Archive for May, 2007

Day 5 – 5/26 – Machu Picchu

Saturday, May 26th, 2007

5:30AM – Once again, we had to wake up early. After breakfast, we took a two minute walk to the train station.

8:00AM – We boarded the Vistadome train, and we were on our way to Aguas Calientes. After an hour and a half on the train, and then a thirty minute bus ride, we were finally at the entrance to the famous Machu Picchu. We then checked into the Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge, right outside of the entrance to Machu Picchu, dropped off our luggage, and met up with Hector, our tour guide.

10:30AM – Hector took us on a 2 1/2 hour tour through Machu Picchu, but you really need two days to see the entire place. At this time of day, it was already beginning to get crowded, and we had to wait our turn at the primary photo spots. Hector took us to see the most notable sites such as the Rock Quarry, Temple of the Sun, Royal Tomb, Temple of the Three Windows, Sacred Plaza, Temple of the Condor, and the Principal Temple. Oh yeah, if you ever visit Machu Picchu, don’t forget your bug repellent. There are a lot of mosquitoes!

1:00PM – We had a buffet lunch at the Sanctuary Lodge’s Tinkuy Restaurant. Alice and I tried another Peruvian dish, ceviche, which is raw fish marinated in lime and chile. I liked it a lot. Also, Live local music was being played while we ate.

3:00PM – Alice and I re-entered Machu Picchu and revisited most of the spots that Hector showed us. We also trekked on up to the Caretaker’s Hut. Since most of the tourists had already left at this time, we were able to move about freely around the ancient site. We stayed until closing (5:30PM) where they literally kicked us out and escorted us off the premises.

7:00PM – We had dinner at the Sanctuary Lodge’s Bar Tampu Restaurant. Both dinner and lunch was included with our stay, but it was a little weird to see the pricing on the menu even though we didn’t have to pay for it. I had alpaca, but it wasn’t as good as the one Alice had the other day. Alice had the grilled trout. Then we both split dessert, four scoops of ice cream.

Day 4 – 5/25 – Maras

Friday, May 25th, 2007

10:00AM – Natalie and Luco picked us up after breakfast and took us to Maras, which was about an hour’s drive away.

11:30AM – We first stopped at Moray, an Inca experimental farm. Upon first glance, it looked like a stadium. However, it was designed in such a way that each tier was at a different temperature, so that a different type of crop could be raised on each level.

1:00PM – We arrived at the Sal Natural y Ecologico (Salt Mines) and had boxed lunches in the car. There were over a thousand salt beds, and Alice tried to take a picture of each one. 😛 I bought a couple bags of salted beans for 1 solis (approximately 33 cents) each. They tasted especially good when fresh.

4:00PM – We arrived back at the hotel and decided to look for the alpacas that lived at our hotel. There were two of them. I fed them while Alice took pictures. Afterwards, we wandered around the little shops outside of our hotel.

6:30PM – We decided to eat at the hotel again, since we wanted to be able to sleep early. We’ve got another early start tomorrow.

9:00PM – I tried to use the public computer to post today’s travel blog. I was almost done when the computer froze. Frackin’ Microsoft! We’re checking out of this hotel tomorrow. Hopefully the next one will have WiFi.

Day 3 – 5/24 – Sacred Valley

Thursday, May 24th, 2007

I´m going to make this short and add more details later, since I´m on public computer at dialup speed.  Also, I posted some photos of Lima in my photo gallery. 

3:30AM – We had to catch a 6.40AM flight to Cusco, so it was another early day for us.  Our travel guide was supposed to arrive at 4AM, but was a no-show.  At 4:30AM, Alice called the travel agency’s 24-hour number and woke Maricel up. She called the driver and verified that he would be there shortly.

5:00AM – Kuzy and William finally arrived to take us to the airport. There was a mix up in the schedule where our itinerary had the wrong pickup time. We could have had an extra hour of sleep!

