It was nice to be moving on this morning, and leaving the city that had given us such heartache. On the plane to Cusco, Nic was chatting with a lawyer who lives in Cusco and works at the university there, who said that Lima is ‘awful’ – her 12 year old son had his mobile phone stolen while he was using it to take pictures, just in the brief moment she turned away to hail a cab. Bastards!
Cusco, however, is a beautiful city. We were delivered safely (yay!) to our accommodation, a lovely B&B called ‘Second Home Cusco’ – yes, there is a connection to our Lima digs, it is run by Lilian’s brother, Carlos (who happened to be in Lima celebrating their father’s 83rd birthday). We were left in the trusty hands of Raúl, who handled things beautifully, sweet boy. Second Home Cusco
One of the most exciting things about coming to Cusco, was meeting up with Sam, who had just finished walking the Inca trail! Go her, but not something we were up for. Sod that for a lark! Not for the faint-hearted, or the weak-kneed! After check-in, we strolled to the Plaza de Armas (every city must have one!) to find Sammy. We found her with her fellow survivors of the trail at ‘The Tea Rooms.’ What a funky little establishment! The furnishings were a little ‘Edina’ from Ab Fab, but a lot of fun. Excellent salad, too.
Spent the afternoon strolling, and did a tour of the Cusco Cathedral, which was pretty awe-inspiring. Only thing that bothered us, really, was that Jesus was always in a frock – elaborately embroidered, full skirted, in multiple colours and gold thread. Hmmmm.
We met Sam again in the early evening and caught a cab up to the statue of Cristo Blanco – a mini version of the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro (this one was a present to Cusco from the Brazilians). There was a stunning view up there, but it was bloody cold! And the cab ride up and back was a tad hairy – VERY windy roads, with a hoon at the wheel (and it wasn’t Nic…or John!).
We then walked through the town square to a cool, lounge pub called ‘Los Perros’ (‘The Dogs’), run by Aussies (it even had an Australian flag outside). The owner’s dogs enjoy hanging out with the guests, so the staff are thrilled when patrons are dog fans. John had his first Mojito, and found it very much to his liking. Had trouble deciding on what to eat, as everything looked fantastic. Ended up choosing potato skins (bloody fantastic), and a range of other tapas style things that escape me now, but were scrummy and wonderful. By the end of the evening (and our lovely walk home in the rain), we had begun to feel as though we were back on track on our holiday. We felt better, safer, less afraid.
Our second day in Cusco began with a climb to Sacsayhuaman (pronounced very much like ‘sexy woman’) – some very impressive Incan ruins just outside of town, and ALL up hill. It was a bit tough due to the altitude, so there was much huffing and puffing, but we made it and thoroughly enjoyed the spectacular views of the city.
After our much easier stroll down from ‘Sexy Woman,’ we had lunch at ‘The Muse’ – renowned for it’s crunchy topped and amazing vegetarian lasagne. Had no idea that the portions were going to be gigantic, and so also ordered a vegetable curry. Lots of waddling was done to get out of there. We continued our tradition of an arvo nap, did some window shopping, and met Sam at ‘Greens’ for dinner. Another fine choice (suggested by both Rough Guide and Lonely Planet), where we had a whole bunch of ‘sides,’ such as ratatouille, garlic sautéed mushrooms, and a quinoa tabouli.
Our third day began with a long wait in the bank arranging cash for our apartment in Buenos Aires (our next stop). As with all ATMs, the ones in Peru only dispense a certain amount of cash at a time, and since we needed the total weeks accommodation plus security deposit for BA, we needed to sort ourselves out (AND the ATMs in Argentina allow less than $100USD at a time). Balls. It was more depressing on finding out we needed to return with passport, and THEN, didn’t actually need to wait the 2 hours we spent in the chairs listening for our number to be called on the second visit – we could’ve jumped straight to teller 17! Double-plus balls! Glad when that was sorted. Bright side – got some reading done!
Went back to the Centro de Textiles Tradicionales that we visited the day before to buy a hand woven table runner. This centre also houses a little museum explaining the history of textiles in the country, as well as a shop with a wide range of woven products made by people in over 300 communities throughout the country. The good thing about this place (apart from the superior quality of the work), was that 70% of the money paid by the customer goes to the community of the artist/weaver who created the piece – often they are working in the Centro, where we get to see them in action.
We ate at a vegetarian place called Restaurante Govinda. It had moved from the address listed in the Rough Guide (there has been a few of those), but we were helped by a spruiker from another restaurant trying to get us into his establishment, which was lovely of him to do! In fact, when we couldn’t find it, he saw our dilemma and followed us down the street to show us exactly where it was! We ordered some ‘spicy’ rice and vegetables – why does no-one believe us when we say we want food spicy? A bit weak again, oh well.
We booked into a spa for an hour ‘remedial’ massage each. While it certainly wasn’t of a rigorous enough nature for us, we were both so relaxed that, afterwards, it was difficult to wake up enough to safely negotiate our way down the stairs and out the door. Enjoyed another evening of looking in shop windows, and wandering around the picturesque plaza that was all dolled up for Christmas. Nic was very excited to find a replacement Lonely Planet Latin American Phrasebook. Thought she might have to order one on Amazon and have it delivered to the apartment in Buenos Aires.
Dinner was at ‘Pachapapa’ on the Plaza San Blas (just down the street from where we were staying). Had the most phenomenal oven roasted trout. It was so easy to eat, as it was fully filleted, but still had its head and tail on for presentation. Was stuffed with fennel and tomatoes. Delicious!! Ate too much, of course (!), but had a lovely evening.