Tag Archives: Sucre

A guide to Sucre

16 Jul

Since I’ve lived for a month and half in Sucre as a tourist, people always ask for travel tips.  You can find a novelistic description of Sucre and detailed information at WikiTravel (an excellent source) and pictures at my gallery, but here are my barebones recommendations, gathered after wandering Sucre on foot in search of the best and cheapest.

Sucre from the rooftop...the white city

Where to Stay

  • Honorary French Consulate, Calle Dalence 383, c_moris@hotmail.com.  The best lodging I’ve been at in Bolivia, hands-down.  It’s a well-kept secret; notably the owner, the honorary French Consulate, doesn’t advertise or lists in any travel guide, mainly because this place is his residence and he has a lovely family.  The rooms resemble a well-manicured French salon and room options range from single w/a bathroom shared b/w two rooms and a common kitchen to suites with kitchen included.  It can be pricey with singles at 90 B/day, but one week is 50B/d and for a month, it’s 30B/d.   The suite with kitchen is about 1400 B/mo.  Wifi in certain areas.

The single room at the French Consulate...ignore my mess

Where to Take Spanish Classes

  • Private Lessons:  your cheapest option, usually around 28-35B/hr.  I recommend Pepe (roadaway@hotmail.com, 73475561) or Cheryl (bela1406@hotmail.com, 79303248).  Pepe used to have his own Spanish school but now teaches independently to make time for computer programming and poker.  Cheryl is a banker and teaches part-time to raise money for MBA school.
  • Best Value School: Fenix [I’m not sure what the exact address is, but the people at Fox Academy would know] is the cheapest school (40B/hr individual classes) and your fees go to subsidizing English classes for local Bolivians.  Fox Academy has the same concept, but it’s a little shady where your money goes in that case.  But Fenix & Fox simply act as middle-men for supplying a teacher, there are little activities organized (only Wallyball and cooking classes on weekends) and you will rarely see the other students, except in the office when you pay.
  • Fun Schools:  Academia Latinoamerica de Español is immensely popular and your best bet if you’d like to meet other gringos and have organized activities.  Group classes are $90/week for 20 hrs. 

Where to Volunteer

  • Teaching English: The most rewarding experience I’ve had as a volunteer English teacher was helping out during classes at Sucre’s largest university.  The students are college-age and training to become English teachers, thus they are super-eager to learn and need the most help in practicing with a native speaker.  You can contact Monica, one of the most wonderful persons in Sucre, at 60316674 if you wish to help out.  Likewise you can also volunteer at Fox Academy’s english classes and they will set you up with orphanages too.

Where to Eat: One of the best secrets of Sucre are the pensiónes, family restaurants with cheap meal plans.  Ask any restaurant where you see Bolivians eating if they have a pensión and you will get your meal discounted by 40-60% if you eat there for a few days or a week.  Daily lunch places listed front, splurging restaurants listed last.

  • La Vieja Bodega Calle Nicolás Ortíz #38.  Right off the main plaza, next to Joy Ride Café, and is my daily lunch spot.  It’s wonderful in every way.  Good-value, great atmosphere, the best tasting pension in town, and a nice and strangely trusting owner.  Serves Bolivian fare with a twist and refills of juice and soup to your heart’s content.  The meals are so large that I had to take a shower afterwards to stay awake.  Pension price is 15B (only need 2 days purchase) and normal price is 25B.
  • Don Coco, Junin & Dalence, a block or two west of the plaza [in the direction away from the main plaza].  Bolivian pensión–have never seen a gringo here, but the food is pretty good, clean, and cheap.  Classic Bolivian fare served in the classic Bolivian style.  12B for almuerzo complete, 7B pension.  I was about to buy a pensión here until I discovered La Vieja Bodega.
  • El Huerto, Cabrera 86.  Best restaurant in town, per everybody’s opinion.  If I owned a restaurant, this is how it would look like.  The Lonely Planet description is spot on, “atmosphere of a classy lawn party, great service, and stylishly presented plates.”  I remember that I called once to make reservations for 10 and they told me there were closed.  I kinda misunderstood them and called again and apparently they opened the restaurant just for us.  Order the mondongo (50B) and the guayava juice–one of the best, though highly-seasonal fruits, but everything’s good on the menu.
  • Cumaná, Plaza Cumaná.  Have never been here but Pepé raves about it as “so much meat” for 40B.  It’s a bit far from the center.
  • Mirador, La Recoleta (uphill).  Owned by an Italian and has great views of Sucre with excellent juices.  A bunch of Italians took me here and told me that the food was great, but I kinda thought the bolognese was a bit too salty.  It is authentic, to say the least.
  • La Taverne, Arce 35.  Dependable French fare about a block from the main plaza.  It’ll be my second favourite fancy restaurant after El Huerto.  Around 40B.
  • Riko’s, Arce, in b/w the plaza and the market, but a block away from the market. I’d go here whenever I needed a cheap, filling dinner.  The plate of 1/4 rotissiere chicken comes with rice, fries, and a bowl of soup and costs about 13 or 15B.
  • Other opinions: El Germen is better, though more expensive than Freya (16B vs. 10B).  There isn’t good Chinese food anywhere in Sucre, including Chifa Hong Kong.  I got food-poisoned by the salsa at El Oriental late at night, but I’ve been there at an early, more-reasonable dinner hr and haven’t gotten poisoned.

