As mentioned, we arrived in chilly Cusco on Tuesday night at about eleven pm and the streets were deserted, it was so cold! It is still is, it’s quarter past eight in the evening and I’m smothered in blankets with absolutely no intention to go outside again tonight.
So back to our arrival, I had booked a few nights in Hostal Casa del Inka which I read good comments about when I was looking it up on Tripadvisor for parking, needless to say it was selected due to their parking facilities. Those facilities don’t exist, so all in all it wasn’t that good a choice.
Here are my pros and cons for Hostal Casa del Inka;
The room was spacious and had a big bed with lots of necessary blankets, because it is cold cold cold in Cuzco.
Most of the staff were extremely helpful and very polite (I’ll explain the most part in a sec)
The breakfast is included and has the standard tea, coffee, cereal, bread and PANCAKES, delish. And you can eat as many as you like, bonus.
The view of the extravagant Plaza de Armas is a great photo op and equally as impressive whilst you’re eating your breakfast or at nighttime (although you can get the same view by continuing up the steps before Calle Resbalosa)
The not so good
Heaters are advertised, but the added cost to rent them isn’t. Cheeky.
If you’re in room number eight (the one with the lovely view outside) breakfast is served outside your room, not so good if you don’t want to wake up at seven in the morning.
The shower wasn’t hot (in these temps, that is important) the bathroom was also a bit stinky. Sorry to sound like a moaner but I’m being honest.
And then there’s the mystery parking. When we contacted the owner and said that we’d received an email confirming the parking as well as it being publicised on Tripadvisor, she just denied it and got a bit defensive. All we wanted to suggest was that she could change it, but she became quite hostile so we decided to say chao for now. It’s a shame because the ladies that we had met working in the hostel were dolls, maybe the owner was having a bad day.
That view from the hostel balcony
Budget accomodations in Cusco
After a little searching, we found a place to leave the van in a closed car park on Saphi where the lovely Don Juan lives with his family and is charging us 15 soles/3.60 gbp/5.47 usd per day. He let us stay a while to fix the window, it seems that it was installed in a rush and became a bit wonky, not ideal.
I scouted around the area for the best deal, I was basically going for as cheap as possible and found the following options along Saphi;
Backpackers: for 28 soles/6gbp/ 10usd per person per night for a shared dorm of eight people, breakfast, kitchen and wifi included but no lockers. It seemed quite nice. It was an option but I decided to keep looking just in case.
Hospedaje Amargura: 50 soles/12gbp/18usd per night for a private room, shower and wifi or 35 for a dingier room downstairs. No breakfast and a very simple kitchen with no pots or pans.
Hostel Conquista: Just along from the carpark, 40 soles/10gbp/15usd per night but there was a distinct smell of damp in the air so it was a no no.
Magaly: Across the road from the carpark, 30 soles/ 7gbp/ 11usd for a private room with wifi, a simple kitchen and four single beds. I tried to bargain and got away with having the room just for us. It’s simple but very budget friendly. The hot water was being a bit temperamental this morning but seems to work, the wifi signal is ok but sometimes the receptionist is a bit naughty and turns it off to save bills, although he switches it back on straightaway when asked. Everyone here is very nice, they don’t speak English but there’s nothing a bit of miming can’t solve.
Extreme internetting (yes that is a made up word) in Magaly hostel.
After contracting salmonella in Bolivia nearly two years ago, I have to be a bit more careful with what and where I eat as I’m still a bit prone to a bad tummy which is annoying because I used to enjoy being able to eat like a local.
Our first meal was eaten in Govinda, a vegetarian restaurant which was a bit pricier than what I wanted to spend but we decided to treat ourselves because of the crazy drive the day before. A shared starter, a main each and a juice came to 40 soles/10gbp/15usd which I thought was a bit pricey! Maybe I’m being too vigilant with the budget, I don’t know. In the evening you can ask for the ‘menu’ which is set for 7 soles, now that’s a bargain. The food was nice but not incredible, but I’m convinced that could have something to do with the altitude.
San Pedro Market: A typical South American market where you can always find a good bargain, we had a plate of fried fish, lentils, rice and a mini salad for 3.50 soles each which is more my kind of price. We don’t eat meat so were a little bit more limited than others, soups, mashed potato with steak, pasta and cebiche (although I wouldn’t go for it because we’re not close to the sea) were also available as well as juices and deserts. We also did some food shopping and bought a big bag of vegetables for 20 soles/5gb/8usd. The market and it’s surrounding area is great for anything you may want to buy, from hats to rope.
Valeriana is a beautiful coffee shop across from the grass on Avenida el Sol where we spent all of yesterday working. A yummy hot chocolate, a latte, two croissants and two vegetable lasagnes came to the grand total of 53soles/13gbp. Probably a little bit more than I was hoping to spend but we spend the best part of a day there. Fans of Amy Winehouse and Adele will especially like the limited musical repertoire (i.e. about five hours on a loop).
Orion supermarket across from San Pedro market is great for a few things to cook which totalled another 20soles.
Street food: last night we crept out for a late snack and bought a fried cheese and salad sandwich and another with extra egg for 5.50 soles/1.30gbp on the corner of Saphi and Amargura.
Tamales: a delicious snack made with dried corn and served either sweet or savoury either boiled or steamed in a corn leaf for 1sole/24pence each. There’s usually someone in the Plaza de Armas selling them. If you can, try humitas which are a heavier version made with fresh corn.
Coincidentally, we arrived here just in time for the Corpus Christi festival which means there has been a lot of music and dancing around the city for the past few days. Whenever there’s a religious festival in South America, it’s ok to have a beer in the main square, so we decided to have a little sit down in the Plaza de Armas with two large bottles of Cusqueña and a giant bag of crisps for 12soles/2.90gbp until the cold was too much, and then we skipped home.
15 effigies of saints are carried to the Plaza de Armas
The effigies were accompanied by lots of singing and dancing and a bright blue sky
There was food and beer galore which was even more glorious in the sunshine
The two nights out that we had in Cusco were spent in Mushrooms which overlooks the previously mentioned Plaza de Armas. Luckily our drinks were free because Rulo was expertly spinning his vinyl (as usual), but looking at the prices the drinks weren’t too expensive (I wouldn’t recommend eating there) and it was nice and warm. Local DJ Jon Aragon is joined once in a while by guest DJs such as Rulo and Jaime Cuadra, who is the ambassador for Peruvian culture.
Pricier than we originally thought, Cusco can be done on a budget if you are wise.
Next up: Finally heading out of the cold and down to see the Nazca lines.