August 2013
  • Day15

    Lima, Peru

    August 22, 2013 in Peru ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    1AM wakeup for a 1:30AM cab ride to the airport. We found an open dunks.

    Flight was at 5AM with COPA Airlines again. We stopped in Panama City for a 3hr layover. Arrived in Boston at 6:15PM and got a ride home from my parents.

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  • Day14

    Lima, Peru

    August 21, 2013 in Peru ⋅ ☁️ 16 °C

    Slept late until 8AM. Not much to say about today. A travel day from Cusco to Lima. We had the hotel breakfast at Prisma Hotel. We did some shopping for pisco before transferring to Cusco, and said our goodbyes to some of our group mates.

    Flight to Cusco was rough but uneventful. Transferred to Hotel Britania. Did some shopping for snacks for flight home tomorrow.

    Dinner at Panachita with Lara, Victoria and Daniel. Sherilyn got Salmon with bernaise sauce, potato. Myron got Lomo Saltado. Nice dinner before saying goodbye. We had an adventurous cab ride to the Hard Rock Cafe, 60 soles. Language barrier was an issue. Driver walked us to the HR and brought us back. Interesting adventure. In bed around 10PM
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  • Day13

    Cusco, Peru

    August 20, 2013 in Peru ⋅ ☀️ 19 °C

    We slept in today until 7:30AM (haha).

    Quick breakfast at hotel. We ran into Michael and Sylvia from Ecuador, who were starting their Inca Trail journey on 8/22. After breakfast, we walked around the city and sat in Plaza San Francisco and Plaza Recogsio just people watching. Went to Cacao Museum at 10:30AM when it opened. Interesting self-guided tour. Had hot chocolate (Mayan style for Myron and European style for Sherilyn). Very fresh and interesting - we basically got a pitcher of steamed milk, melted chocolate and spices to mix our own drink.

    After, we sat in Plaza Recogsio for a half hour or so. Walked to lunch and Myron got deep fried cuy (guinea pig) and Sherilyn got aji de gallina. Very tasty, almost whole restaurant was filled with Peruvians.

    We walked to Plaza de Armas and sat in the sun for 1/2 hour or 1hr. Decided to walk to San Blas area. We had coffee (latte/cappuccino) at Jack's Cafe (American-Style cafe) and walked up to San Blas hill. Great views of Cusco and artisinal shops. Walked for awhile until dusk, ended up in an art studio where we bought an oil painting for 110soles. Back to the hotel to drop off our goodies and pack.

    Dinner was at Nuna Raymi again. Myron got alpaca with mushroom-peach sauce and Sherilyn got pork with pina colada sauce. back to the hotel at 9:30PM.
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  • Day12

    Machu Picchu, Peru

    August 19, 2013 in Peru ⋅ ☀️ 20 °C

    Very early wakeup at 4AM. Quick breakfast and out to the bus by 5:30, on 17th bus to the site, we arrived. Eventually after a few lines, and a 15min hike, we arrived to a cloud-covered Machu Picchu pre-sunrise. Max gave us the history while we waited for sunrise. The cloud cover gave the scene a mysterious, almost mystical feel. Between 7 and 8 AM the clouds dissipated to reveal the beauty of the site. When the site cleared, Max gave us a guided tour of the ruins. Through the main gate to the Lodging area (on the right). Circling around through the sacred area with the temples. Through the housing area, saw a "high person's house" may have been Paccachuti's. At this point, max gave us free time. We saw the sun dial and hiked back to the terraces to have a snack where a llama stole Sherilyn's apple right out of her hand. After the snack, we hiked up to the Inca bridge a little south of the city. The bridge was a small path along the mountainside. We returned to the terraces, to sit and admire the site. After a few more photos, we returned to Aguas Clients to Hot Springs II for lunch. S got chicken quesadilla and M got Aji de gallina. After lunch we went back to Cusco via train (1.5hr) and bus (2hr). We arrived around 7PM.

    Checked in to the same hotel and had dinner at Nuna Raymi and met Ryan, a journalism major from Colorado, traveling through South America. S got Quinoa salad and M got Lomo Saltado. Back to the hotel for bed.
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  • Day11

    Aguas Calientes, Peru

    August 18, 2013 in Peru ⋅ ☀️ 20 °C

    Today we were up at 5AM and ate a really small breakfast. Out the door to catch the train from Ollantaytambo to KM 104. At that point, we left the train and met Israel for the 5 hour hike up to Machu Picchu. Quite literally, the train stopped in the "middle of nowhere" and we jumped out and crossed a bridge to jump on the Inca Trail. No train station or anything!

