[Day 3] Full day of City tour

Our first full day in Barcelona together. We were super excited to explore the city. First we headed to Firebug for some delicious brunch. They had variety of cuisines to pick from and also some good brunch drinks. The restaurant was very cozy and the staff were very friendly.

TIP: Most restaurants in Europe are not in any hurry. The staff are slower and they take their time. If you are in a hurry, please let them know.

After our meal, we headed to the Arc de Triomf. The only other Arc I knew was the one in Paris and I was excited to compare the two. The one in Barcelona was smaller in size but quite impressive as well. It’s a reddish terracotta color and it definitely has a presence. The brickwork really stands out and you cannot miss it. It is a gateway into the Ciutadella Park and there were many tourist working through. If you have more time to spend here, I suggest walking through the park.

We decided to skip the park and walked along the path from the Arc towards Santa Maria del Mar. This cathedral was in a residential neighborhood and at first glance, we weren’t sure if we were in the right place. The entrance we saw was the side entrance and did not have any signs. However, once we were inside, we were in awe.

The east end had these impressive pillars and stained glass and we just stood here, taking it all in. There were many student groups on field trips so I knew this was a popular spot. They had a view point that you could climb up but we were ok being at the bottom. We were walking around the cathedral and they started ushering people out. We assumed they might be preparing for a mass.

After leaving Santa Maria del Mar, we decided to walk around the neighborhood. I really liked the multi-purpose buildings were the first floors were shops and the upper floors were residential. Some of the streets were decorated for Christmas.

Following these streets, you will see the Museu Picasso. It was about 20 minute walk and I sort of expected the museum to be on the main street. There were several options for audio tour and I highly recommend the audio tour if you are interested in learning more about Picasso’s life and what and who influenced him.

I had imagined seeing several of Picasso’s artwork including Guernica and Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. However, what I did not realize was that both of these paintings were in a different museum! So if you have artwork you are particularly interested in seeing, see where they are and then pick the museum.

After seeing the museum, we headed towards Barcelona Cathedral. On the way, we saw a Valor, a chocolate cafe. He said that this was a famous brand and that we should get churro and hot chocolate here so we took a short break. It was pretty packed but luckily we found a table. The waitress came to the table and we ordered chuuro and hot chocolate. Eating them on the spot was the best!

The chocolate was closer to a rich, dark chocolate and the churros were crispy on the outside, soft on the inside. So good!! And after finishing the churros, we drank the rest of the chocolate and that was good too. Not too sweet.

After a bit of rest, we headed to Barcelona Cathedral. It was even more grand than Santa Maria del Mar. The Gothic architecture was just divine. Again, we were just speechless walking through the Cathedral. This place also had a viewpoint that you could visit and it even had a little gift shop.

Right outside the cathedral was the Fira de Santa Lucia, a Christmas market. It was bustling with tourist and locals and many of the shops were selling handmade nativity scene pieces. Very different from American city’s Christmas market where there are handmade goods that are not exclusive to nativity scenes and foods and more.

Once we were done looking around, we took an Uber to Barcelona Pavilion. My sister-in-law wanted to see it. It wasn’t too far but it also was not walking distance. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting when we got there but it was a small house, very simple. Even the inside was very minimalist with only 4 chairs. But the water basin in the front and the back were great features of the house. If you are into modern architecture, you might like to see this.

After seeing the house, I wanted to stay for the water fountain show, the Magic Fountain, but we were all really hungry so we decided to visit again tomorrow and headed to eat!

We went to Bo de Boqueria, a quint restaurant next to La Boqueria. The market was closed but the restaurants around it were all open. Even during the winter, they had outdoor seating available. We ordered several dishes including arros negre paella, jamon, and of course, wine. When we ordered, we weren’t sure if we ordered enough but the portions were good here and with 2 paella, 1 salad, and 4 appetizers, it was enough for the 5 of us. (€85.90)

After the meal, we were stuffed and decided to walk down the street to see where we would end up. And we ended up walking all the way to the pier! We were on Rambla de Mar. It was practically empty but I really liked that feel.

