Peru travel blog by Mark Berman -
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Cusco is a great town for nightlife, clubs, bars, restaurants and of course, the place to book your Machu Picchu tour! Cusco is not the be all and end all
of Peru however, but being in the highlands it is a more beautiful place than perhaps the coastal cities are. It is likely you will be struck first by the beautiful
Plaza de Armas and the surrounding cobblestone streets that weave off of it. Cusco is a magnet for travelers and tourists and the Peruvians know it, it is
hard to walk around the plaza without someone trying to sell you a music CD, finger puppets, crafts or other things. There are also women with
llamas, lambs or alpacas who will try to charge you for taking their photo. Cusco is a great place to have a massage if you have a sore body after trekking
the Inca trail, there are many girls who will offer this to you as you walk around the center areas. These are not massages with a happy ending if you know
what I mean. I can recommend the quality of these massages, they are great, it will cost about $25-30 soles for 1hr. Cusco seems to be quite active with
street parades and with celebrating festivals. I have seen some major celebrations and parades on all 3 occasions that I have stayed here.
Take Care Walking
If you decide to
venture for a walk off the plaza up the thin cobblestone roads, firstly be careful about the smooth slippery stone walking surfaces and footpaths, it is
easy to slip and slide on them. Another important thing to watch out for in Cusco in the narrow streets is a common trick where someone throws water or spits
on you from a balcony. Then about 3 people come to help you clean yourself off and while they help you, they take your camera or wallet. While I sat at my
hostel one day 2 people within about 2 hours came back and told their friends that this just happened to them. Both lost their cameras! It happened to me
in Buenos Aires
actually (Peruvians), but they left with nothing!
Altitude, Food, Hostels, Taxis, Safety
Being at altitude, it is easy to lose your breath when walking uphill around Cusco, sometimes you actually
need to stop and have a rest or sit down before continuing. There are many great restaurants in Cusco, some in the plaza area but you will find probably
better ones in the side streets especially up the hill behind the cathedral. You really can't go wrong eating some of the great food available around the
city. There is plenty of accommodation in Cusco, hostels are the cheapest. I stayed in a hotel for a night once on the main plaza which cost $25USD per
night, there is something to suit everyone accommodation-wise in and around the plaza area. There are many tour operators, internet cafes and flight bookers
all around the central area if you are looking to do some shopping. If you are going to other parts of Peru I would suggest shopping there because the prices
in Cusco are for the real tourists, not seasoned travelers. Be careful when traveling around the city at night, catch a taxi if you are by
yourself or in a small group and make sure it is an official taxi. Watch out for pickpockets in the markets, train and bus stations. A taxi
from Cusco airport into the center of the city should cost about $15 Soles, not the $30 Soles they may ask for, bargain hard.
The Pachakuteq Monument
My 3rd time in Cusco in 2011 was a lot of fun. I saw some of the sights that I
had not seen on my previous visits. These included Parque Orellana Pumaqchupan with it's
water feature and art works and the huge Pachakuteq Monument which stands 22 meters high, check it out! Even though I have visited
Cusco 3 times I look forward to returning again to the amazing city of the Incas in the future.