Friday, May 15, 2009

Other tourists

OK forgot a few things.

So on the Lima tour there was this guy traveling by himself from the US. Part of our tour consisted of catacombs, which were used more as a cemetary. In the meantime, they excavated and they just have tons of bones. So this guy thought it was so funny to go up to everyone and say - think of how much soup you could make with these bones. Umm, no one laughed. It was so strange

After lunch, Ann and I decided to spend our last couple of hours going to these ruins up the street from our hotel. The only way to see these ruins is to take a tour so they asked if we could wait a few minutes for the English one. So of course we did and it was us and this old couple from Miami. It is like they stepped off the Love Boat. He had on the dark pants with the jacket and the very colorful hankerchief in the pocket. She had the puffiest stiffest hair all dolled up with her linen pants and flashy silk tank top and jacket. They were a piece of work. He would ask ALL of these questions that the tour guide could not answer about beans, plants, the number of people, tools, etc. It was a riot.

Now our taxi is going to be here in 15 minutes so we can be to the airport 3 hours eary. Its a rule. There is a german family in the lobby getting professional pictures taken. I think there is going to be a wedding. It is so random.

Oh and final observation. There are a ton of gringo guys here with peruvian brides. It started with the french canadian on my flight and lima is just chock full of the gringos and peruvian brides.

Lima Tour

OK I think this might be the last post. This morning after a wonderful breakfast at our hotel, we went on a Lima city tour. It was looking a litte ominous as the bus picked us up and we picked up three other couples who were older than my parents and only spoke Spanish. But then we met up with the other groups and got on the big English bus.

We went to all the neighborhoods seeing the olive groves, ruins, the museum that houses all of the pre-columbian art and gold, the St. Francis church and monastary and the catacombs beneath as well as the main square and changing of the guards.

The strangest part were all of the kids. There were school kids everywhere and they kept wanting our signatures. Then all of the sudden, the Asian tourists on our bus started signing the kids arms. So then they would come up to us holding out their pen and arms. It was weird... "Katty y Ana" signed some arms and books... Again, so strange.

Adios de Peru! Off to lunch and then the airport!

Angels and Demons

After walking around Miraflores and checking out the sites and the mall, I was at a loss of things to do. Ann stayed in the hotel and I decided to go see a movie and then grab dinner. I got to the movie theater and between the timing and my lack of translation skills, I had 2 choices. Hannah Montana movie or Angels and Demons. There were other ones playing, but I had no idea what the movies were since I couldn't translate.

Other than the overwhelming smell of cologne in the theater, Angels and Demons was not bad. Much better than the Divinci Code...or it could be because it was in ROme and I knew all of the sites...

Thursday, May 14, 2009

First time flying?

What a strange flight today!!!!

So we get to the airport 2 hours early and pay our fees to get on the plane. From there the characters came in. There were the very loud old Americans traveling in a group. There were the backpackers. There were the locals. Then there were the requisite Asian tourists and one really embraced the Andean culture. Her hair was in 2 buns like pig tails held up by what looked like straw, but upon further inspection was a scrunchie like thing made of rubberbands? Then she had on her pins she got as well as wrapped herself in the traditional Peruvian blanket. (please note that the tourists were not young, trendy Asian, but older)

So we are one of the last people to board the plane because we are in row 3 and they board from back to front. We had an aisle and middle seat. We get in and the Andean Asian tourist is sitting in Ann's seat. Then there is an older Peruvian/Andean woman sitting by the window. So turns out that the Peruvian woman is in the wrong seat and doesn't understand to move so the flight attendent took charge and we figured it out, but he was very concerned with boarding and yanked Ann's backpack off to get us seated. Now the fun started.

First the Peruvian woman is sitting at the window seat and all of her luggage is at her feet. None of it fits underneath the seat in front of her and none of it is in the overhead storage. I guess this is not a problem on LAN Peru with old people because she was never asked to move it. So then she could not figure out her seatbelt. After about 15 tries she got it. THen she saw me reading my book and freaked out and could not find her libra. The belt then came off and the searching started. Dios mio she finally found it. The belt then went on and we are getting ready for take off. The reading then starts. She read her prayer book outloud. We are then in the air and the pilot comes on with his announcement. So she turns to me and starts talking asking me all of these questions. I had NO idea what she was asking me so I just shrugged and looked dumb and pointed to the flight attendent. Then it was snack time. On LAN Peru, you get a snack box and a drink. So Ann and I put our trays down, but Peruvian woman doesn't. She gets her snack and puts it on my tray. Then she gets her coke and again puts it on my tray. I almost started laughing because that has never happened. I've shared a middle tray with someone if there is no one in the middle seat, but I've never had someone just use my tray without asking. So Ann is laughing and I am trying not to and just reading my book.

