first day in the city of Cusco

Cusco Travel Blog

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guinea pig church

We arrived in Cusco late the previous night but we had reserved rooms earlier at the Niños Hotel.  We slept in and ate breakfast out on the patio before heading out to explore the city.  The top of our list was the church with the painting of the Lord’s Supper - eating guinea pig.  We set off for the main plaza and the church.

 

The church wanted S/25 to enter and I really didn’t care that much about the painting so Amanda and I sat and people watched in the plaza while Steph and Sara took the church tour.  It turns out sitting on a bench in the plaza is very stressful.  I started keeping tracking of how many times someone asked me to buy something.

Plaza de Armos
  I lost count after 20.  Postcards, gourds, hats, paintings, belts, newspapers, etc.  I was asked if I wanted my shoes polished - twice.  Ha ha!  I have fake suede shoes.  What would you polish?  The rubber toe?  Ha ha are you kidding!  (Apparently they weren’t).  I declined because I didn’t want to have fancier shoes than the rest in my group, lol! 

 

Amanda went off in search of coffee and two other gringas joined me for a few minutes.  Suddenly the kids from the bench across the way ran over to get their picture taken with us.  Me being white, while the other two were Asian and Hispanic looking.

kids by the fountain
  So we had our photo taken about 16 times with 16 different people in the picture.  I didn’t mind with the little girls because they asked and were polite.  When they were finished, some high school boys came over and just sat on the bench with us and took a photo.  They didn’t even ask.  That was kind of rude.  Then they sat across from us and tried to be sneaky and take pictures of us.  So I took sneaky pictures of them.  The gringas got scared off and before long Amanda returned.  Two boys sat by us and one was blowing on a little ceramic flute.  It was really annoying.  We couldn’t leave soon enough…

 

Our next destination was the Qorikancha Site Museum (covered by Cusco ticket) so we walked on down the main drag until we came to the big grassy area.

little girls that wanted our photo
  For some reason this museum is underground…  Inside are some exhibits on the Incan culture and there are even some mummies!  This stop probably isn’t worth going to unless you already have the Cusco ticket.  It was very crowded with school groups and mostly in Spanish. 

 

After the museum we went up the hill to the church, which was not covered by the ticket.  The church is also the site of the Qorikancha, or Temple of the Sun.  We wandered through and explored the gardens and when I came back in I was shocked to find the place packed.  It seems as though quite a few tour groups had joined us in that ten minutes.  I didn’t like it.  Too many people here.  But I had to weave my way around everyone so I could see everything.

walking down to the plaza
  I really liked the painting of the Milky Way and how the constellations were named based on shadow (of animals) rather than connecting the dots.  It got so busy and chaotic that we just left, but it was a very cool stop.

 

It was about 3 pm so we decided we should eat lunch.  We walked to a place recommended by the guidebook, Pacha Papa, and it was an excellent choice!  I got the alpaca stew and it was really tasty (a little too much alpaca for me, but I wanted to try it).  The other girls all got Chicha Jora, a corn beer.  I didn’t get any beer and I’m glad I didn’t - I didn’t like it very much. 

We got a little turned around on the walk back and ended up going UP a bunch of extra steps/pedestrian streets but we did get a nice view of the city.

schoolgirls
  We went back to the hotel for a nap (also very important among our group) before our evening activity of a traditional dance show (covered by the Cusco ticket).

 

We set out around 6 pm and that seems to be when school gets out because the streets were filled with school children in their uniforms.  We again walked down the main drag to the dance theater.  When we got there we found a ton of people (lot of kids, too) in line.  Here’s a good example of looking like a tourist - someone picked the four of us out of the crowd of Peruvian children (hmmm, I wonder how?) and asked us if we had the Cusco ticket, which we did.  We were brought to the front of the line and whisked in.  The theater was about half full so we took our seats with no idea what time the show started.  We didn’t have to wait long before the place was full and the lights dimmed.

Qorikancanha church

 

The dances were introduced in Spanish and English and were performed by couples in traditional costumes accompanied by a live band.  I think there were three dances in each half of the show with the last two being the only ones I really remember.  The second to the last one was some sort of bird mating dance and was very sexual.  The last one was danced only by the men with some strange man in a mask.  The men had whips and they danced together and then whipped their partner’s legs while the partner tried not to show any pain.  Of course the whippings got harder and harder by the time they got to the end of the dance.  You could hear the audience groan (with delight I think) at every loud snap of the whip.

 

After the dance show we walked back to a wine bar near our hotel called Los Perros.

Inca stones in church
  I wasn’t super excited about this because I don’t really like wine and it was very smoky when we walked in.  We sat in the back room where it wasn’t as smoky (until a smoking group came in later).   I decided to get a small beer (I was already counting the days I had left to drink this beer and I didn’t want to waste any).  The other girls split a bottle of red wine.  Steph and I ended up sharing our meals - I got the yucca fries and she got chicken. We each had too much of the same thing but just enough to share.  Sara and Amanda were feeling the altitude I think and neither of them really ate.  We played a few rounds of Rumikub (I lost miserably) until our drinks were gone and then turned in for the night. 

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guinea pig church
guinea pig church
Plaza de Armos
Plaza de Armos
kids by the fountain
kids by the fountain
little girls that wanted our photo
little girls that wanted our photo
walking down to the plaza
walking down to the plaza
schoolgirls
schoolgirls
Qorikancanha church
Qorikancanha church
Inca stones in church
Inca stones in church
gardens and Museum below (under ga…
gardens and Museum below (under g…
church and chair?
church and chair?
cool flowers
cool flowers
church doorway
church doorway
Incan Milky Way
Incan Milky Way
Incan Milky Way described
Incan Milky Way described
Qorikancha church alter
Qorikancha church alter
the girls with their chica joras
the girls with their chica joras
my alpaca stew (with bananas and r…
my alpaca stew (with bananas and …
water channel diversion
water channel diversion
view of Cusco from a high street
view of Cusco from a high street
our hotel patio
our hotel patio
dancers
dancers
traditional dance
traditional dance
women dancing
women dancing
Rumikub
Rumikub
Cusco Sights & Attractions review
Native dances in traditional costumes
For our evening entertainment, we decided to check out the native dances at the Center of Native Art. We had a little trouble finding it – I think … read entire review
Cusco Restaurants, Cafes & Food review
great place to hang out and/or eat
Los Perros Wine Bar is a relaxing place to eat or drink at any time of the day. The first room is the bar and the next two rooms have couches and tab… read entire review
Cusco Restaurants, Cafes & Food review
delicious alpaca stew
Pacha Papa is a little restaurant in a courtyard with tables under umbrellas known for their Peruvian food. It is a relaxing setting with wooden tabl… read entire review
Cusco Sights & Attractions review
Temple of the Sun found after earthquake in 1950
The sun temple was built by the Incas and has special rooms dedicated to the moon, stars, lightning, and thunder. The building also served as a solar… read entire review
Cusco Sights & Attractions review
neat mummies but not very impressive overall
This museum is located underground and has several displays of Inca pottery, metalwork, textiles, painting and other artwork. This museum was covered… read entire review
Cusco
photo by: Vlindeke