6:40AM – Alice and I took our altitude sickness medication when we boarded the plane, and when we arrived in Cusco, we didn´t feel any different.  So maybe the medication worked. 

7:45AM – Natalie and Ganita picked us up from the airport and took us from Cusco to Sacred Valley. As the name would suggest, Sacred Valley is at a much lower elevation than Cusco. This should help Alice and I to get acclimated to the elevation.

9:00AM – Our first destination was a weaving factory where they had live llamas and alpacas for us to feed and pet.  We also got to see the native Peruvians at work. They would dye the baby llama wool using only natural igredients. At another station, there would be a Peruvian woman weaving the wool into blankets and clothing. Each item would have intricate designs that were indicative of their tribe.

10:00AM – Our next stop was the ancient Incan ruins at the town of Pisac. A hike to the top offered a nice view of the valley. On the hillside on the north end of the ruins was a gravesite. Holes that grave robbers dug could be seen from across the gorge.

11:45AM – We got dropped off at the Pisac market. We were only supposed to stay for half an hour, but wound up staying for an hour and fifteen minute. Alice went to town and bought a whole bunch of souvenirs, including a little llama, STUFFED. 

2:00PM – We had lunch at a Peruvian buffet and drank Coca tea for the first time.  Coca tea is supposed to help with altitude sickness, and it tasted pretty good. 

3:30PM – Our next stop was at the Ollantaytambo Ruins. On one side of the fortress ruins sre agricultural terraces. On the other side of the gorge are storage houses where food would have been stored. The high mountain winds served as a method of refrigeration for the Incas.

5:00PM – We checked into the Pakaritampu Hotel and finally got to take a nap!  Boy were we tired. 

7:00PM – We had dinner at the hotel restaurant.  Alice tried alpaca, and I decided to order tenderloin and chicken kebabs (just in case the alpaca wasn´t what we expected).  The alpaca wasn´t bad at all.  It actually tasted like lamb chops, but without the aftertaste. 

additional information added on 5/29/2007

Day 2 – 5/23 – Lima, Peru

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2007

10:00AM – We slept in as late as possible, but had to make it downstairs before 10:30AM for the complimentary continental breakfast. Nothing bizarre on the menu, although it’s the first time I’ve had fried chicken for breakfast.

11:30AM – Vanessa (our guide from Amazing Peru) and Marco (our driver) took us on city tour of Lima, the capital of Peru. We started in the Miraflores district, where our hotel is located,traveled to the San Isidro district, and then finally into downtown Peru.

3:00PM – We had a late lunch/early dinner at La Huaca Pucllana Restaurant. I had the broiled Parmesan sea bass in crayfish sauce, which I highly recommend. Alice had the grilled rockfish. I also had an Inca Kola, which tasted just like bubble gum soda. It’s more popular than Coca-Cola over here.

5:00PM – We explored the streets of Miraflores on our own. Crossing the street takes some getting used to. There are no pedestrian crossing lights, and cars speed right by. There are no Alto (Stop)signs; just Pare (Slowly) signs. California stops are legal in Lima!

Day 1 – 5/22

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007

What a frackin’ long day it was! We got out of bed at 3:30AM so that we could catch a 7:40AM flight from SFO. Our connecting flight was in Houston, and we actually arrove a little bit early, at 1:10PM. But that’s when our luck ran out. There were thunderstorms in the early AM in Houston that wreaked havoc with flight schedules even though it was clear skies by the time we got there. A gate wasn’t available until 2:00PM, so we actually had to sit tight in the plane until then. We were supposed to catch a 3:50PM flight to Lima, but that flight kept getting delayed and delayed again. We finally took off at 6:39PM, and we didn’t get into Lima until 1:00AM. It wasn’t until 2:30AM before we made it to our hotel.

OK, enough of this. It’s 3:30AM, and it’s time for me to catch some shut eye. The fun part of my vacation begins tomorrow, or should I say later today.