Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Adventures in the Great Wide Somewhere// Cuzco and Ollantaytambo, Peru

 

If Lima was one of the two low points of my trip (you'll meet the other one soon), then Cuzco was the highlight. Cuzco was visually everything I expected to find in Peru and more. Colorful, cobblestoned, colonial-esque. I fell in love almost immediately upon landing. Apologies in advance because I threw this feature together and have recently paid more attention to WHERE I'm staying and eating however I did not do that in South America, my bad.

We stayed at a nice hotel (that's all I got, if it's gross I'll tell you and try to remember the name) about a 5-10 minute walk from the city center. I love walking around cities. Exploring hole in the wall streets and alleys and Cuzco is full of them. Markets are hidden in alleys you'd walk right past otherwise and there is always something new to see. I stayed in Cuzco for one day before and after the Inca Trail/Machu Piccu. The elevation takes a little getting used to so if you find yourself out of breath after climbing a flight of stairs, it's all normal.

 
While in Cuzco I re-discovered my love of bargaining and doing it in another language is twice as fun. I got the price down on some headbands simply for being able to say $10 with a smile. The old ladies laughed at me and gave me the price I wanted. Winning. However, the prices of food are not negotiable. We did eat in a restaurant right in the center of the city but it wasn't too overpriced. Don't be surpised to find guinea pig and alpaca on the menu...no, I'm serious, Peruvians eat guinea pigs. A friend tried it and liked it...I'm not that wordly when it comes to food so pasta primavera was what was on my menu. I did however try an alpaca burger...very chewy...would not recommend. Also awkward when I encountered alpaca the next day...oh...hiiiiii.

Cuzco thrives in its beauty of its surroundings. This is a perfect pre and post stop of the Inca Trail. Like I said before, perfect to start to accomodate yourself to the elevation and post because they have really inexpensive massages to help your aching muscles after hiking for 4 days and the Inca magic wears off.

 

Complementing Cuzco is a trip up the mountains overlooking the city for a beautiful picture spot. From there we traveled to my first experience with Inca ruins. Again, the elevation is killer so wear sunscreen (even if you think you don't need it...you do. I don't burn hardly ever and I burned here. Brutal.) and take the 15 minutes to climb to the top of a pseudo-mountain overlooking the valley to test your endurance with the elevation. If you're doing the Inca Trail, you're gonna need it.

 

You're also gonna need a stop in what I like to call the Inca Trail base camp. Ollantaytambo is a popular spot to stay the day before you start your hike. It has Inca ruins to climb to, again, push your endurance at high elevations and markets to get whatever you may have forgotten before going radio silent on the trail for 4 days. I loved this village. Picturesque, ancient, I could feel Peru come alive in this small town. The food is of all different variety. Traditional Peruvian restaurants, American pizza, pasta, etc. you can find almost anything. I went with pasta to carb load, it was delicious. There is also a legit Kwik-E-Mart for those of you who watch the Simpsons. And not only is Ollantaytambo a pretty place to stop, there is also a beautifully tragic story about what took place there hundreds of years ago with the Incas...

There is a story about a daughter of an Incan king who fell in love with one of his soliders. The solider asked for her hand in marriage and when the king refused, they ran away together to Ollantaytambo. The king and his army followed them and when the king still refused to let them marry, a battle broke out and the soldier and his daughter were captured. The punishment? Both the solider and his daughter were executed in what are now the ruins of Ollantaytambo...isn't that tragic?! There is a book in there somewhere so one of you authors needs to write it. So Shakespearean. *Le sigh*

 

Must See
Markets
Massages
City Center
Cuzco Overlook
Ollantaytambo Ruins

Skip
Guinea pigs and alpaca cuisine

Travel Class
Economy

3 comments:

  1. This post makes me want to go to Peru! Look how beautiful it is. *stares at your pictures* I seriously love hearing about your adventures Kel, and I'm so happy you're doing this feature! Anxiously and impatiently awaiting more ;)

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  2. Omg this is so beautiful!!! A must see!!!

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  3. I think I'm reading your Peru trip story back to front, but that doesn't matter! Cuzco is high up on my bucket list, The Inca Trail being one of my Top 5. Ollantaytambo (say that 20 times over again!) sounds incredibly wonderful, I hadn't heard of it before so if I ever start planning a South American trip, I'll definitely have to make sure that's on the list. You sound as if it was a great experience (so far!)

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