I was totally going to take a different direction with this blog post and write about how crazy my Peruvian trip itinerary was. I try not to have crazy itineraries too often (only one so far that made it to this blog) – but sometimes, when you have so many amazing places to visit and too little vacation days, you gotta ‘take one for the team’ or just borrow one of the tips from this post: The one about turning 10 vacation days to 40.
But then I digressed and put too much detail into describing my experiences and places I visited, etc and it started to become less of an itinerary so I changed the title, rewrote the first few paragraphs, and voila!
I was visiting South America for the first time and I chose Peru. I was very excited for what I was about to experience for the next 9 or so days. You see, my main purpose of visiting Peru was to hike to Machu Picchu. I was doing a 4-day hike (with a tour company) and I was expecting it to be a life changing experience. It was so worth it. Check out my vlog for the trip when you get a chance.
Then, I lived in Southern Indiana, so for the love of cheap tickets, I booked my flight to Lima, Peru from Chicago, which is about 4 hours’ drive away, in the best of conditions. I took a gamble. Hey, it was about $400 cheaper than flying from Indianapolis. And oh- this was the week of Thanksgiving. Yes, I spent thanksgiving in Peru, by myself, and it was one of my best trips ever.
I started my drive on Saturday morning, got to Chicago, flew to Dallas (layover), then to Lima, Peru. I took a pre-booked taxi from the airport to my bed and breakfast in the Miraflores district of Lima and when I got there, guess what? It wasn’t check-in time yet. So as jet-lagged and tired as I was, I had to find a way to entertain myself for at least 4 hours. Challenge accepted! I got a map from the front desk and set off.
First, I visited Huaca Pucllana– it was about a 5 minute walk from the B&B. It is a sort of outdoor museum (and restaurant) that shows the history of the Peruvians and how they built the pyramids. I was lucky to join a tour that was ‘just starting’. It is also a kind of zoo, I guess, because they have animals. I saw my first Llamas and Alpacas 🙂 And a garden (or farm?). It was a very interesting tour and I recommend it.
Next, I took a VERY long walk to the Pacific Ocean. At least half an hour, no kidding. But it was a very interesting walk- and I got lost a few times. It was friendly climes though, plenty of tourists and locals, not shady looking. Lots of interesting buildings to look at and parks. They was even a kickboxing class going on on the street with a stage and speakers and everything! I walked really fast so it could easily have taken a few hours if one stopped at most of the interesting things. I had a tour bus to catch and didn’t want to be late. I also wasn’t super confident in my map-reading skills so I speed walked basically.
I found the bus company ‘office’ and paid for the tour- I had to come back as I was too early so I had to entertain myself again. Challenge Accepted! Parque del Amor is right there by the ocean and they have a convenient walkway and places to sit and people watch so I was quite content.
I still wasn’t close enough to the ocean (in my own estimation) so I set off to find the bridge or walkway that would get me there. I finally found it, what felt like miles and miles later, and tentatively walked to what I felt was a safe enough distance from the edge of the water. I can’t swim so I decided I had to be very careful. No sense dying on the first day of vacation, eh?
The beach was quite busy, lots of surfers, and swimmers, and generally people having fun. Word of warning- your sunscreen game has to be strong when in Lima. I thought, oh I’m African, melanin is popping, etc. By the time I came back home, I almost didn’t recognize myself but I bet most of that was due to hiking for days in extreme conditions without showering and regular grooming. LOL
After walking around some more, it was time for some grub. With great difficulty (due to a slight language barrier), I bought some delicious street food, then headed to the tour bus. It was one of those double decker ones with the tour guide having a microphone and explaining the sights. It was also bilingual, thankfully 🙂
We went to the Barranco district, which is apparently one of the more upscale ones. I really wanted to come back here later and explore but never got the chance to. Here, we visited some churches (of course), and walked across the Bridge of Sighs. Yep, google it 🙂
Then we drove back around Miraflores and passed by Huaca Pucllana again. Then we headed downtown. Lots of things to visit and explore here. Unfortunately, there was some sort of important meeting going on at the time- lots of presidents and even Mark Zuckerberg in attendance so lots of [armed] security and road blockages meaning we couldn’t get close to some of the government offices. However, some churches/museums were open and we visited The Church of San Francisco (English name) which has catacombs! Quite creepy but also an interesting tour.
We headed back to where the tour began and by then it was sunset. I took some pretty pictures for the ‘gram and started my half hour walk back to my B&B, all the while hoping and praying that I didn’t get lost or worse. The area seemed to have picked up- the night life was ‘lit’ as kids say these days. Unfortunately, I was tired, jet-lagged, and yet to check in so I didn’t explore the night life.
Day 2- I had grand plans! I was going to explore some more; even go for a run, which I did and it was delightful! I was eager to add another entry to my list of places I have run outside. But afterwards, I crashed. HARD. It was likely a combination of jetlag, fatigue, and the altitude medicine I was taking to prepare me for my hike. Anyway, it was much needed but unfortunately that meant no sight seeing before my flight later that day to another part of Peru- Cusco. The city/town that would get me closer to hiking Machu Picchu!
I got on a plane once again and headed for the highlands of Peru. I expected to feel VERY different once I landed so I was a bit disappointed when I felt no different. This was 11, 000 ft people! My body should have been able to tell, or so I thought. lol. The view from the plane was incredible- just to see all these tiny houses and settlements tucked away in the mountains! I took a taxi to my hostel- this was my first time staying in a hostel outside the US but the hostel came highly recommended by a friend so I wasn’t too worried.
I checked in and chose the top bunk. NEVER do that in Cusco, ever! Why, you ask? Well, because even climbing to the top bunk can leave you wheezing, your heart racing, and ‘fighting’ for breath- but of course, I didn’t know that. Especially as I felt fine after landing and didn’t try to climb up before choosing a bed.
Next, I set off for Plaza De Armas (like town center) and it was like going through a carnival to get there- so many people and fun things to entertain/distract you! It had everything- shops, tattoo parlors, massage parlors, pharmacies, shops, grocery stores, restaurants, bars, churches, artwork, sculptures (of some rather voluptuous people), etc. I basically wandered around for a while taking pictures and decided it was time for food. I treated myself to an actual restaurant meal. It was super fancy with waiters and napkins and women in dresses and heels. And FREE WIFI!!! Every millennial traveler’s dream 🙂
I had met a girl in Lima airport and asked about fun places for young adults to hang out in Cusco. I was told about a place called Mama Africa. I found it, but decided I wasn’t up to it so I went to bed instead- however, that’s something that could be added to the itinerary 🙂
As usual, I get extremely wordy with my blog posts (because I want to share so badly), and I’m not as strict with editing, so this post will have to be continued in a separate one …
As you can see, I’ve managed to pack A LOT in for just 2 days so far and there was so much more I didn’t get to do or include in the post. lol. Stay tuned for some more Peruvian adventures in the next blog post! (and subscribe if you haven’t yet so you don’t miss it 🙂 )
Header photo: People enjoying a nice day in the Barranco district of Lima, Peru. November 2016. Photo by O Thomas.