We made it: here we are now, ready to go skiing in beautiful Kitzbühel! This evening was really just about settling in for a week in town. I'm lucky enough to have gotten a 6-bed dorm room all to myself at Snowbunnys: apparently, there'll be nobody to share it with until Wednesday. Craig, Sarah, Kade and myself had no trouble finding ski gear and clothing for hire this evening: the hire shop next door to the hostel was very busy (everyone preparing for the Monday run), but they had plenty of good-quality gear for everyone; and it wasn't too expensive either, especially with a 10% "Snowbunnys discount" :P. Plus, we managed to find The Londoner — one of Kitzbühel's most famous pubs — and to relax there over a few Flying Hirsches, while enjoying the pleasant sounds of the pub's shameless "fake band" (about 80% of the time, they were just pretending to play or to sing, with a backed recording actually doing most of the work).
After hanging out, meeting and greeting many of my fellow guests at Gulliver's House, this evening a few of us ventured into the city, for a bit of a night out. Pei, two of the Yanks and myself found a rather fancy trattoria restaurant at which to grab some dinner (the pasta was delicious, but small and quite expensive — this is why I generally avoid restaurants in Italy), as well as a nice jug of red house wine. As the night progressed, Pei retired back to the hostel, but myself and the two Yank boys met up with the remainder of the Yanks — the group of three girls — and together, we grabbed a few (massively overpriced but good) beers at a nearby Irish pub. I thoroughly enjoyed the night out. It gave me some much-needed socialising after my lonely ride through Sicily, plus it provided some (equally much-needed) relaxation after today's nightmare.
Last time that I tried Peru's famous ceviche (raw fish / raw seafood) cuisine, I wasn't too hot on it. But clearly, I just didn't go to the right place for it. Punto Azul, a restaurant in Miraflores, does some amazing ceviche. Went there for lunch today, in a big group, and we had one hell of a feed. Had some of the traditional ceviche dishes (i.e. fish and seafood soaked in lemon juice), as well as some with a more spicy sauce, and some that came in a big risotto. I'm totally converted.
Even more than the massive dunes and the sandboarding, there's one thing that Huacachina is very, very famous for. I believe that its official name is Casa de Avinoam (lit: "House of Avinoam") — that's what the blackboard-scrawled sign out the front says, anyway. Most people refer to it simply as "The Israeli place". However, I think the most appropriate name for it would be Beit marijuana, because that's where it gets its fame from: at the end of every meal, the waiters at this bizarre restaurant will give you a small complimentary plate of not-particularly-legal herbs, and some paper to roll it up in. The cuisine is great here — but let's just say that most people don't come here for the food.
I don't know where all my money's gone, this past week in Arequipa; but clearly it's gone somewhere, because it's not in my pocket anymore! I must have spent over s/900, just in the last week that I've been back here in Peru. I guess that Chris and I have been living it up a fair bit, what with dining at fancy restaurants two or three times a day, and with a big night out last night. Ah well, I guess you have to enjoy life and splurge out sometimes; and if you're going to splurge anywhere, you may as well do it here in South America! Because it leaves a much smaller dint in your wallet than a splurge back home does.
As I discovered at Parque Cretácico this morning, there really isn't much to do in Sucre. For some reason, absolutely nothing — not cafés, not general stores, not pharmacies — seems to be open before about 4pm. It's a totally lazy and useless place. There's nothing at all to do in town, during the day. Nothing, that is, except hang out at the Joyride Café, the No. 1 gringo haunt in town, and the only place that actually is open when you need it to be. That's how we ended up spending breakfast, lunch, dinner, and most of the time in between in Sucre, sitting in the Joyride Café. Nice place: but Sucre could certainly use a few more places to eat and, well, do something.
During my two-and-a-bit days in El Panchán, I ate every breakfast and every dinner at Don Muchos. Considering that it's really the only place to eat at El Panchán, this should come as no surprise. Also, considering that they have a total monopoly over everyone who's staying in El Panchán (and who can't be bothered to go into town for food), they're quite reasonably priced.