The architecture of Tarija is for the most part Spanish colonial. It has well maintained parks and is a great place to walk around. Unlike most of Bolivia, the people seem to take pride in the city and therefore it is reasonably clean and safe.
A man feeding the pigeons in the main plaza
Tarija is a mid sized city in southern Bolivia that is only a few hours by bus from the Argentina border. It is surrounded by mountains and is located at about 1900 meters elevation which gives it a spring like climate most of the time. A sign on a road into town welcome travellers with the moto Hermanos Europeos (brother Europeans). This might have been true in the past, but currently the population seems to be a mixture of indios, mestizos, and blancos. Also, Tarija is in the premier wine bottling and grape growing region of Bolivia. Carnival is their largest annual fiesta and they celebrate it for a week and even the week before they have pre-Carnival parade rehearsals and festivities.
Walkthrough Fountain near bus station
My favorite spot was the walkthrough fountain where many children play on sunny days, which is on the Avenida de Las Americas near the bus station .
What's really great:
Carnival party in the main plaza
The Carnival festivities consisted of many bands playing in the plazas with hundreds of people dancing and spraying each other with water. There were also impressive parades along the Avenida de Las Americas. However, what I remember most is having water balloons dropped on me as a walked down the street and having little kids spray me with the water guns as I walked by.
I stayed at the Hostal Carmen at a weekly rate which was about U$S 4 per night and included private bath, hot water, and cable television. The hostal was very clean, and friendly and there is a onsite travel agency offering tours to San Jacinto Dam, Tomatitas, and to nearby bodegas.
A view of the mountains from the roof of the Hostal Carmen
I ate mostly at the Mercado Central. My favorite dish is the Tarija specialty Saice which is a peas, rice, potatoes, etc. in a spicy meatsauce with a salid on top. It is very good for about 40c US. A big plate of roast beef with rice, potatoes and salad costs about a US dollar. I think it is almost worth going to Tarija for the food alone!