The Santa Catalina Monastery, for nuns not monks, is a city within a city. We spent a few hours exploring this unique place, which was well-funded over the years by the rich families whose daughters were sent here to live. Founded in 1580, the Monastery is still occupied by an order of nuns. After visiting the Monastery, we also enjoyed walking around the city’s Yanahuara neighborhood.
Where to eat
It’s hard to find a bad meal in Peru and my rule is to always follow the people. If you see a food cart or restaurant filled with locals, try it out. Our group had a fun lunch at a restaurant called Sol De Mayo, a hundred year-old place that calls itself the cathedral of Peruvian food. Our group lunch was served in the beautiful courtyard, outside on a lawn. Several of our braver group members tried the cuy (guinea pig), which was a bit dry without too much meat to eat. While we dined, a band played Peruvian music. It was also a great experience as we were the only tourists there. This was a local restaurant, in a residential neighborhood of Arequipa, a city not very popular with tourists to begin with.
Where to stay
I stayed at the Libertador Arequipa, located just up the street from the Plaza de Armas. The hotel has a nice, comfortable, homey feel to it. My room was big and spacious, with a flat screen TV and large bathroom. Outside there’s a big pool and spa. The staff was very friendly and the food was excellent. We had two big dinners at the hotel’s Los Robles restaurant, both were really good as was the breakfast served each morning. Rooms start at $152. per night, with online booking.
Arequipa is Peru’s second largest city and many air carriers serve it from various South American cities. Connections from the US are usually made through Lima, Peru’s capital, which is served by many international carriers. The Lima to Arequipa flight is only about 90 minutes. I flew on LAN, which has direct LAX to Lima flights. The airline provides a very comfortable travel experience, caring, professional staff and I enjoyed flying with them. They are a oneworld carrier, so you can earn or redeem Aadvantage miles on LAN flights. I visited Peru as part of a small group Discovery Tour from Gate 1 Travel and our adventure started in this Southern Colonial City.