A Separate Resolution

Something I decided not to include in my 2014 resolutions is my wish to travel. I realize I included “going a new place” every month, but this can be pretty small scale like eating at a new restaurant. I have been incredibly blessed in my life by being given the opportunity to travel to many new places. Although, the majority of my travels have been in the US, I’ve had a short list of international retreats all of which I thoroughly enjoyed.

MalagaSpain

ScotlandScotland

LondonLondon (please forgive this outfit)

France

Paris

DisneyDisneyland Paris (deserves its own mention plus imagine that lady next to me isn’t there)

PeruPeru!

As you can see, most of these trips were the product of convenience when I was studying abroad in Spain and last year I was fortunate enough to have a friend already stationed in Peru who wanted to travel with me. I fear the luck and convenience may be running out and I may start making excuses, and that is a relevant fear, my friends! In my dreams I will take an international trip every year as well as making some tracks across the US. I have become a seasoned traveler and have spent more time in airports alone than with others. I can read maps, navigate a metro railway, and take a cab with the best of them. While I don’t love researching things to do at my destination because it peaks my anxiety, I love experiencing new cultures and places(even if it’s only looking back on them fondly).

I’m on financial lockdown for the duration of my unemployment so even if I had a destination and a buddy picked out, I still could not travel right now. This, I fear, will be the beginning of the great list of excuses. So instead of just looking for jobs right now I’m planning on researching destinations, attractions, and things I want to do to help make them a reality. Hopefully this will also motivate me to push forward and find a job as soon as possible in an effort to start fundraising for my future endeavors. I know that if I say I’m going to keep a list of my findings here then it will never come to fruition because that is how my resolve has been for this blog. But I’m not going to say it won’t happen because I’m trying to strengthen my will to get shit done!

Advertisements

Machu Picchu

We probably got about 5 hours of sleep before we were up and ready to start the journey to Machu Picchu at 3:30 am. The first leg of the early morning was in a very speedy van that went around so may curves at a ridiculous speed on our way to Ollantaytambo where we would catch the train to Aguas Calientes. It was freezing in the morning and the van was not heated along from being completely impractical for sleeping, despite how tired we were. When we finally got on the train it was a very nice surprise to have comfortable window seats and heating! They even came around with a drinks cart and we had cafe con leche!

By the time we got to Aguas Calientes the weather had improved a little. It was a cloudy day, but not too hot and not too cold, perfect weather for spending the day atop a mountain in my opinion. We made sure to use the restroom promptly before our group tour left since there are obviously none in the ruins… Our travel adviser put us in an English tour group. At first we were both a little disappointed since Jess and I both speak Spanish (hers is MUCH better than mine), but after the initial introductions with the rest of our group we were both at ease. Our tour guide was very nice and spoke English very well, he was pretty intense though. We learned a lot about the Incas and the uses of the village and mainly that the town isn’t called Machu Picchu! The mountain the ruins were built on is actually named Machu Picchu. 161 162 172 179 196 207

At the end of the tour we were left with plenty of free time to explore the village and look around the mountain. A few other people from our group had decided to climb to the top of Machu Picchu to the sun gate. Above is the view from the top of the mountain allllll the way to the bottom. The sun gate is about a mile away from the village and uphill… So naturally it took us about an hour including some breaks. In the picture above you can see the windy road the buses take. It was beautiful to be at the top of the mountain, at a few different points some clouds came up around us, it was an amazing experience. Of course we were exhausted.

485453_10151668450042448_1086304951_n

 

This was our group of international friends. Countries of origin left to right: Germany, UK, US and US, Argentina, Brazil. At this point I have to mention something important that I have left out so far- when we got to Machu Picchu I attempted to turn on my camera…. and it wouldn’t turn on. I had plugged it in to charge it the night before and didn’t think anything of it. But the battery was shocked so I carried it all day long and took all the pictures on my iPhone.

After our trip to the Sun Gate we descended back to the terraces and saw llamas!

219 222 229 240

After our time with the llamas we went to the other side of the mountain to relax and snack.

252

 

When we were done eating we ended up taking another little detour to the Inca Bridge which is basically a few logs scanning a gap in the side of the mountain…. A lot of epic picture taking occurred, but I didn’t get to take many pictures on my phone. We were all tired so we decided to head down the mountain to Aguas Calientes to get some dinner. Jess and I met up with two of our other friends from the group and had a classic Peruvian drink called Pisco Sours. They were good, but not my favorite- eggs are one of the ingredients. But it wasn’t that bad. At the end of the day we got back on the train, back on the bus, and eventually we were back in the hotel ready to sleep.

The following day we left Cusco. We spent the morning doing tourist and souvenir shopping after breakfast and then got Starbucks and relaxed at the Plaza since there was a military parade going on 😉 That afternoon we flew back to Lima and I got to meet her host family and spend some time with them. It was a really nice experience and Lima was beautiful. The trip home was 3 more plane rides and I eventually made it back to the US, but it was so worth all the travel and expenses and exhaustion!

