Day 20 | Saturday, November 12, 2016
Another 4+ hour train ride from Aguas Calientes to Cusco last night and we have most of today to spend in Cusco before we get on a bus for 10+ hour tonight and make our way to Arequipa.
So, most of the best advice I have gotten about Peru has come from travel bloggers that have spent months or even years traveling South America. One blogger recommended Free Walking Tour Peru as a great way to get acquainted with various major cities in Peru so I thought I would give them a try and do their tour of the Cusco Highlands this afternoon so that we could at least get a passing glance at some of the major highlights of Cusco.
Upon meeting in the Plaza de Armas (main plaza) we got a brief introduction to the plaza, the Central fountain, Cusco Cathedral and the Temple of the Society of Jesus. From there we found a narrow street to walk up (with more stone stairs, my legs are never going to be the same) and we hiked up to the top of a hill where San Cristobal Church is and a small courtyard. From this vantage point we were able to get a little bit better view of the city. From there we caught a bus up to the Cristo Blanco statue that sits high up on Pukamoqo hill overlooking Cusco’s Plaza de Armas and the entire historic center. The statue is similar to Rio de Janeiro´s Christ the Redeemer statue but a miniature version at about 26 feet tall. It was a gift from Arabic Palestinians who sought refuge in Cusco after World War II. From there we walked about 10 minutes to the outskirts of the Saqsayhuman ruins. We then made our way to Inka’s Expression a small locally owned boutique that provides demonstrations of the techniques used to create their hand-woven goods. We then had a chance to shop their large selection of alpaca sweaters, scarves, shawls, cardigans, hats, gloves, and socks, gold and silver jewelry, trivets, pillowcases, vicuna hats and indigenous tapestries and sculptures. We then headed back to the San Cristobal Church courtyard and we departed from the tour as we had to get going.
All in all I was impressed for a free (tips only basis tour). It lasted about 2.5 hours and really did hit on the major highlights of Cusco’s highlands.
Now to head to the bus station and get on a bus for 10+ hours through the night.