Page 6 of Spurins Travel Blog Posts


South America » Ecuador » North » Quito » Historical Center March 11th 2019

Today we’re going sightseeing in Quito – primarily churches as most tourist attractions are shut on Mondays. The Colonial South American town centre is so formulaic I could walk it in my sleep; main plaza with cathedral and government palace. On either side, plazas containing the churches of San Francisco and Santo Domingo. And somewhere in the middle, the Jesuits, who took a vow of poverty but coated their churches liberally with gold. We try to start in the main square but there is a demonstration underway. The square is completely blocked off and circled by riot police. More and more people are arriving and most are wearing surgical masks. And I don’t think they’re doctors…. We bypass the square and head for the enormous Basilica del Voto Nacional. The old man decides to climb the ... read more
Basilica del Voto Nacional
Basilica del Voto Nacional
Basilica del Voto Nacional

South America » Ecuador » North » Quito » Historical Center March 10th 2019

Another interrupted night due to: 11 am – old man returning from his trip. 4 am – text from daughter number one. Both my daughters have A level maths but neither seem able to calculate time zones. 2.30-6.30 am – getting up to check on daughter number two’s progress on Barcelona Marathon App. Regular intervals all night – neighbours using the hairdryer. Either they have some weird hairdressing fetish or they’re holding it under the smoke detector so they can smoke in bed without evacuating the hotel (again). In the morning we head for the airport for our flight to Quito, the world’s second highest capital. We’re going 800 miles further north and 2850 metres higher in altitude. It’s been a long trip so it feels good to be flying 800 miles closer to home. Once ... read more
Plaza de Santo Domingo
La Ronda
La Casa de los Geranios

South America » Peru » Lima » Lima » San Isidro March 9th 2019

I have an interrupted night’s sleep due to: 3 am – texts from daughter number two. 4 am – the old man leaves for an 18 hour coach/boat trip. I have spent enough time on a bus recently so opt out. 5 am – the fire alarm goes off. I go to the foyer in my pyjamas, only to be told not to worry, it’s just someone smoking in bed. It’s our last day in Peru with its stinking beaches and salty food. I can see why Paddington (a) wanted out and (b) stuck to marmalade sandwiches. After a few more hours sleep, I get up, have breakfast (jam sandwiches) and set off down the Malecon in the opposite direction to yesterday. First stop, the Lugar de la Memoria (full title – Place of Memory, Tolerance ... read more
Lugar de la Memoria
Lugar de la Memoria
Lugar de la Memoria

South America » Peru » Lima » Lima » Miraflores March 8th 2019

Today we are having a quiet day, just wandering round Miraflores. We walk along the Malecon for a couple of miles through the line of parks, until we reach Larcomar; a shopping mall built into the cliff side. On the way we find Paddington Bear – who knew he’d made it back to Peru? Then we walk back through Miraflores via the central park, which might be called Parque Kennedy, or may be named after some random date. Here, dozens of very well fed stray cats live amongst the flower beds. We stop at Café Buena Vista for a drink and a microwaved empanada. Not the best lunch, but the café is on a cliff overlooking the ocean, so at least it’s not kidding about the view being good. We spend the afternoon watching tennis on ... read more
Malecon
Malecon
Malecon

South America » Peru » Lima » Lima » Lima March 7th 2019

Today we are going sightseeing in Lima. For the first time in days, no early morning alarm or eating breakfast with one eye on the time. We have the luxury of a lie in (minus the texts from daughter number 2 at 3 am). The old man wimps out of using public transport, so we take a taxi into town. We start at the art museum (MALI) which takes us on a brief chronological tour of 3000 years Peruvian art. The Spanish colonial art is fun; indigenous artists weren’t allowed to sign their work, some got round this rule by painting their faces into the picture. It’s like playing a religious game of ‘Where’s Wally’? Then we walk the length of the old city through Plaza San Martin to Plaza de Armas where we stop to ... read more
MALI - angry pot
MALI - Funeral of Atahualpa
MALI - spot the artist

