Next morning, we were up early again, for a ride to the airport and our flight to Cusco. Our hotel in Cusco was in an old Monastery. Not surprisingly, the hotel is called the Monasterio Hotel.
The Monasterio Hotel
Although rain was forecast. we headed out after lunch for a tour of the city of Cusco. As we feared, about one hour after we started, the heavens opened !
The main square in Cusco
Cusco was a very important Inca city and the Spaniards found it well developed when they arrived. Once the Spaniards had defeated the Incas, the Spaniards destroyed all the important Inca buildings and rebuilt them in the Spanish style. However, some of the Inca walls remain as the foundation of the Spanish buildings. The picture below is an example, but it's hard to see. The arches are Spanish, but if you look closely, the foundations are Inca.
Next day, with better weather, we headed out to see more of the surrounding countryside. Our tour guide, Claudia, took us to a petting zoo where we learned the difference between Llamas, Alpacas, Vicunas and Guanacos, although I doubt if we can remember the difference now ! But they were cute and VERY soft to the touch.
There was a demonstration of spinning, dyeing and weaving of the wool from the various animals and of course an opportunity to buy some of the local crafts.
We then drove into the so called "Sacred Valley of the Incas" or the "Urubamba Valley". The valley was very important to the Incas as the valley is very fertile and it was probably a major source of their wealth. The river at the bottom of the valley is, in fact, the Amazon River, but it is not called by that name until it enters Brazil.
The Sacred Valley of the Incas
Our next stop was the so called fortress of Ollantaytambo (although modern research suggests it wasn't a fortress. However, it was certainly an important Aztec city. It was the site of a defeat of the Spaniards by the Incas, but the success was short lived and the Incas withdrew a year later.
Ollantaytambo terraces with the Andes Mountains behind, with the cold mountain stream running through the town
Farming terraces and "The bath of the Princess" - described as a "fountain" at the base of the ruins
The town of Ollantaytambo and some of the colorful items for sale
Our last stop was the Pisaq town nearby, where a busy market was in full swing.
The locals would pose for a picture for a small payment but the lady on the right was deadly serious about her traditional oven in which she would cook a traditional meal of Guinea Pig. The Guinea Pigs lived (for now) in a small house conveniently located next to the oven, but a hungry patron could make their next trip a short and fatal one. (We should add that Kristine DID try Guinea Pig, but not at this establishment !)
Guinea Pig House
The next day we visited Machu Picchu (see separate section).
Following an early morning flight from Cusco to Lima we immediately went on a sightseeing tour of the city.
The Government Palace, Lima
The main square, The Plaza des Armas and the Town Hall
The Archbishop's Palace (now a museum) adjoining the Cathedral. The balconies are very typical of the local Spanish architecture
There were political demonstrations taking place in the city center that morning and the police and army were very much in evidence.
After our tour, we returned to our elegant hotel, the Country Club Hotel:
The Country Club Hotel, Lima
Lunch at the Country Club Hotel
Farewell dinner at the Huaca Pucllana Restaurant with the last members of our group and Claudia, our tour guide.
Next day, we went to Lima Airport for a return flight to Orlando.
South America, 2010 >