Our Trip to Peru: Cusco Day 1

Back in November of 2016, Jason and I took an epic trip to Peru as part of our 20th wedding anniversary celebration (our anniversary is Aug 28th).  The trip was pretty impromptu for me, as I like to plan way ahead and we only had about 4 months to plan once we decided to go for it!  Visiting Machu Picchu had been on my bucket list for a few years now, so when Jason suggested we take a trip there instead of remodeling the bathroom, he did not have to ask me twice!  Planning a trip to South America definitely had it's challenges and there were plenty of things we just had to figure out once we got there.  But with doing tons of research, some major planning, and with tips from a friend who had recently gone, we were able to plan a great trip! 

I've been wanting to blog about this trip for a long time now, but I've had a hard time figuring out how to get started.  There is SOOO much I want to share, from all the planning that was involved, tips for altitude sickness, to how and what we packed! Ultimately though I've decided to begin by breaking it down into 5 parts, each highlighting the main areas we visited in Peru: Cusco, the Sacred Valley, Machu Piccho, and Lima.  This way the posts won't be too long and boring.  Plus, I plan to share more details as mentioned above in a later series with tips and tricks for traveling to Peru, but for now, here is part 1 of our Peru adventure: Cusco Day 1! 

It's important to note that there are no direct International flights into Cusco.  We flew out on a Wednesday from Las Vegas to Lima, with a layover in Dallas and then took a domestic flight into Cusco.  I knew I didn't want to spend too much time in Lima, so I planned our flight out of Lima just a few hours from our arrival. We had plenty of time to grab our luggage, take a bathroom break, purchase some water and snacks, then head on over to the departure gate.  We took the short 1 hour flight and arrived in Cusco early morning (local time) on Thursday.  Knowing that we would be tired from a full day of traveling and that we would have to work on acclimating to the higher elevation, we took it easy this first day.  The original plan was to purchase our train tickets from PeruRail for Machu Picchu at the airport when we arrived in Cusco, but their computers were down so, we had to go to their office at the main plaza in Cusco.  We took a taxi from the airport and dropped off our luggage at our hotel, since it was too early to check in when we arrived.  Since I already had our entrance tickets for Mach Picchu for that Sunday,I was anxious to ensure I had our train tickets securely purchased for the date and times we needed.  Can see why I was anxious?!?

Here's the hubs at the entrance to our hotel when we arrived at Cusco. I loved the courtyard and we had the cutest room! 

Here's the hubs at the entrance to our hotel when we arrived at Cusco. I loved the courtyard and we had the cutest room! 

On our way from the airport to our hotel, we noticed a lot of traffic.  Although traffic is common in Cusco, this was more than usual and our driver explained that streets were being closed off for a sort of parade.  Turns out, the primary schools of the entire town were out and students were dressed in traditional Peruvian dance costumes and were lining up on the streets waiting for their turn to perform in the main plaza, Plaza de Armas, for their graduation.  The party-like atmosphere was a great welcome to Cusco and we just loved the bright colors and music!  I was still pretty anxious though, so I couldn't enjoy it too much until we finally made it to the office and we purchased the tickets.  We'd spotted a Starbucks in the plaza (the only one in the city) that promised WiFi so clearly that was our next stop! We got some much needed coffees and enjoyed the scenery from the second story window. At this point, with our train seats secure on the date and times we wanted, I felt like the vacation was finally beginning.  

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Not a bad view from Starbucks, huh?

We ate lunch at a highly recommended sandwich shop called Pankracio and then made it back to our hotel to freshen up, take a nap, and get ready for dinner.  We walked around and checked out some artisan shops and took in the sights before making our way to the dinner restaurant. Again, we based our dinner choice off of a recommendation, Marcelo Batata, and again it did not disappoint.  Jason chose to be adventurous and ate alpaca steak (YOLO) I stuck to foods I knew, like empanadas and salad.  The food and service were delicious and I had my first pisco sour of many more to come! 

After dinner, we went to our room to rest up! We had a busy day and although we prepared as best we could for the altitude sickness, we both got slight headaches and felt super tired!  We knew rest is what we needed because I had lots planned for the days ahead.  Our next day in Cusco will consist of getting up close and personal with llamas, checking out Sacsayhuama (pronounced Sexy Woman), getting slightly lost, and drinking more pisco sours.  Don't miss it! 

Have you been to Peru or any other country in South America? What's your favorite memory from there?