White City

Trip Start May 16, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Saturday, June 30, 2007

Arequipa, Peru - June 30th to July 8th, 2007

Day 46

Checked into my hostel which was very central and convenient to the main attractions.  From Arica I had been travelling with a German fella.  So once checked in we went across to the local eatery.  The steak meal here cost $9 soles or about $3 US.  Bargain, but was also absolutely delicious.  A great convenient local find.

After dinner went back to the hostel.  Met some hilarious Israelis and had a few drinks.  We started watching a movie called Turista.  Which is about western tourists travelling in South America (Brazil) and experience the worst that travelling can provide.  I was told it is a bit of a horro movie like Hostel or Wolf Creek.  Why I would want to watch that whilst I am travelling in South America, I have no idea!  However, the movie would not play so we avoided witnessing any bad bits, which was probably good.  So instead we decided to head out to the local club with it being a Saturday night.  The place is called De Ja Vu which was a good place however it didnīt warm up til late on.  So here I am in a new place with new friends having a great time.

Day 47

Time to head out and see what Arequipa has to offer with a traditional stroll.  I must say that I really like the look and feel of this city.  The city is called the white city or blanca ciudad due to the many white buildings made from volcanic rock called sillar.  Plus the weather was actually fairly warm when walking around in the sun.  And I in-fact thought it too warm to wear shoes.  Ah so nice to be able to walk around in thongs again.

One of the jewells in the city is the main square called Plaza de Armas.  The square is very nice looking with the central water fountain, trees around and some nice looking buildings on the sides

I decided to enjoy a nice lunch overlooking the plaza from one of the many restaurants around.  The alpaca steak was really good and there was a nice touch with some traditional music (flutes and percussion) being played by a mobile band.

After this I dedcided to to give my legs a rest and jump on the city bus tour.    The bus tour took in many of the main attractions to the city.  Of these attractions my favourite would of been the magnificent view of a very lush green valley and the rather large (around 6000m) two active volcanic mountains near the city.  They love their aplacas and llamas here.  So of course there was a stop at the alpaca/llama farm.  And yes the llamas did try and spit and the tourists snapping photos.  Thankfully I avoided the spit.  Overall the tour was reasonably good to check out the main sites in a short space of time.

After an exhausting day I decided to give my body a little bit of rest with a quiet night simply having a bit of dinner and watching a movie.

Day 48

 Up feeling refreshed and ready to go.  Went for a good walk around the city.  Ventured to the Santa Catalina Monastery.  The monastery is rather large and  was home for many dedicated nuns who would not be able to visit the outside world (not a life for me).  There were some interesting architecture going on, I particularly like the blue painted buildings.  There were also some very nice views from the roof of the monastery.

After lunch I went to see Juanita the Frozen Ice Mummy at a musuem.  But on my way to see this I spotted the two Irish girls I originally met in Rio.  Of all the chances, so that was very nice to say g'day again.  Continuing on the musuem was quite good providing in-depth info on the ice mummy and the whole process of finding and excavating her.  She was basically a pure girl who was offered as a sacrifice and was very well preserved in the icey mountains from Inca times.

So having bumped into the Irish girls, it was of course time to enjoy a few drinks and party on.  To sum up I think good times were had by all!

Day 49

Well a few drinks might of been consumed during the previous evening.  Today I was booked in for a tour of Colca Canyon with pick-up scheduled to 6:30am.  Somehow my alarm did not go off.  Consequently upon being woken up I quickly grabbed my gear and jumped into the tour bus still not relly sure who I was let alone where I was going.

The bus ride there was a rather tough ride as the road was very bumpy and winding.  Plus the bus was not exactly the most comfortable one going round.  Anyway we eventually made it to the town of Cabaconde.  After a nice lunch it was time to start hiking down the canyon.

The tour guide we had was very good and knew a great deal about Peruvian history, flaura and fauna.  The guide also mentioned that Colca Canyon is apparently the deepest canyon in the world!

The canyon was a very impressive sight indeed with the huge cliffs on either side and what appeared to be continuing drop down to the bottom.  Hiking down the canyon certainly was not a walk in the park, but rather a good few hours of hard yakka (thankfully today we were walking down and not up). 

Down in the canyon there are a few villages which is rather amazing.  There is no way of getting into or out of the canyon except for walking (no roads, no cars).  Obviously this makes the task of ducking up the shops a rather tough task (so don't forget to buy the loo paper)!  In addition I was told that villages only just got electricity 4 months previously, wow! 

