As with all tourists going to Machu Picchu you need to get to Cusco - the flights from Lima are like a bus service, every hour and full both ways. Up through the clouds and the incredible Andes tower even higher... amazing. A taxi into Cusco from the airport should cost you no more than US $7 (told me by a local and what I paid). I stayed in a small hotel on the main square - Plaza de Armas, hotel El Vierrey - clean, great location, nice staff and breakfast enough (although some housekeeping noise can get you - rooms looking onto the square can be noisy). There are loads of suitable hotels in Cusco dependant on your budget, some you may need to book in advance others not and dependant on the time of the year no doubt, but look online you will find one that fits your budget. There was a bank with ATM machine close by that dispended local or US dollars - they open at 9am. DO NOT TAKE any old or tatty US $ - they do not accept them anywhere in Peru, they are very fussy - only new notes if you can. I found they seemed to favour Visa vs. Mastercard. Cash is king though. Cusco was clean, safe and the people friendly and not phased if you didn't want to buy their goods, they accepted that you were just looking. There are some nice restaurants in Cusco. Walk up to San Blas, go up the alley that has the famous 12 sided stone - it is a steep(ish) climb but worth the view and there are lovely shops and sights along the way. On the way back pop into El Piso for a drink - superb new bar/restuarant ... great selection of Pisco Sours like nowhere else - sassy spot. Go to the fruit/veg market - San Pedro there are glorious sights. Many locals wear indigeonous clothing, a photographers delight and they are fine with you taking picutres (I do however think that asking first is the right way to go about it). Many of the ladies wear amazing hats - gorgeous. The hand crafts are beautiful and one is almost loath to bargain for them. The Inka Museum is so well worth a visit. I went to mass on Sunday morning to the cathedral on the square, the alter is solid Bolivian silver and the black Christ hangs here too (there is not cost to go in on an early Sunday morning). You need to establish what it is you want to see before buying a museum ticket ... you can buy on for the city of Cusco and the other for Cusco & outlying sites. Just walking around you get to see so much, so establish wha tyou really want to see before buying the ticket. Yes, they have a Seattle Coffee shop, it is very nice and you get a great view of the main square from there and sometimes they have a 2 for 1 special on coffees. There are also lovely free trade shops and also ones that support different self help groups. The handcrafts are goregous and full of colour. (I live at altitude) so If you struggle with altitude you need to have perhaps 1 - 2 days here before moving on elsewhere. Machu Picchu is lower than Cusco (3500m). Try the cocao tea - it is like fairly weak black tea but does give you a bit of a high :-) ... try it at least once for the experience - do not take leaves with you through customs..not a good thing! There are so many torus on offer you need to establish where you want to go and what you want to pay for a day trip out of Cusco. Walk the backstreets there are great sights to see and as with any gtravel be aware although I personally never had issues whilst in Cusco.
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