Travel Diary: Cuzco
2013 was a wild year, and some of the most amazing memories happened during my three weeks traveling in Peru. I posted photos of my adventures in gorgeous Arequipa (1, 2, and 3 in case you missed them… as well as my styling collaboration with the pop color glory that is Patricia Field + 1), but I never got around to sharing snaps from Cuzco and Lima.
I’ll pick up where I left off: in a truly epic city in the Andes.
Below, the entrance to our hostel: a quaint and colorful dwelling with tree house charm (we climbed a ladder to get to our room). Adjacent to a totally happening juice bar, Let’s Go Bananas, the common room was always buzzing with backpackers and staff sharing crazy nightlife stories, lamenting about altitude sickness, and figuring out which route they want to take to Machu Picchu.
If Cuzco taught me anything, it’s to roll with the punches. The water was shut off in our hostel from 10PM – 6AM, and there was no hot water in that particular set of buildings at all. A three day funeral happened in front of our bedroom door when the building owner’s elderly aunt died, so we came home to a coffin each evening. A few minor bouts of food poisoning meant less than ideal sleep, sans-heat.
These are just a few of the ways this leg of the trip taught me to chill out and enjoy the ride, without expectations. Even though there were some “Wtf!?” moments for this spoiled New Yorker, I wouldn’t have changed a thing. In fact, my heart longs for this city and its colors and textures and rich history… and incredible food!
Barbie head, hailing a cab for us. Also, see that 2 foot strip of cement along the street? That’s a sidewalk. No joke.
Coca tea… the Andes’ gift to sea level dwellers! We drank coca tea and chewed coca leaves for most of the stay. We didn’t have “sickness” per say (I heard some horror stories about travelers who had to be hospitalized due to breathing troubles and migraine headaches, and fancier hostels supply oxygen in the minibar), but this tea was essential to staying on the move at altitude.
I wrote and mailed my postcards (bought in Arequipa, mailed from Cuzco) so late in our journey that we arrived back to NYC just a day after they did. But our families,and landlord, appreciated the gesture.
Hanging out with the twelve angle stone on Hatun Rumiyoc street.
The stunning Plaza de Armas.
We visited a bunch of markets for food, fabric, and general treasure hunting, but one of my favorites was the one with this adorable mannequin greeting shoppers at the front entrance. How cute is she? And her hat is way bigger than mine.
You can shop some of the awesome treasures I picked up along the way at Bombay Mermaid Trading Co.
We ventured up into the mountains to get a glimpse of Sacsayhuaman, a massive wall built without mortar of any kind, held sturdy by stones intricately cut by the Incas. This site was once a fortress with towers and a series of buildings, but most of it was destroyed. It was breathtaking to behold. This photo does it absolutely no justice.
Stopping for an omg-tourist! selfie after seeing a procession in honor of the patron saint of the Mercado Central de San Pedro (where we ate many plates of lomo saltado and haggled for many mantas). Check out these colorful characters and badass dancers below.
It’s hard to walk by a couple of adorable cholitas holding baby animals without responding to their beckoning call to take a photo together. And you best pay up when they smile for a picture and put that lamb in your lap, or they’ll throw you some serious shade.
I saw reviews about a bar called Fallen Angel online before we left New York, and knew I had to see the eccentric interior for myself. There were almost too many things to photograph inside. The drinks were awesome and the atmosphere is hard to beat.
We went to 4 or 5 bars and clubs, many overrun with dreadlocked tourists (but whatever, we had fun). Some other recommendations are Muse (where you can catch circus performances and pet the dog that lives there), Mama Africa (for dancing and arcade games), and Chicha (for amazing food and drinks c/o Gastón Acurio)
Can you believe that’s about 1/8th of the photos I took? But I prefer you go have your own adventures rather than scroll endlessly all night.
I’ll be back to wrap this up with our photos of filthy, wonderful Lima and a wrap-up post about the things I wish I would have known before landing in Peru. You’ll find that one useful if you plan on going anytime soon.
Have an amazing Saturday night!