After an adventure filled weekend doing a horse trail and visiting Machu Picchu, I decided to visit Cusco city itself. After a good rest, I made my way to the main square, stopping at Qorikancha along the way. The bizarre combination of Inka stonework and Spanish colonial architecture makes for some interesting viewing. It is mind blowing to imagine the massive courtyard covered in gold, and the stone are precision cut, and this without laser cutting technology.
At the main square, I encountered a whole lot of excitement. The city was full of festivities, in preparation for the biggest festival of the year, Inti Raimi, which takes place on winter solstice. The streets were filled with onlookers and parades of people with large banners. Groups of people in different variations of traditional dress paraded the streets and a gentle buzz of excitement was crackling in the air.
I joined a panoramic tour of the main sites around the city, and got a chance to hear a bit of the history, in Spanish, and in the process get a free language lesson. We stopped to attend a Inka ceremony with coca leaves and jasmin water, and to see some alpaca products on the outskirts of the city. The tour included a view of the moon temple and ruins of Sacsayhuaman, but I would have loved to get out and see it up close. Maybe next time.
Back in the city I had an amazing lunch at the Balcone restaurant, overlooking the Plaza del Armas, the main square. From this vantage point I had another opportunity to take in the festivities and be amazed by the colours, sounds and dancing.
At the end of the day I could make my way back to the airport and eventually home, with my body and mind recharged with adventures filled with colour, views, blue skies and sunshine.