Tag Archives: peru

First day in Lima

Goodbye Arequipa! Walking the tarmac to our plane at the tiny airport

Our fourth out of five times in the Lima airport, we finally actually made it to Lima! Although it wasn’t exactly smooth sailing since we were pretty hungover. When we arrived at the waiting area at the Arequipa airport for our delayed flight, I definitely knocked out in a seat, not too gracefully. Continue reading First day in Lima

Arequipa: Monasterio de Santa Catalina & exploring the city

Our first full day in Arequipa, we finally did some actual sightseeing. We started at the Monasterio de Santa Catalina.

Wow. It totally lived up to the hype – it was absolutely gorgeous. It’s like a city within a city, and the peaceful, quiet atmosphere is so serene. Truly “a photographer’s dream,” with vivid blue and orange walls, simple nuns’ quarters and blooming flowers. I wish we had gone to see the monastery at night, too, when they give tours by candlelight, but unfortunately we didn’t have time. Continue reading Arequipa: Monasterio de Santa Catalina & exploring the city

Cusco to Arequipa: travel hell

It was just not my traveling day. We were flying to Arequipa through Lima (so it would be our third out of five times in the Lima airport) and at the airport in Cusco, I beeped red through the metal detectors and they ransacked my bag because I accidentally packed an aerosol can of bug spray in my carry on. All this while Daniela and the TACA attendant were yelling at me to hurry because the plane was waiting for us since the airline bumped us up to an earlier flight. As if I wanted to hang out with security. Continue reading Cusco to Arequipa: travel hell

Souvenir shopping in Cusco – my top 5

Cusco was our first stop on the trip, so even though there was SOOOO much I wanted to buy, I figured I should save a little money & room in my luggage for our stops in Arequipa and Lima. Well, I think I’d recommend doing most of your souvenir shopping in Cusco after all. Especially if you’re looking for some cool Inca-inspired or indigenous Andean artifacts.

That being said, here are my top 5 souvenirs from Cusco:

  1. My 20-lb antique iron
  2. A tapestry featuring various animals (similar to some of the ones hanging above)
  3. A toy alpaca, complete with real baby alpaca fur
  4. Alpaca hat & gloves (and leg warmers) – I LOVE these
  5. My llama duffel bag
I'm loco for llamas

Cusco: Museo Inka, San Blas & Chicha

Standing by the famous 12-sided stone....at least I think this is the one...

Our first tourist stop on Monday was the Museo Inka. As promised, the museum itself is nothing fancy but there was some good info about the various indigenous cultures of Peru. It was cool to learn about all the cultures that came before the Inca even:

  • The Paraca tribe made beautiful woven funeral cloths
  • The Pukara would include feline faces on their pottery and art
  • The Mochika had 11 different colors they used in painting pottery
  • The Nazca, while famous for their lines, also made really beautiful pottery with many colors and in lots of animal forms, even mythical creatures
  • The Wari tribe, which took over Cusco for awhile, also included feline faces in their art, complete with colorful eyes
  • Of course the highlight for me was seeing the Inca mummies, still very well intact

It was interesting to finally see cats represented. Most ancient cultures seem to have recognized something spiritual or significant in felines, but I hadn’t heard or seen too much of that in Peru until now. There are definitely a lot of dogs around town, but barely any cats.

After lunch, we went up by the San Blas neighborhood to see the Iglesia de San Blas. It was a very simple church, but known for its intricately carved wooden pulpit, complete with human skull! We also took advantage of San Blas’ unique shops and galleries to do some shopping. Continuing our souvenir shopping closer to Plaza de Armas, I officially topped myself in buying the most ridiculous souvenir ever by spending too much money on an antique iron that weighs probably 20 lbs. I also finally got a photo with a little lamb!

Antique plancha from Cusco
Me and a baby lamb

That night, we had dinner at Chicha, a restaurant of famed chef Gaston Acurio. Considering all the hype, the rest of the group was disappointed in the food. I felt it was simple but good. The tamales appetizer and pumpkin ravioli I ordered were pretty much what I expected so overall I was happy with the dinner, although it didn’t necessarily blow my mind. I’ll admit that the ambiance definitely didn’t compare to Fallen Angel.

Back in Cusco: La Catedral, Mercado San Pedro & Qorikancha

View of Cusco from our new hotel, Siete Ventanas

Now back in Cusco, we attempted to actually see the sights. We got off to a slow start though, because our first stop, the Inca Museum, was closed. So we walked around town and ended up at the Chocolate Museum. Which is really a coffee shop with some info about cacao in Peru and a few souvenirs. But admission is free, so it wasn’t a bad stop. I did actually learn a little about cocoa production and history. I also learned that Poland is one of the biggest consumers of chocolate (of course not compared to the US). And of course we bought some souvenirs. There was a complimentary cup of really cool tea they gave us that tasted like chocolate even though it was tea, so I bought a bag of that.

Santa Clara church…closed

Then we walked past the church and convent of Santa Clara, which sounds really cool with mirrors covering the interior, but it’s barely ever open and indeed was closed now.

So we did what we do best – shopping – at the Mercado San Pedro. And I finally got to eat choclo! Continue reading Back in Cusco: La Catedral, Mercado San Pedro & Qorikancha