19.06.2012 - 23.06.2012
Our budget for this trip was $15 per person per day. But after spending 4 freezing cold days in Uyuni and having Carlos get a bad chest cold in La Paz, we wanted to find a place that was warm and where we could relax, recover and recuperate. Las Olas is marked in the guide as a place to splurge on, so we decided to go for it- this is our honeymoon, after all. From La Paz we called and made the reservation, since according to their website it can take up to 6 hours for emails to arrive. Besides the fact that you (and by you I mean Carlos) have to lug your backpacks uphill and up a flight of stairs before you even get to the property, Las Olas and La Cúpula couldn’t have a lovelier, more picturesque setting.
To get to Las Olas you have to walk through La Cúpula’s premises, and then we had to walk down several stairs to get to our room. The rooms are just stunning- each uniquely decorated with a different theme. We stayed in El Cielo, the Sky, which had a giant skylight where you could open the curtain to see the stars at night. A circular bed was up against the wall with enough blankets to keep our frozen toes cozy. In case we needed another place to laze around, there was a hammock in our room and 2 more outside. Each cabin at Las Olas has a breathtaking view of Lake Titicaca and the boats rocking gently in the harbor. They are also equipped with kitchenettes, that even include coffee, tea and some basic condiments. As if the giant bed wasn’t warm enough, we also had a wood stove that we lit and I fed all evening until the wood ran out. It was magical, just turning out the lights and watching the fire flicker on the bay windows that lined an entire wall.
Carlos ending up meeting the owner, and well, you know how charming Mexicans can be- he got us free breakfast in the morning at La Cúpula which actually went really well for them because we decided to stay an extra 2 nights there. Breakfast turned out to be amazing- musli, scrambled eggs, fresh fruit, bread, juice and coffee. Of course we were gonna stay there. It’s odd- the Lonely Planet mentions La Cúpula for its book exchange and restaurant, but not as a place to stay. While it’s more expensive than most other backpacker’s hostels in Bolivia, it’s about the same price per person as a hostel in Argentina.
La Cúpula is more like a hostel than Las Olas- there’s a well-equipped if slightly cramped kitchen, a living room with cable TV and travel books, a book exchange, lots of hammocks strewn about green gardens, Wi-fi, and loads of travel information. It also shares a hot tub with Las Olas for only 15 bolivianos (money, not capacity). We enjoyed just taking over the TV room and watching House. The staff at La Cúpula is very accommodating, and we actually had several very nice chats with the owner who is a warm, friendly guy from Germany.
Originally we were going to stay somewhere else our last night to save some money and pay with a credit card. After 2 hours of wandering around we couldn’t find anything that wasn’t outrageously out of our budget. Fortunately there were some guests who never arrived and the staff was able to offer us a nice upstairs room at La Cúpula. For our last night we decided to get dinner at the restaurant upstairs since it was the same price as every other restaurant that accepted credit cards. They offer international cuisine and of course a few German and Bolivian dishes. I tried a curry chicken kabbob which was fantastic. If you’ve got the money I’d recommend eating every meal there. If you don’t have the money, sleep somewhere else and still eat there. From the restaurant there are fantastic views overlooking the harbor.
Definitely worth the splurge, although I know we’ll pay for it for the rest of the trip. See if you can’t meet the owner when you’re there- if he’s free he’s very entertaining and has some great travel stories.