Back to the city. But this time we goin’ up! To Cusco (not the Emperors New Groove), a city full of cobblestone streets, orange clay roofs, and surrounded by mountains. Cusco is also the city where you get all the warnings about altitude and the effects it can have on your body so it was certainly intimidating when we arrived that we would all be out for a day or two because of altitude sickness.
And we heard some pretty crappy stories from fellow travellers along the way about experiencing headaches, muscle aches and vomiting. But these were also people who went straight to Cusco and decided to hike Machu Picchu or other peaks, so obviously they did very little homework about the effect of altitude. But lucky for our crew we were terrific. Between us we had a few minor headaches and experienced shortness of breath but that was about it. Justin and I had been taking elevation pills throughout so we had an extra level of prevention but we just planned a day in Cusco to just chill and hang out. No physical exertion or extra level of tension so that we could allow our bodies to adjust to the elevation and amount of oxygen that we were getting. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND doing this. The last thing you want to do is lose a day in your hotel room, so be nice to your body and it will be nice to you! So just give yourself a day or two of rest and easy going activities.
So during our time in Cusco we spent the days wandering around, exploring the city, shopping for souvenirs, and just being tourists.
The main city square is crawling with people and restaurants, as well as your typical and familiar fast food including Starbucks, McDonalds, and KFC. Cusco acted as our home base for our excursions to Machu Picchu and Rainbow Mountain (next post). So most of our time here was spending just wandering around, and for Justin and I, well it was shopping.
There were souvenir stands and shops all over the city! And the big thing to buy is alpaca. A sweater or blanket, which is exactly what we were on the hunt for. Probably not the real stuff as it can be suer expensive and some of the bougie boutiques there were so extra and expensive. So we opted for the cute sweaters with alpacas on them instead. We tried on so many and visited so many little shops to get the best price as possible. And that was equally the same for the blankets. Now this was a solo mission on Justin’s part and he was determined to find a nice alpaca blanket with cute colours and designs. And he did after several days of searching, he bought 2. As well as many other little souvenirs for the folks back home including alpaca keychains, Peruvian coffee (which is a staple) and magnets etc.
But it was here in Cusco where we found our best eats! There are so many restaurants to check out here and they are all delicious. This is the city to bust of the wallet and treat yourself to a nice fine meal. And when I say bust out the wallet I mean, your paying like $30 for a really fancy, fine meal! I will sadly admit that we did have McDonalds one night, but only because it was late at night and we had been travelling all day and we were not in the mood for a sit down meal. But we instantly regretted it, because it was probably the worst McDonalds. So just don’t do it.
But where you should eat are the following places! Number 1 is Uchu Peruvian Steakhouse! By far the best meal I had the entire trip. We had found the place pretty last minute and they were all booked up so we made a reservation the next night for 9pm. So make sure you reserve a spot here because it’s so so worth it. The dinner I had was a mix of meats that are served on a hot volcanic stone that continue cooking the meat when brought out. So I opted for chicken, beef, and alpaca. It was about a 4oz piece of each and they come out about medium rare. And for someone who prefers their food cooked on the more well side it was perfect that I could let it sit for an extra couple minutes! And damn was the food good! The alpaca was a very nice surprise and had some really good flavour. I was much more willing to try that over the guinea pig thats for sure.
I wont bore you with all the restaurants we went to and meals we had, but there were a lot so I will add the list at the bottom of my top recommendations. But this is the place to be to eat! All of the quinoa as well! They make a mean stir fry dish and its delicious!
Where We Stayed:
Tambo Del Arriero (Decent, but terrible bathroom)
Apu Huascaran Hostal (Not the greatest)
Where To Eat:
Uchu Peruvian Steakhouse
La Bodega 138
A Mi Manera
Excursions to Machu Picchu & Rainbow Mountain ———->