To celebrate our first Christmas as a married couple, we decided to fly to Peru, and eat and drink our way from Cusco to Machu Picchu to Lima. Here’s part one of our oral history of that trip: Christmas in Cusco.
Day 1: Views of Peru, Papachos, and Piscos
Megan: I slept through most of our flights to Peru. And when I woke up, I got to see breathtaking views of the green AF mountains of Cusco — mountains I’d soon be climbing on our trek to Machu Picchu!
Mike: But first, we had three nights to acclimatize in Cusco. It’s over 11k feet, and the altitude takes some getting used to. As Megan was a bit challenged by Bogota, which is closer to 8k feet up, I talked her into taking Diamox for this trip — and we planned to slowly ramp up our activities before the serious hiking began.
When I stayed in Cusco six years ago to go on a different Machu Picchu trek, I remember seeing the Palacio Del Inka and thinking it would be an amazing place to stay if I brought back my wife sometime for an almost honeymoon, or won the lottery. Luckily, the last eight months of working every day on ‘The Gifted’ made me feel just fine about spending a few ducats to relax — and this hotel was a perfect way to settle into Peru.
Megan: I’m so glad he went with “wife on an almost honeymoon” because the hotel is wonderful. The location is right next to what used to be an ancient Incan temple but got converted into a church. And I’m not mad at at all that it’s the view of from our tiny adorable balcony. The hotel used to be a museum in the ‘70s, so the layout is vast with almost endless hallways and rooms and it’s easy to get lost. Plus they have a constant supply of Coca tea which helps with altitude sickness side effects.
Mike: We fought off our exhaustion to venture over to Papacho’s for lunch. Getting burgers isn’t exactly the most Peruvian thing to do — but it’s the casual chain started by my favorite South American chef (Gaston Acurio) — and there were lots of tasty options.
Megan: I got my first sweeping view of Cusco from that burger joint, and I was instantly enamoured. I enjoyed the view of the town square (that was being set up for a giant Christmas market that would dominate the next few days) and realized that Cusco is nestled in a valley surrounded by rolling green hills. I could not stop staring out the window next to our table and just saying “Wow. WOW! This place is gorgeous.”
Mike: After a quick nap, we hit up a more straight-ahead Peruvian joint (Cafe Moreno) for lomo saltado, a nice causa (potato dish), and Megan’s favorite: fried bananas for dessert.
We grabbed some quality cocktails at Museo del Pisco (not actually a museum – just a good cocktail bar) — drinking our first Pisco Sour of the trip — and our first Chilcano (Pisco and ginger ale – their variation had a little Chili kick and a guava flavor. It was amazing).
It was a glorious first night in Cusco, followed by a tough night in the hotel room… Continue reading “Our first “Married” Christmas in Cusco, Peru”