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Published: April 24th 2013
I slept the whole night through, no gasping woo hoo!
Today we did next to nothing, just getting acclimatised or rather sitting in the garden being lazy! Hunger eventually drove us out and we ate with the locals in a tiny little place with about 8 tables squashed into it, luckily one was free. For £1.30 we had a huge bowl of Peruvian broth (like scotch broth with lots of lentils), followed by chicken, rice and salad, a glass of orange squash and 8 slices of banana for pudding! Bargain!!
We walked back up to the main square and had a bit more of a mooch around the city streets looking at the lovely white buildings and architecture before heading back for more lazing about.
Arequipa is known as The White City, with building built from sillar – a volcanic rock that really shines in sunlight. The huge cathedral and the buildings surrounding the square are built from it, as are lots of the churches and surviving mansions, all with incredible stone carving, scattered around the city. According to the Lonely Planet locals say that ‘when the moon separated from the Earth, it forgot to
take Arequipa’. It is a really lovely place.
We spent the rest of the afternoon in the hotel garden and were joined by a giant tortoise which was wheeled in on a barrow! For some reason this tortoise made a beeline for us and took a real fancy to Howard’s shoes and wouldn’t stop sniffing them! It even followed him around, moving at quite a speed (for a tortoise) and this kept Howard entertained for ages! Dinner that night was on yet another roof top terrace overlooking the square.
23/4/13 The Countryside tour of Arequipa
Another full night’s sleep – marvellous!
So today we took a 4 hour tour on a covered open top bus (does that make sense?). There were only 10 of us on this double decker bus which was great as there was no hanging around waiting for people to get on and off, or queuing for the loos!
What a good day! We had a guide who spoke English and Spanish and was really informative. The route was a loop through all the outlying districts – small towns and villages that now make up part of the greater city.
were fantastic viewpoint stops where you had great views of all three volcano ranges surrounding the city. We saw quaint old churches, all white and elaborately decorated with stone carvings in the baroque (I may have made that up!) style and passed tiny houses perched on hillsides, inca terracing, farm lands and lots of green countryside.
We decided to pay and go into the Mansion del Fundador (only 4 of us did) which was a beautifully resorted old country house that at one point had been used as a silent retreat for the Jesuits before they got kicked out of the country by the Spanish king. It can now be hired out for weddings and business events and what a lovely location for that.
There was even an old painting of one of those Spanish Angels complete with guns like we had seen in Argentina. The house had been occupied by Chilean soldiers in the war and in a cupboard was a huge drawing one of them had made of a Chilean soldier. It was a really interesting visit and the house was beautifully restored.
We also had the compulsory Alpaca factory shop outlet stop, where the
prices were astronomical but you did get to see some alpacas, llamas and a vicuna – which we were warned not to get to close to as it spat!
We left the shoppers to it and went outside to see the lady in traditional dress with a large bird of prey – much more interesting.
There was a stop at an old mill where you could either go in, walk around or go horse riding (never again, remember Nicaragua!!), we left the others to their 15 minute trot and had a local cheese ice cream instead – so called because it is supposed to look like cheese but in fact has no cheese in it and tastes like dulce con leche mmmm.
Then the bus wound its way back to the city centre through really heavy traffic and dropped us all off near the cathedral. A good trip and a great way to see more of the countryside surrounding the city of Arequipa.
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