The reading continues and we are coming into Lima.
What happens? A cell phone rings while we are in air.
Who's is it? The old Peruvian woman's.
What does she do? Answers it and has a conversation after fumbling with it. FOr the record it was on a string around her neck
What happens next? We are still landing and it rings again and she answers it and has a conversation.

It was the most random flying experience I've ever had.

Where did my soles go?

Yesterday was the last day in Cuzco. I decided to exit the hotel a different way and go down the street instead of around the corner - scandalous I know. I stumbled upon a church built on top of Incan ruins. The Dominicans preserved this and turned it into a museum of sorts. So I was all excited because | had to buy this tourist pass for 130 soles which is about $35-$40 and it was supposed to get us into all of these attractions... Well after Pisac I couldn't use it so I had to whip out my wallet. I really need one of those international student cards...

From there I followed the Incan walls to the main square, with a detour at the Andean craft village. After making one woman's dreams come true with a bag full of purchases and a promise to come back (she was going to give me a free gift if I did), I headed towards the square. I then reached into the wallet again for the tour of the cathedral. Of course I got the headset so I knew what I was looking at..I am such a dork. After that, I thought, why not spend more and go into the Jesuit church. They already got 4 years worth of my family's money for tuition in college, what's another 10 soles?

I then met up with Ann and the shopping started/continued. Upon returning to the Andean art village, I was greeted with smiles and many holas and given my free gift. We then made our way to the hills of San Blas where the artisan's work. A few alpaca goods and jewelry stores later, I called it a day in terms of the shopping that is.

I guess if I am not good at climbing a mountain, I am at least good at stimulating the economy of the surrounding areas

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Climbing a Mountain

What a miserable experience. This confirmed that I do not enjoy nature all that much. I am willing to try things, but I guess I don´thave to do them again. Ann and I got tickets and after our tour made our way over to HP to climb it. Mistake 1 was that we didn´t refill our water because it was across the way and we didn´t know if we could make it back in time to get in line. So we each started with a half of bottle of water.

Here is the mountain behind us when we were tired, but still excited...

Everyone said, oh this is so easy. I guess it was easy if you had 1. ever been hiking before and 2. been mountain climbing before. Being that I had more or less done neither of those things I thought it was super hard. It basically consisited of a trail and then climbing rocks and steps that were at times almost complete vertical climbs. My foot hates me right now. I don´t think that climbing a mountain when recovering from tendonitus is a good thing :)

After much stopping and resting on my part, we made it to the top. You could say that it was worth it because it was so peaceful and the views were amazing. I am so proud to say that I did it, but I am an idiot because by the end I was so dehydrated that I almost got sick and I am 90% sure I re-injured my foot, but oh well. When am I ever going to get a chance to do this again...

So lessons learned
1. buy hiking boots - new balance cross country shoes are not the same
2. take a backpack not a messenger bag
3. take alititude pills
4. take water
5. it is ok to let people pass :)
6. make sure you don´t have a fresh manicure

After the mountain we made our way to the entrance where we got water and rested. That is when the afternoon clouds rolled in and we could see the rain coming. Around 3 we made our way back to Aguas Calientes, got our stuff and made it to the train and then back to Cusco. Along with most of our train, we went to McDonalds (I know SO BAD) because they were the only place we could find with food we could get fast. Showering never felt so good.

OK off to explore more of Cusco! If you are reading this - happy birthday to Kate and Joe!!!

Machu Picchu

After a rainy afternoon and early eveing that included red wine and red meat, we made our way back to our hotel and waited for Pablo to show up. Supposedly we were on his tour. I was v. skeptical because the whole we will get you a tour, no worries was not flying with me. But he showed up and we knew we had to be to the bus stop by 5:10ish to get in line for the buses to MP. About 5:25 came and the buses all came into town and we slowly started getting on them. We then made the 30 min trip to MP winding up the mountain. Yeah walking to MP looked like hell. Samantha Brown is full of shit. There is no way she climied that thing and then looked how she did on camera.

