Cusco Travel Blog

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The best laid plans...

Before our trip we’d spent a lot of time with our STA travel contact, ensuring that my friend Steppy’s Inca Trail trip would coincide with ours. He was on a one week inca discovery trip that we wanted to fit in with ours so that we’d start the trail on the same day. As his trip got close we realised that they’d got the days almost a week out. This meant leaving for Cusco instead of doing the homestay and reed island trip on Titicaca if we were going to see him at all.

So, we left Puno (not a great hardship) on the early Thursday coach bound for Cusco. After 6 hours of lovely views and a stop in a vicunita (like a llama, alpaca and vicuna sanctuary) we arrived in Cusco.

  I managed to keep Em content with a bar of Cadbury’s.

It was no great hardship having a few extra days here either. Cusco’s stunning. A majestic Plaza de Armas is bound by colonial balconies and grand cathedrals and narrow cobblestone streets are everywhere. We fought our way through the hassling hoard of taxi drivers and took the most official-looking one from the bus station to the hotel on Rimacpampa. The hotel was great and the receptionist was friendly (I am probably biased because she understood my butchered Spanish) and I have to mention here that the hotel offered complimentary coca tea, which I got quite used to. We wandered into town to meet Steppy and with all this culture around us, we naturally headed to an Irish bar for a few beers, to catch up, swap stories and discuss the preparation (or lack thereof!) for the impending inca trail.

Later on we went for dinner on a balcony with Steppy and some of his GAP group before a few more beers in (allegedly) the world’s highest Irish-owned bar. We wished Steppy good luck on his trail and headed back.

Steppy was up early and away to Ollantaytambo the next morning so we spent friday having a lie-in and wandering around Cusco. Cusco was again looking stunning in the sunlight, although there did seem to be more tourists than locals! And after less than a day in town, the amount of hassling from people selling tours, paintings, postcards, lunch and any other tourist souvenir you can think of was becoming annoying. After breakfast-come-brunch we decided today would be a good day to visit Sacsayhuaman  (Sexy Mama as Em rechristened it), Cusco’s ancient inca town.

We spent some time looking around the shops and went (second-time lucky, map’s fault of course) to San Francisco square and on the beautiful ruins of ‘Sexy Mama’ .  Unfortunately, the Peruvian powers-that-be had deemed it necessary to double the price to see the old ruins, and as we were due to see lots of Inca stuff over the next few days, we decided to head back to town for a swift beer overlooking the Plaza de Armas.

After a quiet night the next two days were spent in much the same fashion; wandering around town, getting essentials for the trail and stopping off for a mid-afternoon beer, where we met up with the rest of our group to tell us how much fun they’d had dressing up local-style for the night on their home-stays. Another similar day followed and we found a bar called the real McCoy, very much home away from home. We had some great food and some proper Tetley’s tea whilst watching the best Wimbledon final I‘ve ever seen. But alas, rough came with the smooth and I was forced to endure a showing of the (particularly dull) Sex and the City movie in the same bar, but it kept Em quiet for a good two hours, aided by a chocolate brownie. Back at the hostel, we struggled to pack 4 days worth of clothes into our 6kg duffle-bags for the Inca-trail.

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photo by: Vlindeke