First overnight Bus - to Arequipa

Arequipa Travel Blog

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The chapel at the Founder´s Mansion, Arequipa
Well, as for our first overnight bus in South America, we were quite impressed and surprised.  We had been told they were pretty comfortable, but we hadn´t expected them to be quite as good as they were.  The seats are pretty big and they recline quite a way, so both of us actually managed to get some sleep (apart from the times when our guide, who had the seat across the aisle, even woke himself up with his snoring!).  The girl sitting next to him, HJ, threatened to pay him back by falling asleep on his shoulder and dribbling down his shirt - he soon changed his ways!  The only down-side of the journey, was that although we left on a NIGHT bus on which you would imagine most people would be trying to sleep, the first thing the conductor did was put on a movie at full volume, which went for about two hours.  Oh well, you can´t expect comfort AND peace.
Arrived in Arequipa pretty early, feeling a little queasy, as the journey in is quite winding.  We went straight to our hotel and had a fantastic shower (with wonderful water pressure and lots of hot water) followed by a yummy breakfast on their rooftop terrace.  We´re staying at <hostal Solar at CAlle Ayacucho 108 Cercado, Arequipa.  NOt sure what the rates are, but the location is great - you can walk to everything.  There web address is www.hostalsolar.com.  After a short rest, we took off on a tour of the countryside around Arequipa for the afternoon.  This was arranged through the hotel and cost US$20 for about 3 hours.  We have since found an open top yellow bus that does the same (in fact, better) tour lasting 4 hours for S/35, so from now on we´re definitely going to arrange our own tours - the cost differential is quite large.
We did get to see quite a bit, though.  We first stopped at a lookout over the Rio Chili, which gave a lovely view down (or is it up?) the valley, and attached to which was a garden showcasing many of the local fruits and vegetables.  Tried some coca sweets (taste just like an iced lemon tea drink) and then drove up to the Church of SAnta Ana in Paucarpata.  The church is an interesting combination of styles, both Spanish and Incan, with pumas, bunches of grapes and Incan masks in amongst the more usual religious carvings.  Another interesting point is that the churches here tend to be a dome shape (rounded at the top) rather than the more angular shapes we´re used to.  Near the church is a small alley down which you usually get a wonderful view of an old Incan path amongst the terraces, but unfortunately a small carnival had set up there so the view was blocked.  The next stop was the area of Sabandia to visit an old water mill which has been restored by a local architect - very nice and peaceful.  You also go for pony rides here, but the horses are much leaner (or more accurately, scrawnier) than the horses we have in Australia -  probably pretty hardy little chaps, though.  The water still pours through the mill at a rate of knots, and the original millwheel is still turning - not bad for around 350years.
Last stop was the Mansion del Fundador, built by Garci Manuel de Carbajas in the early 1540´s.  He was the original settler of the Arequipa area, and the house was at that time quite remote from the township - purposefully built thus as a hideaway for his son with Downs Syndrome.  The house was later taken over the Jesuits and a chapel built on the side, and later again owned privately until suffering massive earthquake damage.  A group of architects then bought in the 1960´s and have restored it to its former glory (one of them apparently became President of Peru, twice).
Had a bit of a party night on the rooftop terrace tonight.  Our guide, Jose (ever the romantic Latino) bought all the girls a long-stemmed rose as we´d be in the Colca Canyon for VAlentines DAy.  Noel is disgusted, he´s worried that Melissa will not expect this every year!!
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The chapel at the Founder´s Mansi…
The chapel at the Founder´s Mans…
Arequipa
photo by: halilee