Monday, 23 December 2013

Backpacking through Arequipa Peru

Arequipa's main plaza

After a full day of recovery from our Salkantay adventure we decided to get the night bus to Arequipa. We booked our bus about 5 minutes before the bus left. When we got on we recognized four other travelers on the bus; Caroline and Inge from our Huayna Potosi Adventure, and Charlotte and Warren from our Salkantay trek.

While waiting for our bus to depart, a local merchant was on the bus selling what we thought was a delicious block of dark Chocolate. Brian eagerly bought some and took a massive bite out of it, whilst I took a little nibble. It turned out to be a horrible tasting coca paste, used for making hot chocolate drinks.

The bus was more than full, with people sleeping in the aisles. We arrived at around 8am, two hours late but a perfect time to look for a hostel. Charlotte and Warren had been recommended a quiet hostel that sounded perfect. We shared a taxi and made our way to the Amazing Home Hostel. It was close to amazing with great pancakes for breakfast, actually decent wifi and a hot shower.

The four of us wandered into town for breakfast. The town square was surrounded by beautiful colonial designed buildings made out of white porous volcanic rock. We found a cheap but average breakfast overlooking the main plaza at The Tuturutu. The food was simple and didn’t quite manage to satisfy our hunger. The bill was half what we expected, which was a pleasant surprise!

The local market was really cheap, selling a wide range of food and goods. We spent about 10 cents NZ for a big bushel of parsley, 40 cents for 4 fresh buns and $2 for a couple of hot empanadas filled with cheese and meat. Freshly blended juices were available directly across from the raw meat stalls, which we pretended to ignore so our appetite wasn’t instantly killed.

Dinner at Peruita Pizzaria was really good, we shared a large jug of Sangria over a pizza.

We ended up staying in Arequipa longer than expected due to the buses to Colca Canyon all being full. We booked a bus to Chivay, about two hours drive away from Colca Canyon, that left at 5pm. This left us with an extra free afternoon in Arequipa. We used the time to visit the historic Monastery of Santa Catalina which had beautiful architecture, artwork and history.

There were many long hallways filled with religious artworks

The monastery took up an entire city block with one guarded entrance. The rooms were referred to at the monastery as cells and some of them were as small as prison cells.
Porous rock makes a slow water filter

The kitchens all seemed to feature pizza ovens.

The outside featured vegetable gardens built into rock and bathing/washing tubs with novel plumbing:

You can see more reviews of Monastery of Santa Catalina on tripadviser. The rest of our photos are in this Google+ album.

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