It's been a week here in Cusco now and I finally feel I have gotten used to being at this altitude. Cusco is 3400 metres above the sea level. Therefore getting altitude sickness is possible and you should have a few days just to rest and take it easy if you come from lower areas, like me.
I took a LATAM's one-hour-flight to Cusco in the early morning from Lima. The service was very good and the aircraft was half-full. The sunrise and the mountains looked magical from the airplane window and I could not have been more excited just to arrive there after crazy 50 hours of travelling.
At Cusco airport, I thought I would not breathe ever again, according to the internet! But even it's true that the oxygen is not rich I didn't have major issues with breathing. I took a taxi from outside the airport doors, which is a mistake, I know. If you bother to walk a few steps outside the doors you'll find taxis way cheaper. However, I was so tired and exhausted and just wanted to arrive at my hostel.
The taxi drive took a good 15 minutes and the driver was more than eager to explain me his story of life with too many details. He also decided to invite me for a beer in the evening. I guess he didn't like my answer because he ended up charging me 30 soles, which is at least a double price. So make sure to haggle the price before getting into a taxi
First days in Cusco, went pretty well I'd say. I had prepared myself for extreme conditions such as stomach pain - so called '' Inca's curse'' and altitude sickness as well, but I ended up feeling bad only for the first evening which most likely was due to travelling and jet lag.
Cusco is a home for nearly 500,000 residents and it is located in the southeast part of Peru in the middle of the Andean mountains at the elevation of 3400 meters. Cusco welcomes you with different scents - good and bad as well as the cold morning breeze. The sun rises early and the temperature rises quickly as well ,usually to around 18-21 celsius during June-July. Mornings are the best time to explore the city as the sun goes down quite early, around 6PM and the temperatures drop dramatically for the night. Even the temperatures don't reach huge numbers, the sun is very tough and you should always use sunblock.
The main areas in Cusco are Plaza de Armas and Plaza San Francisco and the nearby Mercado San Pedro (market). That's the heart of the city as well as the historical part of it. The most visited sights are located in this area. This area is naturally more expensive when it comes to eating there so you might want to consider eating somewhere outside of these places.
The best way to move around in Cusco is on foot because the distances aren't too bad and navigating ,with the free map that most accommodations and tourist offices provide, is simple. The main avenues are called Avenida del Sol and Avenida de la Cultura. If you know any Spanish, locals are very friendly and always ready to help you if you ask the way.- Of course you can try asking in English, but Spanish will be a big help!
The overall atmosphere in Cusco has been bubbly and cosy! I haven't had any problems walking around by myself with my camera and the touristic style of walking (= looking around and trying to decide what to do first) so I would consider Cusco pretty safe. However, you should never be too free with your things and hold your belongings tight and observe your surroundings. Common sense brings you far.
Can't wait to explore all those things this city has to offer! Stay tuned for more.