Peru – Lima, Cusco, Machu Picchu & Sacred Valley

On our way down to the Falkland Islands, we had a 24 hour layover in Lima, Peru which was ample time to explore the historical center. Nearly 3 weeks later, we were back in Peru to link up with old friends to explore the Cusco area (Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu, Humantay Lake and Cusco) together. Despite being in average shape with zero training for high altitude hikes, all of us successfully hiked to the top of Huayna Picchu, scaled a mountain in the Sacred Valley, and made it to Humantay Lake. Cusco was a delight to wander around and we really enjoyed the core historical center. Back in Lima, we spent our last few days in the Miraflores district, an upscale and tourist friendly section of the city. It was wonderful spending Thankgiving with dear friends as loads of new memories were made. We will be back to Peru again next year. Can’t wait to explore more of this fascinating country!


Lima: Hospedaje Santa Rosa on Jr. Camana 218. Perfect location to explore the compact historical center, one block away from Plaza Mayor. The hotel is in an old, colonial building and the budget rooms are spartan with shared bathroom/showers. However, the location is top notch and well worth the $35 a night price tag (including a decent breakfast). WiFi here is screaming fast. Free drinking water opposite reception.

Lima: Hospedaje Dimar Inn on Calle Gonzales Prada 158. Great place to stay in the Miraflores section of Lima. Run by a friendly family who is willing to assist in any way (calling taxis, luggage storage). Within easy walking distance to all the highlights in Miraflores (4 min to Kennedy Park, 15 min to the posh eateries overlooking the beach). Rooms are immaculate, bathrooms have lovely hot water. WiFi is hit or miss, especially during peak hours. Good value at $35 a night (breakfast is extra).

Cusco: Cusco Historical Center on Avenida Tullumayo Complejo Habilitacional Amauta, Bloque A, 202. This 3 bedroom, 1 bathroom apartment within easy walking distance to the historical district of Cusco. Hot water showers. Feels safe and secure in the neighborhood, but there is a restaurant that turns into a dance club at night so bring earplugs if a light sleeper. WiFi here was weak and spotty. Arranged a day tour to Humantay Lake (including breakfast, lunch, transpo and entrance fee) through the owner for 80 Soles. Great value at only $123 for 3 nights for 4 people.

Aguas Calientes: Perumanta B&B on Av Pachacutec 804. Good, clean and comfortable rooms at this hotel located a 10 min walk from the train and bus station. Staff friendly and helpful – they let us shower after our hike to Machu Picchu even though we had already checked out! WiFi here was weak and spotty. Fair value at $36 a night including breakfast.

Ollantaytambo: Hostal Inka’s on Pallpamccaro Urbanizacion Pillcohuasi. This clean and comfortable hostel is a 2 min walk from the main square, and 10 min walk from the train to Aguas Calientes. Owner is a very nice woman who doesn’t speak much English but her daughter is fluent. Rooms are clean and comfortable. Hot water shower. WiFi here was weak. Rooms were great value at $15 a night and breakfast was an extra 15 Soles per person.

Daily Journal

31 Oct: Arrived to the historical center of Lima in time to catch the noon “changing of the guard” ceremony at the Presidential Palace. Ceremony lasted about 30 minutes but the guards wouldn’t allow visitors to get close for photos. Afterwards, checked out the Cathedral of Lima (10 PEN) and then walked up Carabaya Street to the old Los Desamparados train station which has since been converted to the “Casa de la Literatura” (free). Dropped into a few souvenir stores before making our way to the Church of Saint Francis (15 PEN). Then onward to the Palacio Torre Tagle, considered Lima’s best preserved colonial building. Strolled past the Museum of the Central Bank Reserve before walking down Lampa Street towards San Martin Square. From here, walked over to the pedestrian Jiron de la Union (Union Street), stopping to admire the Church of Mercy (Convento de la Merced). Backtracked to Plaza Mayor and made our way towards the Municipalidad (Town Hall) and the Taulichusco Monument, a stone monument commemorating the last Indian governor of the Rimac Valley. This easy self-guided tour takes about 2.5 hours at an easy pace.

