9-April-2012 Cusco, PeruWe said goodbye to Rio. I am pleasantly impressed with this city, if I speak Portuguese I wouldn’t mind living in Rio. The people are naturally festive and with their new found economic strength they have a lot to celebrate about. It would be nice to visit this city again when they hold the World Cup in 2014 or the Olympics in 2016.
On the bus to the airport I was appointed to say our group’s thank you to the Brazilian we had most contact with – Ricardo. I am glad I was called to do it because he did a great job and it is easy to say a lot of nice things about him. You can tell that he loves his job – information from him is flowing with ease. His pride of his city is very evident. He made sure everyone had a lot of options to do on our free time and never complained when we kept adding more people to go to the soccer match. Anyone going to Rio may want to check out Belmur Travels for this A-Class service.
Prior to visiting Rio, one is warned of the city as being unsafe for tourist. Any traveller would know that there is no place that is absolutely safe and free of crime. Rio is no more unsafe than any major city. The city is beautiful and the people are pleasant. We’ve walked their beaches and major streets at night and in no time did it felt unsafe. Rio is definitely one of the best cities to visit. If anything, there is no shortage of beautiful people there.
The trip to Cusco started early. We left the hotel at 3:30am to catch a 5 hour flight to Lima, Peru. There we waited several hours for an hour flight to Cusco. At the airport, I had Mackers for lunch, at this stage of the trip – I wanted food that has a familiar taste. Rio had a lot of restaurants but food on places we ate was generally too salty for my palate.
We arrived in Cusco and we were driven to Casa Andina which is at the heart of the city, close to a very old and very large cathedral. After checking in, Jeanne and I went about to check out the town. Cusco is nestled 3450 meters above sea level and I’m already beginning to feel the effect of the altitude. Surprisingly – Jeanne is very much OK.
We checked out this shop being attended on by a 10 year old Peruvian named Kella. She put on the charm and Jeanne and I melted and were captivated. She speaks with youthful cheer but what impressed me is her ability to make decisions and haggle with Jeanne like an adult. Her grandma was on an opposite shop and I asked if I could take photos of her and her brother who is also as cheeky. If this childish charm was a con to make us buy more, then it had worked on us – unashamedly.
Further into these narrow streets and alley ways, our attention was caught by a smell of fresh bread. Although there were tables and chairs around it, it does not look like a cafe. Nevertheless, I asked if I could have coffee and bread and they said ‘Si Senor, upstairs’.
There was a narrow spiral staircase but I was not sure whether we should go up – it looks more like an escape hatch than an entry to a cafe – but we did. On top, however, is an impressively presented restaurant with a bar, fine candle light dining and bar stools near their classic windows. We just entered the establishment from their bakery kitchen instead of their main entrance.
We ordered coffee and bread for tea. The waitress even gave us some olives. The bread is so delicious – Jeanne asked if she could get a loaf. The waitress then tried to see if they can sell one but it was exclusive for their restaurant and didn’t have a price for it. We were taking photos in the restaurant as tourist would, and the waiter noticed that my espresso would have already turned cold by the time I sat down for a drink. He said, ‘Senor, don’t drink that I’ll make you a fresh one’, and he did.
Jeanne and I vowed to keep the restaurant a secret from the group and dine there later that night, but the secret is hard to keep. At a tour briefing later that night – the Ciccioni Restaurant was highly recommended by the tour organiser. I am not sure whether some of our group actually picked up on it, but later that night – Jeanne and I went out to go and have dinner there. Half-way to the shop, the altitude sickness was really getting to me. Dinner would have been futile. Jeanne decided that we skip it and crash-in for the night.