Wednesday, October 28, 2015

#travelpost - Huacachina and Nazca

From Lima we took a 4 hour bus down to a town called Ica, from there we got a taxi to a place called Huacachina. We only spent a couple of nights between Lima and Cusco and covered a fair few hours of this on buses but it was totally worth it! 

Huacachina is a desert oasis. A small pool of water sits between the huge sand dunes and the small road that connects it to its neighbouring town, Ica. The little spot was bustling with tourists, teenagers and families... People were boating on the water and dune buggy after buggy were heading up to the heart of the dunes. We arrived around 4pm which was perfect timing as we'd heard the best time for dune buggying and sand boarding was at sunset. With this in mind, we got to the buggy guys at around 5pm and off we went with another 6 people. The dune buggying was like the best real life roller coaster, I'd never done it before but I would 100% do it again... It was so fun! We stopped off at 4 or 5 huge dunes during the ride to test out our sand boarding skills... Unfortunately, I'd left mine at home. I think I stood up for 2 seconds before sliding down on my bum! Harry wasn't that much better although I think he thinks he was. We also tried it face first on our bellies and that was fast! We stopped off on the way home just on the edge of town for some photos and the view was perfect... The twinkling lights reflecting on the water with the orange sand dunes in the back ground. That night we spent dinner at a neighbouring hostel that had a great bar and better food... Not forgetting happy hour pisco sours!

The next day we needed to catch a four hour bus to Nasca but not before visiting some wineries and pisco bodegas. Living in Spain we've visited our fair share of wineries so we were interested in the process but we were kinda more interested in the freebies... And they came thick and fast. The first place gave us a tour and the tasting of 4 wines and 2 piscos but the second place just skipped the tour completely and took us straight to the barrels! We must have tried another 6... This place was super old school too with all sorts of brickabrak on the walls. It's safe to say we slept well on the bus to Nazca that afternoon. 

We got to Nazca around half 7 and just spent the night getting some food and having a rest... The next day was the most important. The Nazca lines have been on my bucket list for a long long time and the decision between taking the plane ride or seeing them from the ground was a tough one but in the end we decided to save our money for our Machu Picchu journey in the next few days and make that a lot less hard work by travelling by train. So... We saved our $80 and instead spent 50 soles (£10) on a private tour guide to drive us to the lookout points where we could see some. They've built tall watch towers next to some of them and from up top the view was unreal... It looked like Mars! We learnt about some of the theories and the reasons behind the straight lines that you can see for miles. It felt really surreal seeing something so important to the history of a country... Anyway enough with the cheesy talk, the Nazca lines were incredible but after seeing them we had to prepare ourselves for the 15 hour overnight bus ahead of us. 

We survived and got to Cusco two days ago... The altitude is less harsh than last time and tomorrow we leave for Machu Picchu!! 

Ciao from 3,400m above sea level! X

Friday, October 23, 2015

#travelpost - Lima, Peru

I have no idea where to start with Lima. There's a million things to do and see and a million things that we never got round and never would get round to doing. First of all, it's huge. There are forty three districts and we visited three of the main ones the old El Centro, the touristy Miraflores and the bohemian Barranco. We decided to stay in Barranco, an area built up in the 19th Century by wealthy Limeños escaping the city heat... Because of this, the place is full of decaying mansions and villas. Some have been made into museums, restaurants, cafes and hotels and others are just growing old. The whole district is set on a cliff overlooking the sea with a park running along it... When you look over, all you can see is Lima running into the distance. 

We did our usual city stuff in Lima... Coffee shops, window shopping and people watching so I'll stick to some of our favourite things...

Our first morning in Lima we walked down to the MATE museum... The museum of the Peruvian, world famous photographer Mario Testino. It was in one of the big old colonial houses I was telling you about, with tiled floors and a small courtyard cafe. The cafe wasn't open properly because I think there was a gala on the night before so I shed a tear as they passed me with all of the empty cava bottles... I really, really miss cava! There was a collection on the models, film stars and musicians he'd photographed (a lotta Kate Moss!), a room dedicated to princess Diana and my favourite, a collection of photos and videos on the traditional dress of Cuzco and its people. We spent a little too much in the gift shop and followed it up with a coffee nearby. 

The same day we hunted down a restaurant called La Canta Rana (yes, another Anthony Bourdain special) and... I'm not just saying this now because I know I say it a lot.. We had some of the best food we've ever had. It was a ceviche dish called kiss of the sea and it was fish with a layer of squid in an almond batter on top. The place was filled from floor to ceiling with football tops, scarves and photographs of famous customers. To us we felt like we'd completely splashed out but when we actually worked it out it was 7 pounds each... 

We had some great food here... One night we ate at a Basque-Peruvian place so we had a few of our favourites from Spain, we went to a cute chocolate shop and bought some bon-bons and on our last full day we went to La Lucha! We'd read about La Lucha before we got to Lima and immediately decided we had to go... It was described as a Lima institution. It's a fast food style sandwich shop and it's packed most days with queues down the street. We timed it well and scored a table... I ordered a roast pork sandwich, Harry ordered Chicharón a belly pork style meat, both came with pickled red onions, chips and it wouldn't be Peruvian without the over half a dozen sauces they serve it with. They were increeedible. 

On our final night in Lima, we'd read on a poster that there was a special festival for our neighbourhood Barranco so we went for a walk to see what we could find. Dotted around the main square there were different shows and music concerts decorated with colourful banners; Harry's favourite was a Black Sabbath-esque band playing down a little pedestrianised street off the main square.

The old centre of Lima felt quite Spanish with its big plazas, baroque churches and fountains. It was packed with people and was a lot less modern but we still felt safe walking around. The place was full of menu del dias and Haz even found the Mecca of footballs shirts so he could add Peru to his collection so far... He also bought the first one he'd seen and then tried to ask for a refund when he'd seen better.... I don't know what he was thinking but the lady chuffed with her sale definitely wasn't having it. 

We're leaving Lima today to go and do some sand boarding and pisco tasting... It's a hard life! Lima is one of best cities I've been to and it's a shame that three days is all we have but we've got to keep moving if we want to fit everything in. Over the next two weeks we've got the Nazca lines, Machu Picchu and the place I've been patiently waiting for, Lake Titicaca. 

Thanks for reading,
Amiee and Haz x