Off to Macchu Picchu, and first thoughts on Cusco
It is now my third night in Cusco, and now that I've finally blurted out the last blog post about Bolivia, it is fair to turn my sights on my present abode, Cusco.
Cusco has the reputation of being the "gringo capital of South America" and so I was prejudiced against it from the start, prepared to wave it aside dismissively as just the South American equivalent of the Khao San Road in Bangkok. My previous experiences of high gringo concentrations in South America (e.g. Copacabana and Uyuni) touched a raw nerve of self-loathing. I had steeled myself for the worst.
However Cusco turns out to be (mostly) chilled out, cool, and stylish. Sure, there are a lot of tourists here, and there are a lot of lowest common denominator rip-off operations going on, but the bigger tourist market means that there is a wide variety of choices in restaurants, cafes, bars, and shops, and it's possible to find something more up one's particular alley and not just generic one-size-fits-all joints.
I have already met some cool folks randomly through exploring some of the peripheral cafes etc (Las Blas is the nighlife area for instance with a bit of a boho vibe) and it seems pretty easy to meet randoms here. And I've managed to get the feel for the city's layout very quickly; it's a great walking city, even taking into account the hills. Just wandering from street to street, admiring the Inca foundations of almost all the modern buildings, is a treat unto itself. I have managed to explore some of the Inca temples around town, including the Temple of the Sun that was superseded by the Dominican Church, and the hilltop ruins of Sacsayhuaman.
Tomorrow (Friday) I am starting the Inca Jungle Trek, which is 1 day mountain biking, 2 days trekking, and the final day visiting Macchu Picchu. I hope the weather holds up as it has been raining on and off again, but occasionally when it is on, it is ON. See below:
I will be out of contact until (probably) Sunday evening when we get to Aguas Calientes. I am thinking of seeing out most of the rest of my trip in the Cusco region so I will be sure to post some thoughts and pictures etc of the trip – and of Cusco – next week.