Sunday, June 27, 2010


From Lima, Alex and I headed to Arequipa. We had considered taking the bus, but then when we found out it would be like a 26 hour ride or something horrendous, we looked into plane tickets. The newly launched Peruvian Airlines had a special and ended up being pretty affordable, and on this trip we were willing to pay a bit more for a 40 minute flight over a 20 hour bus ride.

Arequipa was a really nice town, it had a more colonial feel and was certainly a bit more geared to tourists then Lima was. We spent our time here just taking it easy, enjoying a meal on the beautiful Plaza de Armas, and investing in some alpaca sweaters. We had come to find out we didn't really pack appropriately for the season and nights were getting VERY chilly. The sweaters came in very handy, especially in the next town of Puno.

Catedral in the Plaza de Armas.



Arequipa was our first stop into the mountains and just starting to hit some altitude. We also broke out of the Lima grey and had some actual sunshine!


The first day we hiked out of the center of town, (seriously, we hiked everyday for the next two weeks!), and up to what was supposed to be a pretty lookout. However, when we arrived, it was sadly under construction. Lame. It still had some nice views, however, lots of them were interrupted with silly dump trucks.





We decided that this was too cute of a street not to wander down, and were happily surprised to come upon a great little outdoor cafe were we could stop for an afternoon snack and a pitcher of lemonade.

Walking down into the cafe garden.

Not a bad view with lunch!

Later that day we spent a couple hours exploring the monastery in town. It's huge and is almost like it's own little enclosed city. Alex and I split up while walking around, and he found some great stuff that I didn't see, but again, the small camera was still on the wrong setting. :-(. So some of these files are too small, but I still really like a number of the shots he got! These are few from both of us.










After the monastery, we mainly just did a lot of relaxing, a little shopping and wandering around. The one strange thing that happened was on our second night there, I was sleeping and Alex was up reading. Suddenly, I was woken up by what I thought was a huge truck rumbling by outside our hostel, however, Alex swears it was a brief earthquake! I'm still not sure, but I will say we never saw any trucks big enough on the little street we were on to rumble the hotel... We never did find out, but still a little extra added excitement!

Summer Stir Fry

I generally enjoy reading the Pioneer Woman's blog, but often times her recipes are a bit too heavy for me. However, early in the week she posted a delicious looking summer stir fry, and I knew it would hit the spot for a warm summer evening.

I added a few different things like yellow summer squash and basil and chives, and took out the butter, but mostly followed her recipe. We served ours over whole wheat couscous and it made for a great light a refreshing meal! It came together really quickly and was super tasty for dinner and for lunch the next day!


So colorful!


Tuesday, June 22, 2010


I promised I would get around to photos eventually! My plan is to blog about our trip city by city, this way I can keep things from getting too long, and make it easier for everyone.

Our first stop in Peru was Lima. We arrived in the early afternoon and breezed through customs and headed out to find our taxi, which was supposedly arranged by our hostel. No such luck. Shoot! After debating a bit, we decided to find another taxi and prepared to haggle. However, much to our surprise, this wasn't really necessary. The driver basically gave us the price we requested on the first try. We later found out this was pretty typical. We bargained some, but never anything over the top.

As we made our way through the country, it was clear that the tourism industry has been pretty devastated by the mud slides that occurred earlier in the year. People seemed to be happy for any business that showed up. Despite it being high season, we were often some of the only people staying in any given hostel. I chatted with the incredibly sweet woman who owned the inn we stayed at in the Sacred Valley and she told me this time last year they had 25-30 guests per night, on this evening, it was just Alex and I.

In any case, back to Lima. Our taxi driver was incredibly helpful, also a character trait we came to find across Peru. Our hotel was a bit hard to find at first as it's on a random side street and many of the hotels in Lima don't have signs out front because of weird tax laws. But, we found it, and it turned out great. If you're ever in Lima, the Inka Frog is a fabulous place!

We spent our first day catching up on sleep and just leisurely exploring. We were staying in the nice suburb of Miraflores, and found it really pleasant to walk around. We stumbled upon a few art exhibits, had churros with chocolate and just enjoyed the afternoon. The only problem was the gray! The skies of Lima are apparently just solid gray for 8 months of the year. I couldn't deal with that long term, but for a few days, we survived.

On the second day we went for a run along the seaside cliffs of Miraflores, which has been landscaped into a beautiful boardwalk/park of sorts. Along part the walk is El Parque del Amor, (Park of Love), reminding both Alex and I lots of Paqrue Guiell in Barcelona with all of the mosaic tile work benches.



Center piece of the park.


Cliffs of Miraflores


After our run we caught a taxi to Central Lima, which is more of the old historic center.

Plaza de Armas in Central Lima

Catedral de Lima




Other church in Lima

After wandering a bit, we stumbled upon one of the old colonial houses. We thought it was a museum, but found out it had been converted to offices and a few people still lived there. The caretaker gave us a tour and even took us up the roof, which was actually fairly interesting.

Courtyard of colonial house.



The other side of the rooftop... apparently a number of families still live in these houses, which are fairly dilapidated. The caretaker said there was a lot of problems and crime with so many people living in such close quarters in poor conditions.

After a long afternoon of sight seeing we decided to cap off the afternoon with our first pisco sours.


These are basically the official cocktail of Peru and are awesome. I highly recommend them!

That night we decided to treat ourselves to a fancy dinner, as Lima is apparently the gastronomic capital of South America, or so says our guidebook. As it was nearly our anniversary and Alex's birthday, we figured it was worth it! I didn't take any photos of the food, but it was fantastic, one of the best meals I've had in a very, very long time. Scallops, on the shell!, in a lime butter sauce, ceviche, and other fresh seafood, with wine, and pisco sours, delivered (and insisted upon) to us by the restaurant owner. Delicious.

Our last day in Lima Alex wanted to make an attempt to hit Pachacamac, ruins a little ways out from the city center. Getting there was an adventure in itself as we decided to take the city buses, which are sort of like mini vans that get packed to the gills. We had to take two different buses, making the transfer under a freeway overpass. Clearly there was no chaos involved whatsoever... I must say though, these are the kind of adventures I enjoy, and are even possible because we speak Spanish, I don't think I'd attempt something quite like this in other countries.

I didn't bring my SLR out to the ruins, so we just had the point and shoot that I got basically for this trip. Unfortunately I'm an idiot and didn't realize I had the camera set on the wrong setting, so the first few times we used it in Lima and then in Arequipa the pictures were taken on a super small file setting. :-( I'm SO annoyed with myself, Alex took some really nice shots, and I'm not sure we'll be able to enlarge them at all. Boo. Oh well.

Anyhow, we eventually made it to Pachacamac, after missing our first bus transfer and heading pretty far out into the slums surrounding Lima, opps. Luckily, the bus door guy noticed the gringos sitting on the bus, clearly we were not in the right place, and directed us back the other way.


Pachacamac is in a pretty desolate area in the desert. The temples are actually still being excavated, so mostly what you see is lots of sand.



Alex inspecting the map.


After climbing to the top... the first of many.



The neighboring village ends fairly abruptly into the desert.



Up next, Arequipa!