PERU: What, When, Where and How?
Enchanting and Mystical Peru
Ever since my husband and I watched several episodes of Peru in Travel Channel (shows of Samantha Brown, Andrew Zimmern and Anthony Bourdain) I knew in my heart that I absolutely want to see and experience Peru. To visit the spellbinding Machu Picchu. A topographic point where you feel the calming of your soul...Of quieting your mind...
The train ride from Cuzco to Machu Picchu is approximately 4 to 4.5 hours. We left Cuzco at 6:30 in the morning and arrived in Macchu Picchu between 11:00-11:30 am. Below are the different classes of train:
A. Hiram Bingham is the first class. These are the services provided: (1) welcome aperitifs (2) gourmet lunch with wine (3) on board music entertainment (4) tour guide for every group of 14 passengers (5) entrance tickets & private transportation to Machu Picchu (6) afternoon tea at the Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge and (7) gourmet dinner on the return journey.
B. Vistadome is the business class. This is the train we rode. It has panoramic windows ideal for photography of the mountain ranges, scenic landscapes and stunning flora and fauna. Has leather seats with extensive legroom. Services provided: (1) breakfast & snacks (2) buffet lunch at the Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge (3) on board Andean cultural dance entertainment and a fashion show of baby alpaca clothing.
C. Expedition is the priority coach class. It also has panoramic windows. They serve snacks.
D. Autovagon is the economy class. It has huge windows and they serve a light snack.
The Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge is a hotel that is a few steps away from the entrance gate to Machu Picchu. Our hotel was in Aguas Calientes on the Urubamba River and also known as " Machu Picchu town ". It is again centrally located to shops, restaurants, stores and the train station. From our hotel, it's about a 30-min. bus ride to Machu Picchu. Buses will start running from Aguas Calientes as early as 5:20 am and stops from Machu Picchu at 5:30 pm.
Tour company : Monograms Independent Travel (Globus Family of Brands)
Airlines: LAN Airlines
Train: Peru Rail
Memorable Machu Picchu
Vistadome Section - On board entertainment
Best time to visit Peru
After reading numerous reviews online, my husband and I decided to travel during the month of May. Summer is over and the weather is just perfect. Not too hot, not too cold. Machu Picchu is less crowded. We did not suffer from insect bites. Sometimes, you can even have the whole place to yourselves for a good hour---like these photos of Machu Picchu :)
An Aerial Panorama of Machu Picchu
- Aerial 3D Panoramas
360 degrees aerial panorama of Machu Picchu
PERU TRAVEL GUIDE BOOKS
Where we ate in Peru
Our hotel was situated in Miraflores, Peru and it is centrally located. The list of restaurants below were within walking distance. Unfortunately, I could not suggest any restaurants in Lima since we only went there for a morning half day city tour.
1. LA LUCHA SANGUCHERIA (Miraflores, Peru) - There's always a long line. good news is the service is quick & friendly! Selling the best roasted crispy pork meat sandwich and remember to wash it down with granadilla fruit shake. Their sandwiches are to-die-for that we ordered from here 3 more times! Just writing about it makes me want to be transported back to Peru!
2. TANTA RESTAURANT - A restaurant owned by world famous chef Gaston Acurio. We loved their chicha morada (purple corn drink).
3. AL FRESCO RESTAURANT (Miraflores, Peru) - One of the best ceviches that we have ever tasted and this is where we fell in love with the yellow potatoes (fried or mashed).
4. LA ROSA NAUTICA RESTAURANT (Miraflores, Peru) - A charming Victorian building which has a spectacular view of the ocean. The grilled seafood was mouthwatering. The trio mousse dessert was blissful.
5. GRAN HOTEL BOLIVAR aka HOTEL BOLIVAR (Lima, Peru) - A historical hotel built in 1924 and was the first big modern hotel built in Lima, Peru. Attracting famous Hollywood movie stars, Presidents, kings & Queens. It is also famous for Peru's cocktail drink---PISCO SOUR.
Peruvian Cuisine: one of the best in the world?
Places we visited apart from Machu Picchu - LIMA (PLAZA DE ARMAS)
Historical buildings are found here: Government Palace, Municipal Palace, Archbishop's Palace, Cathedral of Lima and Palace of the Union.
LIMA (LARCO HERRERA MUSEUM)
It houses the finest gold and silver collection from ancient Peru. Visitors can choose to enter the storage area with its 45,000 classified archaeological objects.
Miraflores is an upscale suburb of Lima (Peru's capital). It is also a tourist and financial district. Known for its beaches, colorful gardens, parks, shopping, eateries and brand name hotels. Because it's a coastal district, the climate is mild and comfortable.
CUZCO (Santo Domingo Monastery)
Warning to all who wish to visit Cuzco. You may or may not suffer from altitude sickness (elevation of 11,200 feet). My husband and I suffered (not one but twice) from it and I assure you, it's not a fun experience. The symptoms are: nausea, dizziness, shortness of breath, vomiting, and a severe headache (migraine-like). You do not know which one to attend to because they hit you all at once! The hotel we stayed in serves coca tea leaves (suppose to help/prevent altitude sickness) and stores nearby even sell coca tea honey candy. We tried both but to no avail. The altitude sickness continued for a few hours until we could not take it anymore and our local hosts ANDREA & TOM (bless their hearts) contacted the front desk and requested for an oxygen tank. Yes, an oxygen tank helped a whole lot! I guess hotels keep them due to the frequency of their guests getting sick from high altitude.
We made a huge mistake by joining a tour as soon as we arrived from the airport. Our bodies need to get acclimated to the sudden change of elevation.
Our advice: Rest for a whole day & eat lightly before going on a CUZCO tour.
SACRED VALLEY (in the middle is the snow covered Andes Mountain)
Pisac Market is located below and their known for: (1) alpaca and baby alpaca wools (2) mother of pearls and silver jewelry.