This is a slightly difficult post to write because Peru is the first country that we visited on this trip where we had been before. As a result we had some preconceptions and naturally having had an amazing honeymoon there nearly 4 years earlier the country had something to live up to. On top of this as luck would have it one or other of us was ill for more than half of the time that we were in Peru which took a little bit of the shine off it, and didn’t let us enjoy everything quite as fully as we’d have liked. Finally, since we’d seen the top sights of Peru before we tried to skip some of them and go to places where we hadn’t previously been.
Bright and early on the Monday morning in Cusco we packed up and headed for the train station. Since I normally get travel sick on long distance buses and Chris doesn’t particularly like them either, we decided to go for a much more interesting option of a train from Cusco to Lake Titicaca. The train took 10.5 hours, a few more hours than the bus and was much more expensive, but it was a great way to spend a day travelling.
We arrived at the station and passed our bags to the porter, aware that ours were the only backpacks being loaded amongst the smart suitcases. We went for a drink in the waiting room and realised we were probably the youngest passengers by about 30 years too! The other passengers were mainly made up of an older tour group from Tazmania with their Chilean guide, and we had a nice chat with a few of them.
We boarded the train and, as it pulled off we went to explore. The seating carriages were very plush, old fashioned with armchairs and proper tables with little lamps and tablecloths. We had a four person table to ourselves. The toilets were also very smart, more like a nice hotel than a train. Then there was a large bar carriage with windows curving up so you could see out of the roof too. The back end of the train was open air so you could lean out and watch the world passing by.
We arrived in Cusco by plane with our Dutch friends and the five of us shared a taxi to the ‘Oki Doki’ hostel, one that Jacqueline had found. We had no reservation, but luckily they had a nice double room for us with a balcony. The hostel was pretty basic and we had a shared bathroom, but the showers were excellent and there were plenty of them. Once we’d all freshened up we went out to find some food. We’d been recommended a vegan restaurant called Green Point. It was a bit of a trek to the other side of the town but we found the place and were shown to a table outside. It was a little cold and the outdoor heater was not working even after the staff fiddled with it for a while and sent out for a new gas canister for us! Eventually our starters arrived and we knew immediately that we’d made the right choice. The starters were an interesting twist on Indian (Samosas), Japanese (sushi) and Italian (bruschetta), all done in a way that wasn’t merely a poor interpretation of the originals. I had a vegan version of Lomo Saltado, a famous Peruvian beef stew, that contained Seitan instead of beef. I have no doubt that it wouldn’t match up to the original, but it was delicious and the only way I’d ever be experiencing this dish. Anyway if you are a long time reader of this blog you’ll probably be aware that I can go on about food somewhat sooo…. moving on.
After leaving Ecuador we were feeling a little down, having said goodbye to travelling friends and to a country we’d really enjoyed over seven weeks (several more than we originally intended to spend!). I suppose we were hoping for an amazing time in Peru to help transition – this initially wasn’t quite to be, as Chris mentioned previously we both managed to pick up a bug. Thank goodness for Chris’s hotel points and a few nights of luxury to recover in.
We did manage to get out and enjoy some of the culinary delights of Lima in the few days we spent recovering there. This was one of the things we remembered well from our honeymoon in Peru, just how fantastic and varied the food is (and especially in Lima). We drank Pisco Sours (somehow the combination of Pisco brandy with egg white and lime juice is just amazing), and some tasty artesanal beer, plus we ate at a really inventive and modern tapas-style restaurant called Manifesto, and we found an entirely veggie pizzeria where you could choose a mix of tasty toppings to share.