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San Blas in Cusco The Artists District

San Blas is one of my favorite parts of Cusco and it’s here I stayed for a week when I first arrived in Cusco. San Blas is certainly one of the most interesting and picturesque districts of Cusco and you can spend many happy hours just wandering around the picturesque streets, stores and artists workshops.

What’s special about San Blas?

San Blas is characterized by its narrow cobbled stoned streets, colonial architecture and abundance of unique artisan stores, galleries, and workshops. There are also several high-quality restaurants and hotels in the San Blas area making it a popular place for tourists to stay in.

San Blas also provides some great views over the city of Cusco.

Although an interesting place, there are not many attractions in San Blas and thrill seekers will certainly find it a little boring. But if you’re the kind of person that enjoys wandering around and admiring the interesting and unique architecture, or arts and crafts, then you will almost certainly enjoy your time in San Blas.

Getting to San Blas

The San Blas district is in central Cusco, less than a 5-minute walk north of the main Plaza de Armas. If you head up Triunfo and past the Inca Wall that features the famous 12 sided stone, you will find yourself in San Blas. Reaching the center of San Blas involves walking up some steep narrow streets so take it easy, particularly if you’ve only just arrived in Cusco and are still adjusting to the altitude.

If you’re heading to San Blas straight from the airport then get a taxi to the heart of San Blas. It’s about a 15-20 minutes journey by car.

Things to see in San Blas

Iglesia de San Blas

Open Mon-Sat 8am-6pm, Sundays and holidays 10 am 6 pm.

Apart from the stores and workshops, the main attraction is the church. This is the oldest parish church in Cusco and definitely worth a visit. The Cusco tourist ticket allows you entry to this church. Inside you will find several great works of Spanish art, as well an intricately carved pulpit that was carved by indigenous artisans.

Cusco Tours Finding a tour that’s right for you in and around Cusco

Everyone traveling to Cusco will take part in some kind of tour, there’s just so much to see and do here. There are many hundreds of tours to choose from in and around Cusco. Some lasting just a few hours, while others may last for several days or even weeks.

Just recently I had an interesting conversation with a British tour guide who has been living in Cusco for about ten years. He said that ten years ago about 80% of people traveling to Cusco were independent travelers, and about 20% were part of organized tours. However, now, he says, it’s the other way round and about 80% of people arrive as part of organized tours.

I was a little surprised by this and personally, I think it’s a shame. While organized tours may be more suitable for some people, I think the best way to experience a country like Peru is to be flexible, create your own itinerary, and take part in mini-tours during your stay. Often, the best way to learn about a historical place is to have an experienced tour guide with you, so some tours are definitely vital to get the most out of visiting certain places in and around Cusco.

The problem with long, organized travel tours is that they are very inflexible. You get taken from one place to the next, and the next and so on. But what if you really like a particular place and wish to stay a bit longer? It’s impossible, you’re not allowed to. And trust me, there are so many wonderful places around Cusco and the sacred valley that you’re almost certainly going to fall in love with one or many of them and wish to stay a bit longer than an organized tour will allow.

One reason why people might consider organized tours is that they think it’s a lot safer. Well, there might be some truth in that, however, this area of Peru is very safe and many people travel here alone.

Creating your own tour is cheaper

Most of the tours organized by travel agents usually last about 2 weeks and often cost several thousand dollars. These costs are far higher than they need to be because large fees are going to the travel agent as well as the tour guides that are looking after you 24/7 for the duration of the tour.

If you organize everything yourself you can find perfectly decent accommodation for $20 per night providing you don’t require luxury.

There are hundreds of travel agents in Cusco that, among them must offer hundreds of different tours in the area, mostly tours that just last a few days or less. Almost any day of the week you can join a tour to Machu Picchu or any other place that takes your fancy.

There are also dozens of adventure activities such as horse riding, white water rafting, bungee jumping, motorbike riding, mountain bike riding, climbing, hang gliding, paragliding. You name it, it’s probably here.

Coming here on your own adventure will give you the freedom to do what you want when you want without any restrictions, and at a fraction of the cost!

Where Your Heart Leads, You Must Follow

Let go of the past and go for the future. Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you imagined.
Henry David Thoreau
“Soul Rehab” in the Maldives
My mom gave me a trinket box with this quote on it many years ago and I have always liked this particular saying, but only a few months ago did I make a conscious decision to do just that. Before I met Zach, I was on a solo journey in the Maldives. I was there for almost a month doing what I have coined as my Soul Rehab. I took advantage of the breath-taking surroundings and the absolute quiet to actively reevaluate my life and rid myself of baggage that I had been carrying around too long. Upon leaving the Maldives, I was more than ready to start a new chapter in my life and was willing to go wherever my heart guided me. I could see the path in front of me clearly but I had no idea where it was going to lead. I just knew that I was on my way.

The day I got back to the States, my dear friend Jeannie Jeffries called me and told me about her recent trip down to Costa Rica, where she had one of the best times of her life. She stayed at the School of the World and told me that the place was filled with love and good energy. She also told me about Zach and his new venture, the Learning Experience. She said he was looking for a potential co-host to go to the Bahamas and swim with wild dolphins! I am pretty sure at this point I started jumping up and down and screaming YES! Please sign me up! into the phone. Jeannie laughed and told me that I would be perfect for it and I of course agreed Now it was a matter of convincing this man I had never met that I was perfect for it too.

So as you know (if you have been following the blogs) Mission accomplished! (hahahaha!) Actually what I ended up learning was that Zach was perfect for me! I went home to California, packed up a suitcase and moved to Costa Rica. I know this sounds a little drastic and perhaps slightly irrational, but there was no fear. When you know, you know, and I knew.. so I went!
Since then, I have been on a whirlwind adventure with my best friend. We have traveled by car, by motorcycle, by plane, by boat, and even by mule (not an actual mule, more of a 4 x 4 golf cart, named a mule). We have been on the go and living out of our suitcases for weeks now, learning lots of lessons along the way: patience, resourcefulness, and trust that all will work out no matter what, to name a few.

The Bahamas trip was amazing. Swimming with the wild dolphins and being one with nature is one of the most pure phenomenons I have ever experienced. I am looking forward to checking out the footage and our photos from the trip, since we really haven’t had a chance to go through it yet.

Katie, Zach, and I are all together in the States right now and enjoying a grand reunion with family and friends. We are all in Florida and in a couple of weeks Zach and I will be in California sharing more magical moments with loved ones. The most important things in life are the people we love, the places we go, and the memories we make along the way. I read this quote on Grandma Doras wall and I couldn’t agree more.
The Learning Experience is not only the pilot that Zach envisioned, it has evolved into something much bigger than that. It has become our story and our experience learning together. It has brought together a union between Zach and I that I can only describe as true love; it has brought tears of pure joy and laughter, and it has brought together people from all walks of life, from all over the world and made us all friends!