Monday, December 26, 2011

Cuzco... day... what are we on now? 8?

I'm starting to lose track of the days.

We woke early to get to the airport with plenty of time to spare for our flight from Lima to Cuzco. And we were there with plenty of time... which means of course our flight was delayed. That's how it works, you know. It was delayed officially for an hour and a half, then we boarded quite some time after that, and then once we were on the plane, the plane just... sat there... for what seemed like forever. When all was said and done we arrived in Cuzco almost 4 hours later than originally planned, which meant we couldn't see as much for the day as I would have liked. That's okay, though... that's why we left plenty of time for each leg of the journey, to allow for cancellations and delays as they happened.

I knew that I loved Cuzco the second I saw it out of the plane window. I am truly a mountain girl at heart. It is a mountain town at 11,000 feet with beautiful green mountains and blue skies. I was so happy to have fresh mountain air again instead of dank, polluted big city air. Even if it's thinner, I like it better.

We caught a taxi to our hotel, the Rumi Punku. Rumi means stones, and Punku means door. This place is absolutely adorable. It has a beautiful courtyard area filled with plants that the rooms face instead of the streets, so the rooms are relatively quiet. I get wifi in the room (yays!) and there is even a mini-fridge, which I wasn't expecting. It's the little things. And yay for extra pillows and blankets; it gets a little chilly here at night. (No worse than home in the mountains in the summer/fall, though.)

Jim and I headed out ASAP because we wanted to make it to Quorikancha before it closed. Cuzco is such an interesting mix of old Incan streets and buildings with colonial Spanish and modern architecture alike all on top of it, giving it an almost European feel. Cuzco is sort of unique in that it was still occupied by the Incas (they hadn't abandoned it) at the time of Pizarro's conquest with the conquistadores from Spain. Quorikancha is no exception, as it is basically a Spanish cathedral built upon the Incan temple that the kings are rumored to have both frequented and, at one time, been buried in. All of the Incan artifacts (including the mummies of the kings) are now long gone with the conquistadores, but the building is now quite beautiful and serves as both a church and a museum. It sits up on a hill in the back, and Jim and I spent some time taking in the view of the town below and the mountains behind around sunset. It was quite stunning and relaxing.

Can I just say that my husband is the best travel partner ever?

We caught dinner at Inkanto near the bustling Plaza de Armas. (For it being the 'low season' since it is technically monsoon season things are pretty busy here, I'd hate to see it in the high season! I love traveling in the off season.) We had intended to try another restaurant recommended by the Lonely Planet that offered traditional Peruvian dishes, but alas... where it was supposed to be is now a Starbucks, so either they went out of business or I really need to work on my map reading skills. I'm thinking it's the former. No matter, the nearby Inkanto offered both Italian and Peruvian dishes, so I had another round of Lomo Saltado (a beef/onion dish I'm growing to really like) with risotto and Jim had a Peruvian style lamb shank served with gnocchi which was also very delicious. Jim also had his first pisco sour mixed drink, which is very popular here. He says it is a lot like a margarita, since pisco is a lot like tequilla.

We had intended to go to a precolombian art museum (The Museo de Arte Precolombino) that stays open until 10pm after dinner, but between the altitude, getting up so early today, and needing to get up early tomorrow... we decided it best to head to bed. Hopefully we can catch the museum on our way back through Cuzco later in the week. We stopped to get bottled water on the way back to the hotel. You can never have enough bottled water when you can't drink the tap water, especially when it's important to fend off any potential for altitude sickness. So far we are doing okay!

Cuzco is already my favorite stop in Peru so far. I am so glad that we decided to come here. I am very excited for Aguas Calientes and then Machu Picchu next... tomorrow, the train!

-Sarah and Jim (who is already asleep, lol)

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