We started our local touring at two Inca sites: Saqsaywamán and Q'enqo. Both were made of large boulders (from a few hundred to several thousand pounds) and in Incan fashion, all carefully chiseled out to fit together with only extremely narrow seams. It is hard to picture how this was accomplished with only manual labor...but there are theories about ramps and rolling the rocks on logs or round rocks.
|Just think about how they got that stone on top of this gate...|
Later in town we visited the Cathedral, built using blocks pilfered from the nearby Inca site of Sacsaywamán. The interior of the Cathedral was impressive because of the massive amounts of glitzy silver and gold side chapels. Drat no photos allowed. But we bought a couple postcards.
|Choir stall, copied from the cathedral in Toledo|
|Last Supper, copied from a postcard.|
That dark round protrusion on the righ MAY be a portion of the temple of the sun.
From there we said good-bye to Harry and went for lunch at Papachos, a Gaston Acurio restaurant where we had Tapitas Papacheras (bruschetta with "bacon, elderberry, cheese, sour cream and spearmint sauce, and a hot rocoto pepper sauce." Bill had the Porteña burger (with "cheese, avocados, sauteed onions, parsley & garlic chimicurri, lettuce & tomato"). Pat had the Mac & Chis made with "Paria Andean cheese with a spicy bite".
Saturday we visited the MAP museum of pre-columbian artifacts. Pieces in the collection date from 1250 B.C to.1532 A.D. with galleries reflecting works of the major cultures of Peru including Nasca, Mochica, Huari, up through Inca (starting with the earlier cultures). We found the artwork interesting, some pieces seeming quite primitive and others, like these two bottles, from the period 1250 BC to 1 AD, more contemporary.
And how about this set of earrings!? Yep, they are about 4” in diameter and go in the earlobe.
After visiting the museum we went to the Fallen Angel, a restaurant with funky decor and excellent food. The photos are the best descriptors of this unique eatery.
|Our complementary starter (kalmata olives with marinated cheese cubes)|
|Asparagus Quinotto - made with asparagus accompanied with oyster mushrooms, artichokes and lake algae|
|Vegetable Melody - grilled pumpkin & beet slices, with baby onions in pisco and red wine syrup, fresh orange wedges, huacatay oil and tree tomato vinaigrette|
|What happened to those desserts???|
|The funky decor includes a metal angel and glass tables supported by bathtubs with resident gold fish. Note the heart stuffed seating and the 4-eyed cat eyeing the goldfish.|
The San Pedro market was our next stop. The large area has stalls offering clothing, fruits, vegetables, meats, and a lot more. As with any market you can get lots of cool photos, but our favorite is this mix of corn.
As we were leaving the market, a procession was approaching the local church. We stopped to watch and compare the local festivities to those in San Miguel. A lot of similarities.
|This group was well supplied with Cusqueña beer.|
|That kid on the left sure hops high!|
|Not sure what he represents, but he is definitely colorful.|
Sunday we visited the Museo de Historia Regional which follows the history of the area through the Incas and Spanish. It is an eclectic museum housed the home of the Inca-Spanish chronicler, Garcilaso de la Vega...the son of a Spanish conqueror and an Inca noblewoman. He is recognized for his chronicles of Inca history, culture, and society. The chronologically arranged collection begins with arrowheads from the Preceramic Period and continues with ceramics and jewelry of the Wari, Pukara and Inca cultures. The final exhibit is on the life of Garcilaso, also very interesting. Again, no photos.
Then we returned to Cicciolina. Remember last Sunday’s promise for more on this restaurant? We began with an "Arugula & fresh basil salad with duck proscuitto, goat feta, pickled baby onions, roasted tomatoes, and sugared almonds. It was served with grained red quinua drizzled with a green olive dressing".
