!Hola¡ from Peru

I had not used my Spanish in a few years so I was excited to begin planning this trip to get back in the swing of things. I know Peru is on most everyone’s travel bucket list. Listen to me when I say how easy it is to make this a reality.

For the U.S. – same time zone, quick flight, most American carriers go there, better value dollar to sol etc. The most expensive thing was our flight.

U.S. + for the resttripadvisor.com on point, natural wonder of the world must-see, can go for one week or go for three – tons of stuff to see and explore.

I got lucky with a sister and her family who lived their temporarily and constantly stalked Trip Advisor, a brother-in-law who spoke Spanish fluently who met us at the airport, and a group of two males and two females as travel companions. Now YOU are getting lucky as I share all that insider Gringo info.

I went to the sauna, I mean Peru, in March, which is aich. oh. tee. Good news is that it really was not that humid in Lima. Lima was a lovely city with tons of culture and a great coast. We didn’t see much of an actual beach, but the rocks/ocean scene were on point. It is a nice walking city and we felt pretty safe there. I was happy that I spoke Spanish though, it was used quite a bit to get around.

We stayed at the Hotel Santa Cruz. It was nice and centrally located. Just um…be sure you upgrade for the room with the air conditioning. While we are on a ‘learning from my mistakes’ kick, a few more –

  1. Don’t drink the water
  2. Don’t flush the toilet paper
  3. Don’t convert money at the bank, you will get a better deal on the street
  4. Don’t take the first offer for souvenirs, barter your way to town
  5. Don’t go with someone who always has to be ‘connected’, if you know what I mean

DO DRINK ALL THE PISCO SOURS! This was my favorite drink and I continue to drink this drink at Peruvian restaurants in Chicago, or when my friend Eric has a game night.

Machu Picchu is actually a bit a ways away from Lima, but totally worth it. Plane, train and bus got us to the beautiful, rainy ruins. And before you go getting all nervous about organizing that yourself, I got a guy.

Memo Gutierres originally showed my bro-in-law around, organized through his school, and was then referred on to me. It was seamless. Memo secures airport transit once you touchdown in Cusco to get you to the train station that takes you through the country to Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu). An English-speaking guide met us and took us through the ruins and beautiful sights and back to our hostel that evening – you will want to stay overnight in town. It was completely worth using Memo and his services just for peace of mind. Pizza after a long day in the ruins: Chez Maggy

You will definitely want to spend some time in Cusco – one of the highest elevation spots in the world! (Don’t forget to visit your dr. before and snag some meds.) Cusco has some funny business going on, so wear a fannypack and keep your belongings close. I don’t know about you, but elevation makes me hungry. More pizza: La Bodega 138. Memo also booked a walking tour and guide (churches, structures etc) for us here in Cusco (him!) We stayed at a lovely hotel called Taypikala. Call ahead to make sure there is no construction taking place in the room next to yours. If you are anything like me you hunt down an Irish pub everywhere you go – so wah lah – look no further than Paddy’s! THE HIGHEST IRISH-OWNED PUB ON THE PLANET (11,156 ft).

Drum roll please…

For those of you who don’t mind the possibility of dying in your sleep by rolling down a mountain in a glass pod – this adventure is for you. I had the most amazing time and will never forget about 2 hours of scaling a mountain, only to get a four-course meal in the air (with wine), sleep* in the glass pod attached to the side of the mountain, wake up, eat breakfast, then zipline down the next day. You usually don’t ever know anyone who has actually done these things, but alas, here I am. I can’t believe it either! Now it is a bit pricier and they have added more pods, but in 2016 it was new and cheap and they had openings three months out. Skylodge Adventure Suites is a memory for a lifetime. Plan ahead!

Peru was fabulous, very friendly, extremely welcoming of tourists and just so much culture and history.

Warning: You will fall in love with a llama.

*Sleep = watched the glass pod shake from left to right during the storm while clenching my pillow for dear life.

Friendly reminder that the middle seat gets both armrests.

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