July 23, 2013
FIRST DAY IN CUSCO: I arrived in Cusco after a ride in a taxi, collectivo bus and another taxi. My final taxi dropped me off in the San Blas Plaza where I then had to lug my suitcase up a closed-to-cars, narrow cobblestone, steep street. By the time I tumbled into the lobby, I was so exhausted and happy to see the cozy lounge with a fire going. I caught my breath and then checked in. It was a very warm reception with coca tea then three flights up narrow and winding stairs to my rooftop room. My room is small but perfect for me. My ceiling is all skylight with sunshine and a view of the top of the pine tree. The window looks out onto red tiled rooftops of Cusco and in particular, the famous Plaza de Armas which is just 2 blocks away! I took my time getting settled after traveling, letting myself unpack and claim this space as my home for the next 3 days.
I then set off for the ruins of Sacsaywaman ("sexy woman") then changed my mind after huffing and puffing up the stairs leading out of San Blas and to the hillside. Instead I decided to just spend the day exploring Cusco - what a beautiful and fun city! I took the LP advice on a walking tour and ended up seeing some fun sites. Oftentimes, I couldn't find a particular place of interest so I followed my curiosity and I would end up there. There are not that may signs - at least they weren't obvious enough for me as it seems I am getting lost a lot. I found an underground local shopping pathway, then found a huge mercado with more textiles, food stalls, knick knacks than you can image - it was fun. The architecture is beautiful (colonial) except for the fact that in some cases the spaniards built right on top of the incan temple.
The historic part of the city is the really beautiful part. It has a colonial style, fun to explore remnants in the Incas, cobblestone streets, beautiful plazas with many people, both Peruvian and international tourist out enjoying themselves. I bought a few knick knacks at the big local market (much cheaper than anywhere else I've seen), and also bought a silver charm of the Chakana symbol, and of course my Machu Picchu t-shirt for a few bucks, even though I haven't made it there yet. It was orange, I like orange.
Have I mentioned the food yet? It is amazingly good! I ate at Prasada again (there was one in Pisac) - is it a chain? yummy yogic, vegetarian food. I have been able to eat the salads, vegetables, etc w no problem albeit I am not eating street food and not at the super local places, mostly places for tourists and expats living in Peru.