Exploring Cusco

We were tired after our hike to Saqsaywaman and the walk back to town.  It took us a little while to find a suitable restaurant to have our lunch at at in the Plaza de Armas, the central plaza.  Restaurant fronts were not always obvious during our search,P4240524.jpgbut you would also have agents from these restaurants approach you on the street with menus, to try to entice you to enter a door that could lead you to a some hidden place somewhere, perhaps even up one or two flights of stairs.

We settled on the Mistura restaurant, across the plaza from the Church of the Society of Jesus which you can see in the picture below.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe enjoyed our lunch.  It was a chance to relax and catch our breath.

The food was well presented when it arrived.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt this restaurant, as in a few others, we were each given a complementary drink.   Some of us had Pisco Sour, a cocktail that originated in Peru. I did not find the drink that compelling the few times I tried it during this trip.  Another popular non-alcohohic beverage in Peru is Chicha Morada.  That was tasty.  (We were disappointed to find out later on in the trip that chicha morada can be bought in 2.5 liter bottles from the supermarket just like any other industrially produced drink.)

My alpaca dish was tasty.  The meat has a distinct and light flavor to it.  It also had a good consistency for chewing.  Yum!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI coined a name for the french fries on my plate – Jenga fries!  I also partook of some additional liquid refreshment during lunch.  It was needed after all the exercise that had been done in the morning.  You can see what remains of my drink in the glass in the background.

While we were in the restaurant, we saw many plates of cuy being brought down by the waiters from the kitchen on the floor above us.  A tourist couple sitting at the table next to ours had ordered the same dish, wanting to try it at least once before they departed Peru.  They seemed to enjoy it.

After lunch, we wandered around the plaza for a while (click on the picture below).OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe spent more time at the Plaza that we wanted because of a shopping expedition that took longer than expected.  We did a couple of rounds of the plaza while waiting.

We would have liked to go into the churches around the plaza.  The cathedral (in the picture below)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAwas supposed to have a somewhat famous painting that showed a guinea pig being consumed at the Last Supper.

We were disappointed to find out that the church was charging an entrance fee. How unseemly!  Moreover, they did not allow the use of cameras within the church.  That was the end of that project.  Even the Jesuits just across the plaza were doing the same thing as the cathedral for admission to their church.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHere are a couple of more pictures from the plaza.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA statue of Pachacutec stands at its center.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA(In addition to this statue, I saw at least two other statues of the emperor in different places around the city.)  One can also see the statue of Christ on the hillside in the background in the picture below.  That hill is next to the one Saqsaywaman is located on, and in fact you can take a trail from Saqsaywaman to this location.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe gathered together after the shopping was complete and continued our exploration, walking towards the big indoor market (or mercado).OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe walked past the Arco de Santa Clara.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAto arrive at the market.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe market itself was quite an interesting place to wander around.  It was huge inside.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYou could buy almost anything you needed for the home, including foods,OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA and other kinds of stuff. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThey had a section with counters at which you could buy fresh food and sit down and eat.  These were very small places where you did not necessarily get a table to put you food on.  Here is one instance.  There were many other such counters.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt was beginning to get late by the time we were done with the market.  We walked back to the hotel using the back roads.  On the way we passed crowded streets, on one of which a street market seemed to be underway.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe pavements were packed in some of the streets.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYou saw some interesting food in the store fronts.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd you always had to be careful to avoid getting hit by road traffic.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOnce past the markets, we continued our way back to the hotel.  We walked through a neighborhood that looked somewhat questionable.  The group of people in the background in the picture below are near a building from which a lot of noise was emanating.  It might have been a music club, one that was open early in the evening.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABut we did arrive at the Jose Antonio Hotel safely.

I was completely exhausted by the time we got back to the hotel.  Some of us must have walked around 6 miles, and we were also not used to walking at this altitude.

But the evening was not over yet.  We still had to go to a dinner at a nearby restaurant that had been arranged by the tour group.  The food was good, but I was still full from lunch.  I barely survived. I had to make an extra effort to avoid falling asleep at one point.  I crashed out early after we returned to our room.  We had a long day of travel ahead of us the next day.