We walked around the whole place, including the mall area and most of the shops were closed. We just enjoyed the night air and enjoyed each other’s company. What a great way to end the night.

[Day 2] Montserrat and family

Full day ahead! We had time until our other brother and his wife were landing in Barcelona so we decided on a quick day trip to Montserrat. We had found Julia Travel agency the night before and made a last minute booking for a Montserrat Mountain and Basilica half day tour and it started at 9am.

We walked to Julia Travel and checked in around 8:55am and received our tickets, discount coupons, and the audio receiver. We met up with our tour guide, Clara, at 9am and boarded our bus. It was one of those greyhound bus with lots of seats. Our tour wasn’t full so we had plenty of seats to pick from. While on the way, Clara talked about the history of Spain and Barcelona in both Spanish and English.

We also learned about the history of Montserrat. It was destroyed many times by fire and other accidents but several architects participated in restoration of the monastery over the years.

As Montserrat is built on a mountain, they used a lot of curves to fit with the nature. So on the way, the mountain roads had a lot of hairpin turns. The right side had mountain views and the left side had the cliff view. If driving is not your think, you can take the cable car but our tour did not include other transportation options.

When we arrived, it was very cold compared to Barcelona. Make sure to wear lots of layers here! But we all hurdled around our tour guide to listen to the legends of Montserrat. She said that there were 2 legends. One was about how a ray of light pointed at one location. When the people went to check, they found the Black Madonna statue there. They tried to move her but she was too heavy. So they left her at the same place and built a house on a cliff.

After a brief history lesson from Clara, we had free time. So we hiked up to the view point, which was only about 30 minutes away. It gave us a panorama view of Montserrat. Follow signs to Cami de Sant Miquel. It is about a 20 to 25 minute walk uphill. But the panorama view and the fresh wind makes it all worth it.

Once back, we stood in line at the Monastery to see the Virgin of Montserrat(the Black Virgin). The line seemed long but it moved rather quickly. The line led us upstairs to the front of the chapel and we got to see the Virgin and there was a small part that you could touch. I noticed a lot of people in front of us, touching her and praying.

Once we were out, we headed back inside to listen to the L’Escolania choir. This is an all boys’ choir at Montserrat and our guide highly recommended them. These boys all lived at Montserrat and only got to see their family a few times a year. They were schooled at Montserrat in all areas including music and had published hundreds of albums. They performed at 1pm inside the basilica so we were able to enjoy about 15 minutes of the singing before heading out.

TIP: If you would like to spend more time in Montserrat to hike around more, the public transportation is a good option!

After arriving back in Barcelona, we walked around the neighborhood and found cute popup shops. There were a lot of handmade goods and all the stores were full of cute knickknacks. We also tried to look for a place to eat and most of the restaurants were closed for Siesta or had reservations. We ended up at a restaurant called El Raco. More like stumbled upon it. The staff were very friendly and seated us right away. Their menu had various things including tapas, pasta, pizza, steak, and more. They also had a good list of wine and beer.

We didn’t understand the full menu but with some recommendation from the staff. we ordered a risotto, a crepe, and a steak as our late lunch. When we got the food, the risotto was the only one that looked like the ones in the States. The crepe was open faced? and the steak was more of a open faced sandwich with only the bottom bun. It was interesting but it tasted good! We enjoyed our meal (€34.45), relaxed a bit, and headed back to our accommodation and waited for the rest of the family.

My brother and his wife arrived a little later then expected due to flight delays but when they arrived, it was perfect time for dinner. We didn’t want to go too far from our place since everyone was still tired from traveling. So for dinner, we visited a place called Oporto. It had high reviews on tripadvisor and we were excited to try new food. What we didn’t realize was that it was Portuguese food.

