We arrived back on the bus-from-hell, oops, I mean the bus from Cusco to Lima just before noon on Saturday. We had 11 hours to kill before we were supposed to be at the airport, but we were encumbered by luggage. We took a taxi to the Museo de la Nacion, again, which should have been open, again, but it was strike two. We took another taxi back to the bus station (only $4 poorer) and got on WiFi to try to find a restaurant. Phil found one that we probably should have been able to walk to but, unsure of how to get there exactly, we took yet another taxi. It turned out to be a huge local favourite and was jam packed with people in a huge sprawling restaurant with an upstairs as well as two huge rooms downstairs and live entertainment. We had another excellent meal. Those foodies knew a thing or two when they decided to make Peruvian food the next big thing. In the picture that’s lamb, tacu tacu, fried plantains with quail eggs and some Lima type beans with corn kernels. We walked back to the bus station and Phil negotiated a deal with a taxi driver to go round the city for 8 hours and be driven to the airport for $60. He had a taxi licence so he fobbed us off on his brother around the corner who took us in his own private car. I wracked my brains to remember the things that were left on the list I made of things to do in Lima, but had subsequently lost. I knew that the Bridge of Sighs (Puenta des Suspiros) was on it and we wanted to go the the seaside. It turns out that this was a two birds/one stone situation and we walked down to the ocean from there, where Phil collected sand for a friend.
I then suddenly remembered that we had been meaning to go to the Huaca Pucllana ruins, near where our hotel had been. Although I couldn’t for the life of me remember the name, I managed to communicate this to the driver, whose English was unfortunately as limited as my Spanish. Off we went, arriving not long before the last English tour of the day left. They don’t let people on the site without a guide. It was another good choice.
When we were back in the car, Phil noted that when the taxi driver was not trying to get us to the destination as quickly as possible on his own time, we saw a much nicer city than we had in the few days we had been there at the beginning of the trip. This driver knew we had lots of time and took us along much prettier streets than we had ever seen before. The last thing I remembered from the list was the Parque de la Reserva, which has a bunch of water fountains. I knew that it said to go there at night and we got there just before sunset so we saw it in both the light and dark,It was a great place to walk around because some of the fountains were splash pads and there were lots of kids having a blast. At this point my memory was tapped out so we asked to be taken to the Plaza das Armes to see it in the dark. When we got there, the traffic was terrible and there was no place to park so we just took the driver for ice cream and headed for the airport. This trip has taught me that I am a guidebook person and i will go back to my always having a guidebook with me roots from now on.
There’s a reason this puppy is a world heritage site, although I have to admit I have never been to a world heritage site that I wasn’t impressed by. You have all seen the pictures before
, but here goes anyway. We got up at 6 am to catch a lovely viewy train through the mountains.
When we arrived, we got a bit out of puff climbing to the traditional view point
…climbed back down (gently because of my creaky old knees)
…explored the ruins for a bit and tried desperately to get some shots without too many of the other 2500 people they let in a day
…went in and out of the lovely stepped houses near the finish (they try to keep everyone going in the same direction)
…and joined the line for the buses back to the train, the end is NOT in sightWe waited only 50 minutes to get to the front of this line (we had predicted an hour ourselves). We had a very expensive and mediocre supper in the tourist trap they call the village of Machu Picchu, and caught the train back to Cusco. The sun set as we were going through the mountains and it was lovely to see them in the changing light. My cell phone camera was not up to catching it. Machu Picchu was definitely worth all the money and hassle it had been to get there.
I went on an all day bus tour of the sacred valley around Cusco. Phil was of course supposed to come but she had wicked altitude sickness. She only got up once that day to go get pills apparently. We had already booked the tour so she said I should go anyway .
There was chaos at the start as the scores of your operators from around the city brought their customers and tried to install them on the buses. I was put on one bus then taken off it because it was a Spanish only tour, only to be put on another Spanish only bus. It turns out that the last English bus had left in the meantime so I was promised that I could switch at the first site Pisaq. Before we got there, however we had to stop at the first of three souvenir stops.
