All posts tagged: travelplanning

Santiago, Chile: It Takes 2

Back in Santiago after a wonderful trip to Valpariso, we decided to stay in the Bella Artes district. Our high rise was just on the other side of the river from a Santa Isabel supermercado and just blocks away from the produce and meat markets. Santa Isabel was great to find inexpensive wine, dry goods and prepackaged chicken (super pollo) but everybody on our trip has concurred that they are the dirtiest of the supermarkets, Express de Lider much cleaner and Jumbo being the best, we have not been to a Jumbo yet.. Santa Isabel’s meat was very questionable, there was a grainy feel to a steak we cooked and I found a copper wire in one of my bites. We did find everything we needed here to make a memorable bow tie pasta, topped with a buttery, lemony, white wine capper sauce and succulent chicken breast (super pollo). I thought my steak from Santiago 1.0 was a flash of brilliance, but Bekah’s pasta dish transcended any culinary experience. Impressed with Tips for Tours, Valpariso, …

The Hills: Valparaiso, Chile

Valparaiso is rather simple to get to by bus. The red line metro stops directly under the Alameda station where Pullman and Turbus depart from about every 30 minutes or so. For a maximum of 720 Chilean Pesos per person, you take the red line to Universidad de Santiago. The metro does not charge extra to transfer to a different line, so getting around the city is pretty cheap. For 16,800 pesos Bekah and I purchased round trip tickets from Pullman. We got to the station at 11 and departed for Valparaiso at 11:25. The trip lasts about 90 minutes and passes several wineries along the way. Welcome to Valparaiso Pulling into Valparaiso, you will notice how visually eclectic the city is. If a structure is not protected by a fence, it is either covered in art or tagged up depending on who got to that wall first. We grabbed a cab and for 6000 CLP, we arrived at our cerro, Concepcion. This was definitely a tourist-centric hill as every other door appeared to be a restaurant …

Santiago, Chile Take 1

Unlike Arequipa, where we flew into and wondered what we got ourselves into (then fell in love), Santiago was love at first sight. It was by far the shortest length we waited in a customs line and the agents seemed very friendly. As we left the airport in our VIP van (about $10 per person, register and pay before you exit the airport) and made our way into the city, I was reminded of our trip to Colorado. In the distance stood snowcapped mountains, the air had a winter chill to it and there were proper highways. If I had a GPS device, we could have rented a car and driven in the city seamlessly. We were staying in Santiago Centro and picked the apartment for its proximity to metro lines and the grocery store across the street. View from our apartment. Enjoying a refreshing reminder of city life. Express de Lider is like a traditional grocery chain back in the States, except for one thing, the prices. We bought a .7 kilo steak (23 …

Lima, llama, travel

The Takeaway: Peru

To the untrained eye, Peru seems to be an extension of Ecuador, so much so that we questioned our arrival in Arequipa. With our exit weeks away, we were given the opportunity to focus and catch a glimpse of the essence of southern Peru. She will surprise you while remaining humble about it. Yes, several places will still serve you a thinly sliced piece of grilled meat on a bed of fried potatoes and a side of rice, but it is on you to find the places that won’t. She is more developed than Ecuador and knows just how to make a dollar off of you, but don’t let this deter you. Peru’s infrastructure allows you to feasibly traverse the country and explore the cultural and geographical diversity she has created. Some of our assessments may have been a little harsh, and perhaps unfair due to the fact that we questioned our ability to travel for a year in the middle of our visit, but Peru has a way of bouncing back. Scaling Huayna Picchu …

Lima, Peru’s Savior

We finally got to Lima after our 5 day bus debacle with Peru Hop. It was midnight and we needed a place to crash as we arrived one night earlier than scheduled. I booked a 6 person dorm at Pirwa as it received an 89% rating on hostelworld.com (I would have booked a private room, but they were going for 100 a night! The dorm was only 25). I suppose our check-in host was rather sleepy because the most basic mathematical functions became insurmountable even with her use of a calculator. Finally, she got through it and led us to our dorm. The moment she opened the door, we were slammed with the most terrible odor, as though our room was the final resting place for backpackers’ boots. Every bed was occupied with the exception of two top bunks located across the room from each other. We only had to put up with this bog of unusual stench for 6 hours or so, thus we shrugged our shoulders, accepted our situation and climbed up to …

