Saturday, January 12, 2013

Highest Irish Pub in the world

By Jonny Blair

Despite a claim by Paddy's pub in Cuzco in Peru,it remains that the world's highest Irish pub is the Wild Rover in La Paz, Bolivia. I visited there to relax away from the madness of La Paz!

Housed in the lofty Bolivian city of La Paz, you can find the Wild Rover Backpackers on 1476 Comercio Street. I wasn't actually staying there mind you, I chose to stay at the nearby Loki Hostel instead (it's literally round the corner). On the first floor of the Wild Rover backpackers is housed a cosy, friendly wee Irish Pub, also of course known as the Wild Rover. At an elevation of well over 3,000 metres above sea level, this little enclave away from the monstrocity of La Paz had the nice honour of being the world's highest Irish Pub. So I just had to pop in!

You can also book your tours all over Bolivia from the Wild Rover - I sorted some of my buses and Salar tour from there. But I missed a few things out in order to squeeze in my visits to the world's highest football stadium and the world's highest Irish Pub! A travelling Northern Irishman has priorities you know!

As a Northern Irishman it was nice to see a few Northern Irish mentions in the pub, Geordie Best made it onto the wall here in the world's highest Irish Bar. Amazing to see him feature there and it made me feel at home for a while!

I posed for a photo with my travelling Northern Ireland flag - we are a small proud part of the island and we need more publicity!

Then as I sat down at the bar, I recognised the accent of the guy serving me! It was a strong Northern Irish accent! The first other Northern Irish person I had met in South America. Serving me an ice cold Pacena beer was Grant McParland, all the way from Carryduff in County Down, Norn Iron!!!

Grant gives up working in order to join me for a beer - amazing. Having a chat in the world's highest irish pub with a guy from just down the road. Grant puts on his County Down Gaelic top and we chat away!

Liverpool were also on TV so I caught a live football match from the UK (a rarity for me on my travels). They played Utrecht and I also spoke to a girl from Dublin who is a Liverpool fan.

I got a few flag photos with the Northern Ireland flag against the Irish Tricolour and it remains the only photo I have in South America of another person from Northern Ireland holding that flag.

Grant was a top lad and even had his iPod/iTunes connected to the bar dukebox so we cranked on the tunes for the next hour or so. We played Ash, Oasis, Van Morrison and of course The Wild Rover itself. I also met Jack from Tipperary who was working there and I chatted to him about the possibility of some work. Sadly I was already planning to move on, to do the Inca Trail and head northwards after Bolivia, so the chance passed me by on that occasion. But who knows in the future! I've worked in an Irish Pub in 3 continents, a fourth would be nice!

At night the Wild Rover really does get wild!! It's a party pub and all sorts of things go on - fancy dress, necking drinks, cocktails and nudity. Forget how high an altitude you are - enjoy the party!

Grant and I said a Slainte and Cheers - it was fabulous to have a beer so high up away from the crazy city of La Paz outside and with a fellow Northern Irishman - they had no Guinness so we had to make do with Pacena!


The pub is on a side street but you will notice it first and foremost as a backpackers hostel, once inside head up the stairs to the world's highest Irish Pub!

High into the mountains sits the Wild Rover! I seem to form a habit of drinking in random Irish Pubs - I've been in an Irish pub in almost every continent I've been to (been to Antarctica but didnt find an Irish Pub!).

In short my trip to the Wild Rover - the world's highest Irish Pub was amazing. Would love to go back - thanks to Grant for serving me and having a chat and just the sheer madness of it all! Don't Stop Living.

Top of the world to ye!

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