Another long overdue post from 2016 travels!

Peru was on the bucket list for as long as I can remember.  We flew to the beautiful town of Cusco, a good place to get settled, stock up on some much-needed warmer clothing, and eat.
Cusco view from above
Roasted pig and tamale at San Pedro Market
Unfortunately, we couldn't really savor Cusco because we were met with the crushing defeat of altitude sickness. That lasted for a few days, and by the time we felt somewhat normal, we were off to begin a 3 day/2 night Sacred Valley and Inca Trail tour.  The first night we stayed in Ollantaytambo, a really relaxing backpacker village at the base of really beautiful Incan ruins.

The next morning, we took a train to a random stop in the middle of the tracks to begin the hike up to the Sun Gate.  In my limited hiking experience, I thought this was the most stunning hike I've ever done. The views throughout the trail are absolutely incredible, it's easy to forget about where you came from in a place like this.  The full day trek took about 7-8 hours, but was very manageable and the time flew by.  This was pretty easy compared with the hike we did in Laos that was advertised as "easy" but turned out to be "rock climbing".  At the end of the day, we were shuttled to a hostel in Aguas Calientes that was TERRIBLE.  At first I was furious, but after attempting to change rooms twice, I quickly realized that the entire town is a filthy tourist trap designed to rip you off.

With only about 10 days in Peru total (thank you US vacation time), we struggled with where to go from Machu Picchu.  Ultimately we opted for the relaxing route and headed to Lake Titicaca and Puno for a few days.  The bus ride there was interesting.  First the bus left 10 minutes early, leaving us to chase after it.  Then there were about 7-8 stops relatively boring stops along the old church, an old bridge, an old square, an old town filled with garbage.  This view near Puno was perhaps the highlight.

We stayed in a hotel overlooking the lake, which was a beautiful to wake up to every morning, especially when alpacas are present.  The town of Puno is very local, but had enough of the sights and decent restaurants to keep us occupied for a few hours.  The ceviche at Mareas Ceviche and Mas was delicious.  This is around the time of the trip that the food become noticeably better too.
Morning view in Puno
After a week feeling relatively unplugged, it was an eye-opening to arrive to this. 

Lima was a quick stopover on our way out of Peru, but I regret not spending more time there.  We were only able to stay and see a small portion of it, Miraflores, but it was enough to convince me that Lima is an incredible food mecca. Punto Azul has an incredible GIANT ceviche platter that was enough to put me over the edge... but it was SO GOOD.  For our last and only fancy meal, we reserved a table at Central.  Each dish featured an ingredient in a way that I felt I was discovering it for the first time again.  We ordered a la carte from the bar menu and they were nice enough to split each dish into two plates.
Roast Avocado
Glazed Octopus 
On one of our last days, we walked around the waterfront in Lima and stumbled on the charming Parque Del Amor.  The park is surrounded by tiled walls with messages from past and present loves.  I can't think of a better place to end to trip than a place like this. 


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