These are the mountains around MP at dawn.

From there we stood in line and got in. It was amazing, but we didn´t have time to stop and take it all in as we were in a foot race to get to Huayana Picchu (HP) to be one of the first 400 pèople there to get a ticket and be able to climb it. Success as we were 355 and 356. More on this later...

We then wandered around and watched the sunrise over MP before our guided tour.

Met up with Pedro and went on a tour. I am so glad we did that because he took us all around and over everything explaining how the town was laid out and what everything that we were looking at was. It was a gorgeous day- hot, sunshine and limited bugs. I did have to break out the hat though, the sun was so strong. Baseball hats and me just don´t work. The tour ended at 10ish am and then it was off to climb HP.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Aguas Calientes

This is going to be brief because my time is running out and there might be a dog fight (literally) at the computer next to me.

It is a very rainy afternoon in a town wiht nothing to do. We started the day on an early 3 hour train ride to AC. THe ride was gorgeous and the scenery is great. It was a bit tough to go to the bathroom and balance coffee though. No one met us from our hotel, but we found it and put our backpack down. During lunch we debated trekking up a mountain. Then we realized that it required climbing ladders and there were parts that were dangerous. So we quickly abandoned that plan and walked to Macchu Picchu instead.

We didn´t go in because our tickets are for tomorrow, but we were able to go to the museum and botanical gardens on the grounds. As we were walking back the thunder started. We made it back to town and inside before the huge downpour.

Now it´s time for drinks and dinner before our 5AM start in Macchu Picchu for the sunrise.

Jesus´ Grandma

After napping in Cuzco, we went out for some drinks and dinner. We spent some time at a pub where this guy was on his first day of work. He was Irish so we were chatting and asked how he came upon the job. Yeah he had been there 2 days and didn´t want to go back to be on the dole.

From there we went to this great organic restuarant, Green. The waiter asked our names and when Ann said hers, his response was, "Like Jesus´ Grandma?" Si


Ann and I are at a hoppin Internet cafe- phone center - day care - pharmacy which is the place to be on a rainy day in Aguas Calientes.

Yesterday we went to Pisac for the big market day. We hired Herman to be our driver and we went everywhere. We stopped for many photo opps. We also stopped at a ceramic school-market where we got to walk around for a bit. THen it was off to the llama and alpaca farm. We got to feed the llamas and alpacas and I didn´t quite understand all of it with my limited grasp of Spanish, but some are better for meat and some for the fur. We then saw how the yarn is made and died and the fabric woven.

From there we kept on our journey to Pisac. We stopped for photos of the condor in the mountain. I will post pics later and you can see if you see it. I get it, but Ann can´t see it.

Can you see it?

Then it was off to the market. It was huge and pretty much the same stuff - blankets, hats, gloves, jewelry, stones, statues of incan warriors, etc. From there we hiked the Pisac ruins. It was harder than I thought it was going to be and there were a lot of resting spots. Herman somehow got in and met up with us and we were climbing to the top to see the temple, burial area, original Pisac, etc. Again, have no idea what I did or said, but he thought I was crippled. All of the sudden, I had to hold his hand the whole time, go slower, etc. I just needed to stop smiling and saying OK

Sunday, May 10, 2009


Cuzco is great. The main square almost reminds me of something from Europe as opposed to SA. Please feel free to agree or disagree all of you who´ve been here. We had a snack and sipped pisco sours on a balcony overlooking the Plaza and walked around the city.

We then went to the San Blas neighborhood and had a great dinner. For the record Alpaca fur is much softer than Alpaca meat. I decided to try the ham, cheese and currants wrapped in Alpaca and then cooked. Ann had her favorite Peruvian meal - steak with the veggies, fries and rice.

It is now Sunday morning and after breakfast we are off to Pisac for the markets and some ruins and then we are going to see where the day takes us. Then tomorrow is our 6:20am meeting with this woman to get us to the train for Aguas Calientes.

More soon! Happy Mother´s Day!!!

Airport Security

Lima has a shockingly efficient airport. It is clean, there are shops, there is food, the lines make sense and everything goes very fast. Highlights of the Lima airport include the restaurant "Manos Morenas" or brown hands. The symbol is a black woman from slave times... It is Chinese food. Hmmm....

