Cusco

Plaza de Armas,Cusco

18-20 December

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!

Puppy and laundry

John and the hobbit door of our Cusco accommodation

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

Nic and indigenous Peruvian girl in traditional dress...and her llama

Nic and indigenous Peruvian girl in traditional dress…and her llama

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.

Busy street in Cusco

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.

John, Sam & Nic at Christo Blanco

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!).

John, Nic & Sam at Los Perros Bar

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.

Nic at the entrance to “sexy woman”

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.

Plaza de Armas with Cathedral

Nic and Sam climbing to “sexy woman”

Sam giving Nic an Inca history lesson

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.

The rocks of Sacsayhuaman

Another girl and her llama

Nic and Sam and the Inca ruins

Another shot atop the ruins

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!

View of the Plaza from the Inca ruins

…and the rest of Cusco

Street vendor and her wares…guinea pig!

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.

Famous 12-sided building block in the Inca temple in the middle of Cusco

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.

The magnificent cathedral

Cusco street (one that cars, obviously, cannot negotiate!)

Pretty dome in Cusco

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.

Nic and stray…that followed her for a few blocks until she left his neighbourhood

School group in Christmas costumes

Rooftops and mountains

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.

A sneak peak inside a closed door in Cusco

About bontaks

Nic is the the 'Bon' part of 'Bontaks.' Together we are Nic and John - two travel-addicted teachers who enjoy every opportunity to go places, meet people and experience life.

3 Replies to “Cusco”

  1. Hi guys! I have finally managed to catch up on your blog. What a wonderful trip (apart from awful time in Lima). I am in awe of the photos of wildlife – must have been taken by a professional. I'd love to do the tree house some time too. You r definitely clever organisers! I'll try to keep up now we have stopped for a breather down at Durras. Keep having fun you lucky ducks!!

  2. Happy New Year.Love the shots of the local fauna but am in complete awe of your resilience, after what you've been through. Seeing the pic of the taxi driver cleaning out the glass from the back seat of his car made me feel a tad guilty about my earlier assertion that the robbery may have been an "inside job".Anyway, it now appears that you're having a marvellous time.Look after each other.Love,Ros (& Peter)

  3. Happy New Year. Sorry to hear about the incident but you guys are resilient. the photographs of the walls reminded me of the cyclopean walls around Mycenae. have a great rest of your trip.

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