Pisaq had 4000 inhabitants in Inca times, 2000 of them farmers on the terraces. The terraces had stone walls in front and were backfilled with gravel and topsoil. I was introduced to the English speaking guide and promised that I would be switched after the next site. We then went for a buffet lunch.
We carried on to the next site, Ollentaytambo. It was quite a zoo of tourists. None of my pics were all that great.
After this place they finally offered to let me switch buses, but I was understanding a lot of what he said and that were a very jovial group so I stayed with them.
The final stop was at a textile place where they did a demo about dyes and had another nice display of dyestuffs.
I got back to the hotel 12 hours after leaving and Phil’s meds were kicking in enough to go out for ice cream.
We went to the Cusco culinary cooking class and made our own dinner. I would happily recommend this to anyone who has any culinary interest. We started with Pisco Sour cocktails. Apparently a bartender didn’t have any whisky for a whisky sour and subbed a local super strong wine. We had one made with traditional ice cubes and two done with frozen juice cubes.
Next came the appetizer, Causa which is chopped chicken salad and sliced avocado sandwiched between two layers of mashed potatoes built in a mold.
- Unfortunately, Phil developed altitude sickness and she didn’t make it through the whole thing. She went and lay down after making the appetizer. We made the main course which was quinoa risotto and lomo saltados (beef stir fry). We flambéed the beef cubes
Then added tomatoes, red peppers, onions and cilantro. It was delicious.
We finished off with a fruit mousse.
Great meal and fun making it ourselves.
We got some sleep last night, but I didn’t get a ton. I tried to get back to sleep using Nirvana Unplugged, which usually works before the CD is finished, but I ended up doing that, the National, Wish You Were Here and Townes Van Zandt before it was 7 am and time for breakfast.. Sucks to be me.
This morning we signed up for a cooking class for this afternoon, then took a city tour on a sightseeing bus. First it circled the block twice and brought us back to where we started. When the tour was over I realized there was a sign which said they were only allowed to park for 7 minutes, so they were probably returning to base to try to fill the bus before the tour actually started. Once we finally got going, it took us past the Plaza das Armas
And up to Cristo Blanco above the city
With nice views of the city below
And an archeological site whose name I didn’t catch
And then to the obligatory tourist trap where they try to sell you expensive artisanal goods, in this case jewellery and alpaca items. They did gave a great display of dyestuffs for alpaca. I found the blue corn particularly interesting.
I made my usual pilgrimage to McDonald’s. I always try the local item. Maharajah Macs, Desayunos Tipicos, etc. This time it was a nasty dried out piece of chicken breast on a bed of green rice with big corn kernels. Phil asked me if it was good and I said..of course not, it’s McDonald’s!but they had some neat condiments
21 hours virtually nonstop. I should know better than to try to take pictures from a moving bus but the scenery was so great I couldnt resist.
Yesterday before we left we are in the bus station and they had a bilingual menu, so I took a picture for future reference
They also had this handy dandy chart of fruits and veg…in alphabetical order no less.All we did today after we arrived is check into the hotel, then went for a bite to eat and went for a wander. We went on a ‘free’ walking tour. Nothing is free and we had trouble breaking away, sadly when we tried, they waited for us so we bought our way out at the next stop. It was only sort of interesting and he was very long winded and not very information dense.
We did go to a few interesting places. Notice the pop bottle sprinkler and the market designed by Mr Eiffel of tower fame
Most of the beautiful old buildings here seem to be sandstone more than coloured plaster
That is one building seen through an archway but I the light is hitting the top of the arch funny
We will probably go out for supper then go to bed early
We are at the bus station waiting for our bus to Cuzco. It will take 21 hours and apparently electricity and WiFi is a crapshoot…maybe, maybe not. Some buses do have it.
