Peru 2012:
Day 3 - Cusco


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Peru 2012: [Day 1 - Chinchero/Maras/Moray] [Day 2 - Macchu Pichu] [Day 3 - Cusco]

Saturday, November 24, 2012: Our weather luck held out with another sunny morning.
We had breakfast again in the courtyard, carefully selecting seats out of the sun, since Tom was a little sunburned from the previous afternoon at Machu Picchu.
We headed back to Plaza de Armas, ...
... passing this KFC with a very traditional storefront. The window advertised the Mega Cusqueño, with a small representation of Machu Picchu at the top, and declared KFC to be buenísimo!
It was getting a little overcast over Cristo Blanco, but that worked out really well for us ...
... since we were taking a city tour in an open top bus next. We had purchased some lightweight sunhats just in case we got more sun.
Our tour started with a complete drive around the square while playing loud circus music to entice other tourists to join us.
The balconies overlooking the square are primarily home to bars and restaurants. They are all very ornate and beautiful.
Our tour took us past several lovely city parks, including Plaza San Francisco.
Here's one of the main streets, Av. El Sol.
This is Jardin Sagrado, in front of the Convento de Santo Domingo.
Here's one of many tiny gardens tucked among the streets, with a typical street kiosk on the left and a typical tiny store on the right in the back.
Workers were restoring the base of this monument in the middle of Plaza Limacpampa Grande.
While we drove through town, we snacked on some of the puffed corn we had purchased outside our hotel two days earlier.
We started to climb up the steep hill to Cristo Blanco. Houses are all tucked together, with crude staircases leading to them.
The houses and businesses are often brightly painted and decorated.
We reached Cristo Blanco and the weather continued to cooperate ...
... with a nice, bright view of Cusco below.
We could see Plaza de Armas ...
... and our own Hotel Monasterio a couple of blocks to the left. In the center of this photo is the main courtyard of the hotel.
In the distance, we could see the giant letters spelling Viva El Peru on a hill.
Here is Cristo Blanco himself, standing 8 - 9 meters tall, less than a third of the size of Cristo Redento (Christ the Redeemer) in Rio de Janeiro, but impressive nonetheless.
Here's a shot of the tour bus we were on, parked at Cristo Blanco awaiting the return of the tourists.
Right next to Cristo Blanco is the archeological site of Sacsayhuaman. We look at it from afar, but would get a much closer look at it from the bus later.
We drove around the hill a little more. Here is a large stack of mud and straw bricks.
These bricks are used to build many of the houses and buildings in the area, such as this one.
From further up, we could see both Cristo Blanco and Sacsayhuaman side-by-side.
We got a closer look at the interesting terraces and walls of Sacsayhuaman, ...
... pulling along the side of the road to admire these alpacas ...
... and the distinctive large, interlocking stones of Sacsayhuaman.
We headed back down the hill, passing many more of the toritos de pucará. This one had a large bouquet of flowers, leading us to wonder how someone safely climbs these tile roofs to put out fresh flowers regularly.
In front of the Colegio de Ciencias Económicas, we saw this adorable little statue of a soccer-playing donkey, a symbol of the college.
Speaking of the Colegio, here it is as seen across the square.
Here's another pretty little park, the Plaza Regocijo ...
... with a small alpaca-shaped garden on one side.
After our tour, it was time to eat some Peruvian food. Most of the restaurants near the Plaza had their menu posted outside, so we had chosen this place, Los Candiles, prior to our tour.
It was one of many restaurants offering one of the most famous dishes of Peru: cuy (guinea pig). We started out with some delicious fresh bread and some Coke Zero. So far, so good.
The guinea pig was quartered and served with the head. If you look closely, you can see its tiny face in the upper right portion of the plate (look for the teeth). It tasted very much like chicken dark meat.
The other dish was translated exactly as Alpaca Beans, so we tried it since alpaca is the other must-try meat of Peru. It didn't take long to figure out that the extremely tough, chewy, baby-fist sized piece of meat with tubes sticking out of it was likely alpaca heart. Fortunately, the bread and rice were delicious, because the meal as a whole was a little disconcerting.
After lunch, we headed back to the gorgeous hotel bar.
We ordered some fruity drinks, and were served chips and toasted corn kernels with them.
While we enjoyed our drinks, the rain finally came. We laughed and laughed ...
... and took a photo of the rain coming down in the tiny courtyard our room overlooked, that was adjacent to the bar.
The rain was stopping by the time we retrieved our luggage and got a taxi back to the airport.
We got to the airport 2 1/2 hours before our flight, which was a good thing, because we spent almost 50 minutes in line at check in.
Our beloved Rimowa luggage took a beating between Cusco and Lima, so we taped up the corner as best as we could (we always travel with tape -- don't you?) and used the warranty on it to get a new case when we got home.

During our six-hour layover in Lima, we enjoyed some Chinese food and a plate of authentic Peruvian ceviche. Corn is such a staple of Peru that the ceviche was served with corn prepared two different ways. We flew home back through Miami, where we had American burgers at TGI Friday's for breakfast, arriving home in Indy in the afternoon.

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Peru 2012: [Day 1 - Chinchero/Maras/Moray] [Day 2 - Macchu Pichu] [Day 3 - Cusco]

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