Ica – offending street-children?

Following the previous experiences of bus rides, we were apprehensive to leave Nazca, to say the least. But we recognised that unless we wanted to live in Nazca for the rest of our lives, we would need to set foot on a bus one day. And in fact it was not a bad journey. Unlike the last bus journey this was a day-bus, and it was interesting watching the roadside vendors, trying to sell their wares by reaching up to the windows of the bus every time it stopped.

We arrived in Ica and were surprised that it looked very different to Nazca or Cusco – in fact it looked like what we imagine India might look like – very hot and dusty, with Tuk-Tuks. Continue reading

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Nazca – sick, homesick and flying in a Cessna

Nazca was hot. There was no air con, so we went to a supermarket to stand by a fridge. The locals gave us odd looks. We obviously made quite an impression though – one of the locals commented “The English speak very good English”. You would hope so.

We liked Nazca- a small town which was much less touristy than Cusco. We stumbled upon a few celebrations going on in the town – one with small children doing cute dancing while dressed in traditional costumes, and another one a dance show in the town square. We also went to a gold panning place where they pan for gold, unsurprisingly. They were not shy about asking for a tip, which I guess is another way of panning for gold 😉

We were glad that we were staying in Nazca a few days- I was ill so it was good to rest and recuperate. The hotel we stayed at also had a TV and we watched Love Actually, which wasn’t necessarily a good thing – when you’re miles from home, feeling ill, watching Christmassy English films just makes you homesick! When we arrived there was internet access, so at least we were able to e-mail home. Unfortunately a few days later the internet to the whole town was down – apparently because someone had stolen the copper from the wires!

The main reason we came to Nazca was for the Nazca Lines. Continue reading

Stop the Bus!!

Sadly things started to go downhill a bit.

We were warned by our travel agent that the bus from Lima to Cusco was notorious for being held-up by bandits, who stop the large tourist bus and force the tourists to hand over valuables. I cannot verify the truthfulness of that statement, but that is what we were told. So we decided to get a bus to Nazca instead – a small town famous for the “Nazca Lines”.

We took a “Cama bus” from Cusco. This is a bed bus, which has seats that recline until they are practically horizontal. We also went first class, which was a first (and a last!) for us, but we thought it was important to be comfortable for the journey. The bus was very comfortable, modern, and had a TV, so we were feeling very smug at first. However we failed to properly appreciate that it was a 15 hour bus journey. And the bus had to go over the Andes. These are big mountains, and involved pretty much continuous hair-pin bends. It was like being on a crazy fairground ride FOR 15 HOURS. Continue reading

The Most Amazing Coincidence Ever?!

The day after the Machu Picchu I was grinning like the cat that got the cream. We had nothing planned, so we wandered around Cusco. We saw a big statue and climbed up it (legally, via. stairs), we had a very cheap and delicious lunch at a market (around 58p for a massive plate of rice, beef, onion, tomato and pepper – yum!). We then looked around a craft market.

Then an amazing thing happened.

We were in the craft market looking at crafts, and a lady came up and started to speak to us in heavily accented, broken English. I was confused at first, and a bit wary – I have learnt about Stranger Danger. However I made out the word “Uffizi”, and then she said “you were in Firenze in the Spring”. My jaw hit the floor. Continue reading

Machu Picchu : To dream the impossible dream

I recall seeing a photo of the Machu Picchu when I was a child, and my Mum telling me that my uncle had been there. From that point on I wanted to go. However it seemed so far away, like another world. By the time I reached my 20s I had distracted myself with other things and had resigned myself to the fact that I would never get to the Machu Picchu in my lifetime. I didn’t mind really – I just accepted it, the way that I now accept that I will never own a Porsche, or marry Colin Firth. But when we started to plan the trip, I knew that the Machu Picchu MUST be on the itinerary.

Machu Picchu 1On “Machu Picchu Day,” we woke at 5am and took a 3 hour train journey from Cusco. The train “zig-zag”-ed up the hill out of Cusco, Continue reading

Sacred Valley : Ageing 20 years at the spring of eternal youth?!

As we were staying in Cusco for a few days to acclimatise, we decided to go on some of the tours around the town. We wouldn’t normally go for tourist tours, but they seemed good value, and meant we didn’t need to worry about how to get around.

One day we got a “city tour” which took us to Sacsayhuaman, which is a large zig-zag wall with views of Cusco. The guide explained the history of it – from the air, Cusco is set out in the shape of a Puma, and Sacsayhuaman is its fringe. I’m afraid that’s as informative as it gets – information normally goes in one ear and out the other! The guide then said, “you have 30 minutes – look around, take photos, or cry internally”. This made me laugh (externally) 🙂

We enjoyed the scenery and saw some Llamas, and various people in traditional dress.

The tour also took us to Q’enqo (a labyrinth) and Tambomachay (a spring that makes you eternally young). Continue reading

Feeling like a Celebrity in Cusco

Catching an overnight flight from Lima to Cusco had seemed like a really good idea. We’d save on hotel bills, and wake up fresh and well rested the next morning, keen to explore. We congratulated ourselves on such an excellent plan. Unfortunately, after a sleepless night on a plane we didn’t feel quite so clever. In fact, we felt shattered. We are never doing that again! We made our way to the hotel to rest.

Cusco, PeruWe had done our research beforehand and knew all about the altitude. Altitude sickness can be really serious and so it’s sensible to allow yourself time to acclimatise. Upon arriving at our hotel we were greeted by the sight of a elderly man leaving in an ambulance with oxygen tanks – we were told that he was fine when he arrived yesterday but the altitude had made him ill. Continue reading

Lima : Amazing food on the cheap!

The reviews of Lima were not exactly positive. I recall reviews of pollution, noise and generally feeling unsafe. My expectations were therefore suitably low on arrival to Lima.

We stayed in Miraflores, aka. the posh bit. On the first night we ate in a restaurant with tables on the pavement and were a little surprised when a street child came and removed all the cutlery from our table! That evening we went to a shopping mall, which had security on the entrances so that the street children weren’t allowed in. So after that we decided we had seen enough of the posh end of town – while it was very pleasant, I felt we could have been in any developed nation, with casinos, restaurants, and shops. I wanted to see some of the “real” Lima, as I was sure that the whole city wasn’t like that! The next day we went into the city centre and looked around. We saw the presidential palace, complete with marching soldiers, guarded by tanks and riot police, who looked terrifying until you looked closer and noticed they were texting 😉

Church, LimaWe tried local foods such as Empanadas (like a pasty with onions, tomatoes and chicken inside pastry) and Cerviche (semi-raw trout in a lemony/oniony sauce with sweet potato – delicious but hot!). On the subject of food, Continue reading