South American cities have some amazing street art, and La Paz is no exception. Here are some of my favourites around the Sagaraga and Sopocachi areas. Enjoy...
My quest to eat the best street food continues and the ones I found in Bolivia were amazing. Here are some of my favourites:
My first cheese-related street food - and one of three for this set. Empanadas are common in South America generally but I first discovered them in Bolivia - being too obsessed with ceviche in peru to look further than that. But empanadas are god's own pastry pocket of cheesy joy and it's really hard to get a bad one. Make sure yours comes straight out of the oven. My fav route place was empanada Maria on Illampu where they go for about 4 bolivianos.
Rollo de queso
Yes, there's a theme here. These taste a little like scones with cheese melted through it. They delight the mouth. The best ones I got in La Paz, and I did try a few places, were made by a lovely casser, Vicky, who sells them every day on the corner of the Sagarnaga and Illampu. They're about 2 bolivianos each.
These little parcels of goodness are actually from the empanada family, but are baked and filled with all sorts of yummy things. My favourite fillings were, surprisingly, cheese and chicken.
Basically fried pork rind - and who doesn't like fried pork rind? You can get it at little stalls on the streets where the cholita chefs sit with their broth to marinate them in and then pop them in their deep fryer. The best one I had was in Lanza, where they're served with choclo (big corn kernels), rice and Chuño, a dehydrated, blackened potato, all in a plastic bag for take away or on a plate, wrapped in plastic, to save on washing. Efficient.
Queso, huevo and plata sandwiches
This is a common snack sold at little street cafés. Basically it's egg, Andean cheese (again. Delicious) and avocado with some chilli on top if you like the heat.
And I do.
How wonderful is it to wander the streets of a new city and find some amazing artwork there, for all to enjoy.
Here are six of my favourites from around the Miraflores and Barranco areas of Lima, Peru. Enjoy:
Asking for the wifi code in every establishment you go into
When I first started travelling on this adventure, I remember tentatively, apologetically asking the waiter what their wifi code was. Now, I ask before I even order, in every single place - even in my spanish school. It's become quite normal, and places even advertise the fact that they have wifi - and, indeed, I tend to only go into ones that have the wifi sign in their windows. If I did this in London, I'd get a strange look and a no - but that's only if I asked, which I wouldn't as I wouldn't need to.
Becoming Facebook/Whatsapp buddies with someone within the first few hours of knowing each other
When you travel, you become very close friends with people very quickly and the very best ways to keep in contact with people is on Facebook or Whatsapp. With said wifi connection that you ask for at every establishment you enter.
Striking up conversations with anyone and everyone who looks fairly normal - or even quite peculiar and interesting - within a five metre radius
When I left Australia to move to London, I remember thinking that one of the many many benefits was that I was forced to step outside the comfort zone of my friends and meet new people. I had to - I didn't know anyone at the start, nor had a job or home - so I'd have had a very lonely existence if I didn't face the fear and meet some of the wonderfully amazing friends that I ended up meeting. I did this through finding a place to live, my housemates, my work - but never really so randomly. Like on the street or the tube. That would be weird.
While travelling, though, one makes friends all the over the place. I've met some awesome people - indeed, my new Facebook/Whatsapp buddies - by just striking up conversations in the street, waiting for transport, in bars, in cafes, in pools, you name it. Fortune does indeed favour the brave.
I still can't imagine doing that on the Circle Line, though. That would still be weird.
Treating every day like it was a Saturday
OK, this isn't exactly happening to me now as I'm volunteering but generally, when you're travelling, time becomes quite fluid. You don't just lose track of what day it is, once you do remember, it has none of its previous meaning - Mondays are always wonderful when you're on the road, for instance. You have that Friday feeling every single day. Slept through Saturday night as you'd been on an overnight bus the night before? It doesn't matter, because every day is a Saturday. Good times.
Becoming ultra patriotic when something reminds you of home
While travelling, I've heard Land Downunder countless times across the Americas. Not sure why as is it really that great a song? Regardless, every time, I'll sing along, delighted. I'd probably do the same if I heard a Jimmy Barnes song - and I really don't like Jimmy Barnes. If I were in Australia, I'd wonder why I was in a place that was playing that kind of music. And then leave. I found this during the world cup too. Let's face it, the Socceroos weren't going to win it (but lord, how well did they play?!), but I would nonetheless tell everyone they would. Until they didn't. I then lost most of my interest in the world cup.
It's a funny old thing - I'm exactly where I should be and I haven't felt homesick yet, particularly not for a country I haven't lived in for over 10 years and will probably never move back to (sorry mum), but while I'm travelling, I'm 100% true blue.
Wearing - or not wearing - whatever you need to to suit the weather
As I write this, I'm wearing no less than four patterns on my person. Four different patterns that adorn a motley ensemble of clothes: a grey jumper with purple diamonds; a brown pair of leggings with white snowflakes and turquoise hearts on them; black and white llama-d socks; and a white beanie with grey geometric shapes knitted in. Delightful. And god knows how warm and content I am - winter in La Paz is quite cold. And yes, I've worn this outside.
