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City trippin’ in Peru
City trippin’ in Peru

City trippin’ in Peru

Our trip in Peru was one featuring many different types of activities, which made it very inspiring and rich in terms of experience and memories. We are typically looking for nature-inspired tours, but we don’t want to withhold you from what we enjoyed in the cities – hence the highlights I’ve listed out below.

Lima, the Capital city
Arrival

Lima was the city we arrived at, after a travel of about 20 hours. The climate in Lima is known to be cooler, because of the Pacific Ocean it’s located at. We arrived at 5.10 in the morning with full cloudy skies. To warm up a bit and to have some familiar setting in this – for us – unexplored part of the world, Starbucks was the first place to go, after we dropped off our bags at the hotel. As the first tour we booked only started at 9, we made it a looooong breakfast. As long as you can do it at Starbucks, what’s to complain about, right? Afterwards, we were ready to go for it.

City Tour

The 5 hour tour that we booked had an English guide showing us – together with other tourists from all over the world – the hot spots of the city: – Parque del Amor, where we started the tour – The pyramid of Huaca Pucllana – Plaza de Armas (or Plaza Mayor), with the magnificent Catedral de San Juan Evangelista – Plaza San Martin, which is near the Plaza de Armas, in the historic centre of the city – The catacombs of the San Francisco monastery, which we walked through and gave a lurid impression – Larco museum, which is considered to be one of the best museums of Latin America

Circuito de Playas

After the guided tour, we discovered the sea side of the city on our own. After all, we needed to stay awake up until a decent hour, to avoid jet lag kicking in. So we walked the Circuito de Playas and enjoyed the sunshine breaking through the clouds. As it was a Sunday, many local families were out in the parks along the cliffs. We knew right there this was going to be another amazing vacation.

Fun facts

Our hotel was located in the Miraflores district of Lima, which was partly under construction while we were there. We walked through a small park, which was ran by cats. Not kidding, dozens of them! You know we’re animal lovers right and it was really weird to see, so just wanted to mention that as a fun fact, although I’m now realizing most of you won’t really care, unless you’re as crazy about cats as we are…

Another thing we will never forget is the constant honking of cars. We heard that in all cities in Peru, but as this was our first, it really struck us. We were guessing it’s just a form of code language that you have to know about.

Arequipa
La vida tranquila

Personally, Arequipa is my preferred city in Peru. It’s called the White City and it’s pretty obvious why. Compared to Lima we had clear skies, enabling the sun to lighten up the white buildings and making them almost blinding to the eye.

Our first day in the city – coming from Nazca – was a day in which we didn’t have anything planned. So we strolled the streets and plazas, based upon a map that we had printed, indicating the landmarks. Actually, we really enjoyed it. Normally we have everything planned out and only take the time we really need to see everything before moving on to the next place. That wasn’t the case here and although it required some adjusting to, we’re glad we were able to do it that way.

Lunch

Speaking about lunch with a view! We always have a list of restaurants in our “road book” that we take along every vacation, in which the planning of each day is outlined, including the restaurants which we googled and selected based upon the Trip Advisor comments. Just to avoid avoid having to figure out where to eat when enjoying our vacation. When wondering around the city, we decided to take a leap and have lunch at xxx, which wasn’t on our hit list. We were glad we did – we were nearly alone on the balcony and could gaze upon the skyline of the city and the Misti mountain lying at the back. Wonderful.

Dinner

Actually, summing this all up makes me realize how this really was a bunch of new experiences. A must-do that we had put on our list before heading to Peru was to try the local meats, like alpaca and guinea pig (“cuy” as they call it). So we ordered this at Zingaro restaurant in Arequipa. My husband enjoyed his alpaca. I went for the cuy. Having it served in original form – not cut up – is weird; the teeth are even still in there! The taste on the other hand wasn’t that spectacular, I must say. There’s not a whole lot of meat to it and it doesn’t taste very strong or special. But we’ve tried it, so that’s another one off our bucket list!

Private reality tour

The second day we were in Arequipa, we had a so-called reality tour planned out, with a local guide. We started going to an indoor market, where the locals get their food and supplies. We tried one of the famous “jugos de fruta” (fruit juices) and learned about how religious Peruvians buy unborn alpacas to perform rituals. It was a great opportunity to see the non-tourist side of the country.

Afterwards, we visited a quarry where local families are working the volcanic rock all by hand – a hell of a job in high temperature. Respect, although we were wondering how long it will take before this is being replaced by modern machinery.

Our final stop was a traditional cemetery, which is totally different from the ones we’re used to. Our guide told us that for these families a funeral is a way to celebrate the life of the person who you’re saying goodbye to. These funerals are actual parties where people are having a good time. There’s something to it.

Fun facts

Every tourist in Peru is walking around with an Inca bonnet. We usually don’t give in to these typical tourist souvenirs, but couldn’t resist this time and got one ourselves. To be honest, they are great and we have used them several times since then on our colder destinations!

Cuzco
Getting there

Still relishing our unique experience at Amantani island on Titicaca Lake, we took the 7 hour bus drive to Cuzco. There were other options (taking less time) to travel from Puno to Cuzco, but this one offered the best views and we had quite a few interesting stops on the way.

Our last city tour

During our first day in Cuzco we had a free morning to arrange some practicalities for the Inca trail to Machu Picchu, which we would start 2 days later. The afternoon was spent with a fun guide, explaining us all about the historical capital of the Inca empire. Highlights of Cuzco: – Plaza de Armas with another impressing cathedral – Saqsaywaman, an impressive remain of the Inca’s – Tambomachay, a series of aqueducts and canals

Fun facts

“Chez Maggy” pizzeria is a great place to have dinner. We went there twice: first time alone, second time with a couple of doctors from California that we met during the city tour. Great pisco sour and of course great pizza’s.

Talking about food, we found out that a lot of restaurants are offering tourist menus. We actually got a great 3 course dinner for only 25 sol (which is about 6 EUR). You would expect to not receive much on your plate and less quality, but it was actually delicious!

Other Countries we visited
Have a look at the other countries we ‘achievied’ to visit, and other Achievies…