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Tag: Peru

Peru 2015: Lima Part Dos

For our last night in Peru we ditched the hostel and spent the rest of our funds on a nice hotel. We stayed in and ate sushi for dinner at the hotel bar, hit the pool, and enjoyed the luxuries-like being able to brush our teeth with tap water.

The hotel included a gourmet buffet breakfast where we really indulged, even letting Little Monkey enjoy hot chocolate for the first time. We were giving a late check out, which was 3pm. We took an uber to the beach and checked that off our Peru bucket list. Because of our late check out we had plenty of time to clean up. We were able to leave our luggage at the hotel even though we checked out. We used the rest of the afternoon to have a late lunch, cebiche of course. Around 6pm we ubered it back to the hotel, picked up our luggage and arranged for transportation to the dance and dinner show.


Because we were on a redeye flight out of Lima, requiring us to be at the airport at 11pm, we didn’t want to pay for another night in a hotel or hostel. But, we also didn’t want to be on the streets or sitting at the airport for hours upon hours. La Dama Juana , a dance and dinner program in Lima, was a great way for us to spend the time. They checked our luggage for us in the coatroom. A pisco sour is included and it is buffet style dinner. The food was mediocre and the dancing was great. Little Monkey absolutely loooooved the performance. It was so nice that he was so completely entertained. It is difficult, sometimes, to keep a toddler entertained during mealtime. This was a win-win. The dancing was historical Peruvian dances and as a dancer I enjoyed being exposed to the different styles. We had a slip up with the service, but all in all it was a nice experience and satisfied the need of passing time.

We headed straight to the airport from La Dama Juana, and by then we were more than ready to begin the trek back home.


I am so proud of our family. I am proud that we took the time and spent the money to have a true family vacation. Two weeks of the three of us brought us closer together. While we can’t spend life in vacation mode, it is something we can look back on and also look forward to. We now know that vacations like this are so important to our ultimate goal of keeping our family a bonded unit. I’m also proud that we took our toddler to South America. Many think we are crazy for doing this, and we are, but it was worth every struggle. I firmly believe that having him with us made our experience better. I look forward to showing him more of the world; and while he won’t have formed memories from this vacation, I hope that it will help shape his character as a citizen of the world. I believe that when we travel we are constant representatives of our culture and I hope that Little Monkey’s joy and our love as a family made us positive ambassadors for the United States.

We hope to make it back to Peru someday. We feel though that our experience in Lima and Cusco was satisfying and that there is much more to Peru we would like to experience. Our next trip will take us north to the beaches, jungle, and perhaps over to Lake Titicaca. Thank you Peru, for such beautiful memories. Until we meet again.



Kato, JZ and Little Monkey <3

Peru 2015: Arrival to Cusco

Leaving Aguest Calientes, the adventure began to take a turn for the worse. I wasn’t able to get a call through to our hostel and was hoping that they would receive my email regarding our transportation. I had requested pick up from the train station, but with the strike we wouldn’t be getting in until at least midnight. I wasn’t sure if they got it, and what we would do if we didn’t have someone waiting for us. Also, Litlte Monkey had come down with a fever and a stuffy nose.

It was about 2am when we finally arrived at the station, nobody waiting for us. We arranged a taxi for 40 soles, which was actually less than the pre-arranged price of 60. We got to our hostel late, having to knock on the door and wake the night manager. He said “we sent someone for you, they waited until 10:30pm”. Guess they didn’t get the message.

Our room was really nice. It had a little sitting room, mini fridge, a big bed, a crib, a small balcony and a shower with consistent hot water. Orquidea Real Hostal. It is in a prime location, about two blocks from the town square/cathedral, on the edge of the artsy San Blas and walking distance to Av El Sol. A nice, warm breakfast is included every morning until 9am. It is quiet; not a party hostel. We saw a lot of families and were some of the youngest guests there. The family that takes care of the place is very nice and helpful, but they don’t speak English very well. The night manager actually speaks the best English, but you don’t see him much.

Saturday we were lazy. Little Monkey seemed to have come down with a cold and we were all exhausted from traveling. We cuddled in bed and relaxed the day away. Watching cartoons and How I Met Your Mother in Spanish or with Spanish subtitles is a great way to improve your foreign language skills and to entertain a sicky baby. Saturday night we ventured out for fresh air and dinner. We found a comfortable restaurant (Los Tomines) with great service and hot soup.  Our server treated us to house made Cocoa Pisco shots. This gave us a bit of energy to explore. After dinner, we followed the sound of fire works and found our to way to Plaza de Armas, at the cathedral, where towers of fireworks were being set off. It seemed as though Little Monkey wasn’t the only one not feeling well, as I also had felt sick all day and still did; so we decided to call the night short and keeping Little Monkey bundled up tight, we walked back to our room. Inadvertently, we found ourselves at the famous, historical, Inkan wall. We snapped a selfie and enjoyed the scene as we strolled. To our enjoyment and surprise, once settled and cozy back inside, we could still enjoy the fireworks show from our balcony!

