We started my hubby’s 40th birthday trip in Peru. It was a long way to get to from the Philippines given that we first flew to Los Angeles (16 hrs) then stayed a few days before flying to Peru (10 hours). Since this was our first time going to South America I decided to go through an agency that was more familiar with this continent. So I contacted A2A Safaris who are a specialist in not just South African Safari but also Latin America. My husband said he would set aside his OCD on planning trips and would sit back and enjoy the pisco sours (I will let you see how much he got to do it as we go along).
Our first tour stop as in most Cities is in the town square: Plaza Mayor which was declared a historic center by UNESCO. My husband who is always enthralled by military history was fascinated to learn how 160 + Spaniards were able to conquer a whole empire. It being perhaps too long to explain here, the one significant turning point was how the last Incan emperor Atahualpa was ambushed by the Spanish and used as a puppet to control the empire. What an amazing stroke of luck indeed that he was away from his main forces and had underestimated how powerful the modern weapons were (artillery and horsemen).
Nothing captures the imagination of Peru than a Cebiche (Yes they use a b in the middle) and Pisco Sour. Located amidst the posh Miraflores district is La Mer a seafood restaurant and bar which we had a delightful lunch.
Rarely do we say that the highlight of a certain place is the hotel we stay in but in Lima we must say our Hotel B blew us away. It is a boutique hotel that is exquisitely redeveloped from an old house. The owners in keeping the old facade but renovating all the interiors to fit in rooms left the character of the building intact and provided for a cozy boutique feel that made us forget about your typical 5 star large modern hotel.
I loved how they always had a fresh amount of avocados served everyday.
Not to be outdone… Dinner was just as amazing! We had delightfully fresh baked scallops to open with and my husband enjoyed his duck which was soft (not chewy finally!) and had a light sweet orange sauce with a squash mash with pomegranate seeds as a perfect balance. The potato confit squares were a tad bit too crunchy. Our server was also named Carlos provided excellent service and great conversation so look for him if you ever stop by.
A hours and a half flight and we landed at Cusco, the first thing you will notice is the shortness of breath. That happens when you go up to 3,000 M instantly…. even armed with Coca pills we still found it hard to breathe and had to take it easy
Travel Tip: Fly into Cusco then take a bus immediately to Sacred Valley or Macchu Pichu so you can acclimatize first at lower elevation 2,000 M or so THEN go to Cusco on your way OUT and it will be much easier (Or take the 21 hour bus ride up — ouch!)
We arrived late at night and it was super cold but lo and behold a beautiful garden awaited us. A restored Monastary connected to a church, this hotel was enchanting yet a little unnerving with all the religous paintings on the walls (Jesus was literally looking over our bed…. luckily we are married!)
Breakfast was delightful as well with a wide range and excellent service. We always woke up at crack of dawn due to the high pressure made it hard to sleep but luckily coca tea was always there to help a bit.
Fortress Sacsayhuaman and Ollantaytambo Tour
We honestly have not heard much about Lima other than it is by the sea and is the capital which we had to fly into. Therefore we did not expect much but was pleasantly surprised how warm and clean the city was given all the warnings we got before coming over.
It is amazing to discover such a good hotel matched with great food set against such beautiful Spanish architecture (Sorry if you are looking for Incan then you have to wait for the next part of the blog – Cusco).
Lima while a bit traffic and messy reminded us of Manila and how it could have been if Old Manila had been preserved better. It is a great stop after a long trip and has much to discover now that it has come out of the shadows of it’s turbulent past.
Cusco with its high altitude took a bit of getting used to but it’s historical center was amazing!
My birthday boy was really impressed how amazingly organized things were (actually it was A2A don’t tell him!) and how similar the cultural heritage was to the Philippines. Our shared family values and warm smiles mixed with the rich Spanish heritage created an atmosphere that felt like home yet not quite the same.
We could not wait to see what came next… (Part 2 to be uploaded end of October so stay tuned!)