Arriving in Cusco, Peru, we were immediately captivated by the beautiful lush green mountains that we were surrounded by.
Being that we were above 11,000 ft., our body took 3 days to get used to the elevation and altitude sickness. The first couple days, we had raging headaches and couldn’t walk very far without having to stop and catch our breath. We were drinking coca tea and popping aleve like it was candy.
Cusco was the historic capital of the Inca Empire and has a lot of cultural. It’s one of my favorite cities I’ve ever been to. The architecture, cobble stone streets, cafes and amazing restaurants made you feel like you were somewhere in Europe.
The local Peruvians are extremely friendly and very helpful as it’s a major tourist destination. They all stand on the streets asking you to buy tours to Machu Picchu, massages (which are extremely inexpensive and great at $30/hr, try the Inca Massage), jewelry, art and older Peruvian ladies with their Llamas asking you to take photos of them.
One thing that I loved is that we walked everywhere without needing to hail a cab. It was perfect walking weather, although at night it does get much cooler and sometimes rains.
Their textiles are one of the finest qualities and alpaca sweaters are quite popular. Baby alpaca is premium of them all.
After being in Cusco for 3 days, we took a beautiful train ride to Aguas Calientes to head to Machu Picchu the following day. Aguas Calientes was such a cool little town. You get off the train, cross the train tracks and you’re at your hotel along with many restaurants and store fronts.
We woke up at 4:30 the following morning to catch the bus to take us up to Machu Picchu. It was a nice 20 minute ride up in the mountains with a gorgeous view. We couldn’t wait to get in and see it. As soon as we got there, you couldn’t see anything at all. It was all fogged out with nothing to see. We were waiting patiently, hoping the fog would roll out. We had a call time at 7:30 a.m. to meet our tour guide and he said not to worry, 8 months out of the year it’s like this and it will clear up around 10:30 a.m. Sure enough he was right. We are not tour guides kind of people, but HIGHLY suggest getting a tour guide if you ever go to Machu Picchu. It is so impressive, you’ll be going home happy that you did.
When we returned to Cusco, all the locals were selling everything yellow getting ready for New Year’s, even yellow underwear. They say it brings them luck and happiness. After having a late dinner and drinking pisco sours above the Plaza de Armas, we had the best view in the house waiting for the firework show that hit midnight. Right when midnight struck, there were thousands of people cheering, celebrating and running in a circle around the plaza. It was so fun and interesting to watch and we decided to join in on the fun. They say some carry an empty suitcase and run around and that will mean you will travel somewhere exotic that year.
On our last night in Cusco, I had to try the deep fried guinea pig. I know… I used to have one as a pet, but after hearing everyone rave about this, I couldn’t leave without trying it. It’s a culinary delicacy in Peru and let me just say this, it’s better than chicken and actually craving it right now. The skin was delicious and the meat was very flavorful and juicy. Do not leave Peru without trying it. It was one of my highlights of the whole trip. My favorite restaurants were Ama Lur and Kusikuy.
I hope to come back to this beautiful country, it should be on everyone’s bucketlist!