We had a brief overnight stop in Lima before flying onto Cusco. We didn’t see much of the Capital City, but it looked vast from the air. We stayed at a great place (despite the slightly odd name) called SM Hotel & Business. We were picked up from the airport by a guy called Rene, who was getting married in 3 days time! He’s originally from Cuba and studied Economics at University. He’s now trying to earn enough money to train to be a teacher. He’d been working all night when he picked us up again at 4am to take us back to the airport and almost fell asleep several times at the wheel. He was clearly working hard!
In the departures lounge at Lima Airport, an announcement came over the tannoy for Mr & Mrs Wynn-Jones to come to the desk, and we had a horrible feeling we’d missed our plane. But it turned out they’d overbooked the economy seats and they bumped us up to business class – result!
The view you get from the plane flying into Cusco is incredible; the city is surrounded by beautiful mountains, which you circle before landing on the airstrip, which is pretty much in the centre of the city! We got a ridiculously expensive taxi to our hostel, La Boheme, which is in the San Blas area. The cobbled streets are very steep and narrow, and our hostel was tucked out of the way. It’s a very welcoming place, with a great communal area where you can help yourself to Coca tea at anytime. It’s also attached to a creperie. We went there for supper and had an absolutely delicious combination of chicken, mushrooms, spinach and bechemal cheese – all served in a massive crepe.
The view from nearby San Cristobel church is amazing; you can see right over the city. We also visited San Domingo on the site of a former Incan temple, which the Spanish partially destroyed and built over. The church was also partially destroyed by an earthquake in the 1950s and you can now see the unique combination of Catholic and Inca remains together.
Cusco is inevitably a bit touristy, because thousands of travellers pass through every year on their way to do the Inca Trail. You can’t walk through the main square without being offered a guided tour, a massage, or your photo taken with a baby llama – complete with a woolly hat! However the people are friendly and there’s a great atmosphere. The one thing we can’t understand is their obsession with fire crackers. We heard bangs going off throughout the day and were told by Quentin at our hostel, “that’s Cusco”. I think the whole area was woken again at 3am when the ‘fireworks’ started again, and continued until breakfast! It definitely wasn’t the good night’s sleep we needed before starting the Inca Trail!
J & R x