We had set 2 alarms, one on each of our phones. One for 6:45 and a back up on the other phone for 6:55. Good thing because one alarm didn’t seem to go off and the second was really really quiet for some reason. Thankfully the little chirpy noise made it into my consciousness eventually and we managed to get up around 7. Stepping off our balcony we could see that Lima was very cloudy and gray this morning, but pleasantly warm. We packed up, checked out, and caught a taxi back to the airport again. Checking in for our flight to Cuzco was also pretty easy and the Lima airport is compact and straight forward. I think its best feature, though, might have to be the 2 Dunkin Donuts locations I found there. I didn’t try anything that morning because it felt too early and because I wasn’t ready yet to pay 11 soles ($3.75) for an iced coffee. I’m sure I will though on my next time through!
We had been sufficiently warned not to drink or use the tap water here. That it is unsafe. That extended to teeth brushing, ice cubes, fresh fruits and veggies that may have been washed. We brushed our teeth with bottled water that first night, but I am encouraged that after drinking a pisco sour (made with egg white), and eating a fresh plum, that I am so far totally fine. So we will see how far our caution goes during this trip.
We only had a short wait and then it was time to board our 9:45am flight to Cuzco. We actually boarded a standing only bus at the gate and it drove us way out to our little plane where we boarded directly. It was a pleasant, short flight with some nice views of the Andes on the way. Landing in Cuzco was beautiful. The city and the mountains are gorgeous and the sky was blue with clean air. A representative from our hotel met us at the airport and got us to the Palacio del Inka quickly.
The hotel is incredible. The pictures will have to try and explain it. It is very clearly an old building and decorated to proudly display both ancient and colonial influences on the area. When we arrived they gave us, or more accurately insisted that we accept, mate de coca, the tea they offer for altitude sickness. Even though this city is well over 11,000ft we were both feeling fine. We took the tea because there was no option, but turns out it is nasty. Kind of tastes like liquid earth. Ugh. Neither of us could stand more than a few sips, though throughout the trip tourists have been asking for it left and right. I suppose if I felt any effects of altitude I may have been willing to give it another try. We got freshened up in our ridiculously fabulous hotel room and then set out to explore Cuzco.
We had lunch at a highly recommended little place called Jacks Cafe. Not exactly Peruvian but really cute and with good food. Obviously popular as we waited in a line out the door to get a table. Eric had a cheeseburger and I tried the Peruvian version of a veggie burger. It was kind of interesting. Not bad, clearly a house made patty with local vegetables and grains but it just completely disintegrated immediately. Plus the fresh homemade french fries and lemonade with fresh mint were really good. After lunch we just walked around some streets, looked in shops, visited the Plaza de Armas, and made our way back to the hotel. Our hotel is located right next to the Qorikancha church/museum. In fact I think the old part of the hotel, the section our room was in, was actually previously an extended part of the church as well. We popped in there for a self guided walking tour for 10 soles ($3.30) apiece. It was a neat way to kill over an hour, learn about the ancient culture, and also see a lot of cool artwork and architecture. When we had seen all we wanted to see around the grounds there we came back to the hotel for a nap. It had been a long two days.
On a side note, we were both taking Diamox, an altitude sickness medication. I think it caused a side effect of intense tingling in my hands and feet. That seems to be well documented and I’m assuming not dangerous aside from being annoying. I had hoped it would go away if my body adapted to the medication but every dose brought it back nice and strong.
We napped a little longer than expected and didn’t get up again until 6:30pm. A housekeeping woman actually came by once to do a turn down service and I had to tell her my husband was sleeping in the bed. She laughed, gave me the chocolate she would have left on the bed, and went on her way. Since it is their fall season here the sunset is quite early and it was already dark out and a bit chilly when we were up and moving again. Glad I brought my heavy fleece. I had a dinner location in mind already and we had located it earlier in the day so we knew just how to get there for dinner. Called Nuna Raymi, it was located on the second floor of a building just off the main Plaza. Very cute and quiet and with a few other groups dining already. Eric tried a classic Lomo Saltado (a traditional Peruvian beef sirloin dish) and I had a trout filet with mashed sweet potato. We were both blown away with the food. At least on mine, I have never had mashed sweet potato with a bright punch of orange flavor, and the trout was in a sauce of sweet fruits like pineapple, orange, and apple. The flavors were amazing and everything was cooked perfectly. There was also a really interesting toasted, buttered sweet bread with mint on it. Definitely a good choice for a delicious Peruvian dinner. Eric also tried the local Cusqueñan beer and I tried the popular Inca Kola. I’m thinking those were both one time experiments. We ended up totally stuffed, though, took a few night time pictures around the city and then went back to the hotel to relax. Had to do some strategic packing for Machu Picchu since we were planning to leave our luggage here for a couple of days and only take the the backpacks. Then it was time to sleep again.