Peru part I: Lima,Cusco, Aguas Calientes

I guess it all started with the obsession of the alpacas and llamas. Not only for its adorable fluffy appearance, but also for the question of what really is the difference between the two. I mean, sure, nowadays you can just google it, but…. why not go see the real thing! And where would be a better place to visit them than where they originated from…their natural habitat…PERU!

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When you first hear Peru, of course, the first thing that comes to mind is Machu Picchu! That’s definitely one of the top bucket list for many people and obviously, that’s the first thing I search and oh boy,,, what an adventurous trip it’s going to be. No, literally. The adventure starts since booking the tickets.

We book 4 things in advance.

  • Flight
    • Easy, but can be time-consuming when you try to find the cheapest flights and match the time with your friends.
  • Machu Picchu tickets (http://www.machupicchu.gob.pe/)
    • Kind of hard, there’s limited availability for each day, also you have to reserve, get the number to pay, and then check-in to get the ticket before you can print it. Also, they only allow VISA cards.
    • When we book, there are no more Huayna Picchu tickets left, and thank god, because we wouldn’t have been able to do all the hikes in one day. Just the Montaña Machu Picchu alone already give me so much leg pains.
  • Peru Rail
    • Personally, I can’t even pay online, I have to let my friend do the booking for me. It depends on luck and timing with this one.
  • Hotels
    • Determine which city to stay at for each night, look at the location if it’s near the train station or attractions that you can easily walk to.

Let me show you our itinerary, after days and weeks of browsing the web during work time (not recommended but hey, sometimes you need the inspiration to keep working), the time you roll in bed before you sleep (probably bad for the eyes), the time you do some business in the toilet and need some activity to kill time (hello, it’s called multitasking) or simply just any free time. We finally have a trip itinerary below.

7 days in Peru itinerary

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Day 0: Your home
Take DIAMOX, it’s an Acetazolamide which helps prevent altitude sickness. Highly recommended. Altitude sickness can ruin your trip. So unless you wanna stay in bed all week long in Peru, I’d highly suggest so. Continue taking them every day during the trip, even though you might not feel any sickness after a few days, but better be cautious than sorry.

Day 1: Lima – Plaza de Armas area
Fly in and stay overnight. Chillax on your first day. Try not to drink alcohol or make yourself too tired. Let your head and body adjust to the altitude.

We uber from our hotel near the airport to Plaza de Armas which takes about half an hour. I must say the driving skills of people here are exceptional. The cars almost hit each other many times and I swear, once, the bus even drives over the cement strip that separates the road on to another lane. *quickly checks my insurance *

Once we arrive, it feels like a whole new town. A very touristy, walkable area and in a way, quite safe. Surprisingly, I don’t see many Asians at all. I just tell my friend to look out for Asians at the fountain and you’ll definitely see us. It works!

Wish it’s sunnier, but hey, lucky enough it’s not raining!

 

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Cathedral of Lima
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Plaza Mayor de Lima

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Church of La Merced
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Basilica and Convent of San Francisco

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House of the Peruvian Literature

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Can’t miss the souvenir shop

Even if the sky turns dark, its beauty does not fade.

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Overall, what really stands out for me is…. how many times we witness weddings. I don’t know if it’s just a good day to get married or this is the norm. But it truly is magnificent to see.

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Now now, with every travel, besides sightseeing, another very important thing is… food! That’s right. Below is what we try out. I may be biased, growing up in Thailand, but the food is very similar to Thai food. This may be due to the climate and/or the location of the country which may have similar food sources and ingredients.

The first one that is a must-try is…

Ceviche! Personally, I love raw fish, so this is definitely my fave!

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This is also when I start to realize how big of the corn kernels are and the importance of corns in Peru. As I later realize that there are over 30 species of corns here! First picture below is toasted corns that is served as snacks at most restaurants and the second is the purple corn drink aka chica morada, sweet and a glimpse of sour from the lime, very refreshing!

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Enough with corns and these are the rest of the food we try out.

