Editor’s note — If things have seemed a little silent around these parts, it’s because at least one half of the intrepid Two Go Round-The-World duo has been on a small group tour of Peru. Offered by Gap Adventures, this 10-day tour is dubbed a ‘Taste of Peru’ and encompasses Lima, the Amazon and the Andes. While it is our intention to feature the trip in a number of comprehensive articles, we couldn’t help but share a few small previews while in the midst of the trip.
Va para ti! — is the Spanish slogan for Peru’s lovely Cusqeuna beer. It translates roughly into “this is for you” or “this suits you”. The saying is often employed when dedicating a toast to someone, ie “va por ti”.
It’s a particularly suitable expression for the city of Cusco—which you will find to be an incredibly diverse and endlessly interesting city in which to walk around. High in the Andes, Cusco is the home of Cusquena beer and—with a wide range of activities on offer—you will certainly find something especially “for you”.
If you prefer the more staid pursuits of soaking up colonial architecture, learning more about Incan history—or if you prefer hitting the trails on a quad bike or on horseback—Cusco offers a little bit of something for everyone.
Located in southeastern Peru, Cusco is situated near the Urubamba Valley in the Andes mountains. The municipality boasts a population of ~350,000 and has experienced three-fold growth in the past twenty years. Cusco was the capital of the Inca Empire and, with a vast array of Incan sites scattered throughout and in the hills around the city, was declared a World Heritage Site in 1983 by UNESCO. It is a major tourist destination and, according to Wikipedia, receives almost a million visitors a year.
The city is a unique combination of the colonial and the Incan. It’s easy to tell where one history leaves off and the other begins. The plaster fingers of colonial stucco cleave apart the of Incan granite throughout the city—and the mortar between them conjoins more than just walls, it serves to join histories both sacred and violent.
We took it easy soon after arriving in order to adjust to the altitude, as it’s around 3,400 m (11,200 ft) above sea level. We sipped tea and chewed coca leaves, sitting around the courtyard of the charming Hotel Tupac Yupanqui.
The morning after our arrival, we checked out San Pedro Market—a covered open-air market. It covers about three city blocks—larger than a soccer field.
It’s located near the train station to Machu Picchu and is just outside the central city. Whether you’re seeking flowers, fruits or chocolate, the market is a kaleidoscope of colour and action. And a juxtaposition of sights and smells!
Later that afternoon, we checked out Plaza de Armas and the bustling artesian neighborhood of San Blas.
We’ve got a couple of good suggestions for lunch if you find yourself in either neighbourhood.
Jack’s Café Bar
Jane Berthelsen said she wanted “the sort of food from back home that you miss” when she came up with the concept for Jack’s Café Bar. Located in the Plaza de Armas neighborhood, Jack’s offers great value with an abundance of soups and sandwiches. The portions are quite large—so bring a napkin and pack away part of your lunch for later in the afternoon! Jack’s Café Bar is open daily from 7am to 11pm.
Located in the San Blas neighbourhood, Pacha-Papa offers an intimate courtyard. There’s a fireplace, as well, encircled by couches for a more casual lunch. The food on offer here is delicious—traditional Peruvian fare with a noticeable fusion aesthetic! Delicious and recommended!
Anyhow, we’re off to the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu shortly. As it’s late here and we’ve an early start tomorrow, we’ll leave off now. If you have any questions about Cusco, feel free to contact us!
Category: Dan's Blog