Bars: Touristy but dependable spots include, in order of preference:  Florin (hip, music at night with cover), Joy Ride Café (very gringo-y despite its slogan, but the most popular spot in town, so if you’re looking to meet people….), Café Amsterdam (a little empty sometimes, but popular trivia nights supporting charity).  Mito’s is a great dance-hall where all the young Bolivians go, closes at 3 a.m and is far from the center.  If you’re a man, you’re almost guaranteed to meet a Bolivian girl here.

What to See:

  • Textile Musuem:  According to Christophe (the honorary French consulate), it’s the best attraction in Sucre by far.  Enormous musuem which will take you the day to go through, if you actually read everything, meaning that they actually offer English translations!  (and free tea/coffee, b/c you will spend a lot of time there).  There’s weavers too, demonstrating the art and if you go across the street, you can see more weavers, though they use manual looms to make Gap-looking products.
  • Casa de la Libertad: Best tour I’ve been on of a musuem.  You have to go here, not the least because of the history.  You will understand Bolivia and South America so much better.  If you think of history as boring, you haven’t heard of Bolivian history–there’ve been at least 104 presidents since 1826, some lasting only a few days.
  • Castillo de la princesa Glorieta:  One of my favourite places, located a short 40-min minibus ride away from Sucre, and it’s nice to get out of the city.  The palace is intriguing for its many different styles (Gothic, Russian, Baroque, Dutch are smashed into one building here, looks like the princess wanted to bring the entire world back to Bolivia) and the garden is supposedly modeled after Versaille.  Free tour with admission, not more than 10B.

Garden of the Castillo

  • Tarabuco:  Hear that the Sunday market is nice for textiles and other artesanal goods, but there’s nothing else to do here.
  • Hikes:  CondorTrekkers, fantastic company with a social mission, offers 3, 5 day hikes to the volcano crater, waterfalls, and dinosaur park (which is really not worth seeing.  You walk through amusement park fake dinosaurs and the longest dinosaur tracks in the world are about 100m away, visible through binoculars costing 2B per min.)
  • Cementery: One of the biggest and nicest in Bolivia–it’s interesting if you’ve never been to a cementery in S.America before, b/c the graves are mostly above-ground (a la Marilyn Monroe).  Also there’re kids hanging about willing to give you a tour including on the history of Bolivia–note:  as with all guides in S.A., some facts may or may not be true.

    Graves in the weeds (the poorer section)

  • Watch a soccer game: Universitario, the Sucre club, plays on Saturdays/Sundays (schedule).  Not very packed, cheapest tickets are 15B, interesting for the competing cheerleading squads who bring their own band and fireworks.
  • Free entertainment: The main park in Sucre is really nice with 200 yr old trees and an Eiffel tower imitation which also imitates the Leaning Tower of Pisa in its instability.  The tower sways when you climb up it, but some people would consider that part of the fun.  There’s also an amusing singing fountain show lasting 30 minutes and going through an orchestra of classical music and neon lights–a cross b/w Fantasia and Vegas.  It’s sponsored by the only factory in town, the cement factory.
  • Origens: Never have gone, but heard it’s a fantastic folk dance show.  70-80B usually, students nights 2×1 on Wednesdays.

Where to Buy:

  • Alpaca Andina, Calle Calvo 41, cute purses and hand-made crafts, with some fairly original ideas, such as pillows, toaster-mitts, headbands, etc.  The owner started the store as a way to employ some of the campesinos and tours of the small factory are given.

Random Tips:

  • Do your grocery shopping at the supermarket instead of the market.  It’s usually cheaper and cleaner, saving you the hassle of having to bargain and perhaps getting diarrhea.  Except, if you’re looking for wheat pasta, that’s cheaper at the market.
  • Eat at pensiones if you’d like to have an authentic experience.  Usually you get put in a table with other people and this is a great way to chat people up and practice Spanish.
  • They say pineapple tea (found at the supermarket) is great for diarrhea.  If you’re having further problems, brush your teeth with boiled water or get a blood test at the local hospital.
  • The movie theater in town has 2×1 specials on Wed, but buy your tix earlier as they sell out quick.
  • Guayava jam is sold at the market for about 5B a packet…delicious!