La Ciudad Blanca

Plaza de Armas, Arequipa

Plaza de Armas, Arequipa

After a long night on the bus, Golnaz & I arrived in Peru’s second largest city… Arequipa, La Cuidad Blanca or The White City as it’s called because of its buildings made of the white volcanic stone ‘sillar’. The morning sun gave the city a warm shine as we drove through the narrow streets to find a nice place to stay.  Once settled, we strolled around town & met Carla in the evening, the CS ambassador of Arequipa as she had accepted to show us around in her favorite city. No need to say that we started with the main attraction of the city… Plaza de Armas & it’s wonderful Cathedral.  But Carla would not be the ambassador if she didn’t know that one secret spot!

With Golnaz & Carla @ Terrasse rooftop bar

With Golnaz & Carla @ Terrasse rooftop bar

Somewhere on the plaza, she lead us through an old cranky door where we had to climb up some narrow stairs, passing through a dusty restaurant to the top of the building. We were now in ‘Terrasse’, a rooftop bar with an amazing view on the plaza, the cathedral and the colonial & republican architecture represented in the churches, mansions,…  At night she brought us to Forum, a club at the Plaza where we met Turner, another couchsurfer from the States and where we all enjoyed Peru’s nightlife for a couple of hours.

'Claustros de la Compania'

‘Claustros de la Compania’

Turner & Golnaz were keen to visit the Inca mummie ‘Juanita, the beautiful girl from Ampato’ in the Museo Santuarios Andinos the next morning. I prefered to walk around the city and Carla brought me to one of the beautiful colonial churches where we had a drink on the terrace of ‘Petit Cafe’ offering a great view of the church’s court. For lunch, Carla brought us to one of her favorite restaurant ‘Nuestra Picanteria’, where we tried Peru’s famous drink ‘Chicha Morada’, made of black corn and in this case with a touch of alcohol. Delicious!

Golnaz, Carla, Turner & myself @ Monasterio de Santa Catalina

Golnaz, Carla, Turner & myself @ Monasterio de Santa Catalina

After lunch, we visited ‘Monasterio de Santa Catalina’, close to Plaza de Armas.  The monastery of Santa Catalina was founded in 1579 by the Dominican order & is the only convent in the world that exists of a city within a city.  Located on more than 5 acres, the convent includes 3 cloisters, several streets, a square, a church, an art gallery, 80 houses where the nuns lived and many more.  The monastery is built completely in the typical volcanic stone ‘sillar’ as many other buildings in the city and constitutes one of Latin America’s most important architectural & religious monuments.   What a treat to be able to walk those streets and admire Arequipa’s jewel!  To end the day in style, Carla surprised us by going to ‘La Marina’, a sort of small amusement park where we challenged each other in carts.  Great fun!

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