Tag Archives: Cusco

Peru Day 4: City Tour

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In most cities, a city tour is a bus ride that shows you the major sites. In Cusco, it’s a trip just a few miles outside of town to some of the most amazing Inca ruins. We visited Sacsayhuaman, Qenko, Puka Pukara and Tombomachay. I’m going to need to work on which is which. I’ve decided from now on, I’ll take a picture of a sign each time we enter a new place.

We had a guide/driver today. Carlos was a man of about 60. He had been up at 6 today to take a class at university before picking us up at 9. He’s a student of history, of the Incas and is studying English to be even more fluent. He’s written a book about Peru and the Incas. He wants to get it into the Library of Congress. We told him how close we lived to there and that we’d help. He said he really likes DC and its monuments. How does he know them? He says he watches House of Cards!

What was amazing was the formations. How did the Incas transport these rocks 22km from the quarry? How did they carve these huge stones? How did they lift them into place? How did they know to arrange them for strength and to withstand earthquakes? How did they fit the stones so perfectly that they’ve stayed in place, without mortar? So here are some of the pictures from the day.

I was no match for the size of some of these stones! DSC_0239

We finished back in the Plaza and Carlos gave us a tour of the Catedral del Cuzco. Pictures were not allowed inside, but it was an amazing church. DSC_0271

At our guide’s recommendation we went to Chicha for lunch. We had a great meal, I had corn-stuffed ravioli. IMG_0763

We did a little shopping, then did something exceedingly rare for us. We went back to the hotel and went to the spa! The hotel has a very large whirlpool and a sauna. Felt heavenly!

Ellen took advantage of the daily free pisco sour again, and then we went to dinner, a pizza place called Justina Pizzeria just two blocks from the hotel. It was a cute, wood-burning fireplace pizza joint. 2 pizzas and a 640ml beer for less than $20! IMG_0765

We leave Cusco tomorrow, but much more awaits!

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Peru Day 3: Sacred Valley

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You can’t really catch up on sleep, but we tried. 9.5 hours certainly helped. Great breakfast buffet at the hotel, including baked goods, fresh fruit, eggs to order, fresh juices. A good way to start.

We hired a driver today, as we had designed our own itinerary of sights in the Sacred Valley, and a group wouldn’t have allowed us to do that.Our driver was great, but spoke almost no English. We used what little Spanish we know to communicate. It worked!

We set off for 9 to Pisac. The views were pretty awesome. DSC_0153

We hired a guide at the Pisac ruins. Don’t like doing that, but we wanted some understanding of what we were seeing. He was okay, when he wasn’t trying to sell us wooden flutes, special oil his grandmother made for altitude sickness or figurines.

The Incas used the mountains for agriculture by building terraces.DSC_0165

They buried their dead in holes in the cliffs. DSC_0170

We made it about 3/4 up steep stairs to the top but Ellen stopped and then a little while later I called it quits. The altitude and climbing is tough!

We drove back down to the town of Pisac and the market. Sundays is a food market for the locals, it was fascinating to observe. DSC_0189DSC_0188DSC_0182

On the way back to the car, we came by a cemetery. We’ve seen some wonderful ones, this small one was still fascinating.DSC_0195

Our last stop of the day was Salinas. Crazy place! over 5700 salt ponds, fed by a salty river with twice the salinity of the ocean. They fill up the ponds and let the sun dry up the water, producing 150kg per pond per month. And just what a sight they are! It took some walking down a winding stone path to get there, but it was worth it.
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We made it back to Cusco around 5:30. A brief rest, then we went to the bar at the hotel for our first pisco sours of the trip. So tasty! IMG_0758

Dinner was at Fallen Angel, just steps from our hotel. It came well recommended. Maybe they were having an off-night, but the service was awful. Food, when it came, was very good though.