Welcome to this week’s Postcard From – the feature where I chat to some lucky explorer about their recent travels. If you would like to take part please get in touch – firstname.lastname@example.org or @em_luxton – I would love to hear from you!
This week’s Postcard comes from one of my favourite cities in South America, Cusco! Michelle Tupy from the blog And Off We Went is travelling with her husband, Matt and two children, Emilia (9) and Matthew (4). Michelle is a content writer for small businesses and is planning to visit Chile later this year. This courageous family have recently purchased a 1982 VW Kombi and are looking to drive it all the way from Cusco, Peru to Niagara Falls, Canada so watch this space – and did I mention she is even planning on writing a book about their travels? Travelling is nothing new for them, and as a family they have visited Canada, Australia, Thailand, China and Peru. Follow Michelle on Twitter @MKileyTupy to stay up to date with their adventures.
Hi Michelle! So, you’re in Cusco – How is it?
We have actually spent the last year and a half in Cusco, Peru and have really enjoyed our time here. Cusco is a great travel destination as there is so much to see and do – regardless of whether you are a single traveller or have a family in tow.
I was there in April and loved it! Where are you staying?
We had a variety of accommodation stays while in Cusco – we started out in a family home and then found ourselves an apartment for a few months on the outskirts of Cusco by the airport. About six months into our stay we stumbled upon a hostel for rent, so that has been our home for the last little while. Luckily for us it was centrally located in an area known as Lucrepata, situated across from a wonderful green park – perfect for all the neighbourhood kids to get outside and play – and close enough to walk to the tourist districts of San Blas and Plaza de Armas.
What have you been getting up to?
With young kids we weren’t so focussed on visiting all of the ruins or doing some of the more difficult treks which this area is particularly known for, however we did visit some of the local ruins around Cusco itself and participate in nature walks every second weekend with a nature group called NaturaNinos. We love eating out and trying local food and visiting museums – the Museo Inka and the ChocoMuseo were definitely two of our favourites. We also enjoyed visiting the animal sanctuary located just outside of Cusco – Ccochahuasi Animal Sanctuary – to date we have been there twice and will probably go again before we leave. For us it is more about immersing ourselves in the culture than just visiting a destination for a week or two at a time.
The Choco Museo was definitely my favourite thing about Cusco! What’s been your highlight so far?
Definitely Machu Picchu – while not in Cusco itself – it is only a short trip away and well worth the visit. For us it was the draw card to come to Cusco in the first place. Machu Picchu is a must see travel destination and totally awe inspiring. It is one of those destinations that you think may not hold up to all the rave reviews – but it definitely does – and more!
Do you have a favourite restaurant in Cusco?
Peruvian food is becoming really popular at the moment and my kids are partial to a plate of lomo saltado or arroz con pollo. I don’t think we have a favourite place to eat – we generally tend to mix it up a bit not favouring one place in particular. I know personally I love a good Pisco Sour and can highly recommend the Museo Del Pisco. Does that count?
I loved Pisco Sour – it’s never as good in the UK! Living abroad is never without mishaps – have you had any funny moments?
My daughter was invited to participate in a beauty pageant in Arequipa (approximately 7 hours from Cusco). That being said, we were told that her traditional “Australian” dress would be made available to us on the day of the pageant as we don’t make a habit of travelling with fancy dresses or national costumes. So on the day of the pageant we went to pick up our costume, only to be presented with an outfit more in tune with the Austrian fashions. It is funny now but at the time it meant a mad rush around the city to find something which we could pass off as Australian… never again!
How’s the weather in Cusco?
Cusco is changeable and can get quite hot when the sun comes out – the evenings tend to be much cooler in comparison. Cusco has a wet and dry season so the more popular months tend to be May-September although it is a popular tourist destination all year round.
Do you have any tips or advice for anyone headed to Cusco?
I recommend not planning everything down to the last detail. Much of the fun and adventure can be found in the most ordinary of circumstances. I see people who come to Cusco for a week and spend every day of it sightseeing and they run themselves ragged. Give yourself plenty of downtime especially to see how you fare in high altitude environments.
What’s the most useful bit of Spanish you’ve picked up?
I think the most well used phrase from my vocabulary would be “¿Cuánto cuesta?” – “how much” is useful in any language!
And now a little more about you. First, what’s your favourite travel read?
Whenever I go somewhere I haven’t been before, I always pick up a travel guide. And while I may not use it all the time or even visit many of the places listed, I love seeing the opportunities which are available to us should we ever decide to venture out and about.
And finally… What do you love most about travelling?
For us, travelling is all about the experiences and the people we meet along the way. Travel, especially lengthy trips, can teach you a lot about yourself and in a way highlights the most important things in life. We learnt many years ago, life isn’t about the stuff we accumulate but the memories we create along the way.
NB – all images are owned by Michelle Tupy