Our week in Cusco is coming to an end, a city we truly enjoyed. Even if super touristy, you can still find and feel an authentic experience just by walking a few blocks of the Plaza de Armas. San Pedro market will feed you for a few soles, the bus will take you all over for two and walking around from luxury hotel to another will provide free tea forever…
While in Cusco we happily recommend and without hesitation the Sumayaq Hostel, it is perfectly situated, very clean with a personable welcoming team. They are always improving and make every effort to give you the perfect stay.
The more we travel, the more Valerie and I think that once we decided to stop this leisurely lifestyle. One of the very propable option will be to open a backpacker hostel, relax it’s not coming anytime soon but we are learning and picking idea at every opportunity, even reservation master spreadsheet. Damm it we never change always planning something……..
Just to show Benjamin that luxury still exists we went to the J.W. Marriot, the coffees were take-out from next door.
Do you see the light, just as we did……
Yes! we are talking about the one on the right end corner… too much religious exposure in the last week…
We think Benjamin found the place he would like to get married, peaceful, beautiful and grandiose, there is only one little problem the site is a National treasure of Peru… Then again there were not too many foreigners so to give it a higher profile why not. The setting is perfect with the elaborated terraces, the natural water all around it is just spectacular.
If the invitations never come in the mail, here is how to get there: go to Plaza San Francisco in Cusco and take the Leone Bus to the village of Tipon. A taxi will await to whisk you to the ruins. If you can’t make it, just come for a walk with us today.
The different view is to facilitate the planning, and this note aside is for you Benjamin don’t forget: you will need to get the planes re-directed for quietus.
The hills were full of students and local tourists, they like to keep the best for themselves…
The ingenuity and hard work keep amazing us.
Just so our parents are happy!!
That what I call a politic sign, lots of Inca reference with the candidates.
Just a local bus medley, this little one made our hearts melt away.
That one is for the youth of today. This is one liquor you will not get drunk twice on.
Milk liquor with 16% of alcohol.
Time again to head out of the city and see some old stones, feel Benjamin raising his eyes to the ceiling? We took the bus with the local wear salesman of the site; it’s always funny when you see them at work after. We visited four sites today, which gave us another vision of impressive development of this civilization. The more we visit and learn about it the more we are in awe with the herculean and ingenious work the Incas demonstrated so long ago; even after the conquistador invasions/destructions the foundations are still up and look incredible; it is a true masterpiece.
The water resort for the elite, demonstrating great hydraulic skills.
Now that’s dedication, this is a full on stone carving including subterranean altar dedicated for sacrifices.
This is not an optical illusion, this entire stone is actually carved.
And while we were enjoying our pique nique …
Modern lamb transport, how many can we fit?
Oh… about 6 tied up in your car.
This portion gave us a very Greek feel, but not an auditorium more like a water lagoon.
A jigsaw of stones, simply amazing!
Those are 5 meter high to give you a scale.
Part of this trip is educating our young man, hence today was a perfect weather day for Museum visits… Plus they are included in the tourist ticket, in other words on top of cultivation we amortize. Some of the museums are so bad it laughable, your kids grade 5 projects were better curated, although admittedly some others are exceptional. Nonetheless the surroundings are gorgeous with beautiful indoor courtyard all around and arcades we don’t get tired of; it is a true pleasure to walk around town or to be in the city hall and witness the different types of meeting.
We even purchased a DVD to add to our education on the Incas’ building and construction; we really felt we needed more explanation of the history and significance of the region! Perfect, tonight is education time.
On a completely different subject; one of our favorite cruising ground the Sea of Cortez, after hurricane Odile passed through: Some of the news we are getting are rather hard to digest and sad for us; loss of life in the cruising community, major damages to city and villages we love. We wish all the best to this wonderful sailing ground that made it so easy for us to get going just a year ago.
Museum of Modern art, with some Inca stone just for good measure.
The regional history museum was another story. Simpy amazing with great tour guides and really good perpesctive to the importance of Cusco during the Inca time.
Cusco was shaped like a Puma and the nombril of the Inca world.
We caught up with the health inspector today, a Chinese restaurant had some trouble. Not easy to do business with that kind of advertisement.
And that one is for you Tata cochon, tu es dans nos esprits meme au marche!