When I saw this sign in the bathroom of our hotel yesterday, all I could think was: wouldn’t it be better for the oceans not to put the unfiltered sewage of a city of close to ten million in the ocean in the first place?
Phil and I got bananas to eat yesterday…she got the common or garden variety. When I opened mine all I immediately thought orange you glad you chose this kind?
I have got some of my taxi questions answered by the cabbie we had this morning, who had lived in the states for several years. The cabs run on natural gas with canisters in the trunk. This costs a fraction of what gasoline would.
They have a local version of uber here that you can get as an app for your smartphone apparently.
I have become fascinated by the electricity here. It is like in India where the code seems completely nonexistent.
Up and around, resting on a roof…anything goes
As Alan used to say when the kids were little…
Is that safety?
Phil had me figure out how to ask for her eggs sunny side up, because the soft scramble was just not her cup of tea. She tried to water down the coffee swill but to no avail so we had to set off in search of better. The restaurant was still closed so we wandered round a big supermarket first. This is apparently something Phil likes to do in different countries. We found the spice aisle particularly interesting.By the time we got finished going up and down the aisles, it was time for the restaurant to open, so we each had a decent coffee and split an empanada.we took a taxi to the Museo de Arte Lima (MALI). I am not sure how the taxi drivers make a living. We have paid anywhere from $3 to $7 per trip and have gone for up to half an hour. The MALI is another stunning building and has a very interesting collection of Peruvian art from pre Columbian to present.
I particularly liked this hat in the textile gallery.
We then tried to take a taxi to a recommended restaurant, but I may have miscommunicated my intention to the driver. I have no idea where we ended up since it was an alley with no restaurants at all. Luckily we found this one crammed with locals nearby.
I think Phil is right to think you are safer in restaurants with big turnover, especially if you are ordering cerviche…a local dish made from raw fish with chili peppers and raw onions. The pepper on top was killer hot and i had to remove it from my mouth before it did damage
We also had another incarnation of tacu tacu, which turns out to be rice with either lentils or beans fried till it has a crust like rosti…this time with seafood on top.
We then headed to the Larco museum which has a fabulous ceramic collection and stunning flowers all over the exterior.
They house all the leftover collection in a rabbit warren of shelves with glass fronts. I was thinking of Gerry from ceramics school and hoped he had visited it at some point.
They even had all their ducks in a row.
We headed back and went to the same restaurant for supper, this time to try the last thing on the billboard…rocoto relleno con pastel de papa. It turned out to be a red pepper stuffed with spicy ground meat with a cross between scalloped and mashed potatoes on a thin omelet.
We got here really late and thank goodness we had a room prebooked. At 2 in the morning all one needs is a bed. We got up in time for the hotel breakfast…scrambled eggs and uber white bread buns with jam and horrible coffee. Phil may not cooperate like Charles did in Central America… she may give up on coffee too instead of becoming my official tester. I told charles to let me know when a cup of coffee worth drinking came along and I had one a week or so later. He drank a lot of swill between times. I love coffee too much for that.
We took a taxi to plaza mayor and started wandering. Fabulous old Spanish architecture all round the downtown. I am a sucker for all that painted plaster. We went into the train station/library first
then the monastery of San Francisco
At this point we were uncertain as to how to proceed so we spent too much on a map from a hawker in the plaza mayor, but this led us to the municipal tourist info place. From there we went round the corner to the museum of gastronomia
Museum of gastronomia
…and next door to my favourite of the day another monastery … Santo Domingo with a beautiful cloister
a cool old library
and a bell tower
With lovely panoramic views
We went back down to the street and immediately caught a bus to Cerro San Cristobal, a very large hill with more panoramic views…this time of a way too big and not very green, smoggy city
We came down, bought bus tickets to Cuzco and went for supper. We did not understand much on the menu
But the tacu tacu was good and the ordering with my very limited Spanish and the waiter’s non existent English was an adventure in mine and gesture.