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Travel Adventure - Backpacking Latin America's Gringo Trail Backpacking Latin America starting in Cuba, then travelling from East to the west coast of Mexico before making our through Central and finishing in South America.

The Incan capital of Cusco

PERU | Monday, 31 August 2015 | Views [299]

Friday

Another incredible flight over the Andes. Your pretty much just flying over this massive mountain range the whole flight and the plane isn't flying that much higher above them. You look down and you can spot road to small villages in the middle of nowhere on these mountaintops and snow covers some of their peaks. Descending in to Cusco (which is just a random city amongst the mountains) it seems like you're really close to the mountains, almost about to hit them. The plane did one last sharp hook which was a little scary but landed smoothly on the runway. 

Getting off the plane you could feel the cold but I was fine in things and a light jacket so not as freezing as if thought. There were mountains all around and Cusco tucked in between, it was pretty cool! As it's quite high up aswell, they say you can get altitude sickness just being in Cusco. I noticed my shortness of breath coz of lack of oxygen but didn't notice any other symptoms, which is great. Touch wood it stays that way. 
We checked in to our hostel called Milhouse which was huge and apparently an old convent. There were vines growing all down the side of the walls and awesome view of the city and mountains from the rooftop bar and had everything you needed with restaurant, activity nights, travel agent to organise tours etc I was a little worried it might be a bit of a party hostel which I think it can be but it had cruisy vibes during the day and then I think it got a bit party during the night but the dorm room was quite big so felt like you had a lot of space and the bunk beds were quite private with screens and the room was situated well away enough so it wasn't noisy and could get some  sleep if you want. 
The girl at reception recommended a vegan restaurant around the corner called Green Point. We are glad we tried it. They have a special which started with a vegetable soup, main was a quinoa ball and mash potato with a mushroom ragu, Matt had satay type noodles with a stuffed tomato, all you can eat salad bar which had amazing sauces and bread and carrot cake for dessert. Including a tip, all of that cost us $25 soles which is about $12 AUS. So $6 each for a delicious 3 course dinner! Cusco was freezing at night! So first time all trip were rugged up in jeans, boots, scarves, beanies etc. and walking through Cusco at night was just as magical as the day. With lights on it felt like a fairytale town with cobbled streets, old buildings and lamp posts and a real energy about the town. I really like this town. Quite busy as its a main tourist gateway to Machu Picchu and local Peruvians are wearing their coloured clothing selling things and all the little kids are so cute dressed in beanies etc and carried around on their mums back in rucksacks. So sweet. 
Saturday
The next day we met up with Bridget who had just done a 3 day jungle tour to Machu Picchu, she absolutely loved it so got us a bit excited for our trek. Although Matt and I keep not wanting to hear about it, worried that the hype about it will set our expectations too high or it rains or its cloudy on the day we get there or altitude sickness or injured... I'll stop worrying about it now haha and just take it as it comes on the trek. Machu Picchu has been one of my ultimate bucket list things to do, so am excited I will be able to do it very soon! We walked around the streets for a bit before meeting up with three Irish friends Bridget met on her Machu Picchu tour. We loved Green Point so much we went back there (Bridget had already been 4 times already) and we tried a passion fruit Pisco sour she recommended with lunch. So good! And it's unbelievable how cheap and good it is! One of the Irish girls left to airport to go to The Amazon and we decided to meet up with the Irish couple Connor and Lou for a drink later at their hostel which has a bar and is quite popular called Wild Rover.
The afternoon Matt and I went to Peru Treks office which is the tour company we are doing the Inca Trail with. We paid the final amount and dos a briefing with one of the guides about what the 4 days will entail and what we need to bring etc.
We met a guy from NZ in our dorm so had dinner and a couple of drinks and a game of pool upstairs in our hostel restaurant/bar before heading to Wild Rover. I was expecting it to be a full on party hostel but it was more like a fun Irish Pub in the hostel, funny that we were with a group of Irish people. But it was a lot better than I expected, a good night and boy do you get drunk quick in high altitudes! 
Sunday
The next day was a bit of a right off coz we were all feeling a bit sorry for ourselves. We had plenty of days in Cusco though, plus hadn't really had that big night so was happy to have one right off day. We woke too late for free breakfast so just ordered scrambled eggs later. We had a cinema in our hostel so thought it would be a good day to get one lollies and snacks and rug up and watch a movie. We watched Boyhood which was a really good movie and it was nice to just do absolutely nothing today and something that we would do back home. We had dinner at GreenPoint with 3 English friends Bridget had met and then went to a chocolate cafe for dessert - brownies and hot chocolate. 
Monday 
Feeling much more ready to face the day and after eating our free breakfast at out hostel of bread, jam, cereal, fruit, tea and scrambled eggs Matt and I went and had a look at all the shops around the main square. There were heaps of shops selling traditional colourful clothing, fleeces, beanies, scarfs, gloves and souvenirs etc. They also have heaps of trekking shops selling fake North Face jackets and pants for the fraction of the price at home and other trekking equipment and clothes etc. we had a good look around purchasing things for our trek to Machu Picchu the day after next. We found a great shop and for $200 soles which is less than $100AUD Matt got a jacket, zip off pants, a pair of fleece gloves each, thermal pants each and a torch! Pretty good value. I went back the next day and bought a jacket too!
That afternoon Matt and I did a walking tour of Cusco. Bridget had done one and recommended it. It was pretty good and went for a bout 3 hours - you just give a donation at the end like most city walking tours. We learnt about the history of Cusco and the Incas, how it used to be the capital and how they built the city in the shape of a Puma which is a spiritual belief representing the human body, serpent represents the earth and the condor represents sky/spirit. We saw a wall that exists from Incan times with perfectly carved large stone blocks and you can see these three animals in the wall. We went to a musicians factory and saw how he made wooden guitars, wood wind pipes and other instruments and he played samples of music of each one. We walked to a view point and looked over the city and to finish off were taught how to make their national drink - Pisco Sour and had free samples. An Irish couple on the tour and Matt and I decided to get another drink and grab some dinner so went to a pub around the corner. We ordered curry and it was actually really delicious, hadn't had an Indian meal like that in a while. We were then meeting Bridget and her English friends at Wild Rover as they were having a quiz night. I was feeling so tired so didn't want to drink any more and I knew how bad I felt the next day last time. We named our team name The Convicts with the Irish couple and we actually won the quiz! Our prize was a round of jagerbombs. Matt had mine.
Tuesday 
We were doing the Inca Trail the next day so today we prepared for that. We walked up and had a look at the outdoor food and handicraft markets (Cusco is really easy to get around and walking distance to everywhere) then went to the Supermarket to get some supplies like toilet paper, ponchos, sunscreen and insect repellent etc. We had a typical meal for lunch at a local restaurant $9 soles ($4AUD) which included soup, a frittata with salad and a dessert!
We hung back at the hostel and Matt and I packed our bags and got everything ready for the trek. We decided to go with Bridget somewhere nice-ish for dinner on our last night in Cuscu. I can't remember the name of the restaurant (it was recommended in TripAdvisor) but the service was amazing, the best we've had the whole trip and food was delicious. Everyone's meals was huge! Mine was pretty simple, a pesto pasta and Bridget and Matt got pork belly. We were then really tempted by the dessert and all shared a white chocolate cheesecake topped with a mango purée and coconut chia seeds plus a chocolate brownie with chocolate ice cream and sprinkles peanuts YUM! It was a really good dinner, although Matt might think otherwise the next day when we begin our trek...

Tags: cusco, green point, high altitude, incans, machu picchu, north face, peru, wild rover

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