I absolutely loooved Cusco. We stayed in the charming San Blas area where the streets are so narrow that you are forced to walk because cars don’t fit. Cusco is also at a really high elevation so we had a fun time hiking with our bags uphill to our hotel the first day! Thankfully, aside from being short of breathe and lightheaded, the altitude didn’t cause any major issues for us. We loved walking around the city streets and checking out the small family owned restaurants on every corner. Most only had a few tables in them and the food was literally cooked to order- meaning it was pretty standard to wait 45 minutes plus for your food. Steve was adventurous and tried “cuy” aka guinea pig (pictured below). It came out fried and fully assembled- claws and all!
Gross. He also had an alpaca steak, another traditional dish. I tried a bite- it was kind of like a really gamey lamb. The food was still tasty but not as great as in Lima. The city is definitely geared towards tourists and a lot of people spoke English and there was even a KFC and Starbucks in the main square. In fact we saw KFC’s all over Peru, more so than in the US- random! I think our favorite restaurant finds was Marcelo Batata because of the awesome panoramic rooftop view and the tasty cocktails.
On New Year’s Eve we went to a cute outdoor restaurant Pachapapa for a prix fix meal. They gave us all sorts of yellow New Year’s swag to wear. “Yellow” is good luck on New Year’s in Cusco so everyone was wearing ridiculous yellow flare, including us! After dinner we headed down to the Plaza de Armas where all the festivities were taking place. There was live music and fireworks EVERYWHERE. For hours. It was ridiculous. Every man, woman, and child (yes children) were setting off firecrackers in the streets, from balconies and from every angle. It was awesome and terryfing at the same time. At one point the roof of a nativity scene in the middle of the square caught on fire from a stray spark! There (of course) was no fire truck so everyone just started throwing beer on the flames until they finally went out. Crazy. Then at midnight everyone started circling the square 12 times as part of the NY tradition. By this time things started to get nuts with people spraying booze into the crowd and jumping around mosh pit style. I was taking a photo of the madness and took my hand off of my purse, I look down and my purse is unzipped and someone had taken my wallet! (my Tory Burch wallet steve had given me for my birthday :( ) I wasn’t going to let it ruin the night though and so we kept on celebrating. Then someone started setting off fireworks IN the crowd. We got hit on the legs by some sparks and decided we should probably head to safety. It was definitely a New Year’s to remember!
The next day Steve and I went on a tour bus to see some of the local Inca sites. We went to the Santa Catalina museum which was a convent that the Spanish built over Inca ruins. Then the bus headed to Sacsayhuaman (photos above) a military fortres the Incas made out of huge rocks- some of them requiring thousands of men to move. It was really impressive- even in the rain! The tour also included stops at Tambomachay, a tribute to the water Gods, Puca Pucara, an entry to Cusco with breathtaking views, and Qenko, a cave area used to worship the earth Gods. It was awe inspiring to see how the Incas were able to make such intricate and sturdy structures without the use of modern technology. It was also great to get out of the city itself and see the gorgeous countryside. We ended the day with a lovely dinner and some wine at Cicciolina with Matt and Ashley. Definitely would recommend that place.
We woke up at 330am the next day to head to our Machu Piccu trek!
love and candy,