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Cusco and Sacred Valley musings

Cusco and Sacred Valley musings

Old Jul 5, 13, 8:45 pm
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Cusco and Sacred Valley musings

Cusco & Sacred Valley musings
Travelling around Peru right now and just about to leave the Cusco/Sacred Valley area. Lots have been shared here with regards the various points of interest in the area so I’ll skip those and try to add some new or current information.

Perurail : Poroy to Ollanta rail status, Vistadome service
As of July 5, 2013, the section of rail from Poroy to Ollanta station is still out of commission. Landslides from the past rainy season washed out some parts. There are expectations that it will reopen “in a month or 2”. For now, train ticket holders will be put on a bus bridge between the 2 stations. There is also an abundance of taxi drivers that now hang out at the Ollanta station in the late afternoons and evenings offering cab rides back to Cusco. I did not use the taxis but they offered a ride for s80 without any bargaining.

There are new Vistadome trains being introduced into service. They are REALLY nice compared to the older ones. Seems to be a mix of new and old in use and the schedule does not distinguish them. The new trains have nice wood panel tables, LED lighting, carpet floors and really comfortable seats (all compared to the older ones which are more Spartan.)

Cusco Airport : A place to grab a bite
Cusco Airport has a pretty decent collection of shops and eating places/snack bars within the airport. Landside, there is a good group of them just up the escalator, before the security for gates 1-5. After security, there is only a tiny snack bar and a bunch of higher end boutiques like H.Stern.

But you want to know where some of the staff and crew who work at the airport eat? Right across the parking lot of the airport, there is a line of about 10-12 little stalls. It is still within the airport perimeter. You cannot miss it, it will be facing you as you exit the glass doors of the airport lobby. Of these stalls, about half of them sell local handicrafts for some last minute shopping but the other half are like standing snack bars where you will find tamales (s1), steam corn with a slab of local cheese – chocla con queso (s3), bread, empanadas and other treats. You can even get one last dose of Guinea Pig by getting a roasted whole Cuy to go. Don’t be surprised to find a collection of ground crew, LAN cabin crew, taxi drivers and airport security staff just standing around having their meal.

Other airport observations. There are priority check-in lines for premier travellers. These can significantly reduce the wait time as the lines can be pretty long. I also heard that there are plans to build a brand new international airport near Chinchero. This all-weather facility will have the ability to accept international long haul jets and the ultimate goal is to enable direct inbound connections to the area without a transit in Lima.

Interesting food and other detours
Cusco – Sacred Valley : Along the drive from Cusco to the Sacred Valley (via Chinchero), you will have to pass by the town of Poroy. There is a strip right along the road that is famous for Chicharrones (not fried pork skin but rather slow roasted or fried pork). It is a popular destination for locals, especially on the weekends. There are also stands by the side of the road you can grab a bag of food “to go”.

Urubamba – Pisac : Want to try some Cuy? Wonder where the locals from Cusco go when they want to have a family Cuy picnic? About mid-way on the road between Urubamba and Pisac, on the drive right along the river, there is the town of “Llamai” (I did not catch the actual spelling but that’s how it is pronounced). You’ll find a collection of 10-15 little open stands, each with an open stone pit oven and a collection of picnic tables and chairs. Roasted Cuy, fresh and piping hot out of the oven. It is a weekend destination and all the stalls tend to be open then. On a weekday, a smaller portion will be open. Looks like a daytime affair only as I did not see much lighting.

Pisac – Cusco : Along the road from Pisac to Cusco (not via Chinchero), about 10-20 mins after you start climbing out of the valley, there is a cooperative that has set up a small visitor station (Awana Kancha) where you can see examples of local weaving and handicrafts. You would probably have already seen this someplace else. However, they also have a collection of llamas, alpacas and the elusive vicuna. All of these tend not to be common in the sacred valley area as they live at higher altitudes. If you have not had the chance to see them, it is worth a stop. For a small donation, you can get up close and personal to feed them in their enclosures.

Going to add posts as I travel. Either in this Peru country section or within the specific hotels.

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