Cusco (or Cuzco, as the locals refer to it), Machu Picchu, and the Sacred Valley in the Peruvian Andes, were all magical places suspended in time that are impossible to leave you unmoved by their beauty & rich heritage. Visiting Peru was very high on my bucket list and I am glad I had the chance to do it.
When we arrived in Lima, we directly took a smaller plane to Cusco. With lots of turbulence and difficulty landing in Cusco’s high altitude terrain, I was on the edge of my seat most of the time. We were warned before that flights to Cusco are not known to be smooth, still we were a bit shaken.
We stayed at the J W Marriott El Convento in Cusco. And that was the best decision we took throughout the whole trip. Mostly because Alladin (hubby) got Altitude sickness the night we arrived (something Cusco is famous for this since it as an altitude of 3,399 m) and the hotel were very supportive and provided Oxygen bottles and medical support. The trip to Machu Picchu was very tiring and the option to go back to a comfy and clean hotel room helped us recover. Located in a restored 16th-century convent in the heart of Cusco, the hotel is a work of art by itself. Within the hotel, there were halls overflowing with ancient Peruvian artifacts and a museum of Inca ruins in the basement.
The hotel was conveniently located 2 minutes away from The famous Plaza, right at the center of the city; we barely needed any transportation.
Our stay at the hotel was not sponsored and it was worth every Dirham!
The hotel recommended that we go to Limo , a restaurant known for its rich flavors. We tried Limo first, before any other restaurant and it set our expectations very high. We were eager to try the famous Peruvian dishes and we ordered them all on our first night at Limo. talk about hasty tourists.
Peruvian cuisine is very fresh and varied. They have 63 Species of Corn grown in the country (purple corn, sweet corn, Choclo or Giant Corn…that’s all I can remember!). We tried a couple of other restaurants in the city since Alladin wanted to Try Alpaca meat (couldn’t stop him), but none were as memorable as Limo. We ended going there again many times. Not sponsored again.
In Peru, make sure you order the locals’ favorites: Lomo Soltado (Lamb cooked with peppers and served with rice), Arroz Marisco (Seafood rice), Yuca fries or Yuca balls. Peru is also known for Quinoa, so please indulge in all types of Quinoa dishes since it is a superfood.
In The Mercado Central we noticed that They sell Cuy or Guinnea-Pig boiled. Apparently, the locals dig. Couldn’t Try it. I have my limits.
Activities in Cusco
- Plaza de Armas: we loved visting the Iconic Plaza. It is the heart of Cusco and where most of Historical events took place. Right on the Cathedral and opening up on so many alleys. Cusco is a small city, one way or another you will find yourself in the Plaza.
- La Cathedral: loved sitting on the steps of the Cathedral trying to answer the big questions of life. It is one hell of a view. The Cathedral is beautiful and iconic with its Spanish architecture. Something to be known, Tourists are not very welcome inside the Cathedral.
- Mercado Central: Walking around the Market, observing the customs of the locals, and the local produce was a feast for the eyes. Apart from the boiled Guinea-pigs!
- Museo Inca: This Museum is full of Inca artifacts and descriptions. Enjoyed reading about the tradition way of life in Peru and the history of the country. The museum has a beautiful Patio where a couple of local women come to thread some rugs that will probably later end up in West Elm costing a fortune. So grab some while you can!
- Getting lost: Just get plain lost in the alleys. Buy local snacks. Buy an Alpaca Sweater from the local ladies to protect yourself from the cold (well spent 15$). Drink Coca leaves infusions (illegal everywhere else but Peru, but they help with Altitude sickness). Cusco is very safe and each street is constructed in a unique way. Wandering around got me meet & greet Alpacas.
Our trip from Cusco to Machu Picchu was organized by the hotel, since we booked through the hotel. We got up super early, took the shuttle to a nearby village that had a train station so we can take the train (Inka Rails) to Aguascalientes. Once arrived, we took a bus to Macu Picchu. We met some tourists that stayed in Aguascalientes for a few days in order to avoid the whole transportation stress; but we only had one day to see Machu Micchu. We couldn’t afford any delay.
The tour was not that organized, as sometimes the guides will switch groups or timings of activities. Apparently, most of the tours to Machu Picchu are like that.
The sight was majestic. The site is grand and the clouds that day made it even more mysterious.
The steps in the site were very high and the paths very narrow. I felt real fear a couple of times but I was fortunate to have Alladin hold my hand when I needed it. We still made it to the top to contemplate the whole site, the big mountain or the mother: Wayna Picchu. The Guide was very funny & patient; he dropped some real knowledge on us and left us speechless at the grandeur of the Inca.
I loved making this diary and would love even more hearing from you in the comments section!