Cusco was an hour and ten minute flight from Lima and up in altitude by 3,400 meters. acclimatizing took a fair while. Dizzy, headaches, feeling pretty much hung over for a few days – was not fun! And the Coca tea they kept trying to get us to drink was made from the Coca plant (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coca_tea).
We stayed at the Casa Andina Cusco – San-Blas – 3.5 Stars. It was beautiful although we were on the 5th floor which took stairs to climb and was exhausting! Stunning views from the top!
This is most certainly not a town for thongs (flip flops, slippers, jandals). The cobble stones are very slippery when wet, and also strangely so, dry. We put our runners on and explored the central city. There were people absolutely everywhere that would try to sell you their stuff. So, so many that after a few days I just started walking around with a frown on my face to deter them.
I didn’t really like Cusco. In fact I would say that it is worth seeing for maybe a day or two, to catch some of the Inca sites – but be warned that they are high and the walk if you’re still suffering from the altitude, will be tough, and then moving onto the next place. (Aguas Calientes – the coolest place ever!!!)
I found the people we dealt with in the hotels, taxis and shops to be great, but the general populace seems to be angry, upset or just not interested in being friendly. In Lima they were okay and the next stop was fantastic, but Cusco just seemed to be bent on getting the tourist dollar. Given that though, we saw some amazing places of historical significance.
This was a place where not knowing the language made me feel isolated. They can speak English else wheres, but here it seemed to be a bit more of a mission to get anything across – hilarious exchanges with some of the people serving in their restaurants. I found the isolation and a bad hotel (Don Bosco – 2 stars) to just add to the negative feeling. We had organised a few days of tours when we got there, but they didn’t stand up to the standard we expected and so it kind of left a sour taste in my mouth… The Machu Picchu trip however was BEYOND what I expected.
I enjoyed talking to the people we met, but the major stand out was that the only folks who spoke to us were either trying to sell to us, or were serving us in hotels, etc. A bit of a let down in regards to the friendliness of people.