|Cusco is the number one tourist destination in South America and is the ancient inca capital. It was founded around AD 1100. It stands at the head of the sacred valley of the incas and is the jumping off point for the inca trail. There are inca ruins aplenty, fabulous colonial architecture, stunning scenery and beautiful textiles and traditional handicrafts.
We took the early flight and made our way to our hostal. We checked in with the agency we were doing the inca trail with (SAS) and had a walk around town. We were really impressed with Cusco and think that it is a lovely town. The plaza has two cathedrals around it and is a big wide open space. There is a lovely lime green fountain in the middle !!!!
We met up with Tom and Nadine in the evening, our drinking partners in crime throughout the whole of northern Brasil !!! They were starting the inca trail a day before us. Miki and Barbara were feeling the altitude so stayed back at the hostal. T&N and us had a few drinks and we crawled back quite late (or early... morning !). Monica was a little tipsy. She was reading a book about a sea journey and when we came back to the room she was pretending to be a captain....... hmmm!!
We met up with Jeff and Celeste the next day who were also doing the inca trail with us. We had met Jeff and (his gay lover !! (sorry private joke)) Ian in Rio.
While in Cusco we had the follwoing highlights
- Quad biking around Cusco (M&B, J&C and us) We took the bikes up to a small village where there was a mud track where we all had a go of driving as fast as possible without falling off (great laugh !). Had loads of kids hanging off the bikes and it was all good fun until one of the kids fell off Nick`s bike and started bawling !!!
- Sacred valley tour (all eight of us). Started at Pisac market which was a bit touristy. Saw some inca ruins outside of Pisac which were quite impressive. They are some of the largest ruins around Cusco and they had defensive, religious and agricultural functions as well as beoing an inca country estate.
We then carried on through Urubamba to Ollantaytambo. This is a small town at the foot of some pretty impressive ruins along the side of a mountain. There are 16 massive stepped terraces leading up to the temple of ten niches. Above this is the temple of the sun. The stone here was carried from over 40km away, The stones were huge !!!
On the way back we stopped in Chinchero where there was another market and a large cathedral with more inca ruins and terraces.
- Exploring Cusco, walking around the narrow streets up to San Blas and taking in a few museums, and the cathedrals. We visited the Santa Domingo with Jeff and Celeste. Behind the walls of this catholic church are remains of what was once the centre of the vast inca society. This consisted of the golden palace and temple of the sun.
In San Blas we had been told to go to a place called 'Magic hands'. Tom and Nadine had been there and the owner only lets in people with a certain coloured aura. They had been let in (although apparently Tom was inbalanced, and confused !!!). However the four of us (M&B and us) were not allowed in at all....... we have evil auras !!!!!!
- On returning from the inca trail we had a meal in an expensive restaurant to celebrate the finishing of the inca trail. We then met with T&N in the irish pub and carried on drinking. T&N, J&C and us went to a karaoke bar ! there were only two pages of english songs, but by the end we had pretty much ruined every one !!!! We then carried on to a nightclub for a bit of dancing before saying our goodbyes to Tom and Nadine who were flying back to the UK the next day.
On our last day in Cusco Miki and Barbara headed off for Puno, but we were going there on the way to Bolivia so we stayed in Cusco and spent the day with Jeff and Celeste. We basically ate the whole day, and then Jeff and Nick tried to find a casino, to no avail !
The Real McCoy - English style food. Great breakfast (with Heinz baked beans !!!), lovely jacket potatoes and burgers !
Babeca - Great pizza place with a warm atmosphere. Huge pizzas !
Al Grano - They have a selection of asian dishes each night. Nice owner.
Qori Inti hostal - good location and good rooms for the price ($16).