I remember later speaking with our friend Mr. Lima and he says to me “Cusco has some magic about it doesn’t it?”. Yes it does, indeed.

The magic of Cusco, from our balcony!

The magic of Cusco, from our balcony!

Peru 2015: Ollantaytambo

Stepping back in time, cobblestone streets of Ollantaytambo.

Stepping back in time, cobblestone streets of Ollantaytambo.

Discovering upon arrival in Cusco that our baby carrier had been broken during transit was a stressful way to begin our next chapter in Peru. After a couple hours of frustrating dialogue, we finally got a satisfactory resolution to the problem. The airline (LCPeru) was very helpful and responsive to the problem. They gave us cash money and also transported us directly to our hostel in Ollantaytambo (about two hours away from Cusco). Arriving in Ollantaytambo, we knew immediately that we had just entered a special place.

Wandering cobblestone streets and hiking Incan ruins, we soaked up the atmosphere and enjoyed the feeling of stepping back in time. If going to Macchu Picchu I highly recommend staying at least a couple nights here and experiencing the old world.

Our hostel, Casa de Wow, was up the cobblestone streets and away from the hustle and bustle of the Macchu Picchu transits. We scored the matrimony room and were much more comfortable here then in our Lima hostel. This time we actually had hot water and eggs for breakfast. It was a great hostel for families or those looking for some quiet away from the party scene. Ollantaytambo is so small though, the excitement is just a five minute walk away.

We did a lot of shopping here for souvenirs. Beware of the art gallery though; she scammed me. Shame on me for being so gullible. If I had spent time in Cusco first, I would have known that what she claimed to be original pieces were actually just run of the mill prints that many will try to hawk to you in the Cusco town square. Oh well. We had a good time chatting with her (as she lied to us), and we have artwork that reminds us of Peru and a funny story to laugh about when we are old (or anytime we look at the print!).

We did the “Pinkuylluna” trail and I recommend it to anyone on a tight budget looking for some amazing ruins to explore. Unlike most of the Ollantaytambo ruins, these are free. It’s not what I expected as a trailhead, and we nearly missed it because of that. See picture of trailhead sign below.

Pinkuylluna trailhead

Pinkuylluna trailhead

The hike is about two hours total, but steep. If you have walking sticks with you, now is the time to use them. My husband found it using this app: Triposo Peru. Recommend that app too. We used it for general guidance here and there as an alternative to my lonely planet book.

View of Ollantaytambo from Pinkuylluna hike.

View of Ollantaytambo from Pinkuylluna hike.

Eating in Ollantaytambo is awesome. Lonely Planet made it seem like (to us at least) there were limited places to eat here. Not the case. The food is amazing and options plentiful. Our first night we went basic with a pizza special. We were not impressed with the service there; I think they forgot about us. I know things are slower in Peru, but this was reeeeaaaallllly slow. We didn’t go back there. (If I could remember the name of the place I would warn you against it, but I can’t. It’s on the corner of the main square on the left hand side as you look down the hill towards the transit area.) We loved a little café where we ate an alpaca lunch after our hike. Alpaca is delicious. We also loved everything about another cafe run by a very nice Peruvian who spoke wonderful English. Again, I can’t remember the name of the place, but it was in the south corner of the plaza. They had scrumptious sandwiches and served Peruvian beer on tap. TIP: get the beer! We were excited to see beer on tap but were not in the mood for a beer at that moment so we didn’t order it. We assumed we could get some another time. Not the case. They only serve that beer in the sacred valley. That was the only time we ever Peruvian Beer on tap, and we never got to try it. So if you find it, have a round for us! Our favorite place was a lonely planet recommendation: Puka Rumi. We ordered the burrito as recommended and just continued to eat there as often as possible. We also followed Lonely Planet’s advice and ate some ice cream from Tutti Amore while we waited for the train, and ordered box lunches to go for our Machu Picchu trip from Hearts Café. The boxed lunches from Hearts Café were delicious and a great value; tons of food. Not really necessary though because we didn’t realize that when the train company says the ticket includes a snack they actually mean a meal plus a couple snacks. Peruvians do like to feed you! If you’re seeking good coffee though the café con leche at Hearts Café was the best coffee we had in Peru.

Our original itinerary was two nights in Ollantaytambo, but Perurail went on strike and we ended up staying a third night. The third night we grabbed the first hostel with a room available, close to the train station. The sign read “Hostel”, the price was right, and we were thankful that with so many stranded travelers we were able to snag a private room. It didn’t include breakfast or anything, but that didn’t matter since our box lunch was pretty much breakfast too. While the strike situation was annoying and frustrating, another night in Ollantaytambo was a good consolation. If I could go back to any of the places we visited in Peru, I would go back there. I’m in love with this little town.