When we arrived around 8pm, we were the first ones there. We ordered multiple tapas to share including pulpo salsa verde(octopus), gambas aguillo(shrimp), arroz marisco(seafood pot), and bottles of wine. When you order at this restaurant, start small. The size of these tapas were huge. And the Arroz Marisco can be ordered in 1/2 sizes so make sure to ask! The food was really good. Everyone enjoyed the meal (€117.50)

On our way back home, we stopped by the local super market to pick up more wine and snacks. I picked up a lemon beer (Damm Lemon) and it wasn’t what I was expecting but very refreshing. It was a pretty good match with some jamon.

[Day 8] Machu Picchu

Another early day. We woke up early and ate breakfast provided by the B&B. It was basic things like cereal, fruit, ham, bread, and lots of coca tea. We had to pack everything and store it at the B&B since we did not want to take everything on our hike. (Double check if your accommodation has storage!)

We headed to our tour agency’s hostel to meet with our guide but he did not show up on time. When he did show up, we had to wait even longer because a group did not show up and the guide had to make sure everyone was present. I knew waiting would mean that we will have to spend less time up at Machu Picchu so I asked if we could go ahead by ourselves. Luckily, the guide told us to go ahead and get in line. When we headed to the bus station at around 7:10am, there was already a long line. But no worries! The bus comes fairly regularly so we were on the bus in no time. The staff checked our bus tickets and stamped them.

The bus was very comfortable! It looked and felt like a new bus. And thank goodness for that since the road was rough and full of hairpin turns. The view going up was also beautiful so try to get a window seat on the right side of the bus.

Once we got off the bus, there was a huge line by the entrance. Before heading, make sure to use the bathroom (2 sol). There is also a luggage storage here if your accommodation couldn’t store your things. It was 5 sols and lots of people were using it.

The entrance did not have a clear line and a lot of groups were all trying to stay together, making it a bit of a mess. Once at the entrance, you show them the stamped ticket and they scan the barcode and you are in! We saw our guide but he disappeared again to find other tour members. We decided to just venture on our own and take in the views. And really… WHAT A VIEW!

It was just like the photos. Not a fog in sight. There were lots of greens and blues all around. A lot of people were present but I was still able to take photos without any obstacles. And we took a ton of photos. Photos everywhere. Each viewpoint gave us a different perspective of Machu Picchu.

There were several photo points at the top of the mountain and we did spend some time there to just sit and relax and to take in the view. However, our guide did mention the hike back down was going to take about 2 hours to the exit. So we slowly headed out of Machu Picchu.

Even on our way down, we stopped several times for different photos. Each corner had something unique and interesting. As we were leaving, there were still a lot of tourist coming in. I really wish we could have stayed inside Machu Picchu for longer but we had to catch the train. We only stopped for quick pictures and ended up getting back to the exit in about 1 hour and 15 minutes.

And once we were at the exit, we had 2 options: purchase a bus ticket back to Aguas Calientes or to walk down. Since we took the bus up, we decided to walk down. *Please do not walk down if you are not 100% sure you can do it. It was really tough and hard on my knees.* Walking down meant going straight through the mountain. Just by looking at the map, it didn’t seem so bad.

Boy, was I wrong. The stone staircases were not even and some of them were really steep! Also, we had to close the main road at times and you had to watch out for the buses. There were lots of people hiking up and we all encouraged each other.

It took about 1 hour and 30 minutes to get to the bottom and we celebrated! We took pictures of the signs, thinking we were done. But nope! We still had to walk back to the city which took another 30 minutes.

We did not have a lot of time so we headed back to our B&B, grabbed our luggage and looked for a place to grab lunch. A friend of mine recommended Amazonas, a Chinese Peruvian restaurant. We had their lomo saltado and chaufa and they were pretty good and relatively cheap. We ordered 2 main dishes and 1 soup and it was about 40 sol ($12 USD). Not bad for 3 people. One thing. You have to tell them you are in a hurry because they are a bit slow with their service.

Our train was at 2:30 so after lunch, we headed to the station. The snack was different going down (I liked the north bound snack more) but because of the hike, I think everyone must have been tired because one by one, people were all passing out, including myself.

