After a very long first day in Cusco sleeping in was exactly what was needed and sleeping in is what we did. Kalindra and I had a very leisurely morning around the hostel and ventured out to book our trip to Machu Picchu, visit some Shamans and have a nice lunch. Needless to say, that is not how the day turned out.
Lunch was at a delightful place called Los Balocnes Grill where a fixed menu of an appetizer, soup, entree, dessert and drink was only 30 Soles ($11.50 or so). The fixed menu is a common practice here and a great way to try a lot of different food.
We started our tour operator hunt to book our Machu Picchu tour for the next day. This is something you can book on your own but you need the following:
Transfer to the bus stop
Bus to the train station
Train to Aguas Calientes
Bus to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes
Ticket to Machu Picchu
Then all of that in reverse to get back
For the sake of our sanity we thought it would be easier to go through a tour agency. Let me say, this became a hunt and a half. We stopped at various tour operators which are all over Cusco and many would not help with a one day tour, others were a bit pricey, while others were just not in their office! We thought we had found a great one and went to pay with a Visa and they wanted to add on a 15% fee for using a credit card! We were out of there within in a matter of seconds. Feeling a little frustrated and realizing we were missing the window of time to visit our Shamans, we jumped into one last agency which was wonderful. She had our tickets booked and ready to go to start our adventure at 6:20am the next day.
Many people say you should book your tickets in advance which is a great thing to do, but if you want to keep your schedule open, then wait until you get to Cusco and just wing it!
Feeling a little down and unsure about what to do with our day, we stopped at Paddy´s for a drink which is a 100% Irish owned pub at 11,156ft elevation where they claim an Irish car bomb is the official drink of Ireland.
Feeling a little better we walked out to stumble upon a parade for Virgen Real Delaalmudens. Nothing like a little impromptu culture to make the day turn around.
Along with the parade we were able to hold baby sheep (or maybe alapaca as we are not quite sure) and stumble across a wonderful art gallery where the artist was recognized as one of the best artists for watercolor in 1986 and had his work featured in a museum in New York. These are the experiences no one tells you about in the travel guides.
After a little shopping therapy (things are very inexpensive) and a change of clothes, we ventured out to see what was going on for dinner. We came across a curry house called Korma Sutra and indulged in some delicious food and a bottle of wine from Chile. With such an early morning ahead we stopped by the store for some snacks for the morning and wine for our room and ended the day with some girl talk and wine in bed.
Sometimes the best days are those that take you by surprise and this was one of those days.