Coca, Chocolate, and Chicha in Cusco

We went on a GAdventures tour through the southern part of Peru and it was awesome. After getting some churros (con chocolate, crema, and dulce de leche) at Manolo in Lima, we flew to Cusco to begin our acclimation to the high altitude. A good way of checking if you have altitude sickness is to drink a pisco sour once you are in Cusco and see if you immediately become intoxicated. If so, drink as much coca tea as possible because it really helps a lot (whether this is a placebo effect or actual effect, I have no idea). There was a tour day scheduled in Cusco but we kind of wanted to explore on our own so we wandered away from the group for the day. We decided to do a chocolate making workshop at ChocomuseoWe went through the entire process from roasting the beans to grinding the beans down to a paste (so hard to do by hand!) to making our own chocolate bars with lots of different flavorings. It was a lot of fun and pretty cheap at 70 soles.

All of our chocolate flavoring options (Mint, Pepper, Coca, Crackle, Ginger,…)

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Madrid, Spain (or My Fave City in Europe)

My favorite city ever! Jamon sandwiches for 1 euro and Churros con chocolate for breakfast (at Chocolateria San Gines). Also, tapas galore; we ate at Mercado de San Miguel (more of an indoor market where you can get all kinds of different croquetas, jamon, oysters, and fresh juice), Taberna Tempranillo (great wine selection for a few euros a glass and many diffferent kinds of toasts with tomatoes, mushrooms, or cod), and Juanalaloca (tortilla espanola to die for and a really great sirloin fillet with quail egg). What more could you ask for? Oh yeah, a couple of the best museums in the world are free during weekends; I’m looking at you El Prado on Friday night and Queen Reina Sofia on Saturday. Also, handmade espadrilles for low tens of euros at Casa Hernanz (on Calle de Toledo). Add in a huge park (Parque del Retiro) which hosts a bookselling street and you have the perfect city. One interesting thing is that people are literally out at all hours (except morning ones). You will see children playing at 11pm on the playground and seniors chilling out at the cafe at 5am.

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