We arrived into Cusco, the gateway to Machu Picchu, as the sun was setting and checked into our hotel. Unfortunately, the bus could not make it to the front of our hotel so we needed to carry our bags about 4 blocks down a narrow street with no sidewalk while a lot of cars passed us by. All we could do was get against the wall every time a car came & begin to walk again once the car passed us. After checking into our hotel, a small group of us signed up to do an optional activity called the Peruvian Encounter. Those of us that signed up met in the hotel lobby & walked to a restaurant near the main square of Cusco where we learned all about traditional Peruvian drinks & cusine. We even were taught how to make our own food and drinks including a Pisco Sour (the one I made was one of the best ones I had during the trip)! A menu of what we made is shown below as well as my (terrible) attempts to make some of my own food:
My pisco sour
My terrible attempt at a causa, basically mashed potatoes with additional vegetables on it
After the Peruvian Encounter we were very full, but managed to meet up with the rest of our group to try to learn how to salsa dance at one of the local bars that was teaching people that evening. To say I was pretty bad would be an understatement, but I get an A for effort. The following morning, our trip manager who is from Cusco took us on a walking tour which traversed the majority of the city. We saw all the main sites as well as a few less popular destinations as we tried to see all that Cusco has to offer. Our first main stop was Qorikancha, otherwise known as the Sun Temple, which was the most important temple during the time of the Incan Empire. The decorations were mostly destroyed during the Spanish occupation of Peru when the building was turned into a Catholic Church, but our trip manager did her best to paint us a picture of what the temple was like. We learned that the temple was not fully torn down by the Spanish because it was so well constructed by the Incans as they built the temple to withstand massive earthquakes. The Incans focused a lot on astronomy, so there was a lot of attention paid to the positioning of the stars and the sun when they built the temple.
We made a few more stops around Cusco before arriving at the Mercado Central de San Pedro which was a large covered market with hundreds of stalls dispersed in a grid system within the market. We ended our tour in the market so people could grab food or do souvenir shopping. I didn’t really see anything I wanted to eat, so I decided to buy a few things for people back home (which was a good thing because some of the people that got food had severe food poisoning shortly afterward).
After we were done at the market, those of us that did not eat decided to head back towards the hotel and grab lunch at a rooftop bar with gorgeous panoramic views of the city. The food was excellent, the views were amazing &, most importantly, it was so relaxing.
After lunch, we strolled around Cusco to visit some of the places our trip manager rushed past during our walking tour including the main square of Cusco, Plaza de Armas.