Peru – Exploring Cusco

Bryan and I have wanted to go to Peru and visit Machu Picchu since we got married. It was where we planned on taking our honeymoon with Adventures by Disney, but not enough people booked the trip and it was cancelled. So, almost 8 years later we finally made the trip.

The idea for this trip started with my former teaching partner Shelley, it had always been her dream to visit Machu Picchu. She retired after the 2015-16 school year and wanted to take the trip as a celebration of her retirement. We decided that we would go and bring my husband Bryan and her daughter Kate along too.

I took on the planning and found a company called Peru for Less that we booked everything through. I know “Peru for Less” sounds a little sketchy, but they had great reviews and are Latin America’s biggest travel company. They were super easy to work with and we were super pleased with everything they set up for us. They really made our trip easy and memorable. I highly recommend them if you are looking to travel to Peru or Latin America.

We left St. Louis around 11:30 am on a Saturday, flew to Atlanta, then flew to Lima. We landed in Lima around 11:30 pm on the same day. Not too bad, and we stayed in the same time zone! Our hotel was just steps from the airport and we were welcomed by our Peru for Less agent and Pisco Sours. A Pisco Sour is a common drink in Peru. Pisco is a grape brandy and the drink is mixed with lime juice, simple syrup, egg white, and a dash of bitters. We had many variations of this drink during our trip. We just had one night in Lima because on Sunday we had a morning flight to Cusco.

Our first day in Cucso (Sunday) was a relaxed day with no official plans in order to get acclimated to the elevation. A van picked us up at the airport and took us to our hotel, Casa Andina Premium. We decided to have lunch at the hotel and take a nap. Our lunch was very good and I had my favorite fish, trout. I had no idea trout was a common fish in Peru, so I was very excited. People told us that a nap was also helpful in acclimating along with drinking Coca tea. You can find Coca tea and Coca leaves everywhere in Cusco. I didn’t drink the tea, but everyone else did. After our nap we decided to explore the city a little bit and have dinner. Our hotel was just a short walk from the Plaza de Armas (think of a town square) so we walked around, visited the little shops, and took in the sights. For dinner we ate at a restaurant called Limo. Peru is known to be a foodie destination and our dinner didn’t disappoint. Bryan and I shared various sushi rolls and they were delicious!

Monday was filled with a Cusco City tour. We began at Qorikancha, the Temple of the Sun, which was just steps from our hotel. Here we learned about how the Incas used the sun to create a calendar, and how their buildings were built so the sun shinned in certain areas at certain times of the year. We also studied the bricks they used and were amazed by how everything fit together and that the bricks even went around the corners. How did they do that?

Next we went to Saqsayhuaman. Here there are many ruins to explore that really highlight the amazing feats that the Incas achieved. We also went to Tambomachay where we were able to see aqueducts, canals, and waterfalls. Again more feats of Incan engineering and architecture.

We also visited Q’enqo which was a holy place for the Incas. It is believed that sacrifices and mummification took place here. We ended our tour at the Basilica Catedral. It was a beautiful church made up of 3 different parts. Unfortunately we were not allowed to take pictures of the inside, but it was quite beautiful, lots of gold and silver.

For lunch we at at a local cafe which I think might be a stop for the Adventures by Disney trip because they had a lanyard with Disney pins hanging by the register. Small world! After lunch we spent time relaxing at our hotel before going back out for dinner.

At night we explored more of Cusco and walked to San Blas. Here there was a church and a cute square. While there we even saw a small parade. For dinner we ate at Pachappa, and once again I had trout. This time I had a whole trout cooked on a wood fire grill. I always wanted to try a whole fish and it was delicious.

That night we packed up our stuff and got ready to head to The Sacred Valley the next day.

Next week my post will be about our time in The Sacred Valley.


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