Saturday, May 15, 2010

Peru Diaries 2 - Cusco & the Sacred Valley

Cusco is a beautiful city. It is small, quaint and has a lot of charm. The charm comes from the city and the people who live there. We arrived in the morning and made our way to Hotel Picoaga; which is an absolutely adorable spot. The first thing yu see when you get to Picoaga is the gorgeous stone courtyard and water fountain that just took our breath away. Our first day was spent pottering around the city and eating. We tried all kinds of things including Peru's delicacy Cuy. There are over 55 varieties of corn and 350 varieties of potatoes in Peru - both of which are included in almost every dish. In Cusco the highlight was the beautiful square and the narrow cobble stone streets that take you to all kinds of places. We loved the architecture of the monuments and spent the first day exploring the various churches and temples. On Day 2 we did a tour of the Sacred Valley. Pisac was our first stop. This is a small city where we saw our first Inca ruins. It was a  peek into things to come a few days later in Machu Pichu. Next stop was Ollantaytambo; residing in this town is an old Inca fort from where the views are spectacular. My favorite though was Chinchero. Here we explored a church that was built in 1607; the white washed structure against the lush green valley and brown stone walls looked magnificent. After Chinchero we headed back for a good nights rest. The next 2 days were going to be spent hiking in the Andes mountains. We had quite an adventure ahead of us.
Recommended Restaurants in Cusco: Paititi, Andes Grill and Jacks Cafe

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Peru Diaries 1 – Lost Luggage and Lovely Lima

Saturday morning April 24th, we were all set to make our way into Lima with a short stop in Atlanta – bags:check, passport:check, airplane ticket: check. En-route to Atlanta we hear “this is your captain speaking, I am sorry folks, but due to thunder storms in Atlanta and low fuel levels we will have to re-route to Charlotte”. Great will we or wont we make our connection to Lima? Well, 2 hours later we were running through Atlanta’s Hartsfield airport and have made our connection with 5 minutes to spare. Neither R nor I have ever run so fast! Of-course we made the flight, but 6 hours later, after staring at the conveyor belt for 30 minutes we realized that our bags did not – oh well. It would have to be sans bags in Lima on Day 1 of our trip. We had Raphael (old man full of advice for tourists) take us to Hotel Antigua Miraflores; which was the sweetest little place I have seen – it had beautiful art on all the walls and the most amazing coffee I have ever tasted. It was like a large bed and breakfast. After a good nights rest we set out to explore. I won’t bore you with all the details but just give the highlights. First stop El Centro; this is where all the monuments are. There was a vibrant parade in the main square (Plaza de Armas). We strolled about took a lot of pictures. The highlight for me were the Catacombs in the San Francisco Cathedral. It was eerie to walk underground and see human bones piled up from the 17th Century. In the afternoon we headed to Barranco and ate some amazing food. I cannot write enough about the food in Peru – It is Fantastic. The fish, the meat, the corn, the potatoes -  all of it is fresh and cooked with so much flavor. Barranco is an area in Lima that over-looks the sea – we whiled away our time enjoying Ceviche, Lomo Saltado and many Piscos. In the evening we chilled out in Miraflores where we bought a beautiful painting for our home and chatted with the locals. I had to stop R from eating street food that he was salivating over. Did not want a sick husband at the beginning of my trip. We got our bags at 4 am in the morning – and were all set to travel to our next destination Cuzco and the Sacred Valley ! Below are some pictures from Lima that you can peruse through.