From 1 -18 Nov we traveled down to Chile and onward to the Falkland Islands. We returned back to Peru late afternoon on 18 Nov.

19 Nov: Up at 3:15 am because of our loud, inconsiderate neighbors. Really pissed us off that they were so loud and rude early in the morning. No matter, we had to be at the airport by 4 am to link up with John and Anna so maybe it was a blessing in disguise. We packed up and carried our stuff downstairs and felt badly that we had to wake up the owners to turn in our keys and get our breakfast boxes. The helpful lady even walked us through the neighborhood (taking shortcuts) for the quickest route to the airport. As we tried to print our boarding passes for Avianca, Robby spotted John and Anna and John came running through the airport to say hi. Such a great reunion and it was so great to see him and Anna again! Let the adventures begin. Printing our boarding passes and baggage tags was a breeze, and check in took just a few minutes. And luckily, it appeared our flight would depart on time. Boded well for our day tour in the Sacred Valley. John and Anna got Starbucks and we drank out yogurt drinks while waiting for boarding. Flight was uneventful although we had some lovely views of the mountains as we flew into Cusco. Our taxi driver (Khaki) from was waiting for us just outside the arrivals hall, and we loaded up the sedan and were on our way. We had organized pick up from the airport and drop off at Ollantaytambo with full day sightseeing of the Sacred Valley to include the sights of Chinchero, Salineras Salt Pools, the Incan ruins of Moray, and Pisac. Quote was a reasonable $85 for 4 passengers so we were very happy to see our driver waiting for us as promised. Our first stop in Chinchero was at a textile workshop where Incan women showcased the traditional methods used to make alpaca textiles. It was a very photogenic stop with guinea pigs, llamas, and women wearing traditional clothes. Next up were the ruins of Chinchero and here we had to decide whether to buy the 2 day pass for 70 Soles or the 10 day pass for 130 Soles. We ended up buying the 10 day pass since it included a total of 16 attractions within the Sacred Valley/Cusco region. Chinchero has some Incan ruins and a colorful market and it was well worth a one hour stop here. Next on our itinerary was the salt pools of Salineras, harvested using the evaporation terraces. Some nice vantage points of the salt pools from high above the valley and up close. From the salt pools, we drove towards the circular Incan ruins of Moray. The road to Moray was dusty and dirty, and with the windows down our eyes were bombarded with dust and with the windows closed it was positively stifling. No happy medium and Khaki was an insane driver. He was way too aggressive on the turns but he drove no differently from all the other Peruvians we saw on the road. The circular ruins of Moray were cool but none of us felt the need to hike around them. Lunch was at Mama Mecha, an overpriced tourist restaurant in Moray. Anna’s tomato soup looked like a horrible fake pink mess. No wonder she didn’t want to even try it…that is NOT what tomato soup is supposed to look like! John’s quinoa salad was good, and Robby enjoyed his garlic beef steak. Becky’s asparagus soup was just mediocre, but certainly better than the fake looking tomato soup. Toilets didn’t flush here and Becky had to do one…feel bad for whoever has to clean that mess up! Damn altitude/elevation farts…boy are they stinky. Last stop of the day was Pisac’s ruins and boy did we leave the best for last. Perfect light as we walked up to these magnificent ruins. Just wow. All of us managed to huff and puff our way around the entire complex which we felt was worthwhile as the ruins were very impressive, and it was hard to wrap our minds’ around just how the Incans built these magnificent complexes. Truly amazing. None of us was eager to go to the market at Pisac so we told Khaki to take us directly to Ollantaytambo and he obliged, stopping at the capsule hotels along the way. Not sure if that was a good idea as Anna got to see first hand just how high up we would be scaling to do our zip lining adventure! In Ollantaytambo, our hostel, Panay Valle, did not exist! It used to exist (we saw the doorbell for it), but the sign post had been ripped down and the locals told us the place had closed down. Tried phoning them 3 times and someone answered on the 3rd attempt and told us it was the wrong number! So Khaki drove us around to find an alternative place to sleep. Such a nice guy. He recommended a small place near the square called Hostel Inka’s and it was perfect. 50 Soles for our room with breakfast an extra 15 Soles each. We liked the family and found the hostel to be clean so why not. For dinner, we were recommended to head to Mijunapaq Restaurant, located near the square, walk down to the river and it is on the left hand side before you cross the bridge. Food here was just as good as promised, and we managed to convince them to honor the 2 for 1 happy hour special even though it was 10 minutes past 6 pm. Early to bed tonight as we were all knackered. It is so nice to travel with our friends again…we forgot how much we missed them!

