What a dream come true! Machu Picchu was what started our plans to travel to South America. It has been on my bucket list for years and I'm proud to say I have been there. This is how our day went...

We were picked up from our hotel at 630 am and on our way to the train station picked up a girl from a different hotel on the way. Turns out she was our age and had been leaving in Argentina for the past 3 months, and made a stop in Peru on her way back home to the states. The drive the the train station was interesting. It took about 20 or so minutes and at this time in the morning the streets are full of people. As we were driving I was trying to take it all. I don't even know what the people were doing but there were locals everywhere. And dogs of course too (which still makes me sad). The drive to the train station was interesting because we got to see parts of the city we wouldn't necessarily see otherwise. The construction here is very poor, many of the houses are build on the side of the mountains and the best way I can describe the city is "dirty", literally garbage everywhere (with the exception of the town square area) Which I guess is what I expected and I'm used to it now (keep in mind this is my first time to South America, all inclusive vacations to Cancun and Dominican don't count).  I noticed there were many vendors on the street selling juices, cocoa tea and food. The locals seems to congregate around these stands. I enjoyed the drive as I was able to observe the people and take in all the sights through more rural Cuzco. We then arrived at the train station and boarded the "Perurail" train to Machu Picchu. This was a 4 hour train ride. Very comfortable and enjoyable with friendly staff! The train ride alone was unreal. Winding through the Andes mountains, beside the sacred river (this river has three names but apparently is also called the sacred river so for ease I call it that). The train had windows on the ceiling so you could look up to see the mountains. It was beautiful scenery. On the way you pass by smaller villages and towns and see the farmers in the fields and children playing. After four hours we were at the station in Machu Picchu. This is where we met our local guide, arranged by gadventures. Our guides name was Elias, and he is from Cuzco and was knowledgeable about the history, architecture, and the inca empire (Elias also does the "inca trek" tour and said he had walked the inca trail about 200 times!!) From the train station you then take a short walk through the town and take a 20 minute or so bus ride to the entrance to Machu Picchu. This was a scary bus ride zig zagging up the mountains. It was also very narrow so when a bus would be coming down the hill, our driver would reverse down the road so they could pass. This happened about 3 times on the way up. Alex and I were quite shocked the first time it happened. Literally if we were over a couple inches the bus would have gone over the side. Anyways, we made it to the entrance and began a 2 hour guided tour with Elias. It was awesome that there were only 3 of us in the group because I noticed some groups of upwards of 10 people. We then had free time to explore as we wished and make our way back to the bus to catch our train on time. 

Machu Picchu was everything I imagined it would be. It felt surreal to actually be there. There is no better feeling then accomplishing a goal in life, and Machu Picchu was one of mine! Many people I had talked to before this trip did not know what or where Machu Picchu was. I suggest Machu Picchu be on everyone's bucket list! 

This morning we took a one hour flight from Cuzco to Lima. On this flight we met a man from the states would was traveling with his family and he recommended we do the paragliding in Lima (we told him we were looking for something fun to do).

Our original plan was to take a 5 hour bus ride from Lima to Ica today but we both weren't feeling up to that today so decided to come to our hotel in Lima (Ibis miraflores) today to see if we could get a room for tonight and they kindly accommodated us. When we checked in the man said "uhhh your reservation is for one bed?....." and we said "yes thats correct" and he said, "ya its for one bed...we

can give you a room for tonight but it will have two beds, will that be okay for you girls?" anyways we got laughing real hard it was pretty funny. When we got to our "two bed" room - turns out the bed are literally inches apart so it might as well be one bed anyways. Maybe we found this funnier than it really is because we are sleep deprived. Also upon check in I was supposed to show my immigration card which I somehow managed to lose. This means when we go to the airport to go to Costa Rica we have to go a couple hours early and I will also have to pay money to get out of the country.

We are currently in Lima in the Miraflores district which is located two blocks away from the Larcomar mall, which is built into the cliff on the coast of Lima. It has indoor and outdoor parts and lots of stores and restaurants. This was the first place we went after checking in at our hotel and we got Pizza Hut for lunch. There's also a TGIF's and Tony Roma's so we will likely go for dinner and to shop around later! There's even a bowling alley and a movie theatre so we might check that out too. 

Tomorrow we are going to do a day trip to Huacachina which is a 5 hour bus ride away. This is also known as the "desert oasis" and is where will be be sand boarding and going on a sand dune buggy ride! The following day we will paraglide in Lima (which is 10 minutes from our hotel) and you are right over the ocean and land on the beach - so fun!

Even though I haven't been away for long I have learned a lot about traveling as opposed to "vacationing". You gain a new perspective of places and the people when you are traveling. As I mentioned in a previous post, everyone has been friendly and welcoming. This country has a lot to offer. In a few days we will be off to Costa Rica to continue our adventures!

