happen!), fortunately these fumes haven’t taken too much  away from our enjoyment of the place…

Whilst we have been in the city, we have spent much of the time in the northern region around the San Francisco Church, where we initially went on our first full day here. To the left of the Church (as you face up the hill) you can go up the valley sides to a load of different side alleys where there are a hundreds of little stores with handicrafts (and also the Coca Museum for anyone interested in the history of Coca). So much colour, it makes it extremely photogenic (though be careful about the time you go for photography as the contrast between the light and shadow is extreme, making it difficult to meter the light properly (HDR images could be a good idea). We also found a mountaineering store a few blocks up called Tatoo – very good place where we were able to pick up some last minute items.

We also found Calle Sagarnaga, which crosses the main trunk road going from north to south. The street is a bustling commercial area, which features street markets at night as well as plenty of shops during the daytime. On one part of the street near the municipal theatre (at the moment at least) there is a series of four strange metal-structured-cows. Very bizarre, and quite fun to see how they were made. Also the street leads into a plaza with government buildings and churches. Jaen Street – an old, quaint and extremely picturesque street, with four museums and some nice café-bars. One of these, Mistiso café bar, whilst providing us with one of the worst ice-cream-coffee experiences ever (just go for a normal latte… much safer!), has a great selection of music during the daytime and also has great character – looks like it will be good to spend a Friday or Saturday evening there, so we will be off there later tonight.

At night the area behind the San Francisco Church really comes to life with a huge street market sprawling across the streets on both sides of the main avenue. Plenty of foods, cheap products and interesting bits and pieces as well as a lively atmosphere can help you while the hours away as you go through all the stalls.

  1. Jonathan Weber says:

    Whatever you do don’t forget to try the saltenas! (with chicken)

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