Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Cusco, capital of the Incan empire.

Cusco is such a marvellous and diverse city that it is impossible to cover it all in one day, even if you start early and finish late. Unfortunately, I only had one free day in Cusco, and while I saw as much as I possibly could in 10 hours, I would have happily spent another week there, exploring all the windy little cobblestone streets.

Before spending a day in Cusco, you should really plan what you want to get out of the day- perhaps you'd like to see museums, or shop, or savour the hundreds of little cafés, restaurants or bars the city has to offer. Part of the charm Cusco has also stems from the high concentration of touristy places mixed with the incredibly Peruvian ones - thus leaving you even more confused about how you should spend your time there (should I try Cusqueñan food? Or should I finally go to that Australian bar because I've been dying for a taste of home?)

Personally, I did a mix of the two. I started my day early from the Plaza de Armas, enjoying the typical Sunday procession and flag-raising ceremony there. I proudly sang the Peruvian national anthem as they raised the flag (confusing a lot of tourists and Peruvians alike, I daresay), before taking off away from the touristy-ness and up along the back streets. I did a little shopping (the further away from the Plaza de Armas you get, the cheaper things are) before meeting up with Liv, a dear friend from home who is currently working in Urubamba (small town near Cusco) and happened to be In Cusco for the day! 

Then the lunch dilemma came - where to eat, in the international city of food itself? I ended up opting for Jack's Café, a little Australian-run café, which I'd read about beforehand in my trusty Lonely Planet. I definitely don't regret it- I had THE most amazing steak sandwich and chips that I've ever had in my life, a huge plate of nachos, a chicken toasted sandwich and a chocolate milkshake. It probably sounds normal to all you guys, but the fact that it was the first time I'd had Western food in 10 months made it pretty damn exciting!

After lunch, I trekked up to Plaza San Blas, supposedly the artsy part of Cusco, but I failed to see what all the hype was about. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact I went on a Sunday, but regardless, it wasn't anything special at all. The Mercado San Pedro made up for it though, as I was able to find Tunki Coffee (possibly the best coffee in the world) and some Cusqueñan chocolate to bring home for my family. 

And before I knew it, the day was over! I didn't even have a chance to check out any of the fantastic museums there, nor get back to half the places I'd intended to go 'later'. It was an amazing day though, and I'll be sure to go there again sometime soon!

Next up, what you've all been waiting for- Machu Picchu! 

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