City Reflections: Puno, Peru – Part 1

If you’ve been following along on the blog, you’re probably aware that it’s been a mixed bag of emotions for me thus far; from succumbing to feelings of self-doubt and vulnerability to the excitement of Candelaria and dealing with my first major sickness to being overjoyed with having a full-sized bed.  Some of these emotions have been expected and others have not, but I happily accept them all as part of this highly rewarding traveling experience.  As I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve been in Puno for a little over a month now and have another month left to go in my volunteering position with Pro Mujer.  I thought now would be a good point to share my first thoughts on living in Puno.

Parque Pino on a sunny afternoon

What the guidebooks say about Puno is pretty much spot on; there is not a whole to see here and the city is better utilized as a base for exploring other sites around the area such as Sillustani and the floating islands.  The main islands on the Peruvian side are Uros, Taquile, and Amantani with options to visit two on a full day tour and all three with an overnight stay in Amantani.  I’ve chosen to do the latter tour this upcoming weekend.  The Fiesta de la Canderlaria, however, is a noteworthy reason to visit Puno in the beginning of February and I was fortunate enough to experience all of the festivities upon first arriving.

View to the Condor from Plaza de Armas

One of my favorite free activities to do when I’m visiting a city is trekking up to higher ground for some mind clarifying panoramic views of the scenery.  This usually involves hiking up the side of a hill on the edge of town and when I saw the condor statue at the top of a hill from my hotel in Puno, I immediately wanted to plan for a day of hiking up there.  However, I’m very glad I held off on that decision and consulted with the locals and other colleagues who have been here longer.  It turns out that going up into the hills unaccompanied is not wise as they’re a big target for robberies and one of my friends actually was robbed when walking up there during the daytime.  I think a safer alternative is heading up to the roof-top kitchen of Hotel Pukará (if you’re staying there or can get by the desk staff) or by taking a group tour.  On our tour of Sillustani, the bus stopped at the top of the hills for us to snap a few photos

Food & Drink Review

  • Colors Restaurant – This is probably my favorite restaurant in Puno.  It’s definitely on the pricier side for Puno which is defined as US$10 or more for a full meal with drink, but the quality is also there.  I would loosely characterize the cuisine as international as I’ve seen the following regions represented on the menu: Italian, French, Peruvian, Indian, Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian.  Essentially, there is an option for every taste bud and this restaurant makes for a nice escape if you’re growing tired of lomo saltado.
  • Kamikaze – Stacey introduced me to this restaurant/bar but mostly bar this past weekend and it has the perfect ambience for a relaxed night out with a mix of 90’s rock and reggae music and a menu full of exciting neon colored drinks.  An added bonus is the selection of games in the back.  We were fond of the jenga blocks.
  • Mercado central – I’m normally a huge fan of eating at the central markets in cities, but I’m not feeling inspired by any of the food stands in Puno’s central market.  The actual building makes me feel claustrophobic for starters and beyond that, I haven’t seen anything magical on the counters that would make me hungry.  The juice section however is very inviting as I love the sound of a fresh papaya juice with milk.
  • Mom & Pop’s  – One of the nice benefits of Puno is the plentiful selection of small Mom & Pop restaurants where you can get the ‘Menu del Día’ for 6 soles of less.  This will usually include soup, a main dish and possibly a small dessert.  The fun part is that these restaurants are very cozy and you feel as though you’re eating in a neighbor’s dining room.

More to come soon!

Other City Reflections Articles:

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