Peru – Day 1 and 2

Peru – Day 1 and 2

My friend and I decided to plan a trip together back in June 2018. We didn’t have anything in mind, only that it could only be 10 days because I couldn’t be away from baby boy for much longer and it had to be in August 2018 because I had a small window between other trips and my Board service with the non-profit, National Teen Leadership Program. Since we were late in planning a trip, our options were quite limited. After contemplating Japan and realizing it was too humid now, and Morocco might be too dangerous for two girls, we opted for Peru to visit Machu Picchu. It turns out August falls in the Winter (May – September), the driest season, and therefore the best time of year to travel to Peru, especially the Cusco area and the Inca Trail in Machu Picchu. We won’t be trekking Machu Picchu but will definitely visit it on this trip. Follow us along as we make our way through Peru.

By the way, I didn’t make any of the plans for this trip. My friend planned the trip all on her own while all I had to do was just agree to show up. We don’t have tours and didn’t book any travel arrangements ahead of time…so here we go…heading south of the equator for the first time for both of us…with no real plans but to have the trip of the lifetime to celebrate my last days in my 30’s.

  • Flew out of SFO, California – 3 hours and 38 minutes flight to Dallas/Ft. Worth
  • Landed at Dallas/Ft. Worth, Texas – 7 hours and 3 minutes flight to Lima, Peru
  • Landed at Lima, Peru – 1 hour and 22 minutes flight to Cusco, Peru
  • Took a taxi for 20 Sols for both of us into town
  • Hopped onto a bus/15 passenger van for 6 Sols for both of us to take us to Urubamba
  • Rode a rinky dink Tuk Tuk towards our hotel but the driver got lost and tried to drop us off on the side of the road
  • A lady shows up out of nowhere and translates for us and tells me to get back into the Tuk Tuk and gives the guy directions to Tierra Viva Valle Sagrado Urubamba at 5to paradero Yanahura, Urubamba, Cusco, Peru
    • (Side Note: My friend found this place on Trip Advisor and we HIGHLY RECOMMEND for it’s service, hospitality, location, serenity, comfortness, beauty!!! And we only paid 220 USD (I erroneously wrote 210 Sols) for 3 nights.)
  • Buffet lunch at the hotel restaurant followed by a nap and then a lovely dinner of Ceviche and Grilled Trout

Day 1, Monday – San Francisco to Peru Travel

I arrived at the SFO airport at 1:05pm for our 3:32pm flight. My friend took BART and the AirTrain so it took her a bit longer to get to me and she arrived at 1:36pm. We flew American Airlines and since we had a connecting flight in Dallas/Ft. Worth, we flew out of Terminal 2 at the Domestic Terminal. Once we checked in at the kiosk, it printed all three boarding passes for the three connecting flights.

Our planned 3 hour and 38 minute flight to Dallas/Ft. Worth was uneventful except we did depart earlier and arrive earlier than scheduled. My friend learned that if all board early, we can leave early!!! Good thing we were the second to last couple to board. We arrived with no issues and took the tram to Terminal C. The train ride was fast and my friend took a video of it. It was a quiet evening at the Dallas airport at 9:10pm. Fridays let me eat my Napa Farms Market salad there and I had a glass of Kendall Jackson white wine to wash it down. Funny that we went all the way to Texas to have wine at a NY chain. They had a ton of staff and lousy service. The guy next to us was on the same flight and for some reason, everyone who arrived after him got their food before him so he was rather upset. The bartender did comp his meal and packed it to go since we had to get on the plane.

Day 2, Tuesday – Arrival in Peru

The flight to Lima, Peru was pleasant and they fed us a pretty decent dinner of Chicken and Orzo with Salad and breakfast of Greek Yogurt with Granola and Coffee Cake. That 7 hour and 3 minute planned flight also landed earlier than scheduled so that was great because we had to figure out how to get my luggage and check in again. At the Lima airport, you go through Immigration and get your passport stamped. Then they make you walk through their food court to get to your checked luggage so look for the Domestic Checked Luggage signs. This is where things start to get confusing. Once you get past someone who checks your passport against your boarding pass, you grab your luggage at the carousel and someone checks your airline luggage tags against the tags on your luggage. We asked someone for help and she directed us “to go through any door”. We were confused because it looked like you were entering into a car rental facility and exiting, but you actually walk past all the hustlers and exit onto the sidewalk and go back in through Door 6.

