It’s a pity, but pretty Sucre didn’t wow us
When we learned that Sucre, the official capital of Bolivia, is a World Heritage City we got all excited. We were given a Lonely Planet (not the guidebook of our choice) and it states “Sucre is Bolivia’s most beautiful city”. So you can imagine that our expectations were high.
Here is what we found in Sucre:
- a city centre dominated by low houses, all painted in white
- red tiled roofs and beautiful wooden doors and windows
- a number of beautiful and well cared for small parks
- many colonial buildings with wooden enclosed balconies jutting out over the footpath
- narrow roads and often even more narrow footpaths
- countless (photo-shy) people in colourful traditional clothes
- a religious procession complete with brass band, dancing, and the obligatory fire works
…but we also found in Sucre:
- too many signs of neglect
- the occasional modern building, in a row of historic structures, which didn’t fit in at all (a sign of a slack building code?)
- ugly high-rise buildings on the outer perimeter of the city interspersed with countless half finished brick structures
- potholed streets choked with traffic
- long lines of micro buses belching out thick clouds of black Diesel fumes
- a lot of begging (more than we have encountered in any other country)
- juxtaposed by some really flash cars, things like new Toyota Landcruisers, monster Hummers and Chevrolet Camaros
- park cleaning staff bending their backs low and sweeping with palm fronds because they didn’t have any brooms
- too many little (and big) dog turds to step over
- more ‘Gringo’ tourists than we had seen in a long time
Overall our entire visit left us a little underwhelmed. But maybe this is in part because we had been so enchanted by some of the historic towns we visited right before in Brazil . One day we met up with another travel blogger couple who, in general, shared our view. We agreed that there are colonial towns in other parts of South America which are more impressive. In fact, together we came up with a rather long list of town names…
Please click thumbnails below for a larger photo with description.
Don’t be fooled, we also had several very positive experiences. Both of us needed some small medical attention. Yasha had broken a tooth, a couple of days before we arrived, so badly that it needed to be extracted. Through iOverlander we found a dentist who was really nice and helpful. She went well beyond her duty of care when Yasha developed some problems.
She also recommended her friend Sandra for some treatment of our back problems. This proved to be a very good tip. What surprised us the most was how cheap such services are in Bolivia.
In contrast we find a number of tourist related services fairly overpriced. If you pick the wrong place you can easily pay $2.50 for a coffee and $10+ for a meal. Most disappointing are the entrance prices asked of foreigners: almost every entry to a museum is between $B25 and $B30 – usually you can buy 4 or 5 small breads for $B2 (so 2× $B30 would buy you a sack full of bread or a large basket full of other groceries). Remember how we mentioned that in Brazil all entrance fees are waved for people over 60 (like us) – what a difference! In both cases this is the official government policy. [As tourists we also have to pay 2½ times the local price for fuel, making it more expensive than anywhere in Europe!]
So there are ‘two sides to the coin’ when you visit Bolivia. We don’t want to discourage you, Sucre is certainly a nice enough city, just not ‘picture perfect’ in all places.
Have you been to Bolivia? Have you been to Sucre?
Do you agree (or disagree) with our assessment?