Peru 2015: Lima Part Uno

Before arriving to Lima we were put in touch with a friend of a friend who was graciously willing to show us around. He picked us up from the airport, holding a sign with my name on it and everything. He instantly became a friend of the family. His help during our time in Lima, particularly that first day, was a major contributor to how much we enjoyed our time there (and probably Peru in general). He took us to the hostel to let us get settled, then out to lunch at La Red where we enjoyed fabulous cebiche as well as other Peruvian dishes. We were introduced to rocoto- a Peruvian spicy salsa. He also helped us by taking us to the grocery mart where we were able to buy some snacks (local Peruvian snacks with his help), water, and get local SIM cards for our cell phones. He even made sure we were able to exchange our money at an exchange location (because the airport is no Bueno for exchange rates). He drove us around the different areas of Lima so we had a decent sense of where we were. We don’t speak much Spanish at all and it was really nice having someone to order us a real Peruvian meal and help us get settled. Our hostel was in Mira Flores. After Mr. Lima dropped us off Saturday night, we passed out and slept straight through until Sunday morning.

The hostel served breakfast, which meant instant coffee and bread. We had some fruit from the market to supplement the breakfasts and so they got us by. We made it Mass at noon at the Mira Flores Catholic Church then Ubered it to The Suco district where we met Mr. Lima and his family (parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins!) for lunch. The Arab cuisine at Tierra Santa was delicious. One thing about dining out in Peru so far, don’t be in a hurry! The service is slow and even the customers seem to savor their food and their company slowly. Lunch seems to be the main meal of the day. People eat a lot and take their time. After three hours of eating lunch, now 5pm, we ordered an Uber to pick us up and take us to the center of town so I could see the precession of the lord of miracles (a local religious festival where the center of Lima is draped in purple and the church carries the saint through town for two days). Well our Uber driver tried to call is and being unable to reach us via cell he canceled our order. Again, Mr. Lima to the rescue to translate for us and make sure we were heading in the right direction!
Our driver was great about getting us as close to the presecion as possible. Now the fun really began! Standing out in a sea of Peruvians, we got right in the midst of the procession.

I actually think we were in it! Surrounded by locals we joined in the clapping and just moved where the crowd moved. When it was over we were right in center Lima at night fall. Street vendors galore! We bought a couple 2 sole items (roughly $0.60) and searched for what seemed like the safest food vendor. We settled on one that seemed safe enough and paid 2 soles each for dinner.

Pumped up and feeling brave after being in the Peruvian crowds, we decided to keep the party going and head to Lima’s Magic Water Show. This was recommended to us by Mr. Lima’s cousin. But, not able to get an Uber, we ended up in the “wrong” part of town. A concerned older Peruvian man was able to convince us we needed to get in a Taxi. He negotiated the price of 10 soles for us and told the driver where we were going. All set. Exept the driver didn’t have change and we only had 50 soles. It took a couple attempts but eventually we made change for the taxi and we’re ready for the Magic Water Show. It was 4 soles per adult to enter the reserva park (next to the stadium), a steal! A wonderful time was had by all as we toured the many water fountains, some set to lights and music. It was a long but wonderful day in Lima. An uber took us back to the hostel and we put our passed out Little Monkey to bed at the hostel. We had the room right next to the common area so while our sweet baby slept we enjoyed a glass of wine and socialized with the other travelers. One of our favorite aspects of traveling is meeting the other travelers and generally getting to know people from all around the world.
Monday in Lima bustles. We walked over 9 miles that day as we explored Mira Flores. On the way toward the water front we stopped at a playground and let Little Monkey get out some energy and socialize with other babes. We lunched at Larcomar, the upscale shopping center. Tanta restaurant was recommended by Mr. Lima, perhaps because they had menus in English and servers who spoke English too! Like good travelers, while at Larcomar, we picked up our train tickets for Machu Picchu at the Perurail point of sales. Then, we walked down to the beach and watched the surfers. We hit up the playground again on the way back to the hostel. I’ve never seen so many kids actually at the playground before. There were about 100 kids playing there this time! After a late and much needed nap, we ventured out one more time for some Chifa, the Peruvian version of Chinese food. Then, because we let Little Man eat the candied leche from the Chifa restaurant and he was fired up, the three of us socialized back at the hostel our last night in Lima (for now).

You see “#LimaLove” around Lima a lot. There were definitely a lot of affectionate couples in the city. I’m not sure if that’s why, or if it’s because it’s a really great a city. Peruvians in general, so far, seem jolly. They are all happy, helpful, and kind. Maybe it’s because we are traveling with a baby. It seems more like it’s just their way though. Often, we play the what if game. “What if, we could move here for a while”. Maybe.
Off toward the sacred valley and Machu Picchu next.