Once we were back at Ollantaytambo Station, Fabian Agency had someone with a sign and we were all herded to a tour bus and we headed back to Cusco. A lot of the people on the bus were Korean, which was not surprising since Fabian Agency deals with lots of Korean. We talked about the tour and mingled and in no time, we were back in Cusco. We picked up our bags from the Agency and took the Uber to our hostel.

We had some issues with our hostel. First, our driver could not find the place because there was no sign on the door or the building. Second, when we did find it, the place was not what was described on the website. My companion told me that she would rather pay more at a different place than to stay at this location. So we ended up moving. Lucky for us, Cusco is a tourism city so every corner , every street had a hostel. We walked down the street a bit and found another hostel, Tunqui, and ended up staying here. We stayed in the double with a private bathroom and it was great. The room was spacious and hot water was available all day.

Once we settled in, we gave the front desk our laundry, and we walked to the plaza to find a place to eat dinner. I really wanted to try Pollo a la Brasa so we headed to Los Toldos Chicken. This restaurant seemed famous and was on top of the list for Pollo a la Brasa. And it was super delicious. The chicken was very juicy and had lots of flavors. Their french fries were crispy and their salad bar was decent too. I highly recommend!

[Day 7] Sacred Valley Tour

Since we were going on a 1 night, 2 day trip, we had to packed everything. I had already purchased several things and could not fit everything into my luggage. So I put them in bags, shoved in backpack, asked my companions to store things for me…. It was a mess. (Tip for next trip, bring a bigger luggage!)

Once we checked out, we called an Uber and got to Fabian Tour and left our luggage there. Fabian had a lot of tour groups that did the 2 day trip and come back to Cusco. So his office had a luggage storage space. Also, he had a lot of Korean tourist who came to his office so he had a small food mart setup. He sold Korean ramyeon and soju. If you needed something spicy for the road, you could check out his mart.

Mini Korean Mart at Fabian Tour Office

While at the office, we met up with the group. Again, I didn’t want to travel by myself so I found more solo travelers to travel with me. We had to pay extra because we had 5 people in our group. So they gave us a 3 row SUV, 2 person per row and 1 at the front. I originally was only looking for 3 more people to do the tour with to fit into 1 vehicle but they do say, more the merrier, right? Plus, the SUV was very spacious and comfortable for 5 tourist and the driver.

The 2 day trip started with the first day being the Sacred Valley Tour. They had several small stops for us to see.

1st stop: Small weaving shop to learn of natural dying process and to shop to support the tradition. The ladies at this location demonstrated the dying process and talked about which materials make what color. The natural dyes were beautiful! I didn’t realize you could get so many vibrant colors from plants and other natural ingredients. After the dying process, they also talked about the weaving process. It was very educational. However, the items were more pricy here.

Dying ingredients and colorful yarn

2nd stop: Chinchero: Before we headed into Chinchero, we bought our tour pass. This pass includes 4 tourist sites: Pisaq, Ollantaytambo, Moray, and Chinchero. The cost was 70 sol. Since we were planning on going to 3 of these sites, the pass was the way to go. There was a student option but not for the cheaper pass. Or at least when one of our companion tried, they only gave her the option for the more extensive (and expensive) pass. Maybe it is only for locals?

My tour site pass

After purchasing the pass, we walked for 5 minutes up steps and found an open market on the ruins. They were selling all kinds of souvenirs from handmade bracelets to musical instruments. And the vendors were willing to negotiate so you need to work on your haggling skills.

The ruins were located on top of a hill so it had a good view of the valley. While we were here, we saw the building that was on the pass, and also the step ruins on the side. It was a lot bigger than I expected. The stone walls were impressive! I don’t know how they made them all fit so perfectly. We were only given 30 minutes here so we had to quickly look around and get back to the van.

Once again, we were back on the road to our 3rd stop: Salineras de Maras. Salt Flats. This was the main event and since it was not included in the pass, we paid 10 sol extra. I can honestly say this was the best place out of all the places we visited today. We were given 40 minutes to tour the place but wasn’t nearly enough time. If you are on a tour, negotiate with your driver to see if you can stay here longer.