    We entered the trail at Chacabamba, a small Incan ruin site that is behind the checkpoint. After 30min or so, we started the hardest part of the trek. For about 2hr, we hiked up stone steps (taking short breaks) to Winaywayna, another large Incan ruin site believed to be a checkpoint on the royal road. Along the hike there were other small ruins, scary bridges (basically just wood against a rock face with 1000 foot drops into the forest below). The trail started is along a mountainside, covered by waterfalls and descended into jungle. The jungle path revealed some terraces covered by flora. Winaywayna was a large site that was a built at the top of the mountains, untouched by the Spanish, and is in decent shape. Large farming terraces lined the bottom and led to an urban and religious sector. We had lunch and rested for 45 minutes. After visiting the site and lunch, we hiked along fairly level terrain to the monkey steps in 1 hr. Up the monkey steps and another 15min later, we got our first look at Machu Picchu. We hiked down in 45min to the postcard shot and the official end of the Inca Trail. Not much time to tour around the site today, so we just took some photos and left the site.

    20min bus ride down the mountain, shower and dinner. We were very tired and in bed by 9PM.
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  • Day10

    Ollantaytambo, Peru

    August 17, 2013 in Peru ⋅ ☀️ 20 °C

    6AM wakeup. Breakfast in hotel. Interesting breakfast: cheese, tomato, cilantro salad, popped corn, granola & quinoa, cheeses, avocados, coca tea, pina juice. 8AM meeting for departure for Sacred Valley.

    Sacred Valley Trek was very busy, full of culture, hiking and history. Started with a drive up Sasqaywamin for a panoramic view of Cusco. Drove on to an animal sanctuary with Puma, condors, parrots. We stayed 30 min, continued on to the Women's Weaving Co-op; here we explored the small community and saw some local women making alpaca crafts. We bought some items for family members and for Sherilyn. We drove to the village / Pisac ruins and hiked around the ruins for an hour or so. Pisac was very interesting with a mix of pre-Incan and Incan ruins. After leaving Pisa, we stopped for some baked empanadas and drove across the Urumbamba Valley to Ollantaytambo. After a quick tour of the village we had lunch at "Papas": we got Lomo Saltado and Alpaca Steak.

    After lunch, we checked into the hotel and hiked up the ruins of Ollantaytambo. The view from the hill was spectacular. Some free time to explore the city and markets. After a short meeting to review tomorrow, we had dinner at Papas again (pizza and quinca soup). Return to the hotel and packed for the hike.
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  • Day9

    Cusco, Peru

    August 16, 2013 in Peru ⋅ ☀️ 19 °C

    6AM wakeup, mediocre breakfast in Britania. at 7AM, departed for airport. 1 hour or so of creative driving to airport in bus. Lima drivers apparently don't have traffic laws. A couple of horus in the terminal, hectic boarding and extra wait on the plane (bad weather in Cusco). Eventually short flight to Cusco. Met at airport by Max. Short ride to Hotel Prisma, small quaint hotel, almost like a hostel, very dorm-esque. Quick meeting and a coca tea.

    Max took us on a quick tour of Cusco. Started off wandering to San Pedro market and church, meandered through streets, next to San Francisco Plaza/Church, to Plaza de Armes. Max released us and we were free for the rest of the day. We bought some art for 150 soles, we went to a restaurant called "Haylliy Cafe" was pretty good. Prix Fixe for as cheap as 11soles, but we got the 17soles option. Alpaca steak and trout steak with rice, fries and veggies. Did some shopping and eventually returned to the hotel to change. Met up with Lara and went for a quick walk around to see Cusco at night. Eventually settled on Inkazuela. Can only describe it as a soup/stew-based menu. Split a spinach/cheese appetizer (with some pisco sours). Got Andean stew (lamb and chicken with beans). S got a coconut curry chicken stew. After dinner we made our way back to the hotel.
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  • Day8

    Lima, Peru

    August 15, 2013 in Peru ⋅ ☁️ 16 °C

    Up at 3:30 AM (ugh). Transfer out of Quito was a big frightening at 4:30AM. ? vehicle in disrepair. Made it to the airport in one piece. Flight via Avianca was good, took ~45min to clear customs and immigration. Our transfer was waiting for us and was quick and efficient. About a 45min drive to Miraflores. Stowed our bags at Hotel Britania Miraflores and set off to find Cebicheria La Mar. Approx 20 min walk. We each got a pisco sour and Degustacion (mixed flight of ceviche). Absolutely delicious! Clasico, Mixto, Chalaco, Nikei & Carretilla. We left stuffed and tipsy. One of the best restaurants in Lima (per our research and later learned from our guide). Only open from 12-4 for lunch. Located at the corner of 8 de Octubre and Av La Mar.

