Sunday, March 29, 2015

Peru

Before our big move, hubs and I decided to take a trip to Peru! Neither of us had ever been to South America before, so we were both very excited. Our first day in Lima was so much fun! We walked everywhere and explored the Historical Center of Lima. I was surprised there weren't many tourists in that area. We had a blast taking our time wandering the streets.

Plaza San Martin - Plaza de Armas - Monastery of Santo Domingo






















From our hotel, we walked to the Plaza San Martin and then onto the larger and more popular Plaza de Armas. I was impressed with how well the gardens were kept! Afterwards, we went to the Monastery of Santo Domingo. Beautiful!























The monastery had 2 beautiful cloisters. We wandered around for a couple hours, taking pictures of everything. 




Iglesia Convento de San Francisco and the Cathedral of Lima


Food in Lima
We had some pretty incredible Peruvian food in NYC, which was how we became interested in traveling to Peru in the first place. We were definitely NOT disappointed with the food in Lima. Peruvian cuisine is delicious. It's tough to describe because it's so unique!











































Cusco
The third day, we flew into Cusco! The elevation was over 11,000 ft, and I definitely felt a change in altitude since we had just come from sea level. Luckily, we only had minor headaches that day and were still able to go sightseeing.  

We visited Puca Pucara, Tambomachay, Pisac, and an animal sanctuary. 


Pisac Ruins






















Chachachumba
This is where we started our 1 day hike on the Inca trail to Machu Picchu. We hopped off the train at km 104, walked across a bridge, and met our tour guide. 


The start of our hike to Machu Picchu! Beautiful, right?






















Winay Wayna 
These ruins were AMAZING! It was so green and the terraces were huge!





















Right before we entered the Sun Gate, we had a steep climb up these steps. It was insane (after already having hiked several hours).

Sun Gate - Machu Picchu
And then, we entered Machu Picchu! It was spectacular!














































The view of Machu Picchu from the Sun Gate.























Ollantaytambo
This was a really cute town. Although small, there were some very interesting ruins nearby. We stayed here for a couple of nights. We loved all the food! 






















My love. <3






















Ollantaytambo Temple
































Moray
This is where the virgins were sacrificed. Just kidding! These circular terraces were used as an experimental laboratory for agriculture.  






















Salinas de Maras -  The Salt Mines
All of this salt originates from a small stream.






















Chinchero Market






















Sacsayhuaman






















Miraflores - Larcomar Boardwalk






















Skykitchen
Another highlight of our trip was the SkyKitchen. We took a Peruvian cooking class where we learned to cook 4 dishes: causa, lomo saltado, ceviche, and picarones.


Check out this Master Chef!


Bon appétit! 


Just a few helpful tips:

Transportation
For transportation to and from the airport in Lima, we prearranged a driver through Peruvian Shuttle. It cost $23 one way to our hotel in downtown Lima and to Miraflores. They were reliable and the cars were new and clean. Beware that taxis in Lima are not metered, negotiate the price with the driver before you enter the car.  

Currency
We used ATMs to withdraw Peruvian Sols and found the exchange rate to be very reasonable. Be sure to use ATMs that are located indoors such as at a hotel.

Lodging
If you're on a budget, there are very affordable hostels for around $70 or less and many of them include breakfast. Our tour with SAM Travel Peru included our lodging in Cusco, Ollantaytambo, and Aguas Calientes which was a bargain for us. 

Safety
We found Peru to be pretty safe. Of course, you should be aware of pick-pocketing in touristy areas. 



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