To Cusco the Inca capital

Trip Start Apr 12, 2011
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Trip End Apr 01, 2012


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Where I stayed
Pariwana & El Tuco

Flag of Peru  ,
Wednesday, July 20, 2011

We arrive into Cusco and head to Pariwana Hostel as recommended by a friend, it's much bigger than our recent hostels, it holds 180 people but a lot of effort has been put into it’s decor and facilities plus it has a large outdoor courtyard with bean bags in it, so we’re pretty happy with it. Central Cusco itself is very pretty, lots of old colonial buildings built on the remains of Inca foundations and so a main activity is just wandering around the town to see the architecture.  The other main activity seems to be trying out the many different cafes and restaurants.  So Cusco makes it easy to lose six days without even noticing!

The only thing with Cusco is that it’s very touristy – practically every person is carrying a fancy camera and there are many, many gap year kids who think the only way to embrace their time out is to buy all their clothes from the tourist shops (alpaca, alpaca and more alpaca clothes combined with stripy pyjama trousers and flip flops), I feel old as I just don’t get it! And then there is all the families on holiday from the states which means Cusco has the highest prices in Peru.  Despite this and the constant offers of massages, we do really enjoy Cusco.

Eating very good food was one of main distractions In Cusco, our favourite places were Jack’s cafe, an Australian owned cafe which served the biggest and best sandwiches we’ve tasted in a while (I even queued to get in here which I hate doing), a cafe that serves a three course lunch and drink for around 4 and various cafes selling cake. 

We did do some proper sightseeing, including a free walking tour organised by our hostel.  This included the San Blas area of Cusco which is up the hill from the centre and has bars, cafes and art galleries.  Then our guide took us to some Inca ruins just outside of Cusco (all up hill – good preparation for the trek!)  We visited ruins called Monkey temple, Moon temple and what they thought was the ruins of a prison but our guide thought otherwise.  These ruins are small but interesting as they are in the process of uncovering more and more ruins in the area and you can see the start of walls but just have to wonder what lies beneath the ground (these ruins have been covered by landslides in the past). 

Our guide recommended a more local restaurant so we went for a three course lunch for under 2 – good food although basic but definitely worth the money!!

Midway in Cusco stay we moved to a smaller hostel as we thought a couple quiet nights before the trek would do us some good.  When we arrive in the hostel, for the first time in a few months I hear a Scottish accent, never mind Scottish, I hear a North of Scotland accent and we get speaking to two girls from Dingwall that are heading on an alternative Inca trail tomorrow.  So there are some Scottish people travelling, it’s not just most of Ireland as I was beginning to think!   Our quiet time didn’t go quite to plan as one night our new hostel opened their bar and offered free pisco sours – pisco is the local liqueur, a type of grape brandy and pisco sour is pisco, egg white, lemon and sugar, now one of my favourites, jonny’s not so keen.  That night was spent playing games and cards until the early hours – things never quite work out as planned! 

The other ruins we visited were again another steep walk out of Cusco to Sacsayhuaman (pronounced 'sexywoman’) which looked like the remains of a temple or fortress overlooking the city.  Impressive for the size of rocks they have carved to build it.  

Our final tourist site in Cusco was Qoriconcha (Temple of the Sun).  This was originally an Inca temple until the Spanish arrived, destroyed it and stripped it of all its gold and then built a church on top of it (the Spanish aren’t too popular around here).  The space has now been well restored to show art exhibitions.

Jon and Jo catch up with us on our last day in Cusco where we pass on all our useful information over some good food and a couple of drinks while we watch the world go by on the main plaza.  Then we head to our briefing with Llama Path (our tour operator) where we discover we have a private tour as no one else has picked our date.  From our briefing I’m suitably scared enough to hire walking sticks so as not to fall off the side of a mountain (a very good decision) we head for pizza at Chez Maggy, a good, safe meal before our four day trek. Looking forward to trekking the Inca Trail to Machu Pichu!
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