We flew to Cusco from Lima to begin the next leg of our Peru journey. Shortly after checking into our hotel, we joined another tourist’s guide to begin our Cusco City tour.
We joined Connie, a blonde, single, fifty-something lady from Indiana. We were thrust on her when our guide was deemed sick and were asked to join her and her guide on the Cusco City tour. City tours can be somewhat hasty, as you try to see all that is important in a city to see. We have learned, however, that the people you encounter can really define the memories. A fond memory now is of our guide, Connie, and us in the Cusco Cathedral.
While in the Cusco Cathedral, our guide brought us over to the statue of St. Anthony, whom he deemed to be the patron saint of “hopeless cases.” Since we thought that was St. Jude’s purvey, we were barely able to suppress our laughter when the guide told Connie to touch the statue, as St. Anthony dealt with “hopeless” women seeking husbands. As she touched the statue, all we could think of is that a divorced, white, female over 50-years-old was even too much for St. Jude alone.
We also learned, while visiting the Cusco Cathedral, that the native Peruvians did not think too much of their conqueror, Francisco Pizarro. He was cast as Judas in the “Last Supper” painting at the Cathedral.
This Cusco Cathedral, to us, rivaled many of the famous European cathedrals with its gilded beauty, carvings and paintings. True, there was no Michelangelo or Da Vinci, but our memories of the Cathedral will last a long time, due to the guide and our fellow traveler, who enhanced our exploration.
On arrival to the five-star Hotel Libertador in Cusco, we were greeted by a middle-aged man named Valentine. He was very pleasant, but wouldn’t leave us alone until we bought one of his art drawings. He was outside the hotel morning and night. This was fun and his art work was very well done. However, we paid him $5 to leave us alone. This is a lot of money to the local people, as our dollar is worth about $3.50 in Peruvian dollars. In the hotel lobby, they had coca tea. This is a tea made from coca leaves. The hotel employees assured us the tea was not addictive, but medicinal. It was made from the cocoa plant to alleviate altitude sickness for travelers. The tea helped us and made us very relaxed as well. The hotel also had great American hamburgers.
The hotel is splendidly located within the historical downtown, is the ideal place to live and is a unique and fascinating experience. The hotel faces the impressive Korikancha, or Temple of the Sun and we were surrounded by magnificent Inca and colonial buildings. You can reach the city's major attractions within a few minutes; the Main Square, the Cathedral, the church of La Compañía and San Blas artisan quarter, among others. Velasco Astete International Airport, as well as the route that leads to the main archaeological complexes of Sacsayhuaman, Q'enko, Puca Pucara, and Tambomachay, are only ten minutes away from the hotel. The hotel has several centuries of history that you will be able to learn walking through the courtyards and corridors of this beautiful manor house. It was originally an antechamber, where important personalities of the Empire gathered, bringing offerings to the Inca. When the Spaniards arrived, the building was modified into a residence for the nobility with the name of Casona de los Cuatro Bustos. The hotel owners have preserved this rich legacy and have refurbished all its facilities, so their guests may combine a well-deserved rest with the adventure of knowing Peru. The hotel has 240 elegant rooms and 14 large suites. Also, the hotel has two Diplomatic Suites, with private Jacuzzis. The hotel has hot water, air conditioning, amenities (shampoo, moisturizing cream, soap, kleenex, sewing kit, shoe shine, shower cap), bathrobe and slippers, safe deposit box, heating, 220W and 110W electrical current, smoke detector and fire alarm system, mini bar, laundry service, 24-hour room service, hair dryer, telephone with domestic and international direct dialing, bathroom telephone, bathtub with anti-slide floor and safety bar and TV with cable and radio system.
The altitude is 3,400 meters above sea level. Take precautions against the soroche, or altitude sickness.
The rainy season is January to March.
Don't forget sun block, sun glasses, binoculars, camera and video camera.
We strongly recommend you drink bottled water.
Currency Exchange - The official currency is the Nuevo Sol represented by the symbol "S.” Most businesses accept dollars at the exchange rate of the day. The currency exchange service is available in the hotel cashier at the reception 24 hours a day. Additionally, you can exchange dollars and euros at the banks.
Weather - Cusco is rather semi-dry and cold. The maximum annual temperature is 19ºC and the minimum 4ºC. It is hot during the day, but the temperature drops considerably at night. The coldest months are from June to September.
Altitude Sickness - Altitude sickness, or soroche, symptoms usually appear in areas above 2,000 meters above sea level. To avoid it, we recommend you eat light meals, drink abundant liquid—coca tea is ideal—and rest the first hours to get used to the altitude.
Tips - All room, food and beverage charges in the hotel already include a 10% service charge, as established by Peruvian laws. Any additional tip you may wish to give is optional.
Safety - Cusco is a safe city. However, as any other big city receiving a considerable influx of tourists, we recommend you be cautious in order to avoid robberies.
Taxis - It is better not to take cabs from the streets. We suggest you ask for a cab at reception. It is not customary to tip cab drivers.
Vaccines - No vaccine is officially required to come to Peru. However, travelers who visit some areas in the jungle located under 2,000 m above sea level should ask their physician if he recommends any vaccines in particular.