 

Peru

08/04/2013

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So far Peru is awesome! We found that sleeping was difficult last night because we were really cold and also it was hard to breathe as we are still adjusting to the altitude. There were times in the night I would wake up because I was short of breath (the same happened with Alex). This is the highest altitude either of us have been so it does take some getting used to. 

Everyone here is friendly and the streets are safe to explore as we please. What a beautiful city surrounded by mountains and full of culture. Today we took a walk in the morning to the city square, Playa De Armas, and it happened to be a day of celebrations with thousands of people out and about. On our walk to the square we were approached by local women and their children to take photos with them and their baby goats (of course we gave them money as this seems to be a popular means of income in Cuzco). You can't go far without someone trying to sell you something - wether it be paintings, jewellery, clothing, and even fake raybans! We are good at politely refusing and continuing on our way. At the city square, locals were dressed in traditional ensembles and there was a parade with music and dancing and even the Peruvian military marching the streets! We were lucky to be here on such a day because apparently it doesn't happen often! We then took a group tour to a few of the important archeological sites (Corcichana also called the temple of the sun, Saqsaywaman, which is a UNESCO world heritage site and is situated at 12,000ft, Quenco, and Tambomachay). We met some pretty cool people on this tour all from the states and Canada - there was a group of university students from Oregon State, girls from Montreal, a family from texas, and then of course us representing Ontario Canada! Our tour guide was really helpful and explained everything, and helped us to understand the culture and traditions, she was great! On the bus back to town we stopped at a fur factory and they taught us how to tell the difference between baby alpaca and "maybe alpaca" fur. This is because many vendors and markets try to sell tourists unauthentic items. By this part of the tour it was just after 6 pm and was already dark so we were wanting to get back to our hotel. All together it was an informative tour and we are glad we did it. I would recommend doing a tour like this to anyone who is coming to Cuzco.

We are now back at our hotel in bed because tomorrow is an early morning. We are taking the morning train to Machu Picchu! 







 
 

Where to begin! The flight from Toronto to Lima was 8 hours overnight. The Lima airport was very chaotic and disorganized and our flight was delayed so we ended up missing our connecting flight to Cuzco. Anyway, nothing we can't handle. We ended up getting on the next flight to Cuzco which is just over an hour flight. Upon arrival in Cuzco we took a cab to our hotel and of course had to bargain a deal and not be taken advantage of. The driver had tried to make us pay 50 dollars American, and we ended up only paying 20 American, which in reality was probably still too much but we just wanted to get to our hotel. We are staying at the Antawasi hotel and our room has 2 beds and our own bathroom. We were expecting more of a shared accommodation hostel so we are quite happy. Before coming to Cuzco we knew about the potential for altitude sickness, and you for sure notice it. Cuzco's elevation is about 3400 m (11,200ft). We are both short of breath and I have had a headache on and off and have noticed my heart rate is increased. We are getting used to the altitude and hope after a good nights sleep we feel better tomorrow. We explored the city today and went to the city square, Playa De Armas. Walking around you notice the women's colourful traditional Peruvian clothing and also that there are lots of stray dogs everywhere. Also it is colder than we anticipated - people are wearing hats and mittens! We may need to buy some tomorrow but we only have 2 more days in Cuzco and the rest of our travels we will be in warmer places!

More updates to follow! :)

Night!

 
 

Greetings from somewhere over the Atlantic. I write this post as I am on the plane from Toronto to Lima,  Peru. My best friend, and travel partner is currently sleeping beside me, but for those of you who know me, you know that I do not sleep on flights! With that being said I am keeping myself occupied listening to my iPod and will likely watch a movie soon. I was thinking to myself how fortunate we are to be able to travel to South and Central America and learn more about the people and culture, and to learn more about ourselves as young women taking on the world! Hard work pays off - and I feel as though this time of travel is well deserved for both Alex and I - although I do miss work already as pathetic as that sounds. Working in nursing for the past 4 years I have met some truly inspirational people who have taught me to live my dreams and appreciate each day. I love nursing - and the possibilities with my chosen profession are endless. Not to mention traveling and nursing go great together so in the years to come I will be able to do the two things I love the most - which makes me a real happy girl! :)

More information about our current travels...

We will arrive Lima at 7 am, then get on our next flight which will take us to Cuzco, Peru. We will be spending the next 3 days in Cuzco- during this time we will be exploring the city and then going to Machu Picchu on Monday August 5th  (I'm SO excited)! we opted out of the 4 day hike and instead we will be taking the train to Machu Picchu. This part of our journey we are joining a tour with gadventures. The duration of our traveling we are doing independently and spent many hours planning what places we want to see, what activities we want to do, and how we can best spend our time. We are blessed to have the chance to take this journey and I'm glad we have put our plans into action.

Ps someone make sure they read this to g&p! 


I love and miss you all!


"You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough" 

 

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