Ali and I had 2 days in Cusco before our trek up to Machu Picchu and 5 days afterwards. This meant that we felt pretty much at home in Cusco by the end! Cusco is a very beautiful city, with lots of impressive churches and cathedrals and, it seems like, a ruin or museum about something Inka related around every corner. However, the thing that strikes you the most on arriving into Cusco is the tourists. There are a lot. This brings a very different dynamic to Cusco than to other places in Peru. English is sooken everywhere and you cannot turn a corner without someone trying to sell you something, be it a tour, a massage, a painting or a pen with a llama on top of it!
We managed to fit in a lot of different things into our time in Cusco, however I think Ali and I particularly enjoyed our times sat in the main plaza in the sunshine whilst watching the world go by, there seemed to always be something going on!
Ali and I certainly invested a significant portion of our time in tasting what Cusco had to offer. This included trying Cuy (guinea pig), which tasted a lot like chicken only not as nice. We tried alpaca, a milder version of lamb which was pretty delicious actually. Our favourite by far was the Peruvian love of cakes and all things sweet. Im certain that having desert at lunch and dinner is excessive, however we managed this on a number of occasions!
Our love of the food here did not stop there. We decided to take a Peruvian cooking course, which had us whip up a delicious 3 course dinner along with the traditional Peruvian cocktail, the pisco sour. In terms of time spent cooking and time spent making our cocktails and of course tasting them, perhaps the balance could have been better. However, we ate and drank until we were full and had a fantastic evening.
We also managed to visit some of the nearby areas to Cusco. One being an old Inka intensive farming site, which looked like a very large stepped amphitheatre. The Inkas found that by using a type of granite that absorbed heat from the sun they could grow different varieties of crops and see what the optimum growing conditions were. Impressive stuff! We also visited some salt pans, which are all mined by local people and by hand. These salt pans consist of over 3000 shallow pools of salt water which dry in the sun and the salt is extracted at different levels. The sheer size of the site is amazing, especially as it seems to come from nowhere.
A number of friends I have met along the way travelling had mentioned what a good night out Cusco is, so Ali and I dutifully tested the night scene in Cusco. We were not disappointed. As it turns out being blonde haired, blue eyed and female can have its benefits here in Peru. Ali and I managed to get free drinks as we entered each club we went to, even if it was for the second time. This proved excellent value as there were 2 ckubs adjacent to each other that we simply skipped between. Dance music from around 10yrs ago has never sounded so good, the most surprising part is how well you remember all the words.
Ali and I had a lovely final morning in Cusco today and then it was time again for a fond farewell. Ali flew back to the UK today and I am heading to Lake Titicaca and Bolivia. Onto country number 4 and my next guest, Miss Fiona Eccleston!