BELMOND Hotel Monasterio, Cuzco, Peru
It was an early morning wake-up call in order to grab a little something to eat for breakfast before going to the airport in Lima for our flight to Cuzco. It was a very organized process whereby the Celebrity representative/tour operator managed our bags and assisted us to check-in for our 9:00am departure from Lima.
Upon arrival at the Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport in Cusco, we were assisted by an additional tour operator who gathered our bags. In a brilliant move by the Celebrity Xpedition Tour Operator, he attached giant blue pom-poms to each one of our checked bags in Lima so that he could easily identify our suitcases as they came off the baggage carousel in Cusco. (I'll bet they've done this before! :-)
Our bags were collected and loaded onto a small 20 passenger bus and we were off to what would be our base of operations in Cuzco. The Belmond Hotel Monasterio was very conveniently located near the Cuzco central square where there were plenty of Catholic Churches, shops, and museums.
The hotel itself is a former monastery and national monument dating from 1592. It was absolutely beautiful with its manicured courtyard and archways that led to gigantic spanish style rooms that were quite modern and luxurious. The area itself had a wonderful mix of new and old architecture.
In the afternoon we got back on the bus for a stop at the Cathedral (Compania de Jesus) in the city square, Qoricancha Temple and several local archaeological sites which included Sacsayhuman (pronounced sexy human), Tambomachay, Kenko and Pucapucara.
Qorikancha & The Convento De Santo Domingo Del CuZco
The Temple of the Sun was the most extraordinary temple in the Inca Empire and a must see if you are in Cuzco. With naturalistic beliefs, the Incans built this temple and dedicated it to the worship of the sun (Inti.) it was apparently made of gold. In the Quechuan language, Qorikancha translated means golden courtyard. Hundreds of gold panels lined its walls. There were life-size gold figures, solid-gold altars, and a huge golden sun disc housed in the temple. The sun disc reflected the sun and bathed the temple in light. Qoricancha was also the main astronomical observatory for the Inca.
The Spanish stripped it bare. They melted the gold and silver to create ingots for shipment back to Spain, destroyed much of the building, and erected a church and convent atop the site. Due to the numerous earthquakes in the area, the Dominican Convento de Santo Domingo was partially destroyed by the collapse of their Spanish coverings. Clearly the Inca were much better at constructing buildings to withstand earthquakes!
Francisco Pizarro left it in his will to his brother Juan, who died shortly after. Juan left it to the Domincans and there it has remained.
Our next stop was at Saqsaywaman. Our guide was pleased to advise us that the correct pronounciation of this archeological site was sexy woman. :-) From there we walked to Tambomachay, Kenko and Pucapucara. I think the area is best described in photos. Here ya go!
map (museo arte precolumbi0) Restaurant and bar
Exhausted we arrived back to the hotel in the early evening so that we could clean up, get some rest and go to dinner. Our tour guide made arrangements for us to eat at a small restaurant resembling a glass bubble called the MAP (Museo Arte Precolumbio) Cafe located just a few blocks from Belmond Monasterio.
At the restaurant we were greeted with a Pisco Sour (a tart cocktail) and were given options for a 3-course meal. Michael and I love Peruvian food so for us the choices were difficult because we wanted to sample everything.
Both the wine and the food were excellent and we highly recommend trying the Ceviche de Camarones a la Piedra to start, Rocoto Relleno de Cordero as an entree, and just about anything for dessert. I had the Nuestro Pie de Limon and Michael had the Lava Cake. YUM! For a dinner wine, you may want to try a Chilean Malbec!
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Michael and I travel mostly because we like learning and experiencing new things, seeing new places and learning about different cultures and food that only comes from getting out and about in the world.