Once inside, we took some pictures by the salt beds. The pools were all different sizes and different colors; all on plateaus, featuring a good view. I tried the running water and it was really salty (also don’t do this because because it’s not very clean, according to the guide. He told me after I did it). We didn’t get to explore all of the flats due to time and just saw what they had at the entrance. Once we turned around and started to head out, we stopped by the stands here that sold salt goods like bath salts, salt chocolate, and more. They even had a musician playing a traditional instrument. We looked around for a bit and purchased a salt chocolate. I mean, chocolate and salt is a thing, right? But it was way too salty! How can you mess up chocolate?

A musician playing a traditional flute

Afterward, we had lunch. Our driver took us to a restaurant on the way to our next stop. Inka Sal was the name and it had variety of foods, mostly Peruvian. They also had sandwiches and spaghetti and such. I got Chicharron de pollo (fried chicken) with yuka fries and papaya juice. The food was good but the juice was lukewarm! If you want it cold, you have to let them know beforehand. The sodas were fresh out of the fridge so they were cold but I’m guessing the fruit wasn’t. The spaghetti was a bit salty so ask for less salt!

Chicharron de pollo

Once we filled out belly, it was time for our 4th stop: Morray. Not sure what the purpose of this was but many believe it was a testing place for agriculture. A tour group passed us while we were talking photos so I got a 2 second spiel on the ruins. We had about 25 minutes to walk around. From the picture, you cannot tell how enormous this place is but it was unbelievable. And it wasn’t just one, which made this even more impressive. Tourist are not allowed to go into the ruins so you have to view it from the top and even then, it is impressive.

Morray

After a quick lookaround, we had to continue. 5th stop? I wouldn’t call this a stop but a passby. We passed by Urubamba, a small town. The road from Morray to Urubamba was crazy! It had a lot of hairpin turns, 1 car only roads, unpaved roads. Even our car engine stopped once on the road. It was quite scary and caused several of us in the car to get motion sickness.

And once we were back on the paved road, we headed to our last stop. Ollantaytambo. We had 45 minutes to see the ruins here. We had a bit of a scare here when one of our companion said that she might have lost her pass. If you lost it, that is it for the pass since they don’t keep a record of it. It took her a minute but luckily, she found her pass and we were in. A stone fortress with large stone terraces. The city was surrounded by mountains and it provided a good cover. On the other side, there were also carving of sort that probably was for protecting the city. Again, the walls were way too high for us and not enough time. We only climbed 1/3 of the way and had to make our way down to meet with the driver again.

Once we met with our driver, we headed to the train station. The road to the station was jam packed so we decided to get off early and walk to the station. The reason why it was so packed was because there was a train that just arrived and many were waiting taxis.

Train Station at Ollantaytambo

We waited for our train to be called. We were on the Voyager through the Inca Rail. The other option is with PeruRail. People were starting to line up by their train car letters. We were going to Aguas Calientes, a city at the entrance to Machu Picchu. The view on the way was beautiful. The windows were large and offered a great view of the mountains and the river. While on the train, we were offered a free drink, a cookie, and chocolate for the ride. Both side of the train had a good view of the mountains but if you want the river view, sit on the left side.

FREE train snack

At Aguas Calientes, we met with Fabian’s tour guide but walked separately to our hotel. We booked a separate accommodation from the tour because of the reviews they had. Also, do not book accommodation without reading the reviews. Just looking at the google map, you will not know what you are getting into. Aguas Calientes is all hills (a bit steep) and you might end up booking a place that is way up the hill. We stayed at a place called Perupunta B & B and it was half way up the hill, much higher than the place our tour was staying at.

The B&B seemed rather new. There were a lot of building being built and renovated when we were there. It was also on the main street, surrounded by restaurants and other shops. Right after we checked in, we ventured around the shopping district and checked out what they had. Even though this was a small town, they had everything, even a bookshop. I ended up exchanging some more money here at a slightly higher rate but not by much. However, if you do want to save money, exchanged at Cusco for a better deal. Once we got back to our B&B, we grabbed some local ice cream from the shop next door. They had popular flavors like chocolate and vanilla but also had original flavors like Andes Mint and Chicha Morada. I wanted something local so I tried the Andes Mint and it was so good!! It wasn’t super sweet and the mint was very refreshing.

