We arrived in Arequipa around noon today and it’s a really charming city. Arequipa has a population of 900,000, though it feels like something in between a ski town like Breckenridge and a European city. They call Arequipa the “White City” and there are two prevailing theories why. The first is because many of the buildings are made of white volcanic stone, and the other, more popular theory is because it became a major Spanish stronghold after they invaded and the Spaniards were white compared to the Inkas.
After a short break to settle into our rooms, get acclimated (Arequipa sits at 7,500 feet above sea level) and have lunch, we broke into two groups for an afternoon walking tour of the city.
Just two block from our hotel is the Monastery of San Francisco.
From there, we worked our way to the center of town to the Plaza de Armas. This is a large public square in the center of town with a park and fountain in the center, a huge cathedral on one full block and lots of restaurants and shopping lining the other three sides. The park was also filled with hundreds of pigeons.
We moved on to see some alpaca shops and the to the Jesuit Cathedral. The cathedrals here are just stunning. This particular cathedral had three massive altars all intricately carved out of cedar.
The end of our tour took us to the Monastery of Santa Catalina. This is a massive convent and was basically a city within the city of Arequipa. We toured the old Monastery, and there are still nuns who live and pray in the new portion. It was also raining a good bit by this time, so you can see we all look a bit wet.
For dinner, several of us went to a place called Zig Zag, which was recommended by our tour guide, Augusto, who hasn’t steered us wrong yet. We had a reservation and they had a table waiting for us in a private room. Austin was one of the adventurous ones and ordered a drink called the Machu Picchu. It looks like it should have an umbrella in it. He said it was quite tasty.
Cody was also adventurous and ordered a sampler trio of Pisco Sours, all very nice.
Dinner was served and all of the boys had meat – Andean mountain meat to be precise. Austin dove into an alpaca steak and the rest all had meat trios consisting of beef, alpaca and either lamb or pork. Tim was just a bit different and went with a trio of fish. All of the dishes were served on a heated stone and came out sizzling, hence the bibs that were provided before the meal was served.