After reading this post by Michael Hodson over at Go See Write, I got to thinking about tourist towns. Some places get on the tourist map thanks to their proximity to major tourist attractions rather than for their own merits. These places then get slammed with criticism for being ‘tourist towns’ that don’t offer any authentic travel experiences.
After visiting Aguas Calientes in Peru, which sits at the base of the mountain under Machu Picchu, and then Siem Reap in Cambodia, just outside of Angkor Wat, I will ignore the gripes about such places and judge them for myself in the future.
You know, when you buy a ticket from Arequipa, Peru to Copacabana, Bolivia, you tend to expect you will be taken to Copacabana, Bolivia. Let me gives you the heads-up that I wish I had been given: this is not always the case.
On the strong recommendation of a friend, I added Arequipa to my Peruvian itinerary. I was told the second largest city in Peru was lovely, surrounded by volcanos and full of heritage buildings built from sillar, an eery volcanic white stone that has a moon-like quality to it. Sold.
Except that as I disembarked from my outstanding bus ride with Cruz El Sur, none of these things could be seen because it was pouring rain. The rain was falling so hard that the volcanos were hidden from view and the lunar rock buildings just looked grey, dirty and wet.
So what do you do with two days in Arequipa when it is bucketing rain outside?