Monday, November 9, 2015

#travelpost - Arequipa, Peru

Arequipa is a cool city. 

We arrived really early in the morning from Cusco via our VIP bus... Hence the photos above. 

Arequipa is the second biggest city after Lima and is surrounded by three huge volcanoes. In fact, on the bus ride there, after googling Arequipa, I found an article with the title '5 cities that could be the next Pompeii...' And no surprise that Arequipa was riding high on that list! We chose a cheap hostel with a great rooftop terrace which had views of the city and volcanoes... It was a great setting for breakfast in the sunshine and even better with our free banana pancakes! A really nice change from the free bread and butter we've been getting in most hostels... 

Arequipa was the first time in a while where we felt like we were on holiday rather than travelling... The weather was in the high 20s everyday, the dreamy rooftop was perfect for afternoon beers, the town was pretty and bustling and there were plenty of bars and restaurants. 

We had our fair share of beers, coffees, cakes and a little bit of fast food which is a nice treat when you've been away for so long. We found a nice bar called Arequipa Beer Club which even had a little beer garden up top... We went twice, first for iced coffee and again for some good beer. We also stumbled across a lady selling the famous queso helado cheese ice cream... Named after its texture not its content thank god! It was the creamiest, cinnamon topped ice cream ever. 

We found the local market and we had to go twice because the food was so good. We found the perfect stall selling some of the cities specialties... One of which was pastel de papas. Think of the creamiest dauphinois potatoes with the crispiest top layer! I had mine with roast pork and Haz had his with another special rocoto relleno... Stuffed pepper with cheese and meat.

One of my favourite places in Arequipa was the Santa Catalina Monastery... It felt like a city within a city. It's a maze of courtyards, secret stairways, multi coloured walls and plazas filled with fruit trees. The rich widow that owned it brought over nuns from the wealthiest families in Spain in the 1500s which is why the whole place feels like Andalucia itself. The streets are appropriately named Calle Cordoba, Malaga, Sevilla..and are decorated with flowerpots and hanging plants. 

Between our 4 days in Arequipa we took an overnight tour to Colca Canyon... Ranked second deepest in the world. We visited the local villages, saw wild vicuñas the endangered cousins to alpacas and llamas, went swimming in thermal baths in the mountains and went to the highest point in the area with a height of 4800m above sea level. From that one spot we could see 7 different volcanoes, one of which was huffing and puffing! When we got to the heart of the canyon we left the bus and walked with the group for an hour to the lookout point to see the condors. We were lucky enough to catch two flying right over us when we first got there and they were huge... The adults grow to a wingspan of 2m. We didn't get chance to catch the first two on camera but we caught a few more in the distance later on in the day. 

And that's our time in Peru over with. We're sad to be leaving... But Bolivia calls! Tonight we are staying in Puno on the Peruvian side of the border and tomorrow we cross over to Copacabana on Lake Titicaca. The highest inhabited lake in the world! 

Thanks for reading,
Amiee x

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