Well Arequipa is just beaut! We had a nice few chilled out days here in the “White City” before our Colca Canyon two-day trek and I have to say, we were both quite taken with the whole place! Even the banks are pretty…
We arrived early on the overnight Cruz del Sur bus from Nazca and straight away we loved our hostel, Friendly AQP. The staff were great, showers were hot, and there were free hot drinks 24\7! As a tea lover, I was in my element. The bunks were also really comfy and each bed had a curtain around it, which was so great when people were often up and about at 3am to go trekking.
After a fairly lazy morning we decided to join a free walking tour to see more of the city.
The tour was great and took us up to the Yanahuaria area with its amazing viewpoint of the city and surrounding volcanoes. We even got to try the local queso helado (cheese ice cream), which wasn’t as weird as you might think, and finished the tour with free Pisco Sour samples at a bar in the Plaza de Armas. The bar overlooked the whole square so we stayed for another drink to watch the sunset.
The next day we had a wander around the indoor market, which sold everything from fresh juices to tripe to sombreros. Weird but wonderful!
We also decided to go back up to Yanahuaria since it was such a chilled area and nice to get away from the busy main Plaza. We wanted to go to a picanteria (traditional restaurant) for lunch so that Joe could try the local delicacy – guinea pig – but they were a bit out of our budget backpacker price range. Don’t worry, we are both still keen to find Joe some guinea pig to try…!
Instead we came across a little gem of a restaurant called Ocopa, just a stone’s throw from the Mirador viewpoint and with a great Menu del Dia – soup, a main, and a drink for only 15 soles (about £3.50). The portion sizes were huge, food was delicious, and the staff were so nice and patient with us while we practised our Spanish.
On our way back into town we stopped by a few market stalls and I spotted a hat and scarf that I wanted to have in case our next stop, Cusco, was cold. I tried my hand at some haggling, asking the last if I could have both for 30 soles (£7.50) instead of 40 soles.
Before we knew it, we’d got ourselves into a conversation about Brexit and laying it on thick about how expensive the UK property market is.
We actually had a great chat and the woman was really lovely, although our sob story didn’t work and we still had to pay 40 soles. Still, we felt like we’d achieved something so with a confidence boost and our wallet slightly lighter, we said adios.
The next weird thing happened back in the Plaza de Armas. After a while of me taking photos and people-watching, I noticed that Joe was busy chatting to a local lady. Thinking she was hassling him about having food at her restaurant or pressuring him to book a local tour with her, I went across to try and save him.
It turns out that I had made a totally wrong assumption and she was in fact an English teacher who wanted to interview a tourist to find out their opinion of Arequipa. She was actually really nice and wanted to make a film to persuade people to visit the city. Since Joe has a face for camera, she wanted him to be the interviewee and I became camerawoman (I’m not going to read anything into that).
I’d had my weird moment of fame in Huacachina so found it hilarious that Joe was now being the face of Arequipa. The video has proved pretty popular on Facebook!
Last thing to note about Arequipa – the bin lorries play Under the Sea from The Little Mermaid on loudspeaker. We loved it until it became stuck in our heads for days.
We definitely recommend a stop in Arequipa to see its beautiful white buildings, enjoy the local scenery, and use it as a base for Colca Canyon treks!
Have you ever visited Arequipa? Does your town have musical bin lorries? Leave us a comment below! Follow us on Instagram @pitkinswithpassports for more of our travel photos.