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VIP expected


Cuzco's Plaza de Armas


Pizzas in bed!

An early morning call confirmed that the strike is still on and there are no buses to Puno today or tomorrow. We reconsidered options. As we'll come back at some stage to "do" Bolivia, we can cover Lake Titicaca in that trip so we decided to head straight to Cuzco.

Giardino's Tours gave conflicting information as usual - one lady said today's flight to Cuzco is full. When I went back later to book for tomorrow  I thought I'd check again about today with the "miserable" lady (who was there when we went in about the Colca Canyon tour) and she said there were loads of seats left for today!! Another English couple who went to ask about fifteen minutes later were told the flight was full!

We packed up and said our farewells to Casa de Mi Abuela. Much as we'd had an enforced stay here, it has been a great hotel - good room, very friendly staff, great grounds and good food. We were told to be at the airport no later than 1:00pm (our flight is at 2:30pm) but to make sure we left loads of time in case there were problems with strikers. The hotel bus was going at 12:00 so we hopped on board.

At the airport we understood why they had said to allow so much time. The checking in process was painfully slow. Two flights to Lima had been cancelled this morning and when I had bought our tickets at Giardino's there were in a bit of a flap about it, trying to arrange alternative transport for people. At check in, they took our tickets to the office at the back an got on the phone - I fully expected problems but all was OK.

We then had time to kill. We paid our airport fee (not a tax, its to cover the cost of providing the airport and keeping it clean and secure) and went through into the departure lounge, It had a newsagent, gift shop but no cafe. Those in the know stayed on the other side until their flight was called. We had water with us though so it wasn't a problem.

The planes here come to into land, park up about twenty metres from the terminal building, everyone hops off and on and then they're off. The plane before outs turned around nose first to get back to the runway - it came so close to the building I thought it was going to hit it. Our flight, with Lan Peru, was a quick thirty minute hop, but a bit wobbly going over the hills. There was a huge military escort when we landed - not for us, Presidente Toledo is in town for the day.

We were met at the airport by yet another tour company representative. She was a bit dopey and neither of us warmed to her (the taxi driver was more welcoming). We sat through the obligatory session of her trying to plan our stay but decided to use a different company (partly because her English was probably at the same level as my Spanish). Stef did a tour of various different available rooms, settling for a double with a view which we might have to move from tomorrow as its pre booked. The room is sparsely furnished and has a very bouncy bed but the place seems friendly enough. It (Hostal Corihuasi) is a bit of a maze of houses connected together and is almost a mini village within the town.

As we'll be here for a few days we were in no rush to sight see and set out to get some impartial information from the official Tourist Information office. We were surprised to hear from the company that met us at the airport that it will cost us US$150 each to get to Machu Picchu but the official Tourist Info gave similar prices. Cuzco is going to be an expensive stay for us - our hotel is 50% more than we have paid for similar standard accommodation elsewhere!

The main Plaza de Armas is beautiful but in a different way to Arequipa. Arequipa had grand, colonnaded buildings which made an impressive and wealthy statement. Here the square is lower key, still colonnaded but with wooden balconies almost giving it a Germanic or Swiss feel. The centre is again based around a fountain with pretty flowerbeds and loads of benches for passing the time of day.

We did just that at one of the balcony cafe's. In less than half an hour it had turned dark and also started to get cold. Cuzco stretches up the surrounding hillsides and fairytale lights were dotted around into the distance. Getting cold we headed back uphill to our hotel. Stef had had a snack while we people watched and neither of us felt like going out again for a dinner. I had seen that the hotel could order take out food so we plumped for a night in, pizza and TV.

The room was cold and it took a while for the heater to kick in. We settled onto the bouncy bed with our sleeping bags wrapped round us waiting for the pizza. It wasn't the best I have ever had but was much better than El Mundo de la Pizza in Punta del Este in Uruguay!

Despite there being ninety-nine channels on TV there wasn't much to watch. We ended up watching A Fish Called Wanda - I have not see it before and it was pretty funny in a very British sort of way.