Words || Anni Lewis
Favourite city and why?
Cusco! This is where I was based for the month and it was an incredible city. Stepping off the plane there is the initial shock at seeing the rundown buildings and the unfinished roads and the stray dogs that roam all the streets. The beauty of the city comes from the surrounding mountains, the archaeological remains of the Incan Empire and the smiles the Peruvians offer as they pass you by.
The Plaza de Armas, the city centre, is a stark contrast to other city centres such as New York’s Manhattan. The main features are the cathedrals and the quadrant of grass surrounded by the cobblestone roads. There is a Starbucks and Maccas and other such western chains but they are hidden from site in older buildings with small signs replacing the gaudy large signs you see in America and Australia.
Locals can pick the tourists a mile away and offer you all sorts of jewelry, textiles and services and bartering the price is always fun.
Five items that were an absolute must-have on your trip to Peru:
- Cash! The Peruvian currency is sols and you will need cash for most places that you eat or buy at. The exchange rate is 1 sol to .40 AUD.
- Get a good rain jacket — this is the one time K-mart is not the answer! The weather is so temperamental! One minute it’s sunny and warm, two minutes later it’s windy and raining.
- A pocket Spanish dictionary … this will be your best buddy if you don’t speak Spanish. A lot of the locals, including taxi drivers, don’t speak English very well. My first day involved my buddy and I frantically looking for the word to say go straight as our hand gestures almost resulted in a car crash.
- A local sim. These are super cheap and are great as the wi-fi can be really dodgy but the signals on these are pretty good, so I was able to snapchat and Facebook to my heart’s content to make people jealous.
- First aid kit. This is pretty crucial for when you are travelling to places that don’t have access to the medication we do. Gastro stop and hydralate may or may not have saved me a couple of times…
Did you find any sights or activities down the road less travelled in Peru?
I was doing volunteer work at the time so there wasn’t a lot of opportunity for me to go exploring. On the weekends we would go to the sites that Peru is known for such a Saksaywaman, Machu Picchu and Ollantaytambo.
However, living out of the main city in one of the suburbs was challenging and amazing at the same time. We didn’t have access to as much as we do here in Sydney in terms of food and activities but living there for so long I was really able to immerse myself in the culture.
What was the budget like?
Peru is every student’s dream! You can get a decent meal for 15 sols (about $6AUD) and beers and cocktails for about the same or even less. 20 mins taxi rides are between 10 – 15 sols (between $4-6A UD), the cost of a taxi and an uber when I got home was a major shock to the system!
#Foodbucketlist: Best eats?
You have to be careful in Peru where you eat as the standards of hygiene aren’t what we are used to, but I will admit sometimes I thought stuff it and prayed to the gods I wasn’t going to end up with food poisoning. Food is bae and when it looks good I just can’t say no!
Around the plaza itself there is one places I would suggest as a must do: Cholos. Tucked away in a courtyard we came upon this place upon the recommendation of a stranger we befriended who had spent 20 years in and out of Peru. Cheap craft beer pints and burgers…what else is there?
Apart from that Peruvian cuisine is incredible full of flavor and carbs…mmm! Try whatever you can as it is all so delicious.
What advice would you give to other people travelling?
- Do all the major sites like Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley, they are breathtaking and unlike anything I have ever seen before!
- If you can stay there for as long as possible. You see and get so much more when you have time to explore and almost liver there.
- Learn phrases like ‘how much’, directions and ‘where is the toilet?’ They will save you time and stress.
- Drink lots and lots. This will help with the difference in altitude.
My travel mantra is…
Just do it. Often the place you are visiting is a once in a lifetime opportunity so do everything and anything you can.
If you’re enjoying Grapeshot Online, come meet us irl February 27, at the launch party of our next issue, Daddy! It’s at Ubar at 4:30pm, and there will be drink vouchers, temporary tats, and bangers.