The flight from Lima to Cusco was not at all bad but upon disembarking the plane and entering the airport I felt a little funny. Despite taking altitude medication (thanks Wendy!) and sucking on coca candy, I was still feeling the 10,912 ft of elevation in Cusco. Luckily it didn´t seem to last much longer than the taxi drive to our hostal – Teatro Inca. This was one of the more expensive places we stayed at about $35/night for a double room (2 beds), but I actually quite enjoyed it. It was a little chilly at night as there was no heat but the heavy blankets seemed to compensate. I especially enjoyed the friendly service and the 24/7 coca tea and internet availability. The hostal also arranged our Machu Picchu tour, which was overall very good in spite of a few hick ups here and there.
Our first day in Cusco was a short one after arriving late due to a delay in our flight. We really only had time to check in to the hostal, make our arrangements for our tour of the sacred valley and machu picchu, eat and sleep but it is noteworthy to mention that we had dinner at a delightful restaurant in town and although we ate very little due to the recent altitude change, we did get a birthday serenade with dessert for Wendy´s 28th.
The next day we explored Cusco on our own hitting up a couple of important historical sites such as Qorikancha and Sacsayhauman. Qorikancha highly resembled some of the religious temples i´ve seen in Europe but upon closer examination you can see the Inca architecture in the walls. I suppose this makes sense since the Spaniards came in and either destroyed or tried to convert from the former beliefs held by the Incas and earlier peoples in this region. Nothing against the Spaniards of course – the did just win the World Cup after all and quite deservingly!
The following day was to be our big tour day and we started out early in the morning of our tour of the Sacred Valley including Pisaq, Urabamba and Ollantaytambo. Urabamba was merely a middle ground for lunch but both Pisaq and Ollantaytambo involved quite a bit of climbing but the ruins and views of the surrounding mountains were breath-taking. For this tour we had a very good bilingual guide, which was a bit surprising to me as I thought it might take away from the tour. But what actually happened was quite a blessing for my ADD. That is, I got to hear everything twice so whenever I spaced out during the first version I knew I didn´t have to worry because I was going to hear it again! It was also good listening practice for my spanish-something I really don´t get enough of.