Do you feel energised arriving in a new city? I do. The sense of discovery. Wanting to get straight out on the streets.
Cusco looks great. We changed and got out walking. Loved the road dividers
Then to dinner.
After a great dinner at Green we gave up the city by night walk. It was drizzling, very cool and our colds were making us feel very ordinary so we went to bed in our lovely room. We’ve managed to avoid altitude sickness so far.
The next day we got up late, a luxury in our trip so far. The Hotel El Mercado is very comfortable and make the guest very welcome. Lots of choice for breakfast.
Then a walk through the streets to the markets. Interesting new new sights and sounds in this important Peruvian city.
The San Pedro markets are divided in category according to items. We bought Steve a warm jumper – not genuine alpaca according to its price! But it suits the moment- now ! It’s quite cool. Such a change to Galapagos.
The remainder of the morning we wandered and soaked up the sights and sounds. Steve’s favourite was the traffic policewoman and motorcycle police . Decked out in cream jodhpurs with knee high boots and leather straps at the top of the thigh securing a large gun. It’s a mystery how they get it out quickly!The road police stand in the corner of the Main Street waving arms and blowing whistles. The fluorescent green gloves on their hand reflect as they wave cars on.
Funny thing they all look like they could be sisters. Young, pony tails, gorgeous really, so with Steve happily watching I ran into a shop with beautiful alpaca jumpers
The window displays are very inviting. A rainbow display of coloured knitwear and fabrics just waiting to be bought but with Brisbane having so little winter I’m going to resist!
The afternoon city tour included the main Cathedral, built in 1563, with Flora our entertaining guide who sweetly insisted on calling us ‘my friends and family’. She gave a good run down on the importance of Catholicism and some of the ways the religion is observed. She told us about the ‘ cinnamon Christ’ who was cinnamon coloured but is now black. There are many important festivals where statues, beautifully dressed in gorgeous coloured dresses embellished with scores of gemstones , are carried through the streets.
The solid silver altar to Mary was the ‘piece de resistance ‘. It has a port hole on top which houses a large vase of flowers and in Holy Week the flowers are removed and a driver pops into the hole, the alter is raised and it becomes 6 tonnes of silver car to be driven through the streets. Classy!
Next stop was a monastery which had been home to an Inca temple.
Thankfully some wonderful examples of the stone work remains and you get an insight into just how amazing the Incas were at creating buildings. The precision of the shapes and the piecing together of the cut stone. Incredible. And the rest of the short tour will build the story until we get the climax, the main event the day after when we visit Machu Pinchu.
We left the town behind to visit 3 important sights. Each one different but all adding to the Inca story.
Saqsayhuaman ( “sexy woman” as Flora called it !) our first stop we saw great evidence of the building skills and also the effect altitude has in your climbing! Puffing heavily we made it up to the top and were rewarded with a view back over Cusco. Reassuringly everyone seemed to be puffing – even those years younger than us. A walk down and across a large green flat area to the car park. We were farewelled by men, women and children all trying to sell up some bright and beautiful and possibly made in China. Can’t escape it!
Second stop Q’enqo for more examples of stone work and we walked through a labyrinth and went underground to see the stone altar.
Last stop at Puka Pukara had us walking up a steep hill to view the water temple.
All very impressive. And lots of walking.
Back to Cusco and a quick turnaround as we were meeting Barry and Bill from Galapagos Swimtrek. Both are suffering the team cold but hoped they could make it to Limo restaurant.
Fortunately they did and we reminisced as we sipped a Pisco Sour before eating the local delicacy – alpaca. You can eat it and / or wear it – or pay to photograph it with women and children dressed in traditional costumes in the streets of Cusco. Alpacas are very much appreciated in this area!
After much chatting I gave Bill the last of my cold tablets – I’m over it!
And so to bed after packing for tomorrow’s trip to the Secret Valley. We have to leave most luggage behind as you can only take a 5kg bag on the train as we head to the township closest to Machu Picchu (Aguas Calientes – hot water).