 

Cusco, Peru and the Sacred Valley

For the first 4 months of 2013 one of my best friends, Jess, did an internship with a family of missionaries living in Lima, Peru. It was a really great experience for her and so much fun for me to hear about and see pictures. I’ve never traveled in South America and I’ve always wanted to go to Machu Picchu. What a perfect coincidence that Jess was living in Peru this year! I don’t get very much vacation time from my job so I was able to take 3 days of vacation and went over the first weekend of April to meet Jess in Cusco, Peru.

I took a total of 6 flights over the course of the trip. On Wednesday night I flew out of DC to Miami, at 1 am I flew from Miami to Lima, then early Thursday morning I flew from Lima to Cusco. I waited to meet my friend Jess at the airport in Cusco for about 2 hours, but without any way of communicating, plus my intense need to brush my teeth and lay down…. I took a taxi to our hotel and waited for her there. We stayed in a nice hotel in Cusco that was relatively close to the town center. I took a nap and Jess arrived a few hours later! We spent the first day talking with our travel guide, figuring out the itinerary, and getting used to the lay of Cusco!

ImageThis was the view of the plaza from our restaurant the first night.

Cusco is located in the Andes mountains. It is very common for people to have altitude sickness upon arriving, but we were both very fortunate NOT to experience it. We bought some snacks and large water bottles since we couldn’t drink the sink water and then we were off to bed since we had an early rise the next day. 142

This is the view from the breakfast room at the top of our hotel. Breakfast and coffee were free. We were then picked up and dropped off in the plaza to go on a bus tour of the Sacred Valley. It was a truly beautiful area.

144 146 148 482817_4843736252927_1980415539_n 564317_10200475536363190_337699595_n 537355_4843744933144_2120514444_n

 

It was a very long day in the Sacred Valley, we didn’t arrive back to Cusco until nightfall where we were greeted by our travel advisers for our trip to Machu Picchu the following day. It was a really bad shock to find out that we would be picked up at 3:30 the next day… So we did the only sensible thing- had McDonald’s for dinner, grabbed some pastries for breakfast the next day, and went straight to bed.

NEXT: Machu Picchu

The Show Me State

Forgive my lack of punctuation in the title, its early in the morning. Last night after a gruesome day at work I got on a plane to visit my some of my very good friends I made in Spain!! We’ve had this trip planned since July and it’s so exciting to have it finally come to fruition. I got off the plane last night and they met me with funny face glasses and a huge poster with my name. After a really long day it was such a wonderful finish.

I just want to take a moment to talk about travelling though. I have done a fair bit of stints at the airport alone and I know this is a point of stress for a lot of people. I’m a very independent person (or selfish as HIMYM would say) so I’ve gotten very good at finding my way around airports and passing time waiting at the gate. The trick to surviving the airport alone is first to brush up on your reading skills and know the limitations of your eye sight. Everything is pretty clearly marked and the signage isn’t hard to read or understand, so go into it ready to look for road signs and pack the appropriate eyewear if you can’t see what’s coming from down the hallway. I would hate for you to be those people
standing in the middle of the hallway with no clue what they’re doing. Second, when you arrive at your gate do a loop around first to scope out the other passengers. If you see a cute boy, start hoping you don’t sit next to him so he doesn’t witness your plane-sleeping-nightmare. But it is good to find someone who looks reliable and not like a serial killer. I find that families, while often carrying noisy children, are much more bearable at the gate. This step is ESSENTIAL because if you’re saving yourself a pretty penny and carrying on your luggage if you don’t make friends at the airport you’re carrying everything everywhere the whole time. The coat that it’s way too warm to wear indoors? It could be left on the seat while that very nice family mildly monitors it from the dangers of coat thieves (who DO exist, but that’s a story for another tim e). Third, always bring something to do. ALWAYS. I have problems during winter especially with heat. I like to sleep on planes and usually it works out, but when the heat is on because its winter and it’s so damn hot in the cabin… a magazine would have been nice.

Finally, this tip gets it’s own paragraph because its essential. Noise cancelling headphones. I can’t emphasize this enough. That really nice family before who watched your coat? But also had a screaming two year old who’s apparently afraid to be on airplanes? Noise cancelling headphones. That couple who are very talkative and don’t realize they are sitting right next to each other? Noise cancelling headphones. Truly, do yourself a favor, even if you don’t fly often and feel foolish wearing them in public, you will get your moneys worth no matter what. Plus Coldplay Mylo Xoto sounds stellar with more sophisticated headphones, let’s be real.

That is my advice for today. I’ll be in Missouri until next Tuesday Nd hopefully I’ll have some video posts from my time here. Possibly?