Bolivian long haul buses are not the same as those we experienced in Argentina. While not as bad as what I was trying to brace myself for, there was no food, no heating and a little bit of scary driving. From Uyuni to Sucre, it was about 8 hours and we managed to get a direct bus, many companies require you to change in Potosi. We were driving overnight and up into the mountains a bit as well. It wasn’t so much the scary driving, but more so the strong winds and windy road. There were a few times I was worried our double-decker bus would topple due to a combination of the winds, the road and the lack of braking around corners. After those instances, I just closed my eyes and tried to go to sleep – the best coping strategy.
At 5am we pulled into Sucre bus station, bleary-eyed and not ready to face the day. It’s always at these times we get stung by taxi drivers – they prey on the vulnerable, non-Spanish speaking tourists and get a much better fare than they should. Not really – it is just our laziness after transit to haggle. Our hostel wasn’t too far away from the bus station. Thankfully our room was ready once we arrived and we got a few extra hours of sleep.
Sucre was a very pretty town, especially after the sparseness of Uyuni. Lots of green space, white colonial buildings and plenty of squares. We used the time in Sucre to relax a bit. The Altoplato tour while short, was intense with a lot of driving which does make you exhausted.
The highlight for both myself and Dave was the market. The central market was housed in a building and reflected the layout of a supermarket, more so than other markets we have been too. Basically, all the meat vendors were in one area, as were the fruit and vegetables, household goods and cheeses. Plus there was a whole section of these incredible cakes, with thick icing and all the artificial colours you could think of. I didn’t get to try them, but I could just imagine how sugary sweet they would be.
Within the markets they also had a few food stalls, selling choripan and a range of traditional Bolivian meals. We hadn’t quite steeled our stomachs for market meals just yet so we didn’t buy anything there, even though Dave was pretty keen on a choripan. We did, however, buy some vegetables for dinner. Some known, some unknown but they were all delicious and made an amazing pasta. There is just something about the produce over here, it is just so fresh and tasty.
Bolivia had one prince and princess only, something I didn’t know until Dave research what we should be doing in Sucre. The title was given to them by the Pope and they lived in a Castillo de la Glorieta, about 7km out of town. The couple died childlessly so the title was never passed on.
Being used to walking each day, we decided to walk the way to the pink castle. This was a bit of an experience and felt a lot longer than the 5.5km Google Maps showed us. It took us through several local towns which was a bit of an eye-opening experience. I definitely felt like a foreigner and out of place there. It was a bit more insight into daily life for a Bolivian outside of the city.
The castle shares its ground with an Army checkpoint/base. This confused us greatly as we weren’t sure how we were to enter the castle. Our instincts were to avoid officers with guns but we worked out that was the only way in. We need not have worried as we weren’t even stopped, they just let us waltz through and onto the castle. At the castle, there was an entrance fee but you also had to pay a fee if you wanted to take any photos. Because we had walked so far, we didn’t want to come away with just memories so we paid. As a result, I think we took the most photos we have taken of a single attraction.
The castle was pretty cool – with many rooms and stain glassed windows. It was looked after, but not restored. It would be an amazing place if it was restored. We walked up to the tower (the only way up a very long spiral staircase) and looked out onto the grounds (and the army base). After our visit, we had our first Bolivian experience in a collective, a small van that picks up passengers like a bus. We definitely weren’t walking back. It was pretty uneventful, incredibly cheap and we were back in Sucre before we knew it.
Sucre is known for its chocolate and not really having too much since we started travelling, I decided we needed to taste test to two of the better-known brands. We got Chocolate with Quinoa from Chocolates Para Ti and from Taboada, a packet of truffle-like chocolates with different fillings . After careful consideration and the entire block/pack, I much preferred the chocolate with quinoa. It wasn’t quite as rich as the truffles. But I would happily eat both again.
Being Bolivia, Sucre has a few hills and incredible viewpoints. We decided to venture up one for sunset. We walked up to Plaza Pedro de Anzurez and were presented with a vista of the entire city, and as it was a bar, a few beers as well. It was an incredible view and we were even serenaded by local musicians. A pretty great way to say goodbye to our last full day in Sucre.
Sucre airport is not close to the city. We learned this the hard way when we thought we had allowed enough time to get to the airport on time. Mind you we didn’t count on a barely road-worthy cab (the speedo didn’t work) that also needed to refuel on the trip. Luckily though, the airline only needed us to be checked in 30 minutes before so we made it, but it was definitely one stressful cab ride.