We pulled into Arequipa at the somewhat ridiculous hour of 5am; thankfully our hostel allowed for an early check in and a free breakfast. After catching some bonus sleep and nursing a coffee or four, we headed out for a bit of exploration. On Andy’s suggestion we opted to skip a visit to the Colca Canyon (the second deepest canyon in the world), which meant that we had less than 24 hours in what I would come to know as a very pretty city.
We walked to the Plaza de Armas which was backed by a majestic white cathedral. It was the best vantage point for seeing why Arequipa is known as the ‘white city’. The square had a big fountain in the middle and lots of seating. We walked down the main shopping street and crossed the river to Yanahuara, a district with great views of the nearby volcano, artisan markets and easy streets for walking.
A pit stop at Eco Brunch saw us indulge in waffles, smoothies and a classic toasted sandwich. The menu was simple but executed well, the prices were decent and it was generally just a pleasant place to sit. We had dinner at Omphalos: a vegetarian restaurant where soup, lentil bolognese, sautéed vegetables, rice and French fries came to a whopping $14. The place was delightfully cosy, a reprieve rom the dropping temperatures outside.
We had intended to spend the afternoon checking out the Inca Ice Maiden: preserved mummy of a child who was sacrificed many years ago. Unfortunately the overnight bus caught up to us, which we didn’t really mind because we had to get up at 5am the next morning too (for a 12 hour bus – brutal!). The other activity we could have done (except Andy had done it before) was visiting the Santa Catalina monastery which is over 400 years old.