(As I’m sure you remember from the end of my last post, in the Puno bus station the ticket salesmen-and-women had a cute [and/or annoying, depending on how long you were in the station, I suppose] habit of singing the destinations their booths serviced. ‘¡CUSCO-PUNO-CUSCO-PUNO-CUSCO-PUNO-CUSCOOOOOOOO!’ was another big one, I want to say.)
So we took the afternoon bus from Puno to Arequipa after returning from the lake. This was the place so highly recommended by the Austrian couple we met briefly in line for the bus back down from Machu Picchu. They said it was the most beautiful city they’d been to in Peru. That (plus the write-up it got in our Fodor’s book, and the fact that a Peruvian friend said she hadn’t been there but had heard it was nice, and the fact that we were really ready to be done deliberating over how to finish the trip) was all it took!
We rode Cruz del Sur again, though an agent in Cusco had told us Cruz del Sur didn’t operate between Puno and Arequipa haha. (We learned at some point or another to take almost everything we were told by anyone with a certain amount of skepticism.) Marlon upgraded us to VIP this time (for <$10 a person) so we had nice, roomy seats in which to watch Ant Man.
We stayed at the Hotel San Augutín Posada del Monasterio, named for the Santa Catalina Monastery across the street. We arrived quite late but hungry, so we found some nearby pizza then got some really great sleep. Aside from the nights of New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day (when we had back-to-back nights in Cusco), our time in Arequipa would be the only time on the trip we spent consecutive nights in any place, and we were really happy to have a home base for a couple days.
It really was a beautiful city, with beautiful architecture and Europe-reminiscent plazas and just generally a lot of character. We spent the first morning wandering the area around (you guessed it) the Plaza de Armas; checking out the fantastic Basílica Catedral, and then the smaller Iglesia de la Compañia de Jesús, impressive in its own right on account of its age and intricate carved exterior. The neighboring cloisters have been converted to an outdoor shopping center while remaining quiet and tasteful, so we spent a good amount of time there too.
We wandered around a bit more then got lunch at Istanbul Lounge Bar before heading back to rest up for the afternoon/evening (read: we started watching Making a Murderer— available on Peruvian Netflix!). After a couple hours we convinced ourselves to get up and find some food, and then we got another good night’s sleep.
The next day we did more walking around and checked out the mummy at the Museum of Andean Sanctuaries. Except we didn’t see the main mummy that’s usually there, Juanita. We saw Sara, because they get swapped out every now and then for restoration purposes. They were child sacrifices to volcano gods in the 15th century. Lunch at a place that boasted vegetarian rocoto relleno back in the cloysters; more walking around; pisco sours at a bar with good views of the nearby Misti volcano; more Making a Murderer; then a sort of hilarious but frustrating excursion to find somewhere to have our last meal, where NoThiNg WaS aS iT sEeMeD¡!¡!¡! But we ended up at Casona del Pisco where I got some great ceviche and Marlon finally tried an alpaca steak (he said it was a lot like regular steak. He also never tried cuy while we were there, if anyone was wondering).
We had nearly another full day in Arequipa before flying to Lima the night before we came home, and we spent a good portion of it at the Santa Catalina monastery across from our hotel. But I took a trillion pictures so. This’ll just be the penultimate Peru post.