(Sorry I couldn’t put my veto on that one… But we do think of you! *V*)
As we are getting fully immersed into the Incas civilization today was the time to leave Cusco for Pisac, a site of Incas ruins with breathtaking views. If you want to visit Pisac there are multiple choices in front of you, the first is to get into a tourist bus with the advantage that you don’t have to think, but the biggest con is that you are only given you 30 minutes to visit the site (and truly you don’t even see half of it) then you are brought back for 2 hours in the different tourist shops and the llama park on the way. At this point undoubtedly you know which we chose: the local bus. Once in Pisac you have to get in a taxi there are no other option and we looked around, only one company is authorized to enter the site. Although you could walk up to the higher part but keep the energy for the wonderful walk back to town. Make sure to bring water for the trek down it’s about 3 hours on a leisurely walk to enjoy the view and you will have some amazing souvenirs.
A city of military importance for sure, protecting two valleys.
You bet the spaniards were upset when they showed up and discovered this skillful craftmanship.
These stones are perfectly fitting in the whole ensemble not one inch to spare.
Only the crazy French people walk back down.
One man was playing flute and accompanied the three small groups down, rendering the experience magical.
Chere mere une pensee emue pour ces tendres moments de martinet…
Before we start anything else on our regular journaling, we are still cruisers and we are looking at a weather map every so often. With that said we didn’t like what we saw yesterday, dear Mexican Friends from the Baja we are thinking of you, to our fellow cruisers we wish good luck with the worst Huricanne never registered to hit Baja full blast.
With our hearts filled with these thoughts our own reality was hitting us, we had to a bit of running around today, in order to make some arrangements for our traveling. Peru Rail, the Cultural institute and the Cusco municipality office were visited and it felt like, we reimbursed half of Peru debt in one shot this led to of course a bit of grumpiness… We won’t say who! So it is all set now, on Monday the 22nd we will be taking the train and up to visit Machu Pichu it’s now official.
Benjamin questionned if the kids, ever go to school or are just paraded in town for the tourists all day.
They were very cute though!
We visited Santo Domingo and Santa Catalina, another monastery built right onto Inca site. The level of preservation is amazing on all front
Especially when you think of the number of tremors…
University of Cusco, archeologie deparment.
Hell was rather stylish in these days.
Something is good looking around here, wall or Benjamin we will let you decide.
Of course the Jesuits had to build something bigger than the Cathedral. Got them in hot water as they were expelled from South America at some point.
The music was playing by the time we reached the street, we followed up to it and discovered a rather Militarists parade. We asked around but nobody could give us an explanation for its purpose or celebration. As you will witness the future generation of Peruvian are squarely formed by the local institution. The tone was patriotic, the bravado palpable, very funny feel to the morning.
Even the teachers are square although wearing high heels!
Somebody had to do it and I can report that the meat of the Guinea pig is very tender lean and enjoyable.
Now, being Sunday we did the tour of the religious sites. The ticket was purchased and we started in good spirit, but quickly we became overwhelmed by the decadent opulence and oppression put on the indigenous people by the Catholic Church. When you see that all the foundations are from the Incas and that religious edifices were built on top, all the resources were used for the devotion and in the end the repression was brutal. You realize how far this problem went…
That was a hard street to climb, and reminded us of Montmartre.
Too much!! It was for Benjamin, he couldn`t take it anymore.
You didn`t think, that we missed it or didn`t take the most boring picture of all time.
Well here you have it, the 12 sided stone, the whole ensemble is nonetheless an amazing sight.
So you get a better feeling for it we went back at night, just for you.
Due to our early arrival in town, while waiting for our room to be ready we made the most of internet, add a nice breakfast and received a lovely welcome at the Sumayaq Hostel. After a quick nap it was time to explore our new surroundings, and taste the new flavors. Our planning worked perfectly as our hostel is situated close to San Pedro Market and all the tourist attractions. Nothing like a Lunch special and some ceviches to warm up the body and soul, the ambiance here is definitely very warm and rich in color.
Finally we found the tourists walking everywhere, Cusco is definitely were the masse congregates. And truly our first quick tour of the place showed us why, Cusco is a magnificent city well preserved and rich in history with beautiful architecture and paved streets bringing back many memories from our childhood. We shall be here for a while and take our time to discover all it has to give.
Our love for market is unlimited, we should write a book on them.
We feel simply in our element, the noise, smell, color and spices; it encompasses the culture of an entire nation.
And above all here they post price, something really appreciated.
In the afternoon we heard some firecrackers, as we have been trained in Mexico we headed in that direction.