20 Nov: Wanted to sleep in but it got light early so we were up by 6:30 am. Sent John and Anna a message asking if they were up and wanted to go explore Ollantaytambo but Anna was still sleeping. John was game, so we left by 7:30 and walked around this cute, compact town. Found out that despite contrary information on the internet, we needed a ticket to enter the Ollantaytambo ruins. So we decided to head back and have breakfast early and see the ruins afterwards. Robby discovered a cobblesmith at the mercado, so he decided to have his boots repaired after breakfast. The ruins were amazing, and we enjoyed walking around them. Unbelievably, we had already gotten somewhat acclimatized to the elevation, as we weren’t breathing as hard or winded as we walked around the complex. After exploring for a few hours, we stopped by the market to pick up Robby’s shoes but the cobbler wasn’t there. The ladies running the market stalls near him didn’t think he’d be back until late in the afternoon, but we hoped that wasn’t accurate or Robby would have no shoes to hike in! Thankfully he returned after a few minutes and 20 Soles later, we walked away with Robby’s hiking boots. After finalizing our organization for Machu Picchu (what to bring and what to leave behind), we stored our big bags at Hostel Inka’s storage and walked to the train station. We were able to pass through the check point straight away (passports and tickets were closely inspected) and had to wait a few minutes before we were allowed to board the train. It was a comfortable 90 minute ride into Aguas Calientes, with beautiful scenery throughout. Unfortunately, no one from Perumanta B&B was at the train station to meet us upon arrival, so we decided to enjoy pisco sours at Totos Restaurant to wait out the rain. One round turned into two, and we enjoyed John and Anna’s company all afternoon long. The girls decided to buy the bus tickets for tomorrow, and had to recon where the ticket office was. The sales clerk refused to accept a slightly worn $50 note, and Anna didn’t have enough Soles so back to the boys for more money. Thankfully the second time our bills were accepted, and our passports were scanned and tickets printed out. Next order of business was figuring out where the bus station pick up was. We found the Consettur bus station and asked the attendant what time we should be there tomorrow. His advice was 4 am prompt. Recon complete, we finally thought it was time to check into Perumanta B&B. It wasn’t correctly labeled on but we eventually stumbled upon it and were quickly shown our rooms. Dropped off our luggage and decided to walk into town for some shopping and dinner. John and Anna bought a nice alpaca blanket, two beanies, and a scarf. Good prices here with a little friendly bargaining. For dinner, we made the mistake of eating at a restaurant right across from Perumanta since they had offered free nachos and cheese. The food sucked and the wait was long, like 2 hours long. When in Peru, never order Italian at a Mexican restaurant! We were not happy about waiting forever for our food as we wanted to go to bed early for tomorrow’s marathon visit to Machu Picchu. Made final coordination with the staff for early breakfast boxes, and the helpful receptionist showed us his recommended route that we should take tomorrow. Took hot showers and called it a night.

