Our plan for Cusco was to kick back in a nice hotel, relax, and take it easy, while letting our bodies gently adjust to 3,400 metres of altitude, before we headed higher up onto the Altiplano.
We’d actually arrived into Cusco a week earlier, but headed straight down into the sacred valley to visit Ollantaytambo, Maras, Moray and of course Machu Picchu. This was to help us acclimatise and I’m glad we did. On leaving the plane the lack of air had an immediate effect, I felt very weird in a strange light-headed kind of way and needed to pee a lot, which amused Julie and Elizabeth to no end. The effects had passed by the time we settled in for the night, and a week later we were back in Cusco feeling fit as a fiddle and ready for a couple of days rest and relaxation.
We’re not that great at kicking back though, so we picked up a free walking tour from the main square, which was a great way to understand the city and get our bearings. Marcus, from Free Walking Peru shared with us his stories of the Incas, their building techniques and how they compared with other major civilisations around the world, like the Egyptians and the Khmers. We got the low down on the best places to eat in town, and finished up with a glass of Pisco Sours and a stunning view over Cusco. Free walking tours are never ‘free’ though, but we thought it well worth the ‘tip’.
We finished our first day off in Pachapapa, a restaurant with wonderful Peruvian cuisine. Not that I’m a connoisseur, or have much experience in such things, but that’s how it was described to us and after eating there I have no reason to disagree. The ambiance was equally fine, with candle lit tables in a heated courtyard, it reminded me of a fantastic meal we once had in Luang Prabang, Laos. I chose the pork which was delicious and Julie had the lamp shoulder, which was very tasty. All in all it was great food, a great ambiance and a great price — Pachapapa, and Cusco in general gets a firm thumbs up from us.