Arequipa is the second biggest city in Peru with a population of approximately 900,000. The city is surrounded by 3 volcanoes (2 dormant and 1 active) called Misti, Pikchu Pikchu and Chachani – the last eruption took place 280 years ago. It is a beautiful little white building city, built using locally sourced lava rock.
We arrived in Arequipa after a very loooooooong 17 hour bus ride, checked into La Hosteria and passed out for half of the day.
Unfortunately, Kieran was feeling under the weather and I was still recovering from the stomach bug, so the first day was spent sleeping, wandering the streets and checking out where to eat.
Below are a few recommendations for those planning a visit:
- Crepisimo: fabulous crepes (savory and sweet) with a great outdoor patio and a rooftop with a stunning view.
- Zig Zag: this is rated #1 on Tripadvisor and what a great little gem. I didn’t get to eat much there (other than delicious quinoa soup), but Kieran really enjoyed the meat trio (which included Alpaca meat).
- Hatunpa: this was probably a favorite; hatunpa means “large potato”. For $5, you get this awesome potato (papa) dish with various toppings. You can choose from 6 different potato types. Obviously, the Irish had all 6!
- Free walking tour: we had an awesome guide, Edgar, who did a fantastic job telling us about the history of the city, touring the market and giving us all kind of tips and recommendations.
- Mercado San Camilo: this is by far my favorite place because it is just simply fascinating. The amount of people, the fruits, vegetables, and then there are the herbs. Oh, the herbs! I went a bit nuts buying all kind of goodies (no idea if any of it will actually work). First, there is Munya, which is supposed to alleviate menstrual cycle pain – check! Then, there is Coca leaves, which help with altitude sickness (and coca candy) – check! Then, there is Maca, which is supposed to make men “strong” – obviously not necessary, thus not bought. (Kieran’s note: My cereal has started to taste a little funny lately…)
The potato section was also a hit:
- Chaquchao Organic Chocolate Class: 3 hours of heaven for me. I got to learn all about Cacao and made my own tray of chocolates. The owner (pictured below) is Peruvian who used to work at Dandelion Chocolate in San Francisco and learned some of his techniques from this yummy chocolate shop; if you are in SF, do give it a try! This is an awesome class and for $20, worth every penny!
- Monestario de Santa Catalina: a city within a city. This monastery has been home to an order of Dominican nuns since the late 16th century. While Alina was busy learning how to make her own Nutella, Kieran took a one hour guided tour and spent a further hour or more wandering through the quaint streets. Well worth a visit for anybody interested in history.
Arequipa was a gorgeous little treat, especially after a big city like Lima. We spent 2.5 days there and would have liked to stay another two so we could have made the trip out to Colca Canyon, but due to our Machu Picchu booking, we had to keep going. Next up, an 11 hour bus ride to Cusco! Nutella will not be consumed!