After our fun and games at the salt flats, it was time to start meandering our way back up Bolivia. First stop; Potosi for the mines and hot springs. Well that was the plan at least.
Leaving Uyuni by bus should have been a simple affair, there’s no bus station so all the buses line up along a street near the main square. With no information about which street we struggled to find it, wandering around for an embarrassing amount of time before realising it was actually just a couple of blocks from our hostel, oops! It’s only a 3-4 hour trip to Potosi (30Bs), the scenery is epic and the roads are in surprisingly good condition for Bolivia (I think they’ve been recently paved).
The bus arrived in sunny Potosi but dropped us off on a busy street about 10 minutes outside of the city. With no hostel booking or map we were at a loss, the taxi drivers weren’t much help as they didn’t know any hostel names. Eventually we asked for plaza central and that seemed to work. We could’ve walked but it’s all uphill and as we were now in the highest city on earth (4100m) we were quite happy to splash out the 10Bs (£1.10) for a taxi.
Unsure of where we wanted to stay we popped into Cafe La Plata for a humongous plate of salad. There was about a weeks worth of my ‘5 a day’ in front of me, it was a good moment. After the healthiest meal in Bolivia we wandered around the corner and looked in the first hostel we saw. Hostal Carlos V Imperial won us over immediately. Hot showers and wifi? Yes please. We were shown to the only dorm room which was brand new and better yet, completely empty. Not bad for 50Bs a night.
Wandering around town was fun, Potosi is a relaxed place and just fab for people watchers like us. There aren’t too many gringos around either, most people miss Potosi out and head straight for Sucre meaning it’s very cheap to eat out and there aren’t any tourist touts to hassle you.
Dinner at 4060 was great, we walked for an hour or so looking for cheapo restaurants but this one called out to us with it’s vibrant atmosphere and warm fire. We ate there twice and perved at most of the food being served so it’s a good choice if you ever find yourself in Potosi.
After an amazing nights sleep (more important for H as she was a tad iffy after the bus journey) we were excited about having no agenda. It’d been a busy few weeks travelling through Peru and Bolivia hitting some major tourist spots along the way. Our original plan was to visit the silver mines and then take a trip to the hot springs. We decided that crawling through claustrophobic mines at altitude and dipping into an acidic pool that’s 80m deep with a dangerous undercurrent was actually not that appealing.
We had a wee wander around town and another super healthy lunch at La Plata, immediately ruined by ordering the best and biggest churros we’ve ever had. The sights from the viewing tower, conveniently located above the tourist info office, were spectacular. I might add that the climb is a bit of a tight squeeze up a tiny, spiralling staircase, but I loved it!
Cerro Rico (rich mountain) in particular, is so impressive as it looms over the city. It’s because of this mountain and the surrounding mines that Potosi and Sucre are rather more well off than the rest of Bolivia. Our day got even better when we visited Cherry’s for burger, fries and beer followed by the new Tarzan movie (30Bs), we even treated ourselves to popcorn. The fact that it was in Spanish was fine as there wasn’t exactly a complicated dialogue to follow, we were actually quite smug with how much of it we understood.
Hoping to top the day off with a quiet, early night, we were a bit disapointed when we arrived back at our dorm to find that six of the biggest backpacks in existence had exploded all over our floor. We had an empty no more. Luckily no one snored, we awoke excited about the next leg of our journey and headed straight for Station Neuva. After our usual search for the cheapest ride, we jumped on a bus, this time heading to Sucre.