21 Nov: Alarm sounded at 3:10 am and it felt way too early to be getting up for Machu Picchu but we did it anyway. Stored our big bag at the lobby and grabbed our breakfast bags and we were by the bus stop in no time. There were only 2 other tourists in line and we felt happy we had arrived there early as we would definitely be on the first bus to MP. Becky had been feeling off all night long so she was a bit worried about the MP visit since there is only one bathroom facility and it is located outside the main entrance. Apparently, you can only leave MP once to use it, as the guards will not allow multiple visits to the bathroom! The queue for the bus grew longer and longer, and unbelievably stretched all the way up the hill. The stray dogs walked amongst the tourists like they owned them, sniffing bags, begging for food, and pushing their way through to the next sucker. Very cute dogs but so forward! By 5:20 am, the line was out of sight, and there were several tourists asking where to buy the bus tickets…poor guys will be in line for the next few hours. We were on the first bus that left promptly at 5:30 am, and once we took a look at the windy road weaving its way up the mountain, we were so glad we opted to pay $12 to ride and not hike. Some of the hikers looked absolutely miserable, and they hadn’t even reached MP yet! Off the bus by 5:55 am, and the guards wouldn’t let anyone enter until 6 am sharp. Use of the bathroom cost 2 Sols, and the line was crazy long. The locals have figured out the optimum way to milk all the money they can from tourists! We were in the complex shortly after 6 am, and the first vistas of MP took our breath away. It definitely lives up to the hype. Our first stop (as recommended by Perumanta’s receptionist) was to the Inka Bridge, and we stopped for photo opportunities along the way. Just spectacular first thing in the morning, even though the forecast had been for heavy rain with thunderstorms today. We had gorgeous vistas for 45 minutes, and then the clouds/fog rolled in and a thick layer covered everything. Perfect time for a breakfast break, followed by a short walk to Inka Bridge. The boys were super eager to go to the Sun Gate, we walked as a group half way there, and the two of them continued onward while the girls snoozed on a large rock face. Cloud cover rendered visibility non existent, but by 8:45 am, the fog lifted and that boded well for our hike up Huayna Picchu. Bathroom break at 9 am, back into the complex by 9:15 am, and we had just enough time to cut through the MP ruin’s and make our way to the start point of Huayna Picchu. Doors to the control hut opened at 10 am, and we had to sign in to the guest log so that the park could monitor who was still hiking the trail. First part of the hike was downhill (surprising), and then it went uphill all the way up to the top. There were hand holds along the way which made it easier to pull ourselves up the mountain, and the pace was steady, with lots of rest stops and water breaks. We made it to the summit after nearly 55 minutes, with most of the photo stops at the very top of the mountain. Very nice views from Huayna Picchu of the backside of MP, with perfect sunny weather despite the predictions of heavy rain today. Humidity was in full effect though, and our shirts were completely soaked. After taking tons of photos, we made our way down the mountain and slowly wandered through the rest of MP before exiting the park. The line was for the bus was long but efficient and we were on a bus less than 15 minutes from entering the snakelike queue. A short snooze on the bus and by 2 pm, we were back at PeruManta hostel to retrieve our luggage and take a hot shower. They graciously allowed us to shower in the public restroom on the second floor, and it felt great to wash all the dirt and grime off. Lunch was at Totos Restaurant where we shared a pizza, Anna got mango icecream, and the boys got pisco sours to celebrate our hike. Great way to celebrate John’s 40th birthday! The train back to Ollantaytambo was on time but the train station was packed, and the gate numbers kept shifting. There were multiple trains leaving in close proximity, but somehow everyone managed to sort things out. Since we had taken a ton of landscape photos yesterday, today was for sleeping. We pulled back into Ollantaytambo by 6 pm, and were surprised there were no tuk-tuks waiting to transport us back into town. Instead, there were a ton of taxi and shared van drivers looking to take us back to Cusco. So we walked back and checked into Hostal Inka’s again. The boys went to dinner (Restaurant Mijunapaq, same restaurant as before) while the girls opted to skip and relax instead. We wanted to wash our dirty laundry at it was only 4 Soles per KG, but we were told it wouldn’t be back until 10:30 or noon tomorrow, which didn’t leave us enough time so we decided to lug our smelly clothes with us to Cusco and find a laundry service there instead. Off to bed early, by 8 pm.

