Pondering Pennys

On Thursday we returned together from Cusco to Lima for our final night, in reflective mood.

Ma, Pa and Dan returned to the Marriott, and Jim and I to another great apartment more central to Miraflores. We were straight down the shops for philly and pringles, and pot noodles. To think of the esteemed history of the pot noodle eh? Descended from Incan technology – freeze dried!

Immediately you feel a bit brighter now out of the altitude. There is nothing really discernible when you get to 3000m, just a bit out of breath up stairs. But when you come down there is definitely a change. Its the difference between thinking “Don’t really feel like it” and “Let’s get straight down the shops for some beers!”.

Oxygen’d up, we walked out to eat traditional food at Saqra, outside in the warm evening air.

“What are candied potatoes?”
“They tell you exactly what they think”

One of the owners was creeping around the tables on his crutches to mingle with his guests…..

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Perusing Pennys

After our morning wandering Ollantaytambo we hopped into a 6 seater to make our way to Cusco with Percy, our guide, via some interesting Sacred Valley sights.

We drove along the valley from Ollantaytambo past the Sky Lodge Hotel. 3 pods clinging to the side of the cliff. You have to climb the cliff face to move in, there are 4 beds in each, you get breakfast delivered in the morning, and you zip line out – all for the meagre sum of $600 a night! Left me wondering how you go to the loo.

Can you spot them?

Chicha-mamá and Sapo-papá

Next stop was a traditional chicha factory/bar.

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MP Conquers MP!

Sunday 22nd March was THE BIG ONE: Machu Picchu!

We boarded the train on time, and in lovely dappled sunlight…

Absolutely stunning train journey on the Vistadome through a valley surrounded by high mountains. When we arrived at Machu Picchu town we jumped on an expensive bus ($24!!!) up the mountain to the site.. Dan’s altitude tingle sensors going off!

Just the views from the bus were the best I have ever seen, let alone the astounding surprise at the top! It is going to be a job not to use too many exclamation marks here.

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We awoke on Saturday 21st, after our adventurous drive through Peru, in reflective mood.

“Has this been your most incredible experience or number two?”
“What do you mean number 2?”
“Well, you’ve lived in Australia…”
“That was totally different, I was working and stuff. This is about sights and seeing things, so it has been the most incredible…
… well, YOU have been the most incredible experience of my life!”
“Yesssss, you got there eventually”
“That was hard. You should have made it multiple choice!”

Ma and Pa grabbed a coffee in the picturesque setting of Ollantaytambo amongst the green mountains and snowy peaks, whilst Dan, Jim and I took a tour of the amazing terraces and temples. Fascinating stuff.

The terraces were ornamental and would have been covered in flowers, including lots of the bright pink national flower of Peru (Cantuta)…..

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The Penny Wagon!

On the 20th we were due to fly early to Cusco and catch a taxi down to Ollantaytambo (Oy-an-tay-tam-bow). We hopped in taxis and sped there through the continuing fog, only to find that the flight was at risk of cancellation due to the weather. Still hoping, we waited in the coffee shop, and then the departure lounge… until… oh dear, cancelled.

Fearing we wouldn’t make it to Machu Picchu for Sunday, we queued to secure flights the next day and headed back to hotels. But.. oh dear… Ma, Pa and Dan’s hotel was booked out. With MP in mind, we hatched an alternative plan to get to Ollantay that day. “Just get on with it” we thought. Dan contacted the tour agency that took us to Colca Canyon and we rushed to secure a 6 seater van and driver. An hour later, we were in a 16-seater Mercedes – all to ourselves – the Penny Wagon!

Adventure! In a really comfortable, safe way.

We loaded up with packed lunches from Casa Andina, and…

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Continuing the firsts… we headed off to Arequipa, first time on a plane together!

Arrived in good time to head out for a bite for lunch in this pretty town, a look at the Plaza d’Armas, an obligatory visit to the Museo del Pisco, and dinner at Mixtos (bit disappointing).

We presented Dan with a gift we are affectionately calling “Gay F*cks”, to keep him warm in the cooler climes:

The next day was Jim’s birthday so we began the day with cards….

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Pennys in Peru – Primero!

Day 1 in Lima.

To start a very exciting first day, ‘Marriott Marian’ discovered cherimoya, a new fruit sensation, in the hotel breakfast buffet that looked like white fish (apparently). We met after breakfast, and Mum’s “texting time”, at the pool for a dip.

Lovely and sunny, but with the Garua blowing in from the seafront – quite spectacular rolling fog across the pool.

“When I opened the curtains this morning it was so foggy that I thought there was another layer of curtains to peel back”

Around midday we headed off to Museo Larco for a look around some Incan pottery, gold/silver and other artifacts.

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Special Delivery!

Jim and I have been taking it a little more easy in the lead up to the arrival of the “Special Cargo” (as my gorgeous Sister calls it).

We had an interesting journey back to La Paz. Our Wara Wara train from Uyuni was scheduled for 01.45AM. OK, booked the full night in a hotel and had a short kip & shower before we left. Got to the train station and everyone was in the waiting room with their makeshift beds (cardboard box, couple of blankets, sleeping bag). Hmmm. Turns out the train was late, not just 30 or 40 mins but 5 hours late! Everyone had come prepared, clearly this isn’t the first time Wara Wara has been “Where where?”. There was a cold, dark, empty train carriage at the station, so Jim and I got into what we thought were our seats and eventually shivered our way into sleep. A few hours later someone came to claim their seats (oops). As it turns out,  the carriage wasn’t attached to the train we needed – so it was lucky we were turfed out!

Rural Bolivia is fascinating…. Continue reading

SALutations from Bolivia!

After Galápagos we had a series of days travelling – a night in Quito (Ecuador), a night/day in Cusco (Peru), and then an overnight bus that took us into La Paz (Bolivia). The “BoliviaHop’ bus we took stopped at a couple of places en route. First at Puno to see the Floating Islands of Uros, and again at Copacabana across the border in Bolivia to see Isla del Sol. By this point we were pretty tired from a busy schedule, lack of sleep and altitude – so we booked an apart-hotel in La Paz to chill out.


Whistlestop: Cusco

All this above for less than £20 in Cusco (opposite the hotel Ma, Pa and Dan are staying at in a few weeks)! Cocktail (pisco sour, no less), fresh salad with palm hearts, radish, avocado and an amazing orange dressing. Food is AMAZING in Peru. At last, healthy, tasty and cheap!

Whistlestop: Uros

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