Just barely off the plane from Peru and I am already writing about what I am going to coin as #thebesttripyet!! Yup, bold statement I know, but this trip really was one for the books. I got to cross off yet another wonder of the world from my dream list, Machu Picchu. But, Peru is so much more than just that magical place; the rich history, wonderful people and beautiful landscape are all definitely worth the trip in my opinion!
While still fresh in my memory, I thought it would be fun to do a top ten list of some of my observations from Peru (in no particular order):
- Peru is a very clean country; the streets and major public places are extremely well-kept with little to no trash ever seen. What a nice change from something like SE Asia.
- Overall, the people were extremely friendly and proud to share their deep-rooted culture. And all the adorable kids seemed so happy and fun everywhere we saw them.
- The Peruvians love their pollo (chicken), Chifa (Chinese food) and pizza. We saw these three types of cuisine everywhere. Literally. I would say a majority of the restaurants are one of the three listed.
- It was tough being vegetarian in Peru, but with some research (like reading my blog!) or a willingness to eat a lot of pizza, you will be ok.
- Getting to Machu Picchu takes a lot of effort and money. Fly to Lima; from there it’s a one hour flight to Cusco, then a 4 hour train ride to Aguas Calientes and then a half hour bus ride to the entrance of Machu Picchu then a short walk (10-15 minutes) into the ruins. But, it is SO worth every penny and ounce of energy!
- The other ruins in the Sacred Valley (specifically Moray, Ollantaytambo, and Pisac) are totally worth the effort. Try and do a private tour rather than the tourist trap bus version (it’s actually the same price if you find one of the local tour guides in Plaza de Armas in Cusco).
- The area of Miraflores in Lima is absolutely beautiful on the edge of the cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. I loved that part, but found Miraflores to be over-run with tons of American chains; KFC, Pizza Hut, Subway and Pinkberry are EVERYWHERE. It is where the expat community lives, so it makes sense, but I couldn’t get away from the fast-food chains quick enough.
- Absolutely loved Cusco and the history, tradition and beauty of this city. Forewarning, it gets really cold at night (like need a thick jacket and gloves kind of cold) and can be hot during the day. The altitude (over 11,000 feet) is definitely not something to take lightly and for some people (myself included) takes about a day to get used to. Overall, it is a fun town which actually has a decent selection of vegetarian food (future posts on this to come).
- A lot of the food seemed really salty. I think my palate is pretty refined so maybe the Peruvians just like their food with lots of salt. Or maybe because they have easy access and large quantities from the amazing salt flats near Maras in the Sacred Valley. Who knows??!!
- Vibrant colors are everywhere! The houses, the clothes, all the souvenirs we bought, everything!! It’s a nice contrast to what feels very dull and monochromatic here in the US.
So, while my body might be back in Chicago, I’m pretty sure my brain and heart are still in Peru. Can’t wait to tell you more about all the fun food and travel adventures…there are lots!