Fun and celebrations in Arequipa!

Trip Start Jan 19, 2006
Trip End Jan 19, 2007

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Where I stayed
Hostal Santa Luisa

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Thursday, September 21, 2006

Journey was ok if a bit windy and I am still a bit nervous about bus travel. Fortunately half a sleeping tablet goes a long way and we sleep pretty well these days. A necessary evil I think.

Arrived in Arequipa at about 6am and found out about a cheapish hotel ´Hostal Santa Luisa´ at the terminal for 35 soles inc breakfast and free transfer and tinternet. Hostal pretty central and nice big comfy double bed and cable tv. We pretended to have a sleep for a bit but really watched an old episode of West Wing. For a few minutes I thought I was at home.

We then had a wander around the ´white city´ (no its not Shepherds Bush) but most of the buildings are white being made of volcanic rock or sillar. The city is also surrounded by amazing volcanoes and mountains. There are lots of nice colonial buildings and churches and the Plaza de Armas is very picturesque too. The cathedral is lovely with great stone carvings and a huge organ inside which was nice to see as loads of the churches we have seen here have just had bloomin casio efforts for services or guitars and dodgy singers. After a few more stone carved churches and wandering to find out about tours to the nearby Colca Canyon we return to our hostel to meet the owner, Miguel.

He takes us on a free tour (well we pay 3 Soles for a taxi and thats it) up to a mirador/viewpoint to see the imposing El Misti volcano (looks like a volcano should) and Cachani mountains covered in snow is sadly a bit misty though. We then wander around a garden seeing tropical fruits growing and find out more about coca tea and other herbs for altitude etc.

We then start walking back into town and stop on the way to a small suburb called Yanahuana which has lots of white arches which you can see the mountains through and a plaza with a church on it. We stop for the local speciality helado de queso, literally cheese icecream. The woman has a metal bowl with the ingredients in and literally just stirs it over some ice and it freezes in the process. Obvious I know but I was impressed. Thankfully it didnt taste of cheese but was v sweet and nice. Then Miguel took us to a Picanteria which is another special local restaurant where we had jugo de chicha allegedly a corn beer which is non alcoholic and also v nice. WE also had Rocot rellena a local speciality of stuffed potato and pepper and cheese was yummy.

We continued to walk back down and went to Santa Catalina Monastery here although we debated whether to or not as it wasnt cheap. Were glad we did. Is a huge complex like its own city all fantastically preserved. Huge courtyards, the nuns rooms, chapels, art gallery all in great condition and flowering plants everywhere. There are small streets named after Spanish towns and it all feels very mediterranean as it all painted in cornflower blue or sundried tomato red (took me ages to think of that). Really enjoyed it.

Then went back to hostal and skyped home (have recently discovered it and is great way to call home cheap! Shame I have manage to lose all my friends phone numbers though).

Then had a splurge meal again courtesy of Deb and Nick to celebrate our 5th Wedding Anniversary tomorrow as we will be trekking then. Went to a lovely restaurant next to the monastery which was pretty posh and had a great meal and wine. After that we met up with Jen and Jonno just arrived from Cusco after their trek for a final beer as they go onto Costa Rica in a couple of days. Was great to see them again but sad that we wont again until London sometime in a few months! I am shattered by this point and we sleep very well.
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