Peru: Cusco

After about a three week hiatus, I’ve been struggling to decide where to begin. There’s so much to tell, especially in relation to food and also just the jaw dropping beauty of nature bursting at its seams.

Maybe to begin I’ll say – at the end of April we spent 10 days in Peru, some was heart burstingly grand and others was gut wrenching, umm, well just physically that.

Although we started our adventure with a day in Lima I think the best for this recap is to start in Cusco and then work back to the food in Lima. (All foodies will want to stay tuned.)

After some flight delays, we arrived in Cusco to hit the ground running which actually made no time for lunch (needless to say, C was not thrilled since we left our apartment at 7am and really didn’t get a meal until 9pm that day). This is the main reason I don’t exactly have any stellar food reviews for Cusco is that we hardly had a chance to eat during that whole 4 day tour. We opted for a tour in Cusco and Machu Picchu since we were a group of 6 and no one really wanted the hassle of arranging all of the travel (at least I certainly didn’t).

We began with a tour of the Basilica Cathedral and some ancient sites around Cusco (Qorikancha, Saqsayhuaman, Tambomachay). The basilica was neat, but after seeing some of the most grand cathedrals and basilicas in the world on previous travel,  I was a little too hangry and also out of it from the coca tea at this point to fully appreciate it. Photos were not allowed inside.

It was interesting to see some of the Incan remnants in Cusco and how the Spanish tried to build over them… The Spanish were not the greatest at making structures that would last in an area with so much seismic activity. Basically the Incan structures still stand with no natural damage while the colonial structures are continually in need of repair.

We drove up to the top of the hill surrounding Cusco to see Qorikancha and Saqsayhuaman. I couldn’t resist trying a little yoga, but the spot I picked was really, really rocky and uneven – not ideally for trying to balance with shoes on.

Most of our small group for Cusco below. For this trip we tagged along with C’s sister, her fiance and his family.

We awoke early-ish again the next day to start heading to the Sacred Valley and places along the way.

We went to a weaving factory (actually two, one the night before as well, but I didn’t get pictures I was so exhausted) where they showed us how they use naturally dyes to color the wool. I thought it was pretty neat and bought some woven items.

Neat we traversed a but of dirt roads to find our way to Moray where we learned about the microclimates the Incas set up for farming – to get an idea for scale, each tier is about 5-6 ft tall. This is one of three.

We went to the Maras Salt Mine, although calling it a mine is a little misleading, they’re more like salt pools. They fill all of the pools with salt water from a spring and then allow the water to evaporate leaving the salt behind which can then be collected. Pools are owned by different families in the village and they typically farm during the waiting time and throughout the year for additional income.

We went to Ollantaytambo to climb another Incan temple and observe some of their grain storage across and town below. The religious site itself was never completed as it was interrupted by the Spanish and was abandoned as the Incas fled.

That night we stayed in the Sacred Valley at Sonesta Posadas del Inca Sacred Valley Yucay which was a beautiful spa like retreat. It reminded me a lot of our stay in Ojo Caliente. You could stay there for a week without ever having to leave – bar, coffee shop, breakfast and dinner restaurant, spa services, and even art and babble vendors. I wish we could have stayed longer.

While at Sonesta Posadas here are a few food pics I managed to snap – cheese plate and Pisco Sour at Happy Hour and then Manicotti for dinner.

After our night in the Sacred Valley, we were ready to awake the next day to head to Machu Picchu.

More to come!!

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