22 Nov: Zip-lining adventure today! We had coordinated to have breakfast at 9 am, and had to walk to the main square with our bags to wait for pick up for the Via Ferrata by 10 am. Our ride was waiting for us and zipped us over to the base of operations (about 10 minutes away). 10 of us were doing the adventure today, so we were given a quick orientation briefing, told to use the toilet, and strapped up for zip-lining. Then our safety briefing and a demonstration on how to use the carabiners. We were the only 4 that were climbing up the mountain and zip-lining down. Everyone else was hiking 400 meters to the top and zip-lining down. Anna, who is scared of heights and not keen on this at all, went first and was a trooper. The entire operation felt really safe and the views got better and better as we ascended. Our guide, Guillermo, took some great photos of us and let us proceed at a leisurely pace. It sure was easier to climb the mountain rather than hike it! Phenomenal views and we were envious of the sky capsules at the top. Well worth a splurge in my opinion! Had a quick lunch snack at the top, and then climbed up and over the sky capsules to reach the first of 6 ziplines. Got a quick briefing on when to brake and how to speed up again, and off we went. Lots of fun and exhilaration. Zip-line number 2 got interesting. It was the longest one, so we had to go in pairs to build up speed. Anna went with a guide so no problem. John and Becky got stuck about 30 meters from the platform and an anxious guide yelled at them to grab the cable or else they would slip back further away. Then Jose, one of the guides, zipped over to John, locked his legs around his waist and pulled John and Becky back to the platform. A+ effort as that was not an easy task! The zip line rides were fun and our fellow zip-liners were fun to talk to. Anna was giving a family from Florida the scoop on how to properly see Machu Picchu. Before we knew it, our day adventure was over and we grabbed our luggage from the storage container and loaded it into our ride back into Cusco. Chatted with a cute Florida couple (the girl snorted when she laughed which cracked us up because it was so natural and funny)…they were fun to talk to and they gave us tips on where to eat in Cusco. Dropped them off at their posh resort and drove the rest of the way into Cusco. We had Guillermo call the owner of our apartment to coordinate our keys and he told us that since we were arriving earlier than expected, no one could get there for another hour, but we could wait in a nearby cafe. So we did, enjoyed the coffee/hot chocolate at Cheabel (good prices, very friendly owner with screaming fast WiFi). After about 40 minutes, Ivan (boyfriend of the apartment owner, Carolina) showed up with our keys and he showed us to our home for the next 3 days. 3 bedrooms, hot water shower, living room with TV and kitchenette. We inspected the beds for bed-bugs before picking our rooms. Ivan answered all our questions and quoted us a fair rate for a day trip to Humantay Lake (80 Soles) so we paid and booked a trip for tomorrow, leaving Saturday free for shopping and exploring. Went to dinner right at 6 pm at Cicciolina, which was very popular and normally requires reservations. We heard if we walked in just before opening and asked to be seated at the bar, it would be no problem and that was true. This place was fancy with very nice food and cocktails. What a great Thanksgiving meal to share with fantastic friends. John and Anna treated us to dinner which was a very nice surprise. Went back to the apartment to take showers and get some shut eye before our trip tomorrow. John and Robby stayed up late watching stupid videos and chatting. Robby managed to take a hot water shower at 9:45 pm but when John tried at 10 pm, he realized the water had been cut off! Boo…we didn’t realize the apartment shut off water at night.

