What it's like at the Plaza de Armas of Cusco

When you stand in the main plaza of Cusco you stand in the middle of history. The site of the birth of the Inca, the site of the death of the Inca, the site of conquistadors success, the site of architecture, and artisan markets, and restaurants, and hotels. In 2016, Cusco is a melting pot.

The middle of the plaza features the statue of an Inca Emperor, surrounded by a beautiful waterfall. Benches are provided so you can catch your breath; you are at 11,200 feet altitude, you know.

Two sides of the plaza feature Spanish cathedrals, both of which you can tour or attend mass. High above the plaza you can see Cusco's version of the Cristo Blanco statue. You can also see the tail end of the Saqsayhuaman fortress ruins of ancient Inca.

At night, the lights creep up the mountainside to create an unforgettable view. During the day you could see a llama, or a parade, or just a local artist trying to make a living.

You can go for a walk in any direction and see something incredible. Or, you can sit right there, mid-plaza, and take in Cusco in all of it's wonder.

What it's like to eat a cuy

**Warning: if you're a fan of guinea pigs you should probably skip this post**

The most popular dish of Cusqueños is, hands down, guinea pig. In Peru they call it "cuy" because of the sound that guinea pigs make.

Roasted, baked, or fried, you will most likely run into cuy while in Cusco, either on a restaurant menu, or on display in a market. It will be one of the most expensive items available because in Cusqueño cuisine it doesn't get any better.

Once, years ago, I was presented a cuy in front of dozens of locals, as a gift. I had no choice. I fought through the meal and it was as bad as I thought it would be.

Although cuy doesn't get my personal stamp of approval, it's definitely something you could purchase, try, or even just use as a photo op.

This post wasn't meant to be a downer, but man... why would you eat such a cute little animal!?

What it's like to see a llama at Machu Picchu

Llamas are native to the Peruvian Andes. In fact, llamas are the just the start of it. There are alpacas, vicuñas, and all kinds of other camelid species with which I have no business in trying to list.

Throughout the Cusco area you can find llamas in the wild. Inside the Lost City of Machu Picchu there are llamas grazing (these ones are domesticated). They wander around, at their leisure, and live the life of llama royalty.

If you want to have some fun at Machu Picchu, try to take a "llama selfie". If you need to research on exactly how to take a llama selfie, just google "llama selfie Machu Picchu". You're welcome.

What it's like to visit San Blas in Cusco

Cusco is a UNESCO World Heritage site for a reason. The unique architectural blend between ancient Inca and colonial Spanish creates a melting pot of precisely-cut stones, white stucco, beautiful cathedrals, and the occasional llama.

If I was to pick one neighborhood to represent Cusco it would be San Blas. Just north of the main Plaza de Armas, San Blas features a spiderweb of intertwined cobblestone streets. When wandering through this section of Cusco you will find plazas, cathedrals, lookouts, restaurants, artisan markets, and a glimpse into normal, everyday Cusco life.

I always recommend taking at least an hour to walk around in Cusco without a destination because it will give you a taste of the city. San Blas is the perfect place to start.