How to get there: We got there by bus from Copacabana, stopping in Puno first. Took 12 hours on an overnight bus and we arrived at 6 am to Cusco.
Arriving to Cusco: The beautiful town full of history and culture is a centre for tourism and you will find no problem getting accommodation near the centre. Due to the amount of tourism, accommodation could be expensive if you just turn up. For a superb experience, beautiful views and excellent value for money, check availability at the "Chaska Kawarina" which is where we stayed, and couldn't have chosen any better.
We arrived at 6:30am to the Chaska Kawarina by taxi, which cost 20 soles, but should've cost 10. On arrival we knew that we wouldn't have a room ready so early, but Natalia (the owner of the homestay) didn't let us go. She prepared a tea with coca leaves and gave us a room to rest while she prepared the room we had booked.
After resting a while we headed to the city centre to get some food and have a look around which to our surprise led us to a Sunday food market in one of the squares. We found typical dishes of Cusco and decided to try the "escabeche de gallina" (10 soles) made with seasoned vegetables and hen meat. We continued to dessert having chocolate cheesecake and lemon cheesecake (5 soles each piece). Cusco was starting great, but what we didn't know is that all our time there revolved around food.
Around the city centre, there are several shops that sell tours to Machu Picchu, the sacred valley and other attractions nearby. We asked at tourist information about how to get to Machu Picchu, and receiving a disappointing answer (we either had to pay a lot of money for a train ticket or stay a night in Aguascalientes) we asked one of the guys selling the tour, which gave us a price of 100USD for a whole tour spending a night in Aguascalientes. We bought it.
We tried then getting to the Choco Museo (museum of chocolate) which I thought was the best way to continue a day that was working out close to perfect. But we instead of finding the museum we went into San Pedro market, where artisans sold cheese, bread, veggies, souvenirs and traditional clothes. The market also has a food court area, where you can enjoy Peruvian fast food (usually eggs, chips and rice) indoors.
Going back to the hostel, we had a night of laughter and fun with the other guests who soon became friends, Natalia the host, Naoki (Japanese), Lore and Luis (Mexican) and 3 Koreans, all sat in the living room telling stories about our travels and sharing, and playing cards. It was definitely one unforgettable night.
We woke up the following morning looking to do some sightseeing, and so we headed to the main square, went back to search for the chocolate museum and ended up going to the coffee museum, we did a free tour in the museum and tried some coffee. We then decided to go for more and buy a couple of drinks while chatting to Katerina, a Russian lady working in the museum. We chatted for hours fascinated about her story and all she knew about Cusco and about travelling through Russia. We left and went to find the Temple of the Moon that she had previously recommended.
To go to the Temple of the Moon all you need to do is take a taxi up to Villa San Blas, pass Qenqo and walk the path on your right. You can also do it by horse for 5 soles, but we decided to skip it. The beauty of this free attraction was impressive, we didn't stay long but while walking back to the town we found more Inca ruins and an Inca trail. The ruins of Qenqo are 70 soles for foreigners but right on the opposite site of the road you have some free ruins that look impressive.
We did find the chocolate museum eventually, after we came back from our tour, and got to try some artisan chocolate and bought Natalia a bar of chocolate. On our return we met more people, including Rocio from Argentina and Ikka. Ikka is a Finnish guy who completed the walk up to Machu Picchu (4000 steps) from Aguascalientes in 28 minutes! (I took almost two hours). The record time is about 18 minutes.
During our time in Cusco we ate a lot, as I mentioned before and we wanted to make a special mention to some of the food we ate in Cusco for this reason:
Picarones: Some deep fried sweet rings. The taste resembles churros a little bit, but they are covered in some liquid sugar. We paid 2 soles for 4 rings.
Moliente: Moliente is a drink, like a tea that Peruvians believe have healing properties and you can drink it hot or just warm.
Eggs, rice, chips and onion salad: On the side of the road, it cost 3.50 soles, but in San Pedro market it cost 5.
Grilled chicken: It seems to be very popular and our most memorable time eating it was when we shared dinner at the hostel.
People in Cusco are generally happy and talkative, everyone seems to be in a good mood, even when they are working and they like it when a tourist takes an interest into their culture. We utterly fell in love with Cusco, it is a must for anyone visiting Peru to come to the town and enjoy the beauty and the life that locals and tourists enjoy here.
We would strongly recommend Cusco to anyone!!!