Wednesday, 10 November 2010
So in hindsight I probably would have cut short the remaining 2 and a bit days we had left in Cusco in favour of an extra day in Lima to bookend our trip. Don't get me wrong, Cusco is beautiful, but it's pretty small and Lima is definitely short changed by the guide books in my opinion. Melissa and I made the most of our time in Cusco though and wow did it feel good to not have to carry loo roll with me wherever I went. It's the small things ;-)
Unfortunately I wasn't feeling so great on the first day after throwing up several times the night before - the first time I've ever had traveller's tummy - so we took it pretty easy and just moseyed around Cusco and paid a leisurely visit to the site of the Coricancha, or Temple of the Sun, the most important temple in the Incan empire, which the Spanish colonists tore down and built the Cathedral of Santo Domingo on its foundations.
That evening we met the rest of our small tour group: Jamie, Sarah, Dinh, Jackie plus tour leader Ybone, for a farewell dinner at Marcelo Batata restaurant where everyone but myself, Melissa and Ybone ordered Cuy, or roasted guinea pig entree. Ewwwwwwwwww!!!! We had pet guinea pigs at my junior school, there was no way in hell I was eating one, although even if I wanted to I didn't exactly have the stomach for it that day and so I went with the veggie stuffed Peruvian style potato and a glass of camomile tea. Rock and roll.
Roasted guinea pig. So. Very. Wrong!!!
After showing each diner their roasted guinea pig the waiters took it away to be carved. According to Ybone guinea pig is primarily eaten by Peruvians on special occasions!!
"It was interesting," said Jacqui, "but I feel like I ate a rat, I wouldn't have it again."
Good to know!!
On Tuesday morning the rest of our group, except for Jacqui, left for the remainder of their tour in the jungle while Melissa and I checked out of the Cusco Plaza II hotel and into the Rumi Punku hotel behind the main square on Choquechaca. To be honest I thought it was a waste of time moving for just one night, but once we'd settled into the hotel I am so glad we did, in fact I wished we'd forfeited our final night at the Cusco Plaza II and moved in the night before. The Rumi Punku is a divine hotel and was relatively inexpensive at $90 per night for a double room. I highly recommend this hotel if ever your travels take you to Cusco, it had all the mod cons that the Cusco Plaza II lacked like a hairdryer in the bathroom, heating, a flat screen TV and a full length mirror, plus great cushions. I loved loved loved the cushions and tracked down similar ones at one of the local artesian markets for a bargain $5 each.
After settling in to our new digs we headed down the street for a satisfying lunch at Jack's Cafe. The blurring in this photo is a complete accident, but our waiter did whizz around a lot. He was always checking in to make sure all his customers were okay, he was an excellent host.
The fries may look a little on the pasty side, but they were delicious.
Having only previously had the tea-bag version, I didn't realise that camomile looked like this. Kind of daisy like.
Lunch was followed by further explorations of Cusco. We were running out of things we hadn't seen by that point so we headed down to the Mercado Central.
My favourite Peruvian market trader ;-)
These wool masks are replicas of those worn by the Ukukus dancers for the religious festival of Qoyllur Rit'i.
Pork shank with baked apple and potatoes.
I was stuffed, but I couldn't resist ordering the traditional Peruvian dessert of Suspiro de Limena. It was so hard to resist that I ate a spoonful before I remembered to snap a photo ;-)
Continuing the tradition of the trip we were in bed and snoozing come 8pm. So much for that post Inca Trail bender we'd planned on ;-)
Wednesday was our last day in Cusco and after a 7am breakfast at the hotel we searched high and low for Peruvian style cookies to take back for our work colleagues. Who knew it would be so hard to find a super-mercado in Cusco?
We had a second breakfast at Ciccolina restaurant - what can I say, sightseeing is just something I do to burn calories before I try I new restaurant - before resigning ourselves to airport food for the rest of the day where for 13 soles - not even $5 - I indulged in amazing hot chocolate spiced with cinnamon, cloves and star anise...
...followed by homemade campesino bread topped with asparagus, roasted tomatoes, crispy bacon and a soft poached egg.
And then it was back to New York!!