September 20th, 2008 – by: gnatalia
Plaza Cusco, Peru
In the early morning we hop on a plane on our way to the city of Cusco
, which is the gateway to the ruins of Machu Picchu. The flight takes approx 1 hour from Lima
. Cusco's elevations is 11, 220 ft (3,399m) above sea level. Nestled in the Huatanay River valley in the southeast peruvian Andes mountains, it's one of the highest cities of the world and often has very high winds blowing through the valley, hence the rough landing we experienced. We are picked up from the airport by our guide and taken to the hotel in the city. As we are driven there, I can't help but notice the many indegenous people walking along the streets in their traditional attire, carrying their handicrafts, their children or their llamas by their side.
The houses are very old and made of blocks, some are in ruins. After checking in, we learn our first important lesson about peru...if you even think about taking pictures of the people in their traditional outfit or posing with their llama...be prepared to shed som 'soles' (peruvian money). Nothing comes cheap and they will get you for taking that lovely keepsake picture. Believe it or not, a picture I took with 2 natives and their llamas, cost us a whopping 40 soles (approx $15 dollars) and yes as tourists we got ripped off.
It is very cold in Cusco today, spring is fast approaching, however, in September!!!
On the city tour of Cusco, we are first introduced to the plaza and the cathedral of Cusco and Qorikancha (Temple of the Sun) and the Santo Domingo Church. You will notice how beautiful the interior of the cathedral is. The tour drives along the circunvalacion road up to the famous fortress of Saqsaywaman
, one of the famous inca stonework.
There is still much mystery over how these creations and combinations of limestone rocks came to be, and it's still very interesting to see. Don't be surprised to pay 1 sole to use the bathroom here (they also courteously provide the toilet paper ladies!!!). From there we see Puca Pucara, meaning "Red Fortress", hence it's reddish walls. Because of it's high walls, it is believed that the incas built this for defense. Here you will also find handicrafts being sold. Last stop, Tambomachay,an archaelogical site also known as "The Bath of the Incas".
Hotels in Cusco don't usually have adequate heating systems and don't be surprised if you are in for a cold shower even when you have the hot water set at high, but hey, it's all part of the experience.