Peru: Ollantaytambo and Cusco
I'm not sure why it's taken me so long to get around to writing about these two towns. I think it's kind of funny because Cusco was one of my favourite towns when we first visited Peru back in my teens, and Ollantaytambo captured my heart this trip.
The beauty of Ollantaytambo is that it is a tiny village strategically lain in the valley, completely surrounded by ruins. It's a great place to catch the train and I encourage staying the night if you get the chance. On one side of town there are free ruins that you can just wander around peacefully. Back in their prime, these ruins were originally used as storehouses.
On the other side of town is where the community actually lived originally. There is a small fee to see the ruins and you have the option of hiring a guide. We had planned on visiting the small ruins first and then heading over to the larger ruins but the heat bore down on us and the small ruins ended up taking most of the day. We decided to save the afternoon for visiting the market and balcony cocktails.
As with most of Peru, the heat during the day was miserable but as soon as the sun went down the air took a cool turn. We stayed in a questionably clean hostel (which had really good ratings on tripadvisor) before finding a better hotel the following day. I guess it just goes to show that tripadvisor doesn't know everything.
Our transportation of choice from Cusco to Ollantaytambo and vice versa was a "collectivo". This option is much cheaper than a taxi and still pretty fast, but to be honest, safety is not their priority.
Returning to Cusco was a sad affair as it meant it was the end of Kyle's time with us. He caught the first taxi back to the airport and we wandered the streets looking for comfortable accommodation. Gaia and I experienced a cocktail of emotions. We were both sad to see Kyle leave, but excited as to what the future held for us.
Gaia had finished her novel before we had even left Lima so one of the first things we did was search for a book store. When we finally found one, the English section was pretty scarce but we managed to dig up an original copy of Lewis Carroll's "Alice In Wonderland". The old English and writing style was a bit much for her 6 year old brain (I had difficulty with it as well to be honest) but it was enough to keep her occupied on our long bus rides.
Cusco is well known for its culinary scene and it didn't disappoint. Personally, I would rather spend a little less money on accommodation and a lot more on food. ;) Am I right?
For mother's day we found a cute little coffee shop with amazing samosas and smoothies. That evening, while strolling down the lamp-lit streets, we randomly came across some friends that we had met in the Amazon. We all decided to go to Jack's Cafe for some comfort food. The next morning we ventured back to Jack's cafe since I had promised Gaia pancakes and it was a stone's throw from the laundromat. Our final restaurant of choice was Limo for some (pricey but yummy) sushi and traditional Peruvian food. The views from this restaurant and the atmosphere are worth the visit alone.
Other than eating, we spent a lot of time in Cusco sitting in the Plaza de Armas chasing pigeons. (ok Gaia chased the pigeons, I just made friends) and enjoying the fun vibe of the city. I can imagine that there is a great night-life scene here, but traveling with a 6 year old has its limitations.