Cusco was a nice change of pace from the craziness of Bogotá. While, yes, of course Joe + I were still on guard about pickpockets (like in any city), it was a very different experience being a little more relaxed about safety and hearing English spoken in the streets from passing tourists and, well, seeing tourists around at all.
So, from Bogotá, Joseph and I got up at like 2:30AM to catch a 5AM flight to Lima, Peru and then fly from Lima to Cusco– a tiny, one-runway airport about 20 minutes outside of the city center. We took a cab to our Cusco hostel, fought off the urge to take a nap, and went to explore the city center + Plaza de Armas with a couple of people who we met at our hostel. While we were eating lunch, a big rainstorm passed through, leaving a full rainbow when we came out of the restaurant.
I swear that it wasn’t just because of the rainbow, but I loved Cusco. Plus, I think it was a more classically tourist-friendly city for Joseph than Bogotá has been. There are tons of walking tours through the city center, old churches, scenic views of the hills in the distance (none of the buildings are very tall), and cobble-stone streets to wander along.
However, it should be noted that a huge thing Bogotá has going for it is that you can drink the tap water! Gosh, I missed that luxury almost immediately. Also, since Cusco (and Machu Picchu) see a huge number of tourists come through daily, I felt far more like people were always trying to make some extra money off of a gringa like me, and I hate feeling taken advantage of. Cab prices were mysteriously higher than they should be, bus tickets would miraculously increase, and we were told it was “very common” to be charged for a 30% tip at restaurants… Yea. Sure. Fortunately, I speak Spanish and could attempt to haggle prices down, and, in the case of the 30% tip, a Chilean girl argued with the waiter on our behalf.
Anyway, after sleeping like 13 hours and a brief dealing with Traveller’s Tummy, it was Day #2 in Cusco. We went on a walking tour of the city center, ate, and rested up for Machu Picchu early the next morning.