Demonstrations and wine

Added 03 Sep 2013

Breakfast is served on a sunny terrace with a view of a snow capped volcano in the distance. Not a bad start to the day. Around 9.30am we are joined by two local guides, Alvarro and Carlos. We are due to join our transport for a city tour but there is a hiccup. State workers have called a national strike and the word is that some roads may be closed. We decide to walk into town instead. It only takes 15 minutes and we see local life going on as we stroll along. We stop to purchase water at a local shop. The shop owner hasn’t sold this many bottles in many years. 10 miinutes later we reach the town centre and visit the Plaza de Armas (the main square) first. Apparently the strike demonstration will head here in soon! The square is beautiful with typical arched buildings on all sides and pretty gardens and a fountain in the middle. We also visit the nearby La Compania Jesuit Church and then start to walk to the Santa Catalina Monastry. The narrow city roads are now full of protestors with banners and whistles! However they are a very friendly bunch and even stop their procession to allow us to cross over. One of our party ends up with a whistle. Santa Catalina Monastry is a real highlight – a town within a town featuring narrow streets, cloisters, living quarters, kitchens and a religious art collection. Local guides take us around and everyone thoroughly enjoys the visit. Some free time for lunch follows and there are plenty of excellent cafes and restaurants nearby. Many guests choose to dine at a restaurant called TANTA and it is a very good choice. The atmosphere, staff and food is great.

Back at the hotel for a rest before we head out to dinner at Zig Zag restaurant, one of Richard’s finds! We have taken over the first floor of the restaurant as a private dining room but to get there we all have to climb a spiral staircase. Once seated we start with a Pisco Sour (quite a large one) and then progress to free flowing wine. The food is delicious with a choice of an exotic salad, Quinoa and Andean cheese soup, or a tomato, carrot and sweet pepper soup to start. Main dishes feature a trilogy of beef, alpaca and pork, with alternatives of lake trout and gnocchi. The meat and fish are cooked on hot stones and delivered that way too. And we are all obliged to wear large paper bibs! Puddings include a Cusco sweet corn pie, Spanish nougat with home-made ice cream and a passion fruit vacherin. It was a great evening. The only challenge was descending the spiral staircase after consuming so much wine.