2 days one night felt like just enough in this beautiful city.
04.10.2013 - 06.10.2013
It took no less than 30hours to get from Trujillo all the way down the coast to Arequipa, the first bus was luxurious, reclining seats and personal tablets, unfortunately it arrived too late to catch my next bus and therefore I was put on one that meant I was waiting around for 8 hours. Finally the second bus departed but much to my disappointment there was no sign of personal screens or extra leg room. Instead there was Bingo and several films blaring out over the course of the journey!
I set off at 9pm on Thursday and finally arrived in on piece and quite in awe of the landscape at 7am on Saturday morning!
Decided I needed a walk to refresh myself as well as stretching my legs after the confinement of the bus. I skipped passed the hoards of taxi drivers and was away following my google maps to 'Friendly AQP hostel' I was determined to beat the estimated 55mins walking time, and even after a wrong turn I managed to navigate myself to the door in under 50, I call that a win.
Checked into a brand spanking new hostel, managed to speak relatively well with the Peruvian girl at reception and finally sat back and relaxed in my bed for a while. The room was empty apart from a German guy named Oliver, it had 8 beds (4bunks) each with its own personal curtain which was a nice touch.
We were soon joined in the room by a kiwi couple who had just arrived from Bolivia, I made sure I would pick their brains about where to go when I got the chance.
Oliver and I decided a tour that took us out of the city would be a good idea, before that though it was time to eat something, I was starving. On the recommendation of the receptionist we ventured to a place about half a kilometer away which served a 'menu' which is a set price for starter and main. We had an. Interesting seafood soup to start and then a meat and rice plate for the main.
We then scouted around for half an hour to see what prices we could find, in the end we settled for a four hour tour that cost twenty soles. We had an hour before it started so took some time to explore the plaza de Armas and surrounding churches which were all very beautiful. I also managed to change my 4dollars which I had had in my wallet since Lima a month ago!
2pm came around rather quickly and we scooted back to the tour agency who took us along with many other tourists (most Peruvian) to a bus that had definetly seen better days! Nevertheless we took our spots on the top deck and allowed Arequipa to wash over us.
The tour took us to some great places to get a Birdseye view of the city as well as stunning sights of the mountains that create a backdrop for Arequipa. We also stopped at a llama inspired museum where we saw how the wool is weaved into all sorts of garments and rugs...genuine llama wool products are expensive!
In the end the tour took a little over 5hours, we were exhausted and settled for a quick empanada (pasty) and cake dinner!
The kiwis were also tired from their day out exploring so we decided to relax with a couple of games of pool and tasting some of Oliver's fruit juice concoctions.
The next day I woke too late for the free breakfast! I did manage to charm my way into some bread rolls and tea which I took my time over in the garden of the hostel, sun beaming down and not a cloud in the sky, by 11am it was becoming one of the hottest days I had had in Peru.
My second and final day was spent wandering around the streets of the city, I had the intention of exploring the monastery of Santa Catalina but in the end just enjoying the pictures in the entrance was enough for me. It was Sunday so the many churches were dressed to impress, I managed to explore several around the area as well as crossing over the river to a church a little higher on the hillside.
The afternoon I was invited by two American girls to the chocolate factory, they had already been and this would be their second time, I felt like that was a good enough review to joins them.
The staff there were very friendly and welcoming, we settled in with a piece of chocolate cake which turned out to be too rich for me to finish...and some complimentary tea, made from the shells of cocoa beans. Very tasty. As we left the manager, with whom we'd spoken to quite a lot, gave us a free bag of these shells to make our own tea at home.
It really was a good end to the day, we returned to the hostel, I had intention of cooking the famous shakshuka that I've practiced a lot since the Israelis in Lima taught me. Unfortunately with my ambitious intention of walking back to the station I didn't have too much time so that idea was scrapped!
I did however manage to promote my Readaway project with the kiwi girl, we swapped books and I hope that starts the process of getting the word out there.
Arequipa is a quiet city, very beautiful and clean which was a nice step up from the dusty streets of Trujillo. Certainly would recommend the hostel, it is brand new and the staff are constantly helping you with any advice and cooking you lovely pancakes for breakfast.