Cusco, formerly the most important city of the Inca Empire, conquered and rebuilt on Inca foundations by the Spanish in the 1530´s and now home to every Peruvian wanting to rip off a gringo. The overriding memory of Cusco is the numerous street urchins selling everything from massages, city tours and dodgy Inca relics amongst the goods mentionable on this family web-site. The most important phrase for surviving a day in Cusco; "No Gracias" it is best just to recite this repeatedly when in the vicinity of the Plaza de Armas.
We had four days in Cusco to prepare for the Inca trail to Machu Picchu. With four days in one hotel (Cusco Plasa II, very nice) and a free morning the next day a night out seemed in order. After a very enjoyable dinner at the local Australian pub Los Perros, well it had an Australian flag outside, we headed for a club. We were in luck as shortly after arriving a beginner's salsa lesson kicked off. We were certainly beginners but fuelled by some Vino Blanco Hannah was soon mixing it with the locals. A good night had by all but some sore heads in the morning.
Noted above Cusco was the principal city of the Inca empire and the tourist trade revolves around the Inca past. We visited the Inca museum and took in all the Inca walls that are scattered around the city. We climbed the statue of the famous Inca King for a panoramic view of the city and took day trips to Tipon, temple to water, Sacsayhuaman, temple to thunder, Quenko, religious temple of sacrifice, Puca Pucara, the first gate house to the Inca Trail and Tambo Machy, a waterfall purification site. This was all very interesting and prepared us for the Inca Trail to come.
As part of the tourist ticket we got for the city we also got access to numerous museums including the regional art museum, contemporary art museum, popular art museum to name but a few. No matter what the museum was called it contained several Inca artefacts a couple of mummies and not a lot else. A little harsh but not the best museums we have ever been to.
From the large bruise residing on my posterior I can also recommend not to wear flip flops when exploring Cusco´s cobbled streets. On exiting the museum of regional art I took the quick way down the exit stairs and was greeted by a stern local woman criticising my choice of footwear. "Alright the pain in my arse and wife creasing herself lets me know you're right" I responded with a grimace but thankfully she didn't speak English.
We spent the rest of the time relaxing, doing a bit of shopping, laundry and preparing for our four day hike through the Sacred Valley of the Incas to Machu Picchu. Very excited.