I’m in Quito, Ecuador, now, with only about a half hour before we leave on our first of two day’s adventures here — just barely enough time to share a little of our time in Cusco.
The journey from Machu Picchu to Cusco started with the train to Ollantaytambo, and this time we got to visit the archaelogical site on the edge of the town. It was quite a hike up the steps to the top, but it was interesting to see much of the same style of construction we saw in Machu Picchu, plus some nice views of the surrounding area.
After our visit there, we stopped for lunch and then almost all of us napped for most of the two-hour ride back to Cusco.
Unlike Lima, which is not a pretty city and had limited visual appeal, Cusco has a delightfully charming central plaza, the Plaza de Armas, and a slew of colonial era churches. It also has some great restaurants. A small group of us went to an Italian restaurant called Ciciollina, where I had one of the best Italian meals I’ve ever eaten.
Henry led us on a short walking tour and a visit to Qorikancha. Where once stood the most important temple of the Incan Empire, the Spanish conquistadors destroyed it and built the Convent of Santo Domingo on top of what remained. Now a museum, we were able to visit the remaining sections of the Inca temple.
We also got to visit a chocolate factory and museum, where we mostly got the chance to buy some good chocolate.*
After lunch at another fantastic restaurant, Yaku, I walked up to the San Blas neighborhood, which is filled with art galleries. Most of them were not impressive, but in one small gallery I found some paintings by a local artist, Oskar Olazo Tupa, whose work I admired, and I bought a small one.
After some time to rest at back at the hotel, we had a “Farewell to Peru” dinner.
Yesterday morning it was off to the airport where we said goodbye to Henry and caught our flight to Lima and then to Quito, where we met Celso, our trip leader for this portion of our adventure, and David, who is training to be a new OAT trip leader.
I have a nice view from my hotel room. Looking forward to seeing Quito for the next two days before we head to the Galápagos.
*Celso told us Ecuador has the best chocolate in the world, so I don’t know why I bought chocolate in Peru. Oh well.