To get to Cusco from Puno we took the 8am Cruz del Sur bus. The trip takes around 7 hours, is safe and comfortable (especially compared to our terrible experience with American Airlines and US Airways) with lots of leg room and reclining seats that even have leg support. Included in the price of 55 soles is also one meal and onboard entertainment (films, nothing dodgy) as well as Wifi (only if the bus attendant actually knows the correct password which she didn’t in our case). The 7 hours seemed to pass really quick and once again we saw how beautiful the Peruvian landscape is.
From the Cruz del Sur terminal in Cusco we took a taxi (15 soles) up to our Hotel “Casa de Campo”. The hotel is set on a hill past the historic centre, overlooking the valley and Cusco. I am pretty sure the view is what you pay for and whilst the hotel buildings are really quite quirky, the room is very basic yet clean. The Wifi works intermittently which helped us locate the collectivo station that runs a direct service between Cusco and Ollantaytambo. There are a few companies based on Av Grau all charging around 10 soles per person for the two hour trip. You can also take a local bus, but will have to change in Urubamba as there are at the moment no direct connections.
After we ensured that the collectivo services still run, we headed back to the historic part of Cusco. Cusco, apart from the historic centre, is quite heavily polluted due to all the car traffic… Something my lungs and throat weren’t used to having arrived from more rural places with a lot less traffic. A quick stop at the pharmacy, lots of gesturing and mimicking and 10 pills later, my voice is back and my throat is a lot less sore.
We are leaving most of Cusco’s sights until we come back from Ollantaytambo, but we did stop at Iglesia de Santa Domingo which is adjacent to Qurikancha. The church only gets a few lines of text in the Lonely Planet but really is worth a visit, especially if you appreciate wood craft work. The altar is entirely carved of wood and looks truly magnificent. It really makes a change to the opulent gold leaf plated altars we’ve seen in Arequipa. If you look up, you’ll see some interesting paintings of Peruvian children portrayed as archangels dressed in folkore as well as more casual clothes.
We ate dinner at Trujillo, a Peruvian restaurant with specialities from the North as well as the local region. I had a Ceviche which was really good, Brian went for a creamy chicken, potatoe and rice dich which looked and tasted very much like an Indian Korma.
After dinner we coincidentally walked passed Museo del Pisco and simply had to sample a Pisco or two. The bar is owned by an expat who really has done a great job. The bar looks great, really modern and chique. The walls are decorated with drawings of the Pisco making process and the history of Peru.
Even though we didn’t go for any of the cocktails, the ones that were brought to other guests looked fantastic. The bar prices are a bit more expensive, but I’d say you get a top quality product for your money. The only obvious downside to the place is that it’s part of walking tours. When we were there two groups of about 20 people each overtook the place taking away what before had been quite an intimate an personal atmosphere. One group didn’t even bother finishing their sample Piscos. Disgraceful!
Brian and I went for flavour infused Piscos – Brian had Eucalyptus, I went for Chichuhuasi (Amazonian root with medicinal properties). They came with a warning that the shots are really strong. Well, if you’re used to drinking a dram or two you won’t have any issues. Although the alcohol stinge does linger in your throat. They were both good though. I think they’re worth the 18 soles we paid each.
After the shots we climbed up the hill back to the hotel and enjoyed the scenic night view over Cusco. Tomorrow morning we’re taking the collectivo to Ollantaytambo.