We did not want to stay up too late since we knew we had a full day ahead. We were all very excited for Machu Picchu and we wanted to be in our best condition so we headed to bed, dreaming about what’s next.

[Day 6] Vinicunca

We had a 5am pickup so woke up at 4am to get ready. When I woke up, my body was feeling heavy. And when I was moving around in my room, my heart was beating fasting than normal. Is this altitude sickness? So just in case, I took some pills.

I also packed too light. My big mistake. So I had no actual winter clothes. Luckily, one of my companion gave me her padded vest and extra sweat pants. It was nice and warm and I really needed it. It was about 39 degrees in the morning and the van picked up several people. The van was pretty big, about 18 seater? and it got full. It was too early for me and I knocked out. 1 1/2 hr later, we stopped for breakfast. The area where we were for breakfast was higher than cusco so I was starting to feel the pressure a bit. But it still was bearable.

The breakfast was meh. They provided bread, sausage, fruits, soup, and tea. Lots of coca tea. I drank as much as I could since they said it was good for the altitude sickness. After breakfast, we drove for another hour and we arrived at rainbow mountain.

Provided breakfast

And goodness. The pressure was on. Even at the bottom I was dead. After walking like 20 steps, I was breathing hard. I wanted to walk up but I knew I wasn’t going to make it so I asked for a horse. You could pay for one way but round trip was cheaper (in case I need a ride down) and I’m so glad I did. One thing to remember. The horse does not go all the way to the top. There is a stopping point and from there, you have to walk up.

Riding my horse up!

I really wanted to walk up to the top. at least try. So I slowly walked. While walking, there were other tour guides saying that the easiest way to walk with altitude sickness was take 10 steps and take a 10 min break. I didn’t have that kind of time and I wanted to scream LOL But after taking small steps, I made it to the view point. I was at Rainbow Mountain!

The area was beautiful. Green colors with snowy tops and as we got higher, more colors. Red, yellow, green. It was spectacular. The guide said that the weather on this particular day was just perfect and I totally agreed. Pictures don’t do it justice. some of the colors were very vivid. But personally, I was miserable. The alltitute sickness here was hitting me hard.

Right at the view point

I was about 100 meters away from the top when my guide said we have to go back down. So I didn’t get to the top but I was up high enough to get some amazing photos. The weather was just perfect. No filter necessary. I was proud of myself for walking up to the point.

Colors of Vinicunca

I had to walk back down to the drop off area, find my horse person and ride back down. I passed out on the bus back. I was so tired.

After the tour, we got back to cusco. Once at Cusco, I didn’t feel sick any more. I walked around and shopped a bit or a nice pancho and ate Korean food at Sarangche. Not that I like eating Korean food while traveling but my travel companions really wanted it. We ordered some KBBQ pork belly and Kimchi Stew. It was pretty good. The warm soup really made me feel at home and comforted me.

Dinner from Saranche

Once we got back to our accommodation, we had to pack. The next 2 days, we were going to be on the road. When I packed for this trip, I told myself I wouldn’t shop so I packed a smaller suitcase. I brought a 17 inch luggage so I could carry it onboard. But who was I kidding. I needed a bigger luggage!

[Day 5] Off to Cusco

I love being on schedule and planning everything accordingly. But what is a vacation without sleeping in? I purposefully booked a flight flight to Cusco so I get catch up on some zzz’s. And it was so worth it.

The hotel did not provide free breakfast but my travel companion, Nina, brought cup noodles with her. We asked the hotel staff if we can get some hot water and they were extremely hospitable. They let us use the breakfast area, provided us with hot water and drinking water.

After brunch, we headed to the airport. The hotel had an airport shuttle every 30 minutes and it was very convenient. The airport was less than 10 minutes away from the hotel and we were promptly dropped off. The shuttle was first come, first serve, so come early.

