Thursday, September 24, 2009

Peru: Cusco City Tour

This is my ninth blog post about our trip to Peru.

After our first morning in Cuzco wandering around on our own, we were picked up at our hotel in a van with some other tourist to be taken on a Cuzco City Tour for the afternoon. Below is a photo out of the van window of one of the typical streets in Cuzco--although some are actually narrower.

Notice the pair of clay bulls, jars of chicha (corn beer), cross and flags on the rooftop for good luck for the household

When the Spanish conquered the Incas, they destroyed much of the inner city of Cuzco using the Inca stone blocks again to rebuild the city Spanish style. However, the ruins around the perimeter of the city were sometimes spared the destruction. Many ruins have cut stones weighing many tons which could not be moved. A typical Cuzco city tour will take you on the rim road of the city to see the Inca ruins. Our first stop was the "fortress" of Saqsayhuaman (guides will tell you it sounds almost like "sexy woman"). It is now believed this was not a fortress, but a ceremonial/religous site. It has massive cut stones at the base and walls that are formed in a lightning bolt pattern. We wish we had more time here to actually explore the ruins--maybe next trip.

Caleb at Saqsayhuaman



From Saqsayhuaman we continued along the road to the mysterious temple of Quenqo. Quenqo has a massive natural boulder that was minimally carved to look like a sacred puma, but was defaced by the Spanish. The Incas often looked for forms in the natural rock and sometimes carved them a little to help make the form more recognizable. Below you see the foundation of one temple wall where niches were formed for life size statues.

Quenqo also has a throne carved from the rock for the Inca (king) and a natural cave with a stone table carved out. It is believed the table was used to perform mummification rituals. You can see it in the photo below.

From Quenqo we went to the Inca tambo (waystation) called Tambomachay where there are irrigation channels and baths carved out of the rock.

weavings for sale along the path to Tambomachay


Fountains at Tambomachay

After leaving Tambomachay we returned to the Cuzco city center and toured the cathedral with our guide. Photos are not allowed in the cathedral. Then we went a short way through the city center to the church of Santo Domingo. Santo Domingo was built on the ruins of an Inca temple complex called Qoricancha (Koricancha). Many of the Inca ruins are still there. They proved to be too much for the Spanish to knock down. The ruins share the courtyard of the church and parts are in impeccable condition. They look crisp and new.

Interior courtyard of Santo Domingo

Qoricancha ruins

Qoricancha ruins

Dan and Caleb having dinner in a tiny little, family run restaurant in Cuzco and leaning on an Inca wall.

NOTE: If you are planning a trip to Cuzco, you will end up having to purchase a "Boleto Turistico Del Cuzco," or Cuzco tourist ticket, in order to enter most of the best known sites in the area. It's expensive and annoying, but buying individual passes is worse. The ticket is good for 10 days.

Next blog post: "The road to Machu Picchu"

Copyright 2009 photos and text. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Teardrop pearl necklace set

Normally $39. This week $32.

Find it in my on-line store or my shop

Very large, lustrous, white freshwater teardrop pearls. I often take this set along when I travel as I can wear it with almost everything.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

I have a winner!

Yesterday I had the drawing for the $20 Sue Runyon Designs gift certificate. Everyone who subscribes to my bi-monthly e-mail newsletter was entered. As always, my subscribers are my PREFERRED CUSTOMERS and are automatically entered in all drawings.

To become a subscriber, sign-up on my website. I will be having one more drawing this year. I never share your e-mail address with anyone and I will not spam you with frequent e-mails. You may unsubscribe at any time using the automatic unsubscribe feature.

Congratulations to Greg F. of Virginia for winning!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Was $88. This week only $73.

Earrings are INCLUDED. Find it in my store.

Generous 22 inches in length necklace with a large 38x65mm handcrafted cloisonne pendant from China which features a beautiful poppy flower design in rich orange, gold, green and turquoise colors. Pendant section can be removed from the necklace for a totally different look. Strands include keishi pearls, candy jade and crystals.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Peru: Cuzco

This is my eighth Peru blog post.

After we settled into our hotel in Cuzco, we ventured out to have a look around after dark. It was truly spectacular as all the churches were lit up around the city center. Unfortunately, Dan left the good camera in the room so we didn't get any photos of Cuzco after dark. We would continue to forget to take the good camera out with us at night.

We had a lovely room that night and all of us slept soundly until 4 AM when Dan got up to discover our room had flooded! Apparently there was a fresh water cistern under the floor in our room which had a valve failure. The night staff at the Casa Andina Koricancha hotel moved us immediately to anther room. The next morning they sent our wet laundry out to the cleaners and gave us a big fruit basket, chocolates and other goodies as well as apologized profusely. They were really wonderful.

All the photos in this post are from our first morning in Cuzco. Except for the last few, they were taken in the main square.

Being an Inca city turned Spanish colonial city, Cuzco's streets are mostly very narrow and one-way and often steep. Some of the sidewalks are literally only 6-12 inches wide if they exist at all. Many of the foundations of the buildings are original Inca foundations. It is fascinating to walk around and try to discern which stonework is original Inca, which is Spanish colonial using Inca stones and which is modern fake.

Cuzco is also where the hopeful artists congregate with their portfolios in the streets and beg you to look a their paintings. In the city center you will run into someone wanting to show you their paintings about every 3 minutes. It's maddening.

