Arequipa Travel Blog› entry 2 of 7 › view all entries
Third time lucky with this one. Heres a tip for the young'uns, always save your blog in notepad (or the like) and copy and paste into travbuddy, it can save a world of pain, especially when you are on the road!!
But onwards and upwards. For me, cities are just plain hard work when you are travelling. Looking after your valuables amongst the hustle and bustle of so many people, dealing with cabbies who try to rip you off any chance they get and finding suitable accommodation (particularly if your guidebook is a couple of years out of date!!) is always a challenge, particularly if you arrive after a long journey and just need to lay down horizontally. Arequipa is one out of the box though, a city that makes travelling a little easier, and I think that Anna and I were both thankful for that.
Everything that there is to see and do for a tourist/traveller in Arequipa is literally 5 mins walk from any accommodation worth its salt, and there are plenty of those. There are a variety of great places to eat, some world class historical sites and museums, loads of tourist operators for the surrounding area (including Colca De Canyon) and probably my absolute favourite Plaza de Armas of any place we visited on our entire trip. The city itself is also very beautiful. The grid of narrowish cobbled stone streets criss-crosses its way amongst lovely spanish colonial buildings that are predominantly white in colour, with the odd park and church thrown in for good measure. Overlooking it all is the amazing cone shaped volcano El Misti, which provides an awesome site especially with the stunning sunsets.
We ended up spending a total of 5 nights in Arequipa, split in the middle by an amazing trip to Colca De Canyon. Our accommodation was an awesome little hostel called El Caminante Class. Offering dorm and private rooms, with shared and private bathrooms, it is a stones throw from the plaza on Santa Catolina. It has free breakfasts, laundry facilities, a terrace roof top from which you can see all across the city and really friendly staff...at only $US7 a night it was an absolute bargain.
Apart from the plethora of culinary delights (which also included some Alpaca!!), the highlights of included:
- Monastario Santa Catalina. Founded in 1580 as a convent for nuns, it is a city within a city. Surrounded by high brick walls, today it covers almost an entire city block and contains narrow twisting streets, through a maze of living quarters, courtyards, plazas and as you can imagine, lots of churchy stuff.
- Museo Santuarios Andinos. Its not every day that you get to see an almost perfectly preserved 500 year old person but, amongst other amazing artefacts, thats what this museum has on offer.
- The Plaza de Armas. Surrounded by magnicifent three storied terraced buildings on three sides and an immense church on the other, this pigeon filled plaza with a huge water fountain in the middle was my favourite on our travels. No matter what the time of day, 'Arequipans' young and old flock here in there hundreds, creating a carnival kind of atmosphere. Enjoying a milky milo on one of the surrounding terrace cafes as the sun is setting is definitely a great way to soak it all up!! The church is also open of a night time. Amazingly, we were lucky enough to visit in the middle of a wedding. Fair play to them I thought as we took a seat in one of the back pews and settled in for the show.
One more thing about Arequipa, it has the most taxis I have ever seen in a city in all my life. Seriously, 9 out of 10 cars were a taxi, and I would be willing to bet that if you flagged down the tenth car and offered them some money for a ride, they would instantly become a taxi as well. Strangely enough, their lawn mower sized engines and the constant squeaking of their horns became somewhat reassuring, it made the city feel alive.
Yes, I quite liked Arequipa. Next up, some big birds!!