Day transfers suck. Fact. No amount of scenery can hold my interest across 11 hours of travel and you can’t get away with sleeping it away. We transferred to Puno first where we were to make a connection for the bus to Cusco, crossing the border relatively painlessly thanks to a helpful driver who guided us every step of the way. Unfortunately this guidance vanished when we actually reached Puno and next to no information left us stood by the bus when we could have probably acquired some Peruvian Soles [the currency] and a bit of lunch.
Leaving Puno we were pleasantly surprised by the lack of travellers on the bus; this was short-lived. We stopped further down the road and on came local Peruvian ladies carrying unfathomable amounts of luggage that was obviously cargo for whatever they were trading. The bus packed up to amazing levels. Later in the journey when they stopped to squeeze more on a couple of ladies started chopping up and selling something like half a cow (cooked) accompanied by hot spuds which I decided to partake in and was pleasantly surprised by.
Eventually we made it to Cusco. For the second destination in a row we’d not booked a gaff so when we were approached at the station by a nice enough young lady we relented and agreed to go with her to her place. This can often prove a mistake but we were pleasantly surprised to arrive at a great location with a reasonable room at a reasonable price with incredibly helpful service. They even opened the restaurant and whipped us up a couple of cheap and tasty local dishes – Lomo Saltado & Polla a la Plancha. Suitably stuffed we retired for the evening.
Having slept well we decided to extend our stay at the place and set off out to explore. We took in the view of the city from atop a hill first before making our way into town to consult the tour companies that we’d marked up to visit about a trek to Machu Picchu. We passed San Blas on our way down amongst the majority of plazas and buildings that are highlighted as points of interest. After doing the rounds for a while we spotted a famous sign on the wall of a building off the main square – it was time for a long overdue Starbucks.
Suitably lifted we cracked on and eventually ate lunch at Jacks Cafe which is more European than Peruvian but served cracking grub. We eventually made our way to Alpaca Expeditions after some prompt and helpful email correspondence from their go-to-girl Bonnie. They made all the right noises and we promised to let them know later in the evening when we’d had chance to collect our thoughts and make up our minds. We returned to the hotel to get cleaned up and nipped out to Korma Sutra, continuing our trend for consuming what we fancied rather than experimenting with local cuisine. It was a cracking curry – one of the best we’d had since leaving home. We returned to the hostel and emailed Bonnie to confirm the tour. They were the only company who were prepared to schedule a tour to get us on Machu Picchu for October 28th which in some circles is considered a significant date…
With a day left to prepare for our departure on the Lares trek we set about picking up supplies. Fi was in the market for some hiking boots and we both needed better waterproofs and a few other things. By lunchtime we had most of it pulled together and by the evening had dined at Jacks again and met with our guide for the trip to get the final details. We ate something light close by that evening and got an early night.