Bill had "Fillet of Alpaca with a creamy 4 pepper sauce. Served with crispy yuca soufflé and roasted tomatoes". The fillet was AMAZINGLY tender. Pat’s choice was "Cracked pepper pappardelle tossed with a salsa of smoky grilled chicken, roasted onions, sweet zucchini, peppers, mushrooms sautéed in dry white wine and creamy parmesan. Topped with fried garlic slices". Pat rarely orders chicken and she far prefers dark meat, but this white meat was juicy and extremely tasty. A good choice. The wine, Intipalka Tannat.
To finish the meal "a white chocolate mouse mounted on a soft whisky brownie. Drizzled with warm butterscotch sauce, sprinkled with toasted chia & served with little mint jellies". Oh, and we also had Oporto Malamado from Argentina.
Pat liked this sign and plans to take it seriously. Oh, wait. She already has.
On Monday, we first visited The Museo de Pisco, an excellent tasting room and tapas bar. It was a great place to get educated on Pisco while having a light snack.
Pisco is a colorless or yellowish-to-amber colored brandy produced in Peru and Chile. Made by distilling fermented grape juice into a high-proof spirit, it was developed by 16th century Spanish settlers as an alternative to brandy that was being imported from Spain. It had the advantages of being produced from abundant domestically grown fruit and hence avoided the need to transport the drink from Spain and up to remote high-altitude regions.
Our knowledgeable Pisco guide, patiently described the types of Pisco and how they are produced. He also provided a great charts with provided much information on the history as well as the making and styles of Pisco. Our favorite of the tasting was a Torontel, made from torrontes grapes. We were particularly taken by the jasmine & peach characteristics.
We had planned to visit the Museo of Popular Arts to learn more about the local crafts. Apparently it is quite small and has erratic hours. In any event, it was closed. We moved on to the Museo de Inka.
The Museo de Inka provided another lesson on pre-Inca through Inca cultures, as well as the Spanish conquest and its impact on the culture. We are slowly getting better at recognizing some of the many early cultures of the area. The displays feature pottery, jewelry, weavings, mummies, dioramas and the world’s largest collection of queros (ceremonial Inca wooden drinking vessels). Again, no photos allowed but here's a photo of a quero taken from the museum ticket.
As we exited the museum, we saw this group and couldn't resist the photo op.
Then we stopped at Baco (a sister restaurant to Cicciolina) for a late afternoon snack (blue cheese and fig pizza) along with an Intipalka Malbec. A nice finish to our next to last day in Cusco.
A quipu is a knotted-string device used for record keeping by the Incas. The name comes from the Quechua word for knot. The principal component of a quipu was a primary cord to which were attached so-called pendant strings. Subsidiary strings were attached to the pendant strings. Information was recorded by using a range of colors, changing the direction of the spinning of the strings and by attaching more strings as subsidiary strings or pendant strings. Information recorded included census and tribute records, as well as genealogical data.
Lunch was at another fine restaurant, Incanto, where Italian and Peruvian cooking is blended into some very fine food. We started with the house focaccia with a dipping sauce of olive oil with salt & lots of ground pepper. The focaccia was thin and light, very tasty. It seemed like it had been started in a cast iron pan and then placed in the oven for last minute warming.This was followed with Polenta and Funghi, small golden polentan pancakes with a mushroom ragout and parmesan cheese. Delightful.
Bill had Spicy Prawns, prawns fried in a spicy sauce of Peruvian chilies and herbs with "an artisanal tagliolini nero di sepia". Pat had Trout Peperonata, grilled lake trout from Lake Titticaca with stewed peppers, and golden Cusquesnian humitas (fried mashed sweet potato patties) with pesto sauce.
OK, we've done our best to sample the cuisine of Cusco. Time to move on to the Amazon.
Oh, but one last stop: the Jesuit Church, the one that threatened to overtake the cathedral in beauty. The outside wins. But we had to see how the inside compared. It definitely contains some very fine work but not to the level of the cathedral. Part of the problem may be that the chapels are too black with soot from ages of burning candles. They certainly are not as stunning as in the cathedral. Again... Sorry, no photos.