South America » Peru » Lima » Lima » Miraflores March 6th 2019

Today we are flying to Lima. I’m so looking forward to returning to sea level – very sea level as our hotel is only 400 metres from the ocean. We are back to flying with LATAM, the only airline we have used in South American without problems. And sure enough, we are due to land at 11.06, and by 11.07 we are sitting in a taxi en route to our hotel. We are staying in Miraflores, an upmarket suburb by the Pacific. The hotel is nice but backs onto a scrap metal yard, so is rather noisy during the day. But if you peer over the car wrecks, you can just glimpse the ocean. After lunch in the neighbouring chicken shop, we go for a walk on the promenade which runs along the cliff top. It’s ... read more
Miraflores Malecon
Miraflores Malecon
Miraflores Malecon

South America » Peru » Cusco » Machu Picchu March 5th 2019

Today we are going to Machu Picchu. We have to get up at 5 am for a second consecutive day, added onto a 17 hour overnight coach journey and I would be flagging, apart from the fact that the drop in altitude has rejuvenated me. Machu Picchu isn’t cheap; train £268, hotel £73, entry £75 and bus to the entrance £37. That’s £453 for a 4 hour visit. And that doesn’t take into account the cloning of our credit card whilst purchasing the tickets. We get to the bus queue by 5.30. It’s very busy but well organised with a constant stream of buses, so we are on our way within 10 minutes, driving the 5 mile uphill zigzag to the entrance, trying to avoid pedestrians too tight to pay $24 to be driven up a ... read more
Machu Picchu at dawn
Alpacas at Machu Picchu
Alpacas at Machu Picchu

South America » Peru » Cusco » Aguas Calientes March 4th 2019

Today we are taking the train to Machu Picchu Pueblo. I’m looking forward to this for 2 reasons; (1) it’s the start of our visit to Machu Picchu, one of the 7 Wonders of the World and (2) it’s 2000 m above sea level, that’s a mile lower than anywhere we’ve been in the past 10 days. Train tickets aren’t cheap - we’ve paid almost £300 - yet a big chunk of the journey consists of a bus replacement service due mudslides making the track impassable. We leave at 6.15 am, taking a bus to Ollantaytambo 50 miles away. I’m surprised how much of the bus journey involves climbing (most of the first hour, in fact). After an hour we stop at a viewpoint amidst snow capped mountains. Then we reboard the bus and begin to ... read more
Chinchero Mirador
Chinchero Mirador
Hats

South America » Peru » Cusco » Cusco March 3rd 2019

Today we are going on a tour of Cusco and surroundings; Circuit No 1. Tickets to attractions are sold in packages so you can’t pay to visit just one site. So our circuit consists of Sacsayhuamán (the bottom of an Incan fort – the Spanish removed the top to build their cathedral), Qenqo (an ancient temple), Puca Pucara (ruins of an Incan military site) and Tambomachay (an Incan baths with aqueducts and waterfalls) and, of course, the obligatory stop at a gift shop where they sell llama wool products. At the end of the tour, we are dropped off at the edge of town and have to walk back through the main square. It’s carnage. It’s carnival – this basically means that everyone has either a can of foam or a water pistol and we have ... read more
Sacsayhuamán
Sacsayhuamán
Sacsayhuamán

South America » Peru » Cusco » Cusco March 2nd 2019

We finally reach Cusco just before 6 am. It has taken 24 hours, 3 taxis, 2 buses and a ferry. We are tired, hungry, thirsty and smelly so it’s a relief to check into our hotel. After we have regrouped, we go for a wander round Cusco. It’s very pretty with cobbled streets, plazas and plenty of old churches and other buildings. But it’s hard work dodging the hundreds of touts and vendors. Especially as my back has not coped well with the 17 hour bus journey. I go to a pharmacy and ask for something for backache. I am offered some huge pink tablets that look like they could tranquillise an elephant. She’s disappointed when I opt for just Paracetamol. In the afternoon I retire hurt while the old man goes off to do important ... read more
Plaza de San Francisco
Plaza Regocijo
Plaza de Armas




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