The Incan Streets of Cuzco

Trip Start Sep 25, 2013
Trip End Apr 15, 2014

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What I did
San Blas Cusco
Read my review - 5/5 stars

Flag of Peru  , Cuzco,
Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The six hour bus ride from Puno to Cuzco was a time for reflection. As Ben Howard, Bon Iver, and Jeffrey Foucault played in my ears, I had a chance to sit quietly and watch the landscape of villages, rural farms, alpacas, and pink flamingos flow by. As the view turned from barren land to trees of eucalyptus, I took the opportunity to escape into my music and my thoughts.
This was my first bus ride with a window seat-and also solo- no amigo(a) to chat with. Just my own company. Planning the next steps of a journey can take up a lot of time and thought, and I find that I need to make time to play back the days, people, and experiences, that are now behind me. This was a good time to do just that.

Arriving in Cuzco, my taxi delivered me to my bakery slash hostel. It's a quaint, hippie pad(does that even make sense?) with fresh cookies on the table all day, a bright sunny room with a view overlooking Cuzco, hot showers, the smell of baked goods in the morning, fresh fruit, homemade bread and jam for breakfast, and kittens on the rooftop outside my window. Perfect. The hostel is small and full of a range of ages- mostly European middle-aged travelers. Even better! No party hostel for me. It's a bit of an indulgence at $18 a night versus my $8-10 average, but well worth it( yet the owner says he is willing to drop my rate due to my extended stay!). I quickly realized that I had booked myself into a really cool artisan district of Cuzco- San Blas. Spanish architecture, bright blue painted accents, random Incan stones lining the narrow, cobbled streets, the Incan trail a 15 minute walk away, and artisan shops at every turn. Not to mention the food!!! Oh my. I could eat myself around this city for weeks- there is even a vegan restaurant right across the cobbled stones from our front door. Ah, yes.

And ironically enough, the Spanish school I was looking at enrolling with, just happens to be right next door. After my trek to Salkantay and Machu Pichu next week, I will be enrolling in a two week Spanish course and volunteering at the local orphanage a few hours a day. I can't wait to get a handle on this language to better connect with the locals!

Here, I reunited with my Colca Canyon friend, Monica. She and I spent the day yesterday at a local temple, sharing lunch, and hiking into some Incan ruins just outside the city. We had happened upon a funky cafe called Aguaymanto Resto Bar. Here, we had an amazing lunch and a fantastic drink of lime, fresh ginger, pisco,and ginger ale. We chatted with the handsome, local owner, Pepe, and picked his brain on how to reach the local ruins immediately out of town from San Blas.

After we left the cafe, we wandered up the streets admiring the local shops, and cafés, each of us snapping pictures along the way. We stopped to chat with a policia- and who just happened to be walking up behind us on his way home but Pepe and his yoga mat! He offered to show us the way to the ruins( he used to work as a guide) and even grabbed a few ponchos from his place while we waited on the street for him to return, as rain was threatening. He took us up out of the city along the cobbled Incan trail, to two temples: Temple of the Monkeys, and the Temple of the Moon. Eventually, he left us to go deeper on the trail and we reunited on our way back down. This, for me, is where traveling really gets juicy- when you connect with locals who are able to show you a place more clearly- seeing pieces of a place you may have missed otherwise. I can't effectively describe how amazing it is to walk this history. To sit in a cave with carved stone of snakes and condors, where sacrifices were once made, and the Incans once sat. This was my first real journey into these many ruins-and certainly not my last-as I am just getting started. After Spanish school I will be venturing into the Sacred Valley to spend a week in a small town called Ollantaytambo, where there are ruins aplenty. I can't wait. But for now, I am soaking up all I can in this quaint, historic part of town with art, fantastic food, salsa and cooking lessons, great music, and exploring more ruins!

Favorite restaurants so far:
Korma Sutra-lovely Indian food!
the Green Point- vegan
Cicciolina- expensive, but worth it
The meeting place- good coffee and the plumpest eggs!
Prasada-vegetarian- amazing food!
Granja Heidi- owned by a German couple- unusual menu full of amazing choices. Some of the food is sourced from the owners farm!
Aguaymanto- the best Chilcanos in town!
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My Review Of The Place I've Seen

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audrey on

so, how did you find your bakery/hostel? from the internet or other travelers?

gretchenwolf on

A-I found it in my Lonely Planet book and then read reviews on trip advisor. It was the LP recommended budget stay and it's been great! The owner just lowered my room cost to $16 a night :)

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