After getting such an awesome deal on flights from Miami to Peru with the tour group, I was able to talk my best friend and photographer into coming on this adventure to South America for the first time. I will say it wasn’t what I was expecting. We arrived at the airport at around 8:00 pm and was greeted by the tour manager. Which was a very good thing because after seeing how they drive I wouldn’t risk getting into a taxi let alone operating a vehicle down there. We were escorted to the hotel by bus and was provided with some details on what would be happening the next day and about the extreme hot water in the shower at the hotel (Hotel San Agustin Exclusive). The tour manager also reminded us where we can get the day sheet so we know when we had to be on the bus for the city tour of Lima in the morning.
After a good night’s rest we headed down to breakfast that was provided and then off to the bus. We drove through the Miraflores District in Lima and did a drive around of the Huaca Pucllana (a pre-Inca ruin) that was right in the middle of the city. There was some workers that where restoring the site brick by brick. Next stop was the Plaza Mayor in Lima where you were able to see the Government Plaza, Cathedral of Lima and even the Archbishop’s Palace of Lima. We disembarked the bus and spent some time walking around the square. I was luckily enough to find sock monkey before taking the journey so he was back to his photo bombing ways. Afterwards we walked over to Monastery of San Francisco and was able to go down into the catacombs. Little weird because they had bones and skulls laying around. We took the bus back to the hotel where we had the afternoon on our own. Tami and I headed close to the water front and decided to have a late lunch at Mangos. Tami decided to try the signature drink of Peru – Pisco Sour and loved it. I was not much of a fan but had a frozen purple refresh which was made with purple corn in ginger, pretty good in my opinion. The food was great however the service was a little lacking but we were told to expect that however we were kind shocked that when leaving the tip the waiter stopped and asked for cash rather than putting it on the card. Afterwards we just walked up and down the foot paths over the cliff to the Pacific Ocean and stopped by Parque de Amour or Lovers’ Park for some people watching.
We did have to be back to the hotel for a meeting to go over what was going to happen at the airport and once we were in Cuzco. We were able to get to know the other travelers and talk to them about their past travel experience. After a short flight we were in Cuzco. Now the altitude didn’t bother me too much but I had been taking the pills like the doctor told me to. You can buy a can of air at the airport for $10 USD for those that were have some issues. The airport was weirdly situated in the middle of town so we were at the hotel and rather to explore the city before you knew it.
We stopped by the Qurikancha which was just across the street from our hotel (Hotel Los Portales) and took some pictures before heading out to lunch. I decided to be a little adventurous and ordered the Alpaca shish kabob at FUSI Chicken and Grill. It was amazing! Tasted like bison meat and was really lean; the dipping sauces it came with were wonderful. Afterwards we headed over to the Plaza de Armas and looked into some of the shops. Tami had broken her sunglasses so we need to get some more for her and an umbrella before going up to Machu Picchu the next day. We did find a Starbucks and McDonalds at the square and had a good laugh over that. Next, we headed up to the water fountain to take some pictures and stopped by the grocery store to pick up some snacks for the train ride the next day.
We had an early start with a 2 hour bus ride followed by an hour and half train ride then another 30 minute bus ride but we made it. We had stepped into the Incan City of Machu Picchu. It was breathtaking and worth the journey that it took to get here. The tour manager provided us so much history and detail of the sight that I was just overwhelmed with the entire experience. Did get yelled at for doing my jump picture but was worth it. We even got to see a rainbow over the site that just had me stop where I was standing, and take in the moment. Really shows how blessed I am to be able to have this experience that not everyone can take.
Due to construction at the hotel we were supposed to stay at the tour company upgraded us to stay at the Inkaterra Machu Picchu which was an eco-friendly hotel. We had dinner as a group where I stepped out of the comfort zone and embraced the local cuisine and tried Cuy, which is guinea pig and part of their traditional cuisine. Shocked again that it tasted pretty good as well. The next day we had some time before we needed to get the train back to Cuzco and decided to try the hot springs. Well we got lost and never made it there but from what we heard from the other people it wasn’t really worth the trouble. Did get the chance to walk the local markets and bargain for some souvenirs to bring home to the cat sitter and mom. While walking around we saw the strangest dog I have ever seen! It had no hair and was wearing a sweater. Then we noticed that it was just one; there was a bunch like that! Apparently they do well at the high altitude.
After that it was the train and bus ride back to the hotel in Cuzco, where we decided to do some laundry in the shower and dry the close with the hair dryer. Not the best idea but you do what you need to do. Headed back to FUSI for dinner then off to bed. Next we were heading home to Lima, however the flight was delayed and we needed to be put on another flight out of Cuzco. We were told that they were in the process of building another airport outside the city but did not have a date of completion or a breaking ground date yet. Back to Lima where we had a farewell dinner with the group, knocked back some drinks, and exchanged contact information to keep in touch. Had an early day to catch the 10:00 am flight back to Miami. We just made it to boarding and apparently unless you ask, they will not sit you together with the person at the counter with you. We were lucky enough that as a group we rearranged ourselves so that we can sit with the people we wanted. The flight wasn’t that full to begin with so it was not a big deal.
All in all, it was an amazing trip and I am glad I experienced it.