I was here with the mother visiting and that meant she was paying. Which meant hotel, good food and a little fine dining. Give a dog a bone!
If there was any place in Peru to have a little time off hostel bunk beds and experience some middle class living. I reckon Arequipa is the place for it. Travelling Arequipa 6 awesome things to do and where to eat.
We have this little town up north called Durham
Harry Potter was filmed there. The school hall scenes and dorm scenes apparently. Also, it’s where Sting came from (if you don’t know who that is stop reading and leave this website immediately). I love Durham. It’s got a small cosy but energetic feel. I’m talking cobbled streets, little wonky buildings and cafes with pastries everywhere. And a Greggs (if you don’t know what a Greggs is stop reading and leave this website immediately).
Arequipa has that feel to it. It’s a cute little place with a lot to offer. All-be-it the central area is anyway. Looking through the windows on the collectivo ride out to Colca Canyon. There’s still the poverty that stretches the outskirts. As is with all South American cities I guess. I’m a walker. One of those annoying pricks that walks with his camera in his hand looking for a shot on every corner.
Arequipa ticked this box for me, big time. It felt like a place I wanted to spend two or three days just wandering. Snapping photos and eating cake. It’s super mum friendly too. She’s a chatty girl me ma and the locals loved it. I mean, I doubt they understood her Mackem English accent. As good as their English was (if you don’t know what a Mackem is… just messing. Trust me you don’t want to know).
6 awesome things we did
We stayed at
The Mansion Riviera. Me ma’s no rich girl. She’s a single parent who’s worked dam hard for her money so looks for value and beauty in places. We found Mansion Riviera out a week back whilst in Cusco and it didn’t disappoint. Me or her. White wall concrete block layout that looks like an east end London designer has had his hands on it. Very reasonable with a massive help yourself breakfast buffet.
For me this place is up there in my top 5 places in South America to wander and feel relaxed doing so. We weaved in and out of the cobbled streets, chilled on benches and went into any little café that took our fancy.
Starting at our hotel Mansion Riviera , we worked our way up. Weaving in and out of the streets to the very top past the Convento Santa Catalina.
2. Mercado San Camilo
I’ll always hit the markets up wherever I am. I always feel the locals know their food and if a market is packed full of them then I’m buying from it. The people watching and cheap cooked meal offerings are a hit too. We nailed smoothies and BBQ’d chickens in Mercado San Camilo. Weaved in and out the stalls admiring their offerings and grabbed fruit to last for days that was cheaper than a 1 penny sale.
3. Covento Santa Catalina
I initially thought I’d drag my feet through this while the mother lapped up the history lecture. I judged it wrongly. The place fascinated me. Some of the history is gory and sexual. So I mean yep, I’m listening. It’s a maze to walk around with fascinating architecture and colour. Well worth paying the money we paid for the guide and to chill with a coffee in their historic cafe.
4. Museo Santuarios Andinos
There’s mainly one reason we went here. The frozen mummy. It’s another tale of gore so I was hooked. We learnt about how she was found and why they believe she was found the way she was. I find the Incan history bad ass. This mummy is insane. It’s like looking at someone from our era, frozen. It’s incredible well preserved. If the mummy isn’t there, sometimes it’s transported to exhibitions, I’d would question whether it’s worth going in. The museum is pretty small.
5. La Tareza Bar
It was simply the perfect spot to watch the sunset behind the volcanoes and grab a beer. It’s a popular spot so getting up there early and grabbing our beer drinking spot was a must. Located on the main square right hand side of the Cathedral when looking straight on at it.
6. Central Cercado and Basilica Cathedral of Arequipa
Munching food and people watching passed a good hour sitting on the benches. After, we sauntered on into the cathedral and sat in there for another 30 min admiring the beauty of it and soaking up the tranquillity. It’s good to have the mother for things like this. I’d be in and out not giving the time to appreciate the peace without her. A cheeky little prayer to the big Grandpa up on this throne followed by a donation made my karma feel good.
Where we ate
|Ratatouille||I found this place was classic, quality Peruvian food at a low cost. The boss man was super friendly and accommodating. Really felt like he went out his way to make sure we were happy. It had a historic interior design and décor.|
|Hatunpa||Potatoes. That’s all I’ve got to say about this place. Peru has over 3000 types of potato and I think this little restaurant offers half of them. We chose our potato base and then built our toppings to go with it. It was filling and delightful.|
|La petite Francise||We went here for cake. And I mean CAKE! It was awesome. In fact, I think we went three times in all. Thank god for all the hiking.|
|Pasaje La Catedral (A street)||This was a little gem that we stumbled upon. It’s a street behind the cathedral lined with roof-top restaurants. We stopped by here every day for a beer or coffee on the roof. Cracking views and a great little alley for photography.|
The gate keeper at the Basilica Cathedral
- Stay at The Mansion Riviera for economy with a well designed ‘cool vibes feel’ hotel.
- Do an excursion to Colca Canyon from here. I wrote a more detailed post why, here.
- Spend at least three days here plus Cola Canyon time.
- Wander the streets exploring and enjoying the markets and coffee shops.
- Visit the the convent and main cathedral.
- Head to Museo Santuarios Andinos to see the frozen mummy.
- Checkout Pasaje La Catedral street.
- Eat cake in La petite Francise.
- Visit one of the highline restaurants in the square for sunset. Le Tereza is popular.
- Chill in Central Cercado and people watch.
- Visit the Mercado San Camilo.
- Get here via overnight bus or plane.
- Wander outside the main tourist area into the outskirts. There’s nothing to see and it can be dodgy.
- Pay over the price tourist prices at the restaurants in the main square. There’s plenty of creative choices hiding all over Arequipa. You just have to hunt them out.
This was the perfect end to the little 2 week tour I’d taken the mother on. Beginning in Lima – Cusco and The Inca trail – finally here with Colca Canyon before she headed back home. If you’re after a bit of cheap hotel luxury and chill from months of backpacking and hostels? I’d take it here. In comparison, the place is low cost to other travelling spots and it draws you in to relax.
The vibrancy of Covento Santa Catalina
Tips for healthy eats
- The main market Mercado San Camilo offers a huge variety of cheap fruits, veg, smoothies, nutritious broths and soups.
- There’s also a pretty well stocked supermarket on the main square with juices and fruits.
How to get meat for that protein hit
- The main market Mercado San Camilo offers cooked chicken and veg for cheap.
- There’s a super market in the main square where you can buy tinned tuna and full grain crackers to eat it with.
- If you stay in Mansion Riviera they offer a help yourself omelette buffet. Take advantage and have two plate fills.
Where to exercise
I took advantage of the large rooms at Mansion Riviera and continued my No space resistance band muscle builder plan. Which you can find here if you’re seeking some exercise guidance.
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