We're in Buenos Aires for a few days but I wanted to go back to Peru and fill you in on some things that stand out. The hotel we stayed at in Cusco is definately worth mentioning. HOTEL MONTESARIO, owned by Orient Express, is magnificent. We reserved a double room but they upgraded us to the Presidential Suite. Somehow they must have known how desperately we needed a little luxury after the previous days worth of travel from San Francisco to Peru and that first overnight in Lima (definately not worth mentioning) with 3.5 hours sleep.
We were in Cusco for 2 days. The city sits between 11,000 - 13,00 ft elevation. The highest elevation I had spent time in before was at 9,000 ft in Half Dome, Yosemite. Half Dome didn't bother me so I wasn't too worried about Cusco. We brought plenty of altitude sickness medication if need be. The extra 2,000 - 4,000 makes a difference. Not too out of it and managed to climb the streets of Cusco and the steps of Machu Picchu but the feeling I had was lightheaded, woozy. Sort of like how you felt when you were a kid and spun yourself around and around and around and then stopped. It wasn't a great feeling then, and it still isn't. Josh and I took turrns feeling woozy. I was hit the first day and then felt fine the second. Josh was out of it day 2. The bigger they are the harder they fall. We stayed in that second night, ordered room service. Ceviche, what else!?
Cusco was a place to fill my soul - not so much my stomache. Of course, I scouted out two tasty places for lunch. PACHA PAPA in the San Blas region and INKA GRILL off Plaza de Armas.
PACHA PAPA, a local quinta (outdoor cafe) served delicious peruvian food. I ordered the Lamb Stew cooked in the clay oven and Josh ordered the Aji de Gallinas, a popular peruvian dish of Hen with Potatoes and Yellow Aji Pepper cream sauce. Mate de Coca to drink. We forgot to chew on the leaves. That's supposed to help with the altitude sickness. Local field workers chew on the leaves to help suppress their appetite and give them energy. INKA GRILL starts you off with fried potatoe chips and green salsa. Cusquena, the local beer, made for the perfect pairing!
We went to MACHU PICCHU one of the two days in Cusco (2 photo albums to the left). A place you must see in person with your own two eyes. Built around 1500, untouched by the Spaniards. It remained dormant for nearly 500 years and was rediscovered in 1911 when Hiram Bingham and a local guy went walking through the valley of the Andes with a machete. Aside from a 4 day hike into the site along the Inka Trail the only way to get to Machu Picchu is to take a 4 hour train from Cusco to Aguas Calientes and then a bus to the entrance of Machu Picchu. We hired a private English speaking guide, Maria, to walk us through the site. The tour took 2.5 hours and it poured down for the last half hour. Didn't matter. We were at Machu Picchu! They say 1,000 visitors come every day. There were lots of people but it didn't feel like it. We were planning to spend the night in the town next to Machu Picchu, Aguas Calientes, but we didn't - our first travel hiccup. No problem. We took the train from Aguas Calientes back to Cusco (another 4 hours). We stayed an extra night at Hotel Montesario and everything worked out for the best!
Next update will be of Mendoza. eventually, I'll get caught up to present day. Bye for now.