23 Nov: Up at 5 am for our day trip to Humantay Lake (80 Soles each). Picked up another passenger, Peruvian guy named Raul, and then drove 2 hours to the town of Mollepata where we had to wait for the guide to buy our entrance tickets (10 Soles, included in tour price). Had breakfast at 8:30 am which consisted of bread, butter, jam, tea, banana and scrambled eggs. Adorable kids at the restaurant. Drove to the town square where we were advised to buy ponchos and snacks for the hike. Ponchos were 2 Soles in town but 5 Soles there…bit expensive for a wear-once covering. Drove another hour to Soraypampa where we parked. We kept telling our guide we wanted to rent horses but he insisted that we had to hike the first 15 minutes to get the horses there even though we could see some where we had parked. Horses for the ride up to Humantay Lake were a pricey 70 Soles each (or $25) but well worth it if you aren’t acclimated to the elevation. We certainly weren’t, so we were happy to pay it. Robby got stuck with a mule that he looked way too big for. The horse handlers abruptly let go of the leads and stranded us…we weren’t sure what was going on until we realized Robby was swapping out his ride for another one called “Rambo”. The locals kept laughing when they saw that Rambo was being ridden and we later found out he is known for his aggressiveness! On our ride uphill, we saw a woman heaving her guts out on the side of the trail. That alone made our horse rentals well worth it! Unfortunately, we couldn’t ride all the way up to the lake but had to dismount and walk the final 5 minutes. The lake was just as beautiful as it looks in all the brochures and advertisements. No color enhancements necessary! We took some photos and were surprised when we saw the rest of the group (Raul and the two girls from Colombia) walk up about 15 minutes later. Amazing they did it so quickly! Our guide had told us 2 hours to summit, and 1 hour to descend but his timings were way off. We took a group photo and got a brief lecture from the guide and then were told we had 45 minutes of free time. Weirdly, after only 20 minutes, our guide (Ruben), was yelling at us to head back down the mountain. John and Robby sternly told him no and continued on taking photos. Which was just as well as the two Colombian girls were lagging behind when we got to the bottom of the hill. Back at the parking lot, we were surprised to see 3 grimy European backpackers trying to get into our ride. Apparently they had booked with the same company who decided to consolidate us all together. When one of them tried to jump into Anna’s seat, everyone yelled at him that she got motion sickness so he reluctantly moved to the back seat where he proceeded to let loose with monstrous farts. Absolutely disgusting guy. We drove an hour to the same restaurant we had lunch and had a nice buffet meal. Eurotrash guy shat in the toilet and made a huge mess and he didn’t have toilet paper to boot. Eurotrash girls were jumping the queue for food. They were definitely not getting on our good side! For the final ride home, Robby asked one of the Colombian girls to switch with him as he felt too cramped in the middle row and she agreed. Beautiful drive back home although Eurotrash guy wrapped his hands around Anna’s headrest and was bouncing between Raul and Becky in the middle row. Not a comfortable return ride! Back in Cusco, our drive tried to drop us off at San Francisco Plaza, rather than letting us off at our apartment but we refused to get out and forced him to drive the extra 2 KM to our pad. First order of business was a quick change of clothes and turning in our dirty laundry (21 Soles for ours and 40 Soles for John & Anna). Dinner was at an Indian Restaurant (Taste of India Cusco) which had great food at fair prices but a very obnoxiously loud table next to us filled with a mix of different nationalities. They kept yelling loudly to each other and it was impossible to talk and be heard amongst ourselves. Very frustrating to be sitting next to them. Our food was lovely, but Robby convinced Josh to drink the Machu Picchu cocktail which was a disgusting rainbow concoction that tasted worse than it looked. No wonder it was so cheap! Back to the apartment by 8 pm so we could all get a shower in before the water cut off at 10 pm. Hot showers felt great and we were happy to have a sleep in tomorrow. No more crazy adventures planned for the next few days so it should be nice to take it easy and enjoy Cusco.

24 Nov: Up by 7 am to explore the city with John and Robby while Anna got to sleep in a bit. Went to the Plaza de Armas and took some photos and admired all the balconies in the city. Anna was awake when we got back so we got ready to explore the city. First stop was Plaza de Armas for breakfast at Cafe Plaza, a cute cafe overlooking the square, followed by some shopping at a Sol Alpaca store (50% off Black Friday sale on all alpaca merchandise) so lots of great bargains here. Bought a baby alpaca blanket while Anna and John got some scarves, a cape, a blanket and a jacket…great bargain to pick up so many pieces for under $500. Went to the Regional Historical museum which was on the multi-ticket but it was mediocre and we should have given it a pass. Then stopped to have lunch at La Valeriana, another cute cafe (tasty sandwiches) but the waitress couldn’t explain why there was a tip line on the receipt when tips weren’t accepted via credit card, but cash only. Very bizzare and we felt inclined to skip the tip since it was too complicated. Anna picked up 2 more scarves at a different Sol Alpaca store and then we went shopping for paintings at the square near Cicciolina restaurant. Found a couple paintings we really liked and narrowed down our selection to our favorite two. Robby bargained it down from 1000 Sols to 800 Sols (paid by credit card with no extra fees). Grabbed our laundry which was ready and dropped everything off at the apartment. Inventoried the laundry and happy to discover it was all there. Checked in for our Avianca flight tomorrow and reminded Ivan to ensure pick up. Then went back out to look at Anna’s favorite church (Santo Domingo Church) and grabbed a taxi up to Sacsayhuamán which was supposed to be 10 Soles but cost 12 Soles because the driver tried to pull a fast one on us and we didn’t have exact change. Still beat walking uphill though! The views over the main square in Cusco looked great from up here and we were happy it was included in the multi-entry ticket. Walked back downhill from here and went to the Plaza. Wanted to eat dinner at Hanz but it was closed even though Google said it was supposed to be open. Grabbed a drink at Inka Grill, a restaurant on the plaza which had free WiFi so we could figure out what to do next. Ended up having a delicious Italian dinner at Carpe Diem and then walked back to the apartment to swap photos which took forever since it wasn’t as easy as it should be to transfer between John’s Iphone XR to Robby’s MacBook.