Previously, in Central America - ah, Central America with your heat and beaches - it had been so hot that I would barely go a day without wearing my bikini. Obviously with other things covering my decency and being respectful of local customs, but a bikini nonetheless. And it was fine.
Oh yes, and I can count on one hand all the times I've worn makeup during the last four months.
When you travel for a long period of time, traditional fashion becomes a thing of the past and no one really cares about what you look like, as long as you're a good person and good company. And warm. You're accepted simply for who you are.
Not so at home. I wouldn't be seen dead wearing this ensemble in Londontown. Well, maybe in east London. Maybe that will change when I go back. Unsure.
Is there anything you do on the road that you wouldn't do back at home?
I'd been eagerly anticipating getting to Peru for many reasons, one of them being the delicious food which everyone on the road told me about. And it didn't disappoint - I spent almost a month in Lima. longer than any place I stayed in on the trip, and it was partly because I couldn't tear myself away from all the amazing restaurants and places I found. Here are seven of my favourite (including one in Ica) - I'd love your tips too!
This list is in no particular order, except for this place. Located in bohemian Barranco, Canta Rana is my favourite food place in Lima. After first discovering it, and falling in love with the atmosphere and the food, I came here day after day. And, generally, ordered the same thing, or variations on the same thing - ceviche - until I discovered the lord of ceviches, apartado con chicarron, which is ceviche with capers, avocado and calamari on top. Heaven on a plate. The place is so friendly though too that I did once try some fried octopus with some sort of garlic sauce from a fellow diners plate - yes, but they did offer - and that was completely delicious too. This is simply a must go place if you're in Lima. I actually miss it now.
Tanta will forever hold a special place in my heart as the place that first introduced me to ceviche, the joy of my mouth, and pisco sours. A quick google search has revealed they're throughout Peru and, indeed, the world - they should to come to London too. Even though I couldn't personally order anything but ceviche, my parents ordered some very delicious dishes too, including Las Croquetas Triufadoras, yummy croquettes filled with chicken in rocoto cream, and Tequenos Rellenos de Lomito Saltado, Peruvian spring rolls with finely carved steak in a rich dark sauce inside. The Tanta we kept coming back to was in Larcomar, Miraflores and had beautiful views across the Pacific ocean. Views and amazing food: you should go.
If you've been travelling for a while and miss a good steak, head straight to La Cabrera in Barranco. The little brother to the Buenos Aires steak house of the same name - and oh how I loved the steak of Buenos Aires - we went there for my mum's birthday and it did not disappoint. I ordered a rib eye with blue cheese - gorgonzola! Steak! Lord how I'd missed these things - and it was massive and delicious, particularly accompanied by the array of condiments we were presented with, from mustard to marinated mushrooms and pickled cabbage and so many things in between. Amazing. As was the Argentinian malbec we drank to accompany it. Great place.
El Tio Mario
We'd past El Tio Mario on a trip to the Puente de los Suspiros (Bridge of Sighs) in Barranco, and after I non-committedly said to my Limeño friend that I might want to try anticuchos one day, he pulled me in there, saying it was the best place in Lima to have them. And so we went, me scared by the prospect of eating beef hearts for the first time, but I really had nothing to fear, they were absolutely delicious, tasting just like barbecued steak, except somehow richer and slightly more chewy, served with salsa picante and grilled potatoes. I'll definitely be having them again.
Hacienda San Juan
OK, so this isn't in Lima, but Hacienda San Juan is amazing and should be on this list. It's actually a hotel that's currently being developed, although the restaurant and huge pool and grounds are currently open. But to the food. I had the Chancho al Cilandro, which roughly translates to pig with cilantro, but it's so much more than that. So. Much. More. The pork has been marinated in a smoky sauce and then slow cooked to ensure its tender and then barbecued again to give it a layer of crispy goodness. So good, particularly with salsa picante, a huge accompanying salad, and a pisco sour to wash it down. Strangely, on trying to find a link to the place, I could only find their Facebook page, on which you can see me riding a horse. Of course. Anyway, if you're in the area, please visit it and order this. And ride a horse.
Ok, back to Lima for this little gem: La Cafeteria. It's a little hipster, with art on every wall with mismatched frames, silent movies projected on the back wall and indie tunes playing on the sound system and I loved it. And the coffee is amazing. But to the food. The first time we came we had items from their tapas menu: a sweet little plate of mini burgers, each with different toppings and corresponding condiments (oh, I do love a good condiment), bread with a nutty cheesy topping and chicken broquetas in a sweet and sticky sauce. On return, I ordered a lasagne, which was actually just a huge bowl of melted cheese with jamon in it, served with fresh bread rolls, as if they knew that was one of my favourite comfort foods. Go there.
Anyone who knows me knows that my love for coffee knows no bounds: just feel the wrath I bring down if you ever find me without my first cup of the day. Never a good idea. Thank god for this amazing little hole in the wall, helpfully called Coffee Time, which serves perfect vanilla lattes and flat whites, accompanied by delicious freshly cooked brownies and other sweet treats. The staff are warm and friendly and it's guaranteed to be the place you come back to again and again. Particularly if you have a problem with coffee like me.