The check-in line was relatively long but moved quickly. And the security line was really fast, like 5 minutes fast. I didn’t think it was going to be so quick so that gave me more time in the lounge. I have the Priority Pass so I was able to use one of the lounge and relax before the flight.

10 minutes before the boarding time, Nina and I moved to the gate. The agents made 3 lines and had the passengers line up according to their boarding pass. I believe they were done by seats (window first, middle seat second, and aisle last) to make the boarding process faster. Personally, I couldn’t tell if the seating went faster. One downside of the lines was that friends and family couldn’t wait in line together since they were separated by seats.

The flight was short and uneventful. The airline provided drinks and snack. One tip I can give you for the flight is to make sure to get the left window seat to get a great view of the Andes Mountain. The snowy tops of the Andes is a sight you don’t want to miss.

View from my left side window

Cusco airport is small. Once you are at the baggage claim, you will see all the tourism booth and some taxi drivers holding signage. Some people were starting to feel the altitude sickness and luckily, the tourism booths were giving away coca tea, leaves, and candy. I took pills 12 hours before landing in Cusco so I didn’t feel any different.

From the airport, we headed to our tour agency, Fabian Tour. It was about 20 minutes from the aiport to the heart of Cusco, where Fabian Tour was located. It was right next to Plaza Mayor del Cusco, very easy to find. It was also right next to Inca Rail’s office, in case you wanted to book your trip to Machu Picchu separately. We wanted to book 3 tours with them: Rainbow Mountain/Vinicunca, Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu, and Humantay Lake. However, Fabian recommended that we only book two tours for now and see if have enough energy to do three. So we booked the first two: Rainbow Mountain/Vinicunca (45 sol) and Sacred Valley + Machu Picchu ($189)

After booking our tour, we checked into my acommodation, Danna Inn. It was about 10-15 minute walk from the Plaza but our tours included pick ups so we were ok with being a bit far from the Plaza. However, the Plaza is on a slight hill and Danna Inn is on the lower end so getting to the Plaza required a bit of a hike.

The room itself wasn’t too big for a triple. We couldn’t all have our luggage open at the same time. But luckily, the beds were a nice size so we made it work. The window was facing the street but the noise level wasn’t too bad.

We got a triple at Danna Inn

Also, Cusco was very cold compared to Lima. Asked for a radiator to heat up the room but it was still very cold. I was glad I brought extra thick pajamas. We left the radiator running and headed out to grab dinner. We made reservation at Chicha and since we had some time before our reservation, we decided to roam around the city a bit. Even at night time, Cusco felt safe. Cusco had a lot of alley ways but since it was a tourist town, there were a lot of people in each of the streets.

While walking around, we saw the 12 Angled Stones. There were a lot of people waiting to take pictures with it. It wasn’t blown away by this but it was quite interesting to see how the walls were made to fit so perfectly. That was pretty impressive. This area also had a lot of shops so there were a lot of “We have the best price. Come see!” action happening.

After seeing the area, we headed to Chicha por Gaston Acurio for dinner. Inside the restaurant had a very home-y feel to it, with on side of the wall having a semi-open kitchen. We had made a group reservation but since the other party was going to be late, we ended up being split. 3 of us shared a table and we wanted to do a family style. So we ordered Chicha Snack, Alpaca Curry, and Timpu. Chicha Snack was a sampler plate that had Alpacha anticucho, stuffed potatoes, lomo saltado, and native potatoes with cream. We had to try Timpu just because we didn’t know what it was. The discription was “Cusquenian sancochoado with beef, bacon, lamb ribs, potatoes, and other veggies, all cooked in stock.”

Alpaca meat was good. It had more flavor than I expected. It was more on the dry side but had a good rub. We also go to try some interesting local specialties. I personally really enjoyed the dinner but it was on the more pricer side. But you got to try regional food by Gaston Acurio so it could be worth it for some travelers.

My meal at Chicha

After a great meal, we stopped by Mifarma for more sorochi pills, just in case. I didn’t feel any altitude in Cusco but you can never be too prepared. We had to get up early in the morning so we decided to go to bed early.