Once the capital of the Inca empire, today this picturesque sprawling Andean city is home to well preserved Spanish colonial architecture and important Inca archeological remains. It is also the gateway to the Urubamba (Sacred) Valley and Inca Trail.
After our Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu, we took a few days to relax in Cusco before moving on to the final leg of our Peruvian adventure, Lake Titicaca. It was here that we had the chance to catch up with a few familiar faces, explore a (small) piece of the Sacred Valley and enjoy some excellent food and much needed down time.
LOOK WHO WE FOUND IN CUSCO
As it so happened, the timing worked out perfectly to meet up with my mom and Doug who were on their own Machu Picchu and Sacred Valley adventure. Greeted with warm hugs, big smiles and two dozen hand warmers (which we would be needing for our continued journey south to the frigid Salar de Uyuni), it was special to get to spend a few days with family again while in on the road.
The hustle and bustle of Cusco takes place its main square, Plaza de Armas. Both El Cathedral and Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesus open onto this picturesque plaza where we spent plenty of time on park benches under the warm mid-day sun people watching.
For an escape we would walk to the artsy San Blas neighborhood for a $4 vegan meal from Green Point or an afternoon coffee on Plaza de San Blas.
When we wanted a delicious snack we would head to Mercado Central de San Pedro to visit the food stalls.
And other days we would find ourselves lost on unfamiliar cobbled roads high above the city square enjoying the view – a tiled sea clay roofs for as far as the eye could see.
For a day trip, we explored Saksaywaman, an impressive Inca citadel within walking distance of Cusco. Dating back as early as 1100, Sacsaywayman served as both a ceremonial arena and defense fortress for the Incans. They also celebrate the final ceremony of the Inti Raymi festival here each year on June 24.