    At 2PM, we were met at the hotel by Vanessa of Lima Mentor for our 1/2 day highlights tour. First we went to Larco museum where we saw the erotic gallery and lots of pre-Columbian artifacts. Very interesting and we liked having a guide to explain everything. We had a traditional Peru dessert: Lacuma mousse. 2 hr visit in the museum. Then a visit to the Colonial Center where we saw City Hall, President's Palace Church of Santo Domingo. Climbed bellower and toured this church substantially. Drove by a pre-Colombian archaeological site.

    At 6:30, we had a welcome meeting with G Adventures representative. Group seems very nice so far. Hotel has free wifi,breakfast in the morning. Walked to the grocery store for water and snacks. Still full from lunch so we had apples and juice for dinner.

    Our group:
    Lara from Toronto
    Bruce, Nanette, Elizabeth and Ally from New Jersey
    Vicky & Daniel from England
    Kate and Giovanna from Edmonton
    Giselle and Lorelai from Alberta
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  • Day7

    Quito, Ecuador

    August 14, 2013 in Ecuador ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    Up at 7AM, the day started with hotel breakfast. Marco picked us up at 9AM for our City Tour and Equator (booked through G Adventures - similar prices through private companies). First stop was equator line where we met up with Jolene and Dave for tour! Lots of tests to prove we were at the equator. We went to GPS-calculated equator, not the old line where the tourists go. We balanced an egg on a nail, did the water draining test (goes straight down the drain, not clockwise or counterclockwise), sun dial and strength tests.

    After the tour, Marco drove to Old Town where we had a walking tour. Saw the Basilica, Grand Plaza, President Palace, Bishop Palace, University Building, Campeña church, San Francisco Plaza, Dominican church, stop for ice-cream at the oldest shop in town (guanoabana and chocolate), then to La Ronda (fun part at night), Av 24 de Mayo (nice views but lots of pickpockets). Returned to Vista Hermosa restaurant but decided not to have lunch here (nice views).

    Back to hotel at 2:30PM. Shopped at Artisan market and bought colorful beaded necklace. Lots of fake alpaca products. Went to high-end store and alpaca sweater for Myron = $265! Foch Square for soccer game and drinks where there was a ton of energy! Ecuador vs. Spain was the game and Spain won 2 to 0. We went back to the hotel to pack. Laundry took 12-24 hours to dry depending on the size of the item, material and location.

    At 7PM, we walked back to Foch Square for dinner at Mama Clarinda's, who advertised themselves as ecuadorian food and was recommended by Marco. Nice place. Ate on the 3rd floor. Ordered two humita (sweet corn mash with cheese wrapped in a corn husk). S: llapingachos con filet de pechuga. M: seco de chiro (goat stew) w/rice and pico. Both dishes came with avocado and bean salad. Got jugo de moro and lemonade.

    Back to the hotel by 8:30 and in bed for early morning.

    Overall Quito ended up being a nice city. We felt reasonably safe in light of warnings (common sense helps here). Know areas and know when and when not to go. Altitude sickness was mild. Airport between 45min to 2hr from hotel in new town (depending on route and traffic). hoHo not a good use of the day, should have done city tour. Missed out on cotopaxi volcano, telefico and octaval markets due to poor planning. Center of the World monument was interesting ~30min north of hotel, $4, interesting experiments, could be labeled as a tourist trap. Taxis were cheap, negotiate fare ahead of time. Lots of mass produced "artisan crafts" throughout the city. Need to use bottled water, but cheap at the pharmacy.
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  • Day6

    Santa Cruz, Galapagos Islands

    August 13, 2013 in Ecuador ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

    6AM dinghy ride to Black Turtle cove, where we saw sea turtles, black and white tipped reef sharks and eagle rays. Back to the boat and 7:30 breakfast. 8:30AM we disembarked. Short bus ride to Baltra airport.

    Flights were through Guayaquil again on Aerogal. After the time change, we arrived back at the hotel 6PM local time. Checkin at the Hotel Hilton Colon. Did laundry in the room (research easier way - we washed in the sink and tub and hung the laundry around the room over vents). Out at 7PM and took a taxi ride to the Plaza Grande Cafe. S had a fried ceviche dish and M had mashed potato soup with avocado. Both got rose quiteño, a stewed fruit drink.

    After dinner, a short walk around Old Town at night. Quito is a pretty city at night. Lots of lights and security around Old Town. After walk, took a short cab ride back to the hotel.
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