25 Nov: Got up at 7:30 to do last minute packing before Ivan arrived at 9 am to take us to the airport. Wanted to have breakfast at the neighborhood cafe but it was closed on Sunday, so we decided to grab a bite to eat at the airport. Ivan showed up right on time with a brand new SUV to take us to the airport in style (20 Soles). Thanked him for everything and got checked in for our flight. Smooth process and we had enough time for breakfast while waiting to board the flight. John got upgraded, so the rest of us sat together to avoid sitting next to strangers. A bit of turbulence on the flight but otherwise uneventful. When we landed in Lima, our ride wasn’t there to pick us up but Walter was. He explained that our ride was at our hotel in Lima as the lady had misunderstood the pick up instructions! We decided to ride in his car (rather than wait for her van) and he gave us $15 back since we had paid extra for a van. Got dropped off at our hotel in Miraflores (Dimar Inn) which was very clean and comfortable ($36 per night). Walked down to the beach and had a late lunch/early dinner at Mangos by the waterfront. Great seafood and cocktails. The girls had 3 pina coladas each while the boys had pisco sours, and our food was fantastic. Bill including 10% tip was $200, well worth it for 10 cocktails, seafood appetizers and mains for 4 people. Enjoyed the atmosphere in Miraflores, definitely an upscale area of Lima. Lots of money here, with locals out and about spending left and right. Christmas decorations up early, and we enjoyed our stroll back to our hostel.

26 Nov: Met up with John and Anna at 9 am and went to have breakfast at a nearby Swiss cafe, La Tiendecita Blanca. Becky had a massive toothache so Anna gave her some painkillers for the pain. Breakfast was good but very fancy with a price tag to boot. Grabbed a taxi after breakfast to head into the old town (16 Soles). Everything was closed today…no changing of the guard at noon, no visitation of the old train station, shops were closed down so it was a completely different atmosphere than the one we experienced just a few weeks ago. Wandered around for a bit but kept smelling piss on the streets so we weren’t too heartbroken to head back to Miraflores where we grabbed a juice near Kennedy Park. Then back to the hostel for a brief siesta, with a plan to meet at 3:30 pm so we could have an early seafood dinner at La Mar, reputedly one of the best seafood restaurants in Lima. Walked 2 KM to the restaurant and ordered drinks/food and quickly discovered that the food portions here are massive. We had way too much food and only finished a fraction of it! Walked back and went back to our breakfast joint for dessert and coffee. Anna and John had to do last minute packing and showers and we joined them down in the lobby to chat until their taxi showed up at 10 pm. Fingers crossed they are able to catch an earlier flight out to Houston tonight!

27 Nov: Since our return flight to Guayaquil was scheduled for 5 pm, we had plenty of time to kill in the morning. Check out wasn’t until noon, so we hung out in our room until then and stored our luggage as we scoured Miraflores for a place to eat. After lunch, our taxi (50 Soles) was patiently waiting for us at the hotel so we left a few minutes early. Check in was a breeze and we were boarding our flight to Ecuador in no time. Goodbye Peru…see you next year!

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