You got it a religious parade was in process.
Emma another thought for you today!
An entire shop selling candles all beautifully carved and painted.
We can’t bring this in our backpack though…
Once you get dropped to Uyuni you realize rapidly that the faster you are out of there the better… Knowing that only three buses leave at 8pm we made the tour and settled with Cruz Del Norte. All the buses are the same dead horse and the road isn’t smooth to say the least, you realize quickly why once you are on the way. If you come next year you may be lucky as the new road will be finished but for now, you are treated for the first 6 hours of a shakedown of your last remaining teeth filling for free. This nonetheless didn’t stop us to sleep like babies, until we arrived early into La Paz. Our goal then was to find the best rate and early bus to take us directly to Copacabana, which we did.
This ride includes a cruise across a straight, and this contraption is powered by a 40 Hp outboard and stable as your first bike ride.
To top it all off, the wind had picked up…
Now we are back on the edge of Lake Titicaca, with the culture terraces and settled one night into Copacabana.
We spent the day relaxing in the sun, some of us went souvenir shopping other people watched around the market.
And you thought religious ferver was lost. Well around here not entirely.
The essence of voyaging, it is always a joy to observe and join in for some delicious food, the trout of Lake Titicaca is truly a delight.
Simple yet so beautiful
The ever present Inca Ying and Yang, or
Sun and Moon… remember Emma?
We left late afternoon Copacabana, the bus took us directly to Cusco (6.30pm Titicaca other don’t you have to change at Puno); in less than 10 minutes we were at the border and crossed it again uneventfully. After witnessing 20 infractions in less than 20 minutes by the driver, we fell asleep and were happy to have reserved the front row with a panoramic view. In Puno they packed up the bus with local Mamas travelling with more luggage than Rock Stars. This entitled us to a throughout search of the Customs in the middle of nowhere, as they were trying to catch any type of contraband (mostly clothes, shoes and cellphones) truly Bolivian items are cheaper…
4.30am the bus terminal or more accuretly the sleeping terminal.
Coffee and cake to keep everybody in shape.
What!!! you expect me to be in the street at that time, are you crazy this is not a way to live or travel as a matter of fact!
Meddlying with the party goers and drunks Benjamin wasn’t in his element, you know you have a Grand-Pa with you when…
But after a nice walk around Cusco center, we saw the light come up and regain our Hostel, safe and sound.
Lobby of the hostel, where Pappy can connect and live a more secure life.
Our ultimate day of pampering by Torre Tour saw us in the “salar“, the largest one in the world and truly spectacular. It gave us the illusion of being on a frozen lake in Canada the space and distance are gigantesque, almost like a desert land made of salt with no obstruction. Of course you have to take a few silly pictures in such a décor and just walk around with the ever changing lighting.
As for the tour operator, we can only recommend La Torre without hesitation. Please do yourself a favor and go all the way to Tupiza, do not start the tour from Uyuni, yes it`s more expensive but trust us we have seen the difference. First of all to appreciate and take in all the scenery you need a 4 day tour not 3. From Tupiza you only cross path with all the other tourists at 3 locations and you hit all the spot at the right time of day for lighting. Our driver had a very clear ethic compared to the others, meaning no alcohol consumption or unnecessary speed. Our cook Reina was the best (Tupiza tour operator have set standards), there were ample fresh and amazing foods always set perfectly at every stop and even snacks to keep us going, or coffee and tea waiting for us at the hostel. All the other tables from Uyuni were a disaster, even to the point that one person in the other group came to our hostel to ask for some foods after two days of soup and apple and the guide going to sleep early. On our side we had a debriefing every evening and knew exactly what was coming next in our visits.
If that didn`t convince you, don`t argue the price (2014 1450 bolivianos) and ask for the Letitgo special. The night before the trip was included at the La Torre Hostel with breakfast and a hot shower, the welcome and honesty will make all the difference.
Time for some pictures…
The new Devin family, sorry Emma we adopted Clim from Holland she fits in perfectly.
Cake for Breakfast on the side of the Salar, while the other table had white bread. Hence you really have to choose right.
We went for a walk, just to give you a idea of the distance the point is a Land Cruiser.
Never had a problem, Jesus was with us.
Valerie decided to go big.
Fly away my boy!
Message in a bottle!
And to add to the fact, we had a great group which made our experience even more pleasant.
Thank you to all the participants for such a fun time.
Here are the details to make it easier on you, don`t hesitate