Cathedral doors and Caleb

Side chapel of the Cathedral

View over the city. The rainbow flag is the city flag of Cuzco

Main Street Cuzco--right in the main plaza

Caleb and me in the main plaza being approached by a lady selling birdseed for the pigeons

Caleb at the fountain

at Santo Domingo/Qorikancha (more about that in another post)

The lady in the above photo thrust the poor lamb into Caleb's hands so he had to hold it whether he wanted to or not. In Peru you generally offer 1 sol (approximately $.33) to someone if you want to take their photo. This lady was making sure she'd get her sol!

Cuzco is an amazing city with much for the tourist to do and see. Unfortunately, it's also quite expensive. Every tourist that comes to Peru comes to Cuzco and the prices reflect that. You can keep expenses lower by being a smart traveler--choosing restaurants and money exchanges farther from the main square will save you money.

a view off the street into a typical courtyard in Cuzco

This was just our first morning in Cuzco. In the afternoon we had a Cuzco city tour which included stunning Incan ruins. Check back soon for that post.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

What is the fashionable dress form wearing this autumn?

Well, not much as it turns out . . .

As I mentioned in a previous post, I have a new dress form, which I named Esme, to use for modeling necklaces in order to show scale more accurately. I had a poll on my blog for people to vote on how she should be dressed and what type of backdrop to use.

Most people voted for a plainish, dark backdrop and for Esme to remain unclothed for the most part. Yes, shocking, I know, but people felt clothing or draping her was too distracting. Thanks so much to all who voted. I really appreciate it!

Here are my first post-poll photos. I need more lights and a better camera I think. I'm still getting used to photographing Esme, but she's very patient.

This shows my set-up. I had this tonal, brown, colorwash, leaf-print fabric that seems to work well with other backdrops I use. I covered a sheet of foam core with it and hung it as a backdrop.

I needed some contrast behind the pendant on this necklace so I pinned on this brocade, but the color is too close to the color of the backdrop. I'll use something else next time.

This one seems too plain. I think I'll have to re-take it with some clothing. Unfortunately, I'm a size 6/8 and Esme is a size 8/10. Most of my clothes don't fit her very well. But, since the average dress size for women in the U.S. is 14 I thought I shouldn't get a dress form that was too skinny.

I'd love to hear your input. Leave me a comment!

Thanks, Sue

Friday, September 11, 2009

Peru: Puno to Cuzco

This is my seventh post on our trip to Peru.

After our day on Lake Titicaca, we left Puno on a day-long tour bus ride from Puno to Cuzco. Our bus had a tour guide and bathroom on board and the trip included a buffet meal along the way. We made several stops throughout the day so our 10 hour bus trip really did not feel like it was that long. Between Puno and Cuzco you have the option to take several types of buses, fly or take the train. Only a tourist bus will let you stop to see the sights along the way.

Our first stop was at Pukara. There are Inca ruins there, but we had no time to hike up to them. Instead we toured the small museum in the town and our guide gave us our first real talk about the Incas as we had not yet visited any Inca sites. It was a nice break two hours into our trip. There was a vendor on the street selling chicken saltenas fresh from the oven and lots of people on our bus took advantage and said they were delicious. They are similar to empanadas, but with a sweet/spicy sauce and crimped down the center in a football-like shape instead of in a half-moon shape. Dan photographed his--well, part of it.

church at Pukara

church at Pukara

museum courtyard at Pukara

Next was La Raya, the highest pass on the route, where we stopped briefly for photos. After this stop the landscape changed abruptly from altiplano (high desert) with llamas, alpacas and vicunas to green valleys and farms with cattle, pigs and other livestock, but very few of the camelids found in the desert regions. As we passed villages en route, our guide would tell us what each was famous for: pottery, bread making, a special dish, etc.

Caleb at La Raya

La Raya

Halfway through our day we stopped for our buffet meal at Sicuani where we ate and were entertained by some very good local musicians. We continued to a nearby craft cooperative where artisans made jewelry, pottery and other handicrafts and where they had a few llamas and alpacas and gave us a talk about the differences between them.

Being the only kid on the tour, Caleb was given the honor of bottle feeding this baby alpaca.

He's a hungry little guy!

Me and an alpaca who is a little tidier than junior

Caleb's favorite part of the entire trip--guinea pigs. Ummm, we could have saved a lot of money by visiting Petco instead . . .

Back on the bus to Raqchi which is an Inca tambo. A tambo is a way station or resting place along one of the many Inca trails. Raqchi is famous for it's large temple, walled city and hundreds of round storage buildings called colcas.

The "spine" of the big temple at Raqchi. These big walls ran right down the middle and the wood and straw thatched roof sloped down to shorter pillars and outer walls. The small roofs you see on top of them now are just for preservation purposes.

Caleb inspecting the temple

Those Incas really knew how to work with stone!

Above: Raqchi

Below: black and white photos Dan took of some of the ruins and colcas at Raqchi

From Raqchi we got back on the bus and continued on to Andahuaylillas where there is a famous church which is one of the ones they call the "Sistine chapel of South America" due to the elaborate frescos that decorate the walls and ceiling. The door end of the church has a fresco of the last judgment like in the real Sistine Chapel, but done by native artists, of course. Photos were not allowed inside, but Dan got this one by standing outside the church and photographing through the doors. Unfortunately, it doesn't show much of the frescos.

Flowers on large trees that shaded the plaza in front of the church

We returned to the bus for the final leg of our journey to Cuzco, were met at the bus station by a rep from our tour company and driven to our hotel near the Plaza de Armas. And I'll tell you all about Cuzco in my next post. It's spectacular!

Copyright 2009 photos and text. All rights reserved.