In terms of other drinks to try. There’s Inca Cola – which tastes like cream soda, and Pisco sour which tastes both sweet and sour, very nice to sip. At night, we decide to go to a bar in Miraflores called Cala, which is right next to the beach. And it definitely is the right decision! Would also like to add that their tuna roll sushi is one of the best I’ve had! (I know I said try not to drink alcohol on the first day but I can’t resist trying Peru’s famous pisco sour, so please drink at your own risk.)

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Day 2: Lima –> Cusco
Fly out in the morning and stroll around Cusco.

Experience some not-so- lil chaos at the airport, as some of my friends can’t check-in online. But we think it should be fine. And oh boy, how far are we from FINE? Well, we get separated to different flights (without telling us until we reach the gate), delayed flights, almost miss the flights and all kinds of chaos. It’s not just with us. We can see other people’s frustration as well. Pretty sure they overbook the flights. By the time we reach Cusco, it’s already in the afternoon. We kinda hope to go to Laguna Humantay, but obviously have no time as it takes literally whole day. So if you have the time, don’t hesitate and just go go go!

One thing worth mentioning is that Cusco is where I feel the most pressure in my ears. With elevation of over 3,000 meters, yup that will do. My friend also starts to have a headache. But thankfully, once we arrive the hotel, they provide the Coca tea at the lobby.  Whether it’s really working or it’s some psychology that we’re telling ourselves oh this is the magic drink that cures the altitude sickness right away, I still cannot tell. But, doesn’t hurt to keep drinking.

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The first location we head to is, once again ladies and gentlemen, Plaza de Armas. So I search why the cities must have Plaza de Armas, and I learn it means parade square or simply put, the main square. That’s where we start and continue walking around randomly. The town is rather hilly, a lot of going up and down the stairs, it can get very tiring. Well, at least for an unfit person like me.

Fact: The rainbow flag you see is not the LGBT flag, but it’s the Cusco region flag.

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During the walk, as I turn around the street corner, suddenly a woman hand me an alpaca to carry. Uh-oh, tourist trap alert! But at that moment, I am in awe of how adorable this baby alpaca is (and a lil bit scared). There are around 3-4 alpacas and they all throw themselves at us for photo opportunities. Surely, in the end, they ask us for money.

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Initially, wanting to reach Sacsayhuamán, but it closes at 5pm, and with climbing up the stairs and visiting around, there is no way we can make it in time. But with random walks, we also come upon a  beautiful lookout location such as the Campanario de la Plaza San Cristobal. We decide to stay till the sunset and it is so enchanting.

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For dinner, we end up eating at Inkazuela due to its rave reviews with over 1,000 reviews on Tripadvisor. This is also where I have my first try of the Alpaca meat in a form of stew. It is bowl-licking scrumptious.

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Day 3: Cusco –> Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu)
Take the PeruRail, relax and enjoy the scenic route. It’s going to take around 4 hours. Highly recommend the Vistadome which gives you the panoramic view.

Nothing says relax like looking out the mountain views and rivers. From time to time you’ll see cows and horses, little cottages and small towns. It’s definitely a great getaway from the metropolitan city.

The relaxation continues at Aguas Calientes (because from tomorrow onwards it’s going to be major pain-all-over-your-body kinda days). We take it very easy, just walking around, eating here and there. It’s a very small town, and definitely a tourist trap because everywhere you look, there are souvenirs shops. Just make sure you buy the bus tickets ahead of time, so you can directly go to the bus stop on the next day.

The Tree House restaurant – very good quality and delicious. <Highly recommend>

Alpaca tenderloin in blue cheese sauce – worth trying
Potato gnocchi with lamb ragout sauce – delightful
Crispy Chicken fillet – ok
Quinoa salad with goat cheese – satisfying
Trucha Crocante ( Trout Risotto) – divine

 

Inkaterra cafe – can’t get cuter and more relax vibe than this outdoor cafe.

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Just chilling while observing the locals and trains pass by. Their toiletries in the restroom are very considerate. Including soap, cream, and mosquito repellent!

 

 

Afterwards, we head back to the hotel for a full night rest, as we have to wake up very early to go line up for the bus to Machu Picchu. It is highly recommended to line up since 5am or earlier so you can be on time for the Sunrise at Machu Picchu.

Stay tuned for Peru Part II: Machu Picchu. Follow my page for the latest blog post alerts and instagram @itspinkwanderlust!

 

 

 

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