Jeffrey Berk’s Travelogue from Peru – August 1999

Cuzco, Peru.

August 22, 1999.

Well, here we are again…

No more than 48 hours in a foreign country and we are already indoors staring at a computer monitor.

Reporting to you from Cuzco at 11,000 feet. Steph and I have taken it easy so far but both of us have slight headaches due to the altitude. We are in an internet cafe located off a 400 year old plaza filled with 30 to 40 other internet users. Times have changed. Cost for 1 hour is $1.

The plane down to Lima from Atlanta was a bit of a mess. The hydraulics took a dump and we spent 2 hours on the tarmac in Atlanta waiting for repairs. No big deal. We watched Seinfeld to kill the time.

We landed in Lima at 6am and were greeted by Jose Luis who took us to our cute little pension in the San Miguel area of Lima. Steph was thrilled. A very nice, comfy room with pretty tiles and hot water. Ton, the Dutch owner has put a lot of care in the place. Anybody heading to Lima should DEFINITELY stay here. Man, were they psyched when we unloaded on them our chocolate chip cookies from Deedee Reece.

Hostal Mami Panchita

Jr. Bolivar 206, corner of Avenida San Miguel.

Ph: 263-7203 or 263-0749.


Raymi Travel can also get cheap tickets from Lima to Cuzco. Stephanie and I got tickets for $39/person. Currently, the airlines have a quote system in place. Some tickets sell for $39, others at $49, others at $59 all the way up to $89. The hostal cost $25 for a double room.

A quick nap and then off to the Central part of the city for the tourist

walk. Churches, markets, congress building, changing of the Guard at the Royal Palace, shops. Lunch at a charming place in the center of town. Run by nuns, all the proceeds are given to the city poor.

L’Eau Vive

Ucuyali 370. Ph: 427-5612.

Across from the Torre Tagle Palace.

Mon – Sat 12:30 – 3pm for lunch and 7:30 – 9:30pm for dinner.

Lunch is about $10/person. Expensive but money goes to feeding the poor.

After lunch, a quick stop in Chinatown (go for lunch if you have time) and then to the Museo de la Inquisicion. You know – the Inquisition, what a show, the Inquisition, way to go. Nod to Mr. Brooks. Torture. Excellent idea right after lunch. Then on to the catacombs at Catedral San Francisco. Excellent tour guide and highlight of the sights in Lima.

Back to the hotel for a nap and then back out on the town. To Miraflores we went. Truly another world. Fancy streets and neighborhoods, chic shops. We were amazed. Had not really expected this. We went to a fantastic restaurant where Jeff had the most fantastic octopus ceviche. Steph munched on scallops. And a great green corn tamale to start. Foodwise, the trip has started off with a

bang. Yeah, baby.

Las Tejas

Diez Conseco 340. Ph: 444-4360.

Open 11am – 11pm.

Typical Peruvian food. Get the ceviche. It’s awesome!

Cappuccinos at an outdoor cafe in Parque Kennedy watching the world go by. Very hip, cool crowd. Visited Pizza Street and looked in on the discos and decided to head to the area of Barranca to party a bit. Wound up bar and cafe hopping for 4 hours. Went to a great old cafe called “Juanitas” (lots of atmosphere!) where Jeff immediately tried Pisco, a Peruvian brandy. Ole Ole Ole.

Then on to some great other World Class bars. Music mostly Latin

Rock but some Western techno and rock. Some folk and a bit of everything else mixed in. Young crowd. Very stylish. Steph and I truly stuck out like sore thumbs in our Patagonia adventure clothes. Had not packed any club clothes for this trip. Keep in mind, the crowd is mostly 20 year olds. But we didn’t feel out of place (we are both 30).

Drank. Drank some more. Cuzqueno is the beer of most but Jeff enjoys the Cristal. Hard to believe this is Lima. Had so many wrong initial ideas. Very cosmopolitan, sophisticated shops and bars. A fantastic night and friendly people.

Next morning up at 9am and then off to the airport for the flight to Cuzco. Immediately upon stepping off the plane we realized that the altitude was going to hit us. The city sits at 11,000 feet, more than half the height of Everest. Twice as high as Denver. We knew that the altitude would affect us from what we read but nothing could have prepared us for what greeted us when we got off the plane. Air is cool and crisp. But you can not seem to catch hold of it. Strange feeling.

We found a truly charming hotel called Niños Hotel. It was founded by a Dutch woman who moved to Cuzco and adopted 6 street urchins. To support them, she started an inn instead of taking donations. The project was a huge success. The hotel expanded and now there is a waiting list to get in. We lucked out and got one last remaining room!

The rooms are all white with bright painted colors on the wood floors and shutters. Straight out of Conde Nast. Upon arrival we were greeted with 2 huge mugs of coca leaf tea. This local remedy is supposed to offset the effects of saroche (altitude sickness). This type of luxury and charm is not Jeff’s travel style but Steph says she could very easily get used to it. Hmmm, what is happening here?!?

Niños Hotel

Calle Medoc 442. Ph: 235-183.

Email: $25 for a double room. Our favorite place of the trip.

Dinner is pizza (very popular in Peru) on a verandah overlooking the central square with a gorgeous breeze and view of the Central Cathedral. Postcard ready. YEAH!

Café Bagdad

Portal de Carnes 208.

German owner Florian Thurman speaks great English. Service isn’t great but their pizza is excellent. I thought it was best of the lot we tried in Cuzco.

Visit to a little market where Steph was overwhelmed with all of the

goodies… ponchos… conical hats… alpaca sweaters…

Tomorrow – Part Dos (2) – a tour to the local Inca ruins of Sacsayhuaman, Tambomachay, Koricancha, Qenqo and Puka Pucara. Starting off slow. Machu Piccu awaits and we want to be in ready shape.

That is all for now.

Adios. Un beso.

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