Security in Lima was also really good. While they weren´t looking for shoe bombs, they did make sure to confiscate all hacksaws, box cutters, knives, etc and display them in a clear box. Whew!

The flight was great and then we landed in Cusco where I manaaged to misplace my luggage ticket so that was drama. Then we started talking to our taxi driver who was going to take us to the hotel. We had reservations at Ninos 2 not Ninos 1, which is the nicer one. He told us the hotel was really dangerous so we listened and chose a new hotel. So while I am contemplating where we are going to stay, he and Ann are chatting and we end up at a travel agency. I guess everything in Cusco is closed on Sunday so we had to get all of our tickets. Whether or not we got taken is tbd, but we did end up with train and bus tickets to Aguas Calientes (town near Macchu Picchu) a hotel, entrance fees and a sunrise tour of it. We also got a room for the entire time we are in Cusco at a brand new hotel that is decent, the right price, in a great area and clean. Although we realized last night as we didn´t sleep that it is noisy...

Driver in Lima

Roberto picked us up promptly at 10am to get to the Lima airport. He was´t as chatty as the night before...could this be why?

After finding it in the back seat by my feet, we politely declined using him at the end of our trip :-)

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Lima for 12 hours

We spent some time in the Evil Empire of Canada and survived on Tim Hortons. Let me tell you those tidbits are tasty. What is a tidbit? It is the Canadian version of donut holes. For the record, yes there were Indians working there and they had no idea what I asked for when I ordered 4 donut holes for Ann and me. I was corrected and told they were called Tidbits in Canada

Kate, you would love Air Canada. It is nonstop Celine Dion and eh? all around. Ann sat next to some lovely ladies who ended each sentence in eh and I sat next to a French Canadian who was on his way to visit his Peruvian wife. He was very Fox River Grove as his favorite place was TGI FRidays and wished Canada had one. Score one for the USA. Then the Canadian couple in front of us had 7+ bottles of wine each and made friends with the creepy Canadian hippy who found true Peruvian love (mail order bride) on the Internet...

Our driver Ricardo was great and had a sign wiht our name spelled right and then forced us to practice Spanish with him. Ann told him Madonna was 15 in Spanish. We have a lot of practicing to do. Although his taste in music is great - Spice girls, Madonna, etc.

After good nights sleep and a major fascination with watching people catch buses we are ready for Cusco. Oh and the buses don´t stop. You watch for the man holding a sign out the door and if that is your bus they slow down and the man snatches you and pulls you in. Ann is already writing her letter to the CTA to bring this practice to the 22.

Hopped up on the most amazing coffee now and we have to check out and get to the airport. More from Cusco and pics will be uploaded.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Twas the night before vacation...

I finally finished all of my work, got through my list, programmed the Tivo, and now it's just packing, laundry and cleaning!

I hope you enjoy my new FB profile pic courtesy of Sara. If you aren't on FB, then here it is!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Peru - Here I Come! Now - What to Pack

Ann and I are off to Peru. However, we are going to Peru by way of Canada. Don't ask. We are going to mainly be in Cusco with a few days reserved for Lima and the outlying areas.

Now the big questions are:
What to Pack?
Where to stay?

I know I am going to need some kind of rain gear and I am back to scouring the LL Bean Site. Who knew that 14 years after the high school backpack, I'd be back wanting something from LL Bean. But I think I found the raincoat.

Sarah just got back and told me to bring a hat. Ugh - that is one accessory I don't do well with. Oh well. Any suggestions I am always open to them.

Finally I want to only carry on and I think that means a backpack... Now where to get one of those...


With a month left, we have to find a place to stay in Cusco. Any recommendations are very welcome.

Long time, no Blog

Unfortunately there were no big international trips in 2008. However, 2008 saw my first time to Nebraska and a lovely time in Sea Grove with my family. I hadn't been there in ages.

2008 marked the beginning of a new job where I am traveling a lot for work. I've been able to get back to Amish country, see the Buick Invitational at Torrey Pines, make it back to Cincinnati and get out to San Diego a lot. So I am earning those miles and waiting to cash them in for the next big trip.

I was able to take a mini-break and get to Cabo. I've been there before and it is still gorgeous with perfect weather. I can see why celebrities always go there. One of the fun adventures was Deep Sea fishing.I never thought I'd go deep sea fishing, but there I was and I caught a marlin and a red snapper. It was amazing.

Next up - in about a month heading to Peru. Looking forward to it.