A September 2005 trip
to Cusco by davidx
Quote: Trapped? Yes, in a way. We're a bit ancient to do the Inca Trail, so we were in Cusco while the rest of the group did it. Then we meant to meet them, but read on.
Cusco, apart from its own Inca remains, is very near to some spectacular sites. This report will cover Sachsaywaman [yes, it’s true – it does sound like sexy woman], Qenco, Puca Pucara, and Tambomachay. In the city itself most places you will want to see are within walking distance from the beautiful Plaza de Armas, where the cathedral and the Jesuit church compete for pride of place, surrounded by arcaded streets with upstairs restaurants on balconies where you can watch the world go by. As for shopping, there are shops that sell the best alpaca, which is not cheap, even here, where alpacas roam not far away as wild animals, but they are at giveaway process by UK standards. There are also shops selling good jewellery, but most people will have far more interest in the markets, a tourist market for all sorts of souvenirs (but mainly textiles) behind the Jesuit church and the large food market down near the station for Macchu Pichu, which is mainly to meet the needs of the local population. The latter and marvellous Inca site of Sachsaywaman, only 2km from the city (but 2 very steep kilometers!) were said to be most inadvisable after dark.
In the city you can walk pretty much to anything you want to see. For the wider area, taxis are remarkably cheap by UK standards, and your hotel will book you a multi-site trip, with breaks as long as you want at each site, at a prearranged price.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on October 29, 2005
A Mi Manera
Triunfo 393, 2nd floor
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 29, 2005
Los Perros Couch Bar
Sachsaywaman is an Inca fortress with massive “imported” rocks at the lowest level. These were used in combination with much smaller material at the next level and then smaller stones as you ascend. At the very top there’s a restricted zone with the foundations of what was clearly once a round tower.
We went with our group to visit it and liked it so much that we decided to go again on our own on a free day. If you do this and want to wander without a guide, you will have to do a bit of beating off, but it’s well worth it. There were various kindergarten groups wandering past and enjoying having their photos taken as we enjoyed a leisurely picnic lunch.
I didn’t get to Machu Picchu, but those who did tell me that, although its site is truly outstanding, the authenticity of the remains is much greater at Sachsaywaman. A number of lintels have been replaced here, but one is original and most of the other features are as well.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on October 26, 2005
10 minutes outside Cusco towards Pisaq
15 minutes outside Cusco towards Pisaq
I ate guinea pig. From what my friends on the trip who had tried one elsewhere had to tell me, it should have been a great experience, a wonderful taste with delicious crackly skin. If only! Mine was eaten at a foul roadside "restaurant." By foul I mean foul. There were mangy dogs trotting by, scrounging. By roadside I mean roadside – by the side of the road – with just room for the mangy dogs to avoid being run over by the trucks that were scattering us in filth. By restaurant I don’t mean anything like a restaurant!
As for the taste, it didn’t have much and the skin was like rubber. I think the beast might have died a natural death some time ago. That gave the great spirit guinea pig in the sky enough time to plot a sinister revenge – and he used it. That night I came as near as I have for a long time to athleticism. However, it wasn’t a race track I was running – just the fastest way to the smallest room. I slept badly, largely, if not entirely, due to the worsening condition of my stomach. We were due to go on the first train to Aguas Callientes, ready to go to Machu Picchu the following day and meet our trip associates as they completed the Inca Trail. This meant getting up at about 4am, and we reached the station at about 5:40am.
I felt absolutely awful, so Pam and José, the assistant to the tour leader, who was going with us, took my luggage and went quickly up the steps to find our seats. I followed miserably and looked up the steps. A wave of dizziness hit me, and my heart machine (sort of the opposite of a pacemaker) found it necessary to stop and restart my heart five times in rapid succession. I only felt the pain four times – I think I was momentarily unconscious for the first. As some people find it repulsive to read about medical treatments, I’ll do a separate account of my day and night in a clinic. I can say without fear of contradiction that a visit to Machu Picchu would have been a more enjoyable experience.
Todmorden, United Kingdom