I’ve been getting pretty comfortable with my life here in Lima. I have a weekly routine, I know which supermarket has the best prices, I have my Sunday fruit an veggie market, a favorite yoga teacher at my local studio, and I am even used to (and somewhat enjoying) my hour-long commute on the bus to work.
But when a friend comes to visit, routines are over and life becomes a little more like vacation.
My friend Hannah was visiting me in Lima for about two weeks, but the highlight of our trip was definitely the long weekend we spent in Cusco and Machu Picchu. If you haven’t been before, it is quite the journey. We had four days and it was just enough time to see all of the good stuff. It was a crazy four days that involved just about every method of transportation humanly possible, but it was worth it to experience such a beautiful city and wonder of the world.
Here’s the journey, from start to finish.
We took a flight out of Lima to Cusco early on a Thursday morning and arrived with a full day ahead.
We checked into our Airbnb and headed out to explore all my favorite places in Cusco.
We hit up the Plaza de Armas, the Centro Artesanal on the Avenida el Sol, and hand lunch and walked around in the San Pedro Market. We drank lots of coca leaf tea to keep the altitude from getting to us. Oh – and we definitely bought all of the things a tourist can buy in the artisan market because when in Cusco….
For dinner we decided to check out San Blas. We ended up having dinner in an Indian restaurant called Korma Sutra. The decision to eat Indian food in Cusco was reached because Hannah was too preoccupied with her altitude sickness to care where we ate and I was a little (okay, very) tired of typical Peruvian food. Curry and naan have never failed to make me happy and this was no exception.
On Friday morning we headed back to San Blas for breakfast at The Meeting Place before heading over to Avenida Grau to catch a ride in a collectivo bus to Ollantaytambo. The busses don’t have a set schedule and you don’t have to purchase tickets before hand, and we got lucky that when we arrived we were just in time to be the last two passengers on the bus that was about to leave. The bus ride was a two hour trip that takes you through the breathtaking Andes mountains all the way to the last stop before you have to take a train to get to Machu Picchu town.
Ollantaytambo is a beautiful town in the sacred valley. If we had more time, I would have loved to take some other stops along the way, but we had to catch the train by 3:00, so we decided to just explore Ollantaytambo before we got on the train.
We met a local tour guide who offered to take us up a mountain and explain some of the history behind the city, so up we went.
After the tour, we had time for a quick Pisco sour before heading to the train.
We used Peru Rail to get to Aguas Calientes. The train is pretty cool. The carriages have panoramic windows and you can take in all of the beautiful wildlife of Peru before you arrive to Machu Picchu town.
When we arrived to Aguas Clients, someone from our hostel was waiting at the train station to bring us back to our accommodation. We chose to stay at the Rupa Wasi Lodge and it was super cute and cozy for our one night stay. We checked in and then went out to to look for dinner and buy our bus tickets to get up to Machu Picchu in the morning. We tried to go to sleep early, but I don’t think either of us slept too well because we were too excited for our big day!
This was my second time seeing this archeological site and it was still just as amazing as it was the first time.
We left our hostel at 5 am hoping to catch the first bus up the mountain to see the sunrise, but unfortunately it was raining and the line for the bus was much longer than we expected. We still made it up the mountain, but by the time we got up we had missed the sunrise, so we found a tour guide who agreed to show us around.
The vastness of the site is truly breathtaking. So much of what the Incas built was so advanced that I just can’t help but wonder what their civilization would have been like if they were never invaded by the Spanish.
We spent the morning with our tour guide and after our tour we walked around the site on our own and took lots (and lots) and lots of pictures.
We left the site around noon and headed back down to the town to catch our train in the afternoon. We took the Peru Rail back to Ollantaytambo, and from there hopped on another collectivo bus back to Cusco. When we arrived, we checked into our Airbnb and headed out to dinner. We ate at Tacomania in San Blas, which also is not Peruvian food but it was delicious. We ended the night with a chilcano at a bar just above San Blas that has a beautiful view of Cusco at night.
On our last day in Cusco, we wandered around the city for the last time before we had to head back. We took a cab up to the Blanco Cristo that sits on a mountain overlooking the city. We took in the view of Cusco and marveled at how magical the city is. After enjoying the view and taking some llama selfies, we hiked back down to the center and toured the Cusco Cathedral. Then we had one last (organic vegetarian) meal at Greens before catching a cab to the airport.