Once finally making it down the winding pathway we all finally arrived in the dark to our lodging.  The place was rather basic but had everything that we needed.  After dinner and a bit of a chat everyone was bushed and opted for an early night.

Day 50

The tour was up early and walking by 8am.  We walked through two more villages, which were once again very basic.  However, the scenery along the walk really was fantastic.  Eventually we made it to the oasis, which was great to go for a rejuvenating swim and chill out for a bit.  After lunch and a bit of a lie around it was time to focus on the walk back up the canyon.

The walk back up the canyon was very gruelling to say the least, it certainly is not an easy climb.  However, I was doing quite well and leading the pack with one of the tour guides.  As such we decided to take some shortcuts to finish a bit quicker.  This did mean an even tougher climb but it was much quicker.  We arrived at the top to witness a fantastic sunset.  Reaching the top I possibly felt something akin to when Rocky ran up the stairs and started punching the air (sense of accomplishment). 

After making it back to the hostel, everyone was completely knackered.  So after dinner a bit of a chat everyone turned in for an early night.  That must of been one of the best showers ever!

Day 51

The tour continues with everyone getting up to hop on the bus at 8am.  Our first stop today was Cruz del Condor.  This place was very cool to see.  This is essentially a lookout point in Colca Canyon where condors frequently fly around.  There were so many people there to watch the birds fly about.  The place did have a special feeling to it.
There must of been about 7 condors flying around.  The birds are rather impressive with one of the biggest wingspans amongst all birds.  They also seem to enjoy flying right over our heads at a reasonably close distance.  Besides the impressive birds the scenery of the canyon was also great.
Back on the bus we headed to Chivay.  Whereby the bus ride there was another rather terrible experience.  I have never been so cramped and uncomfortable.  We were packed in tighter than a tin of sardines. 
So it was great when we eventually arrived at our destination.  This place happened to be some lovely hot springs.  So we were all able to soothe our well worked muscles in the warmth of the hot springs whilst enjoying the mountanous scenery.
Afer the hot springs we headed for a traditional Peruvian buffet lunch.  Wow.  This was quite possibly the best meal of my life.  Everything was absolutely delicious both vegetarian and meat.  The trout was my pick of the bunch.
After getting back on the bus we arrived back to Arequipa.  Well time to live the good life again which involved Mexican food then partying at De Ja Vu.  A few of the tour came along which was nice and I was caught up with my favourite Irish girls again.  So good times had by all.
Day 52

Time for a very lazy day.  Up late then a bit of a stroll around town enjoying all the tasty smells of food cooking.  Met the Irish girls at a cafe and hung out for a while.  Some sparkling post drinking conversation was enjoyed, laughs all round.  Then some lying around in the hammock atop the hostel looking at the city was required.  This was followed by some more great Mexican food.  Following this it was time to enjoy Beer Garden day back at my hostel.  Ah beers in the sun, how good is my life (very good)!  Beers in the sun were very good with all the international travellers from all over the place.  Although it was great to enjoy some Aussie humour as well.  Next move was for El Gaucho restaurant to remember the fantastic steaks of Argentina.  Delicious!  So guess what happened next?  Yep that's right, time to party.  So off to a couple of bars for some more fun.  So hung out and partied with my fellow hostel roomates.  I also caught up with an English lad that I randomly bumped into who I previously met in Buenos Aires.  Another great night out in Arequipa, didn't get home til 7am.  Ah all fun and games.
Day 53
Enjoyed a lovely sleep in.  The up to stroll around the city.  Then I thought it was probably time for me to move on and see another city.  So I booked my bus ticket to Cusco.  The girl that I booked the ticket with was very cute with a good combination of black hair and green eyes.  I must say that there were quite a lot of similar good looking girls here in Arequipa. Enjoyed some Turkish cuisine.  Headed to a nice lookout to see the city and the mountains.  Then went back to the hostel for a nap.  I think the previous partying had caught up with me today.  So I simply stayed in the hostel and watched a couple of movies with some of the others.
Day 54

Enjoyed a very chilled day.  Simply did a bit more strolling around.  Updated my blog on the internet for far too many hours.  Did a bit of reading in the hammock in the sun.  Then checked out and went to catch my bus to Cusco.  Well I had not planned to go to Arequipa before I left Australia.  But I am so glad that I listened to other travellers recommendations as I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Blanca Ciudad es excellente!

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