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Do you know Potosi?
A couple of years ago, I was watching a quiz game show when the question was asked - What is the highest town in the world? The three contestants looked confused and after the seven seconds time limit, all failed to guess. The bell sounded and Glen Ridge (the host) said The highest town on Earth is POTOSI. The three contestants shrugged their shoulders as if they had no idea. "Es Potosi, Bolivia" Glenn said to the camera offering me and those in my lounge a more thorough answer. It was only a week ago when I again encountered name the Potosi. I had just flown into Sucre, Bolivia when I saw a bus pass with Potosi as it's destination. It took me a full day to remember where I had heard that name before. Of course, I thought, the highest town in the world. I flagged down the nearest taxi and said Terminale de busse, sinor, I was on my way.
For a more basic option you should try the El Turista Hostal (22492) at 19 Lanza Street. Although it is a little run down it is pretty cheap and has a good location. Singles start at US $4 without bath, while doubles, also without bath, are US $6.
Closer to the bus station is the very charming Santa Maria Hostal (23255) on 244 Serrudo Avenue. All rooms have TV's and it is designed so every room is facing a well kept garden. Rooms start at $7US with bathroom, while doubles are $10 with bath.
A more local hang out is the central Confiteria Capricornia on Padilla Street. It serves basic meals like spaghetti and hamburgers for around $2 US and is open everyday from 7.00 am to 10.00 pm, which is rare in a town that almost dies during siesta time.
If you want to appreciate fully the amazing views of Potosi, then the Sky Room is the place to be. Situated on the fourth floor of 701 Bolivar Street, it looks over the south of the west of the city and the mountains past that. The food and decor are pretty standard (US $2 - ) but the view is the perfect place to spend the dusk.
There are two pretty good pizza places where you can order a huge pizza for around $5 US and take it to one of the plazas to eat. These are Kivos at 12 Quijarro Street and Argentina at 20 Linares Street.
T.K. at 7 Junin Street seems to be the most popular pub/disco in town, but this is a little bit sleazy and female travellers were hassled when I was there. Drinks cost around $1 US for a beer, and entry is free if you get there early.
The very grand Cinema Imperial on Padilla Street, shows the latest movies that Hollywood has to offer and are shown in English with Spanish subtitles. The movies seem to be very popular with the locals as they cheer and scream at the screen making it a participatory event.
Things to do: -
In 1987 UNESCO, gave the title of Monument City of America to Potosi. This extreme honor was given due to the many religious and administrative building scattered around the town. Highlights include the San Martin Church on the corner of Moyos and Pizarro, which was built in 1592. Not only is it beautiful but it is also the highest church in the world, which, according to some Roman Catholic beliefs, is the closest to Heaven. The Cathedral of Potosi is an incredibly impressive church that was built in 1564. Inside the church can be found the wooden medallions of the Assumption and the Coronation of the Virgin. The church is situated right in the middle of town next to the Plaza 10 de November, making it extremely popular. Travellers seem to sit on the steps and read. The Monastery of San Francisco (1547) on the corner of Cortes and Colque is often overlooked by tourists because it is on the city's outer limits however it is very grand and holds a series of 25 paintings of Gregorio Gamarra on the life of St Francis of Asiss.
The Mines of Cerro Ricco (just above the city ) are extremely popular for travellers. A lot of tourist agents such as Hidalgo Tours (19 Bolivar Street) and Potosi Tours (Alonso de Ibanez Square) give guided tours inside the mines for around $15 US. Miners are still working today searching for tin, and welcome with a friendly "holla" as you walk by.
Where is it:-
Contrary to what guidebooks may tell you, no passenger trains ran to Potosi. The night bus from La Paz costs US $18 and takes 10 hours. The scenery by moonlight is spectacular as the bus winds its way down the dirt roads of the mountains. A good company to go with is the Copacabana bus company.
Buses from Sucre leave 10 times a day, cost US $3 and take 4 hours.
If you arrive in either La Paz or Santa Cruz and you have not much time. Catch a plane to Sucre ($52 US from La Paz, $46 from Santa Cruz) flying Bolivian Airlines (LAB), then catch a bus
The main tourist information stand
is at Alsonso de Ibanez Square, but there are also quite a few
on Bolivia , which sell English map for 30 US cents.
There is an internet cafe on 6 de Agosto, $1.20 US an hour. Connection is surprisingly quick.
There are Entel Offices on Padilla
Street. Costs are very expensive .