Peru sea lions

Paracas: Peru on the Up and Up

After a short 2 hour bus ride from Huacachina, we arrived at the small coastal town of Paracas. Peru’s southern coastline is a meeting of the desert and Pacific Ocean that is not to be missed. Tony finally feeling better from his Tripe experience and a full 2 nights without a bus ride (!!) had us in great spirits. Our first morning was spent on a boat tour of the Ballestas Islands. Despite being one of a couple places sold as the “poor man’s Galapagos”, which I find rude and unappealing – this poor couple really enjoyed it. Like many coastal towns in South America, these tours are run by former fishermen and boats that could no longer compete with industrial fishing. This tour by far has the most to see. For a reasonable 50 soles (~$17) it is about 1.5 hours roundtrip to see these protected islands filled with birds, penguins and sea lions! There is also a view of “the Candelabra” said to be put there around 200 BC. Candelabra Penguins Kissing seals …

Peru, Down but Not Out: Moray and Maras

Our time in Peru was more times than not a warm mess. She gave us so many lemons, that pisco sours became misnomers. The Down but Not Out series will let you in on what Lonely Planet and the Travel Channel do not share. If you disagree, please share your experiences so readers get the other side of the story as well. We had a magnificent time at Machu Picchu and read that the little towns around Ollantaytambo were very rich in Inca artifacts as well. We tried our luck with Moray and the salt mines near Maras. We hiked down Saturday morning to where the collectivos are housed and tried to catch a cheap ride, however, all the drivers said they were going to Ollan. We found a cab driver who offered us a ride for 80 soles to Moray, wait for us there, then to the salt mines, then bring us back. We were not looking to drop that kind of money, but with no drivers heading out and he reassuring us that no …

Machu Picchu, 2 Down, 5 Wonders To Go.

We arrived at a collectivo via taxi in Cusco and literally had our bags grabbed out of the car and shoved into the 15 passenger van. We were looking for a departure closer to 10:30, but with two open seats, we could not pass up this opportunity. A quick glance into the van, I saw a mix of travelers and locals and my gut screamed safe, so on we went to Ollantaytambo. It was a 2 hour bus ride and before we knew it our passenger count jumped into the twenties, but as a group, we made it work. Ollantaytambo may have a lot to offer, but for us it was our stop before heading out to Machu Picchu. There is only one way to get to Machu Picchu which is via train. We boarded our train in Ollantaytambo at 5am and arrived at Aguas Calientes around 7. At this point we freaked out a bit as we had a Huayna Picchu arrival window of 7-8 and we encountered a bus line that was hundreds …

Arequipa, simple yet captivating 

Arequipa is surrounded by snowcapped volcanoes (one that is showing signs of activity) and sits on a fault line. But that is not the first thing you will notice, the true eminent danger is the traffic. It is as if they stole an excerpt from “On Driving”, a philosophical treatise by India. Stop signs do not even produce a yield, moreover, they seem to encourage the driver to cutoff the right away path. As a pedestrian, this can be rather alarming as you must always be on high alert as you navigate through this “misshapen chaos of well-seeming forms”. Traffic lights guarantee safety to cross streets, but they are so few and far in between. Sidewalks too can be tricky as they are often times so crowded, you must step on the street to get through, and you can imagine what predicament this may put you in. Eventually, we figured it out; thankfully by trial and no grave error. The key is know timing, wait for cars to get so congested they create a gridlock …

The Takeaway: Ecuador

We will always cherish the 16 days spent in our first country, Ecuador. Kicked off with 14 hours of travel and 30 hours without sleep and ending with the same. Honestly, Ecuador was a bonus country, chosen for its ease of entry and proximity to Peru and Chile. We figured, why not start our trip at the Equator? What we found was so much more. It’s rolling hills, breathtaking treks, ever-changing weather, and kind people surprised us and changed us in many ways. We also grew quite a bit as travelers. Navigating several bus terminals, when to just sit and let time pass without stress and a little improvement in the repacking area. Bekah still has a tendency of walking into moving traffic but she is learning..a bit. Cultural Highlights Siestas. Very friendly people. Always willing to give directions and recommendations. Tons of free hiking. Best Meal: Homemade cena at La Posada de Tigua. Pollo con mucho Comino, my favorite! Worst Meal: “Pizza” with cherry pie glaze for sauce, pineapple and cheese Best Beer: IPAs …