Day 105 - Flight to Cusco

Trip Start Jun 14, 2013
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Peru  , Quintana Roo,
Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Today our flight leaves Lima at 10.25am, getting into Cusco at 11.45am. Carlos had already arranged pick up at 8am as we needed to be at the airport 2 hours prior to the flight. We got up and ready by the 8am pick up time. The drive to the airport was hectic, the traffic was pretty full on and the road rules are crazy, you just go for it, cutting off other cars and zigzagging in and out of traffic. I noticed a lot of the mini van busses that were on the highway had all the headlight and taillight covers broken from bumping into other vehicles. At times we come really close to other cars, it was a crazy experience and everyone uses their horn like it's the national language. We luckily arrived at the airport safe and in time, we looked up and down the check in desks twice and could not find TACA airline anywhere, I asked 2 different guys who pointed me to 2 different places. We eventually found it, it was with an alliance airline called Aviance, so there were no signs for TACA which was confusing. We got into the line and waited and a lady came up and asked if we'd printed our boarding passes yet, which we had not, she took us over to a self check in counter and did it for us, then we got into the bag drop line and put our bags in. We then went up to the food court and had mcdonalds breakfast, everywhere you go over the world they have different breakfast menus and Peru was no different, we got and egg and ham roll type of thing and coffee and it was nice. Soon after that we made our way through security and boarded the bus that drove out to the plane. We were not seated together which wasn't to bad considering it was only an hour and 10 minute flight. Bobbie sat across the isle from me so we were still close. On the plane we both read our books and in flight magazine. As we descended into Cusco the views out the windows where amazing, flying along the Andes mountain ranges, the mountains were just as high as the plane, we even had to fly around a mountain entering Cusco. The decent didn't take to long due to Cusco being 3,400 meters above sea level, in a surprisingly short amount of time we landed on the airstrip in the middle of the city. Once we got off the plane we got our bags and found a man who asked if we needed a taxi then walked us out to a nice car and helped with our bags, a younger man drove us while another older man who was friends with the guy who met us inside accompanied us in the taxi. The man who joined us in the cab was a very nice man named Adam, he spoke great English and gave us a bit of a tour in the taxi while we drove. He was also a tour advisor but didn't really push us into buying tours, he simply gave us his number and told us to call if we need anything. There are only a few main roads in Cusco, that have 2 lanes, but the streets of Cusco are very thin cobbled stone roads, some are one was but others run both ways, but only fit one car so if you meet another car along the street one has to reverse to let the other out. The street our hostel is on is a walking and bike street only so we got dropped on the corner and walked up to the hostel. We rang the bell and a young lady came and let us in, she also spoke English well, upon check in she asked for my confirmation and as I reached into my pocket to get my phone to my dismay, it wasn't there, I started going through my bag, I remember having it in the taxi but I couldn't find it anywhere, my heart sank as I realized it must have fell out of my pocket in the taxi, I was so disappointed, everything was on that phone. I remembered quickly that I had Adams number who could still be in the taxi so I quickly asked to use the phone, the young lady gave me her phone and I called him, he answered but unfortunately was no longer in the cab, he could tell I was very worried about my phone and told me not to worry his friend owns the taxi and he will track it down for me and to call him back in 20 minutes after he makes some calls. The nice young lady at the hostel also could see my frustration and gave us an upgrade to a room with 2 beds and private bathroom due to not many people staying at the hostel at the time, which was very nice, she also let me use her phone to make about 4 calls to Adam and his friend Carlos who owned the taxi. After a nervous hour of making calls and waiting I got hold of Carlos who had the phone and was bringing it to me. I was so relieved, it cost me the price of the taxi plus a tip to get it to me but I didn't mind I would have paid more as long as I got it back, it's funny how this day in age how important a small electronic devise can be, especially when traveling with all your photos, confirmation emails and so forth. After getting my phone back we headed for a walk around the hostel area which is the historic center of Cusco. We stopped in at a restaurant close by for a late lunch and had some really great chicken rolls with bacon and mango chutney. We found our way down to the main square, along the way we bumped into Adam who I think was looking for us to see if I'd got my phone back, what a nice man. In the main square called Plaza de Armas there is a nice garden area with seats and a water fountain with a statue in the middle, around the outside are a few big churches or cathedrals as well as shops and restaurants. Nothing looks modernized, even the fast food restaurants are hidden inside older buildings which gives the ancient city it's wonderful charm and the feeling of being back in time. The streets are lined with people trying to sell you things, the usual tapestry and jewelry and trinkets with an originality to the area you are in, the stuff is similar to the markets in Mexico but it has a Peru flavor to it, so it has llamas and alpacas printed on the tapestry or the key rings and magnets are llamas and so on. Lots of guys come up with their art folder and try to sell you their paintings and girls hassle you to get a massage or beauty treatments for the ladies. While sitting in the main square we had 2 guys ask if we would like our shoes cleaned, they were filthy so we said yes, as they begun a policeman came along and told them to move along, apparently you can't sell products or services in the main square. As we were moving to a different area, a big group of young Latino girls came up and asked if they could have photos with us, so one at a time they would come up and have their photo with Bobbie and I, there was about 6 that ended up having a photo with us, I'm still not sure why but they were very appreciative and we didn't mind doing it, in fact it made us feel famous having a bunch of people want photos with us. We left the square and went into a side street to have our shoes cleaned, the price started at "you pay what you think", after a while they asked if we would like a protectant used for 35 soles, it seemed a little expensive but I said yes, thinking 35 soles would be the total, once they had finished our shoes, they looked brand new again, the guy then informed me it was 35 soles per shoe, they had done a number on us and were ripping us off, 140 soles I paid for our shoes to be cleaned, that's about $50, they could tell we were pissed and I really wanted to tell them they are rip offs and not pay but you just don't know what they would do and I didn't want to get into a fight in a foreign country with 2 guys and be arrested, so we paid the money and learnt a lesson, next time we will be a bit more wiser and not let things like that happen again, you live and you learn, lesson learnt. We were not going to let a little thing like that get us down so we went to an Irish pub called Paddy's for a beer. After that we had a bit more of a look around in shops and so forth. Another great thing about Cusco is that women dressed in traditional clothing walk around with llamas and alpacas and you can pay them a few soles for photos with them, so of course we both did that. We went back to our hostel for a bit for a rest, neither of us felt sick from the altitude which was great but walking around the streets on hills with the thin air really takes it out of you. That night we headed down to a small restaurant down the road and had a nice cheap 3 course meal with garlic bread, delicious soup, lasagna and wine all for 25 soles ($10). We rested up and had a good nights sleep in our nice warm beds.
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