South America » Colombia » Bogota April 12th 2018

Yes, two in one day! I don’t imagine I will have time to write something tomorrow, so here’s a couple of things from today that have cemented how nice the people are here. I went to get a custom t-shirt this morning, and the really chatty and kind young man in the trendy coffee shop which sells them took great care in explaining what I could do with each design. Turned out the t-shirt printer had broken and ‘might’ be fixed this afternoon, in which case I can have my t-shirt tomorrow before my flight. He would ask and contact me later. I thought it wouldn't be. He gave me a free coffee – yes, I spent some money on other things, but it was kind. Then I went shopping and was given a paper bag ... read more

South America » Peru » Lima » Lima » Miraflores April 12th 2018

I booked a downtown free walking tour for Tuesday morning in Lima – there seem to be lots advertised, but with very mixed reviews. This guy had the best and, despite being late (the traffic in Lima might be even worse than Bogota) it was really interesting. We took a Metropolitano bus to the downtown area – this the same ‘bus in its own lane’ thing that Bogota has (the Transmillenio), but actually has a MUCH simpler map and actual place names for stations. Things I noticed on the walking tour: There is absolutely no independent thought allowed when crossing roads. Cars 100% have priority – they have pedestrian countdowns which start at 99, and then it gets to 1 and you prepare to walk but they rollover into another 99. Which sort of defeats the ... read more
Downtown Lima
Street art in Barranco
Central - Sea Urchin with melon, razor clam and seaweed

South America » Peru » Cusco » Cusco April 10th 2018

Sunday was lazy – in between watching the US Masters and Arsenal sadly beating Southampton, I went to the Cathedral in Cusco. The square was busy with processions of all sorts - I assume just a normal Sunday in Cusco. Definitely less busy than when I was last there during their Easter celebrations, but still a hive of activity. In the Cathedral you’re not allowed to take pictures unfortunately, but I can say it is probably the most impressive Cathedral I’ve ever been in. Really highly decorated with gold and silver everywhere, and lots of artwork covering almost every inch of the walls. There is also a giant painting of the Last Supper with a cooked chinchilla on the table, for an Andean twist. Nice. Talking of food, later I ate pollo a la brasa. Which ... read more
Cathedral on the left

South America » Peru » Puno » Lake Titicaca April 7th 2018

The posh train was indeed posh. Not as posh as the Andean Explorer, which replaced this train and costs £1000s (and is a sleeper), but still. It was nearly 11 hours from Cusco to Puno, a city which sits on the edge of the Peruvian side of Lake Titicaca (which is shared between Peru and Bolivia). I had been very close to going to the Bolivian side, which I have heard is nicer, but decided to just do an easy tour from Puno of various sites over two days, rather than even more traveling. Interestingly, if you’re from the UK you get into Bolivia for free, but US citizens pay over $150. Odd. So, next time… The 11 hours passed surprisingly quickly. They provide some entertainment in the form of local dancing and music for an ... read more
Brief stop at highest point on route - La Raya - 4300m

South America » Peru April 3rd 2018

This will be very hard to sum up in a short(ish) blog, but I will try. I will start by breaking it down into trekking days. This is how I spent my Easter. Day 1 (Friday): This was a 4am start to get the bus at 5am with the rest of our group. Given it was so early, introductions couldn’t happen until we’d awakened a bit more at Ollantaytambo, a town which has a massive Inca fortress overlooking it. We weren’t there to visit that, though, but to have our first breakfast together. I found out I was joining a Canadian contingent: Two sisters from British Columbia; and a couple belatedly celebrating their anniversary from Toronto. From the outset everyone was really friendly and down to earth, and I could relax. We kicked off at what ... read more
Night 1 camp
Us with the crew
Taking a rest at Dead Woman's Pass

South America » Peru » Cusco » Cusco March 30th 2018

On Wednesday I bought the Cusco tourist ticket, which gives you entry to loads of attractions, but specifically I needed it for a tour I had booked post-Inca Trail, and also Sacsayhuaman, an Inca (though parts of it pre-date them) fort which overlooks Cusco. It was an intermittently rainy day, so I opted to do some museums included in the ticket. First up, the Contemporary Art museum. Which was basically two small rooms – one of photographs of the parade I saw the other night (though probably not this year) and not all that impressive ones, and the other contained tapestries which were good but it seemed like a strange place. It is housed in what appears to be some kind of Government building, so you have no idea where you can and can’t go, and ... read more
Contemporary Art Museum
View from Sacsayhuaman of Main Square in Cusco
View from Sacsayhuaman

South America » Peru » Lima » Lima March 27th 2018

My initial impressions of Lima were mixed. I couldn’t get any money out at the ATM by the baggage claim (my card’s fault, it turned out) which meant I then couldn’t book a prepaid taxi (or maybe I could have, but I assumed they would also be outside arrivals where I did manage to get some cash). So, this meant being ripped off by a taxi driver. Lesson learnt – either pre-book via the hotel, or bargain. I only had one night before going to Cusco, so the taxi took me to the apartment I had booked – which was right next to a park and conveniently quite close to a pizza place too…and the apartment owner was lovely. Very helpful and full of tips about both Lima and Cusco, and could take me to the ... read more
Cusco main square
Cusco from the air
Cusco cathedral

South America » Colombia » Bogota March 24th 2018

The rain threatened all day today, but only actually happened for about twenty minutes this morning, thankfully. I took the weird bus successfully (because I only know one route and I’m not going to try changing) to the museum area. Which also happens to be amongst a lot of street art, and in older part of town which is lovely to just wander around. I returned to the Botero Museum to see what I didn’t have time to see on the walking tour. It is also connected to the Art Museum and Coin Museum. I didn’t bother with the former, but the coin museum was surprisingly interesting. I didn't get it all, since most of it was in Spanish, but suffice to say the complicated history of Colombia (with the Europeans, Peruvians, Panamanians, other internal politics ... read more
Street in La Candelaria
Bread on someone's head (not actual title) - Salvador Dali
Sculpture at the Military Museum

South America » Colombia » Bogota March 24th 2018

Top of the list of places to go in Bogota is usually Mount Monserrate – it means going from Bogota’s 2600m to around 3100m either on a funicular railway, a gondola/cable car or by walking. Walking at altitude wasn’t appealing (yes, I know I will have to do this next week in Cusco, but it can wait) and the gondola was supposed to be the best way. However you get to the top, there is a spectacular 360 view of the sprawling city and the Andes alongside. To get to the ticket office from my hotel, I braved the Transmilenio again. Not so packed (though still no seat) AND I found the right bus stop straight away! However, then I realised that the sign said it didn’t stop at about 10 different stops on Mondays-Fridays. One ... read more
Finest Colombian comida
View from the top

South America » Colombia » Bogota March 22nd 2018

Although it was classified as a ‘shared tour’ to the Salt Cathedral, with a minimum of two people, it turned out I had the tour guide (aka the driver) to myself. But for the same price. When researching, this tour was expensive – usually around US$99 – but the company I found who also did the Free Walking Tour, was more reasonable and once again I guess I had been lucky. Lots of random facts along the way, mostly about how people have been forced out of Bogota into a suburb called Chia, because of the price of houses. However, of course, they still have to drive into the city because there is no decent public transport. Bogota apparently also has 89 universities, the best regarded one in Colombia (according to the driver) was the public ... read more
Sculpture at entrance to Salt Cathedral
One of the 14 stations of the cross

Tot: 2.941s; Tpl: 0.045s; cc: 11; qc: 84; dbt: 0.0977s; 2; m:saturn w:www (; sld: 2; ; mem: 1.5mb