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On our first day in Cusco, none of us were feeling our best.
The boys were both not feeling great with a food poisoning re-occurrence and I was feeling pretty rough myself with a combination of a blistered and sunburnt bottom lip, a cold, fatigue, and shortness of breath due to the altitude (Cusco sits at a lofty 3300m above sea level).
Robbie’s friends from home were in town as well, so after checking into our hostel we met up with them and went for lunch via the beautiful Plaza de Armas to Jack’s Café, an expat-run place with great gringo food and coffee.
There was a big Police/Army presence due to the Semana Santa celebrations being held that evening and we could feel the excitement in the air. Such a shame we weren’t feeling well as we would have gone to the vigils that night if we had.
Instead, we rested up and tried to get better, paid our Inca Trail deposit, and had an early night.
We had another day in Cusco before we were heading off to do the Inca Trail and we spent it chilling out, revisiting the iconic Jack’s Cafe and organizing our bags, saving the sightseeing for when we got back.
To read about our Inca Trail experience, see here.
After our exhausting trek to Machu Picchu, we returned to Cusco where we spent the first day back exploring the city.
Cusco truly is a Peru highlight and a must-visit on any Peru itinerary. Even though it is full of tourists, there is still so much beauty and charm here.
The sun was out and Cusco was gloriously beautiful.
It is a city of cobblestone streets, llamas wearing hats, gorgeous colonial churches, well-manicured gardens and lots of world-class restaurants and cafes.
I know a lot of people are disappointed with Cusco because of the amount of tourists and the huge number of shops catering to them. I do see what they mean but despite this I really did enjoy it.
I especially loved all of the markets full of beautiful handicrafts. I restricted myself to just buying an Alpaca jumper but if I had the space and money, I would have gone on a shopping spree.
On our last day before leaving Cusco we did a day trip to Pisac in the Sacred Valley. It is a lovely little town surrounded by mountains.
The Inca ruins there are overpriced so we didn’t visit them, instead, we just walked around the incredible open market and in the countryside surrounding the town, soaking up the peaceful atmosphere.
The market was the best I have been to so far on this trip, with an amazing selection of woolen clothing, hand-woven bags, blankets, musical instruments, and other high-quality souvenirs.
I bought my Mum a beautiful shawl and a handwoven bag for myself.
While we were exploring the streets, a funeral procession on foot went past. It seemed as if the whole town was accompanying the coffin of the poor, departed child down the street with many people crying openly. It was a poignant sight.
We topped off our visit with some amazing carrot cake and hot chocolate on a popular German café’s sun-soaked roof terrace.
After a stop back at our hostel to collect our bags, we got a night bus to Arequipa, Peru’s second-largest City.
I enjoyed our time in the Inca lands of the past. A truly beautiful and interesting area despite the effects of the heavy hand of tourism.