Paul & Cara's Big Trip travel blog

Cusco - A lady and a llama

Cusco - Breakfast in the garden of our hostel

Cusco - Plaza de Armas

Cusco - The Cathedral at night

Cusco - The main square

Cusco - The sun palace

Cusco - Typical street

Cusco - View from St Christobel Church

Pisac - Ruins

Pisac - Ruins

Pisac - Ruins

Pisac - Ruins

Pisac - Ruins

Pisac - after an hour´s climb the end is in sight

Pisac - going down

Pisac - it`s us innit

Pisac - more ruins at the top

Pisac - the first of the ruins

Pisac - the only way is up

Pisac - view of the town from halfway up

Pisac - view of the valley

By rights we should both now be fluent in Spanish. I mean we've done a whole week of lessons, four hours a day and it was private tuition as well. Anyway, we're not - far from it. I think we did learn quite a lot but of course as soon as you try and put it into practise you realise just how little you actually know. Basic conversations are just about manageable but anything beyond that is probably another month of lessons away.

It has actually been quite nice to stay in one place for a while though and Cusco is a great town to unpack the rucksacks in as there's a lot to do. We're staying in a really nice hostel with a little garden, that's just up from the main square. We thought it might be a bit quieter here, but the packs of wild dogs fighting and howling into the early hours ensure that we haven't had a full nights' sleep yet. Apart from the Spanish, we've been catching up on some films at video cafes - most of which are really poor quality as they're copied DVDs, but at least you feel like you're going some way towards the whole cinema experience!

There are loads of ruins in and around town (it's no coincidence that Cusco was the capital of the Inca empire) so we've visited a couple of these, but not all of them, as we don't want to be ruined out before we do Machu Picchu (well, that's our excuse anyway). About an hour out of Cusco, is a town called Pisac. It's famous for its very touristy market selling various levels of gaudy souvenirs that probably seem like a great idea at the time, when you're all caught up in the romantic images of women spinning llama wool and knitting scarves, but would be left languishing in the back of a cupboard once you got home and unpacked. It's also probably better known for the ruins at the top of a mountain just behind the town and it was these that we came to see, thinking it would be a fine preparation for the Inca Trail. At 5km uphill, it was just a tame warm-up which we felt well able to handle, but we're obviously not quite as fit as we stupidly assumed we might be and it was pretty tough-going. It was worth the effort though as the ruins were great and due to the nature of the walk, it wasn't too busy. We felt very pleased with ourselves for having made it to the top, which was a bit sad really but encouraged us to book the Inca Trail on our return and begin the preparations...

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