Thursday, October 17, 2013

Machu Picchu Tour with G Adventures - Lima/Cusco

A quick cab ride from our original Hostal in Lima to Hotel Antigua to begin our exciting tour of several Inka towns with the ultimate goal of experiencing Machu Picchu. At 6:30pm on Thursday, October 3, we met our representative, Miro, at our hotel and thus began a great week of meeting and making new friends!


It turns out our group of 16 was quite diverse with young and mature adults from all over the globe, Australia, New Zealand, England, Ireland, Canada, and us (US). We loved it!  The accents in our brains were having a grand old time!  It was also interesting to hear Spanish being spoken with all the different accents. And, it turns out this group was respectful, fun, and extremely congenial. We meshed extremely well and had a fabulous time together. Thank you, Jessica S., Chris, Ryan, Jessica T., Willie, Linda K., Andy, Linda T., Elizabeth, Chet, Inka, and Anjana!! Yes, we have 2 Jessica's, 2 Linda's, and 2 honeymoon couples. And, 3 birthdays!!

We had a lovely luxurious room that we wish we could have enjoyed longer but it was early to bed, early to rise to have breakfast the next morning, check out, and board the bus that took us all to the Lima airport for our flight to Cusco. It was really nice for a change to just let Miro take care of all of us to get through check in and a farewell at Security check. We were to be met in Cusco by another guide. 

We all made it through without a hitch and we were off to our gate. Boarded and sitting next to our tour mates, friendships began to form as we got to know each other. And, within 2 hours we were landed, baggage collected, and the new guide, Jose Antonio, greeted us to begin the next 4 days of our tour. 

We all loaded into a van/bus with luggage strapped to the top and off we went through the city to our home for one night, Hotel Prisma. The drive in revealed a city surrounded by mountains and old world charm with narrow cobble stone streets but definitely a lively, active city of 500,000 and a metro area of 1 million. It's also located at an elevation of 3,380 meters or 11,100' !!  Talk about needing oxygen!

Cusco Airport

We were all very efficiently checked in, given our room keys, and direction to meet back with Jose for a city walking orientation tour within 30 minutes. Again, we were all off following our leader, Jose. After a quick stop to let everyone exchange money into solis, the Peruvian currency, we were escorted to Toldas Pollo (roast chicken) for lunch. A delicious meal and we were again fortified to continue with our walking, discovery tour. 

As we rounded the corner, I fell in love!  The main square is magnificent and is the ONLY square in he world with 2 cathedrals!  I was in awe!!  Taking in a full 360 sweep, you couldn't help but notice all the ornate and intricate balconies. It was explained that they are the result of the Moorish influence. Stunning!












 
 
From there we walked another block to another serene square with the destination of touring the chocolate museum. Mike was in hog heaven!! I sometimes wonder if he loves chocolate more than me. LOL. A very interesting explanation of the process and we were set free to explore the factory and buy chocolate !!  OMG, good!!!

From there we were all on our own but most of us decided to get together at a sweet patio restaurant/bar we had noticed on the square going into the chocolate factory. So that's where we went for all kinds of different drinks to cap off the wonderful afternoon!

Dinner was on our own that night but, again, most of us decided to get together. Jessica S. Had been here before and remembered a special place up, WAY up the hill past the cathedral. So at the appointed time, we all met in the lobby and off we hiked and hiked and hiked up the hill from the main square to another smaller square.  Huffing and puffing we went. I kept telling myself with every step that this was conditioning for going to Machu Picchu and that it was good for me. Ha! Amazing the tricks the mind can play!!

Main Square


Original Inka built walls!

A typical narrow street in Old Town Cusco.

Each stone cut & polished with NO mortar in between!! You can't even get a finger nail into the seam.





 

It was sooooo worth the trek!!!  Through the portal and into a charming patio setting of Pacha Papa with wood fired oven, harpist, and umbrella tables. Although there were only tables for 8 available, we decided to snuggle together. No problem!  It worked beautifully!  And so, on our first dinner together our friendships continued to grow !!


Pacha Papa!! Wonderful restaurant!

 
Tomorrow is another early day with an alarm clock. Something Mike and I have definitely not been used to for over a year but will gladly endure for the next week to experience all that there is on this journey of ours....

Stay tuned!


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