Then we were confused again because our boarding passes said American Airlines so we were directed to the American Airlines counter #56 but got turned away with unclear directions. We asked for help once more and this time, we were directed to the counters with blue screens because the flight was Operated by LATAM AIRLINES PERU LA 2013. We checked in and dropped off my bag and were handed new boarding passes.

After going through security, we walked to our gate and then charged our phones at a Samsung charging station. Samsung is super big down here and they logo is a much bigger font on the TVs. Anyhow, we delayed getting in line for the bus to take us to the plane for our flight to Cusco as much as we could. Then we all just packed into a bus and waited for what seemed like forever. We off-boarded and climbed up the slippery stairs of the plane and we got ready for our last leg of flights. My back was already hurting from the 7 hour flight so I was pleased to find that this flight was only 1 hour and 22 minutes to Cusco. The only thing with this flight was that only water was free. You had to pay for coffee or tea.

The Cusco airport is super small. We made our way to my luggage, grabbed it, went potty, and withdrew some Sol from the ATM which my friend talked to the info desk to find out how to get to where we needed to go. FYI, 3 Sol = 1 USD so you divide the Sol price by 3 to get your dollar conversion. They told us that the cheapest way to get to our hotel was to take a tax to a street called Pavitos and then a bus. We had to haggle with a taxi to drive us to the bus for 10 Sol per person. We didn’t have change but the taxi driver was nice enough to wait for us to break the 50 Sols with the bus operators. Their version of a bus is a large passenger van that fit 15 people.

They threw my luggage on top of the van and we packed in with the other 13 already onboard and headed to Urubamba. Somehow, we both managed to take short naps through the windy roads and only woke up as people got dropped off one by one along the way to our stop. I had no idea where we were going and I let it be, no seat belt and all. Once in a while, I caught a glimpse of people walking around in their thing puff coats and ear muffs. It wasn’t that cold, hovering around the low 60’s but definitely jacket weather.

We stopped for people to get out and suddenly my friend says, we were in Urubamba and we’re supposed to get off too so we did. We went into the little fueling station so I could buy a snack because I was starving by then. She asked for help and one of the cashiers put us in a Tuk Tuk which is like a little fiat looking thing with no seat belts. They said it was 3 Sol for the ride to the resort. I thought, it’s so beautiful out here and I resorted to the fact that I might die in this Tuk Tuk if one of these big trucks or cars whizzing by actually slams into us.

We went for about 30 minutes and then the Tuk Tuk driver got a tad lost. He made two U-turns and asked people for help to no avail. Then he decided to pull over and opened my door from the inside to tell us to get out. We didn’t understand what he was saying in Spanish but caught a few words like “taxi” and “otra”. I got out of the Tuk Tuk with my backpack and miraculously a lady holding the hand of the baby came up to ask us in broken English where we wanted to go. I don’t where she came from but she just showed up out of nowhere. She communicated for us and recommended that we take the Tuk Tuk and have the guy drive us to the resort because it was cheaper than the taxi. She told him where to drive us and she said that it was 40 minutes away. It was actually only 15 thank goodness because my back was killing me.

After passing some older brick buildings with a few dilapidated ones sprinkled in and turning onto a dirt road and riding along for a few minutes, we then made a left onto another dirt road and arrived at 11:15pm in front of a private wooden gate and voila, it was the Tierra Viva Valle Sagrado Urubamba at 5to paradero Yanahura, Urubamba, Cusco, Peru (+51) 945 587 278. The gates opened up and a man came out to greet us and what we saw behind the gates was beautiful. They had us sit down and enjoy some tea in their wonderful contemporary wooden lobby while they checked us into the hotel. The really friendly host came and sat with us and went over the amenities. We have free breakfast, but lunch and dinner are not covered though we get 10% off. They have a spa with prices in USD and she said they have alpacas on the premises. So far, the service has been amazing.

The same man who greeted us took our bags to our room which was on the 3rd floor. We went out to the deck to take it all in. It’s absolutely breathtaking and so serene. We used the WiFi to check in with folks back home, send some emails, washed up and eventually headed down to the restaurant for lunch. On our way, we walked around the nicely manicured grounds and took pics with the alpacas sunbathing in front of the restaurant.

The buffet lunch was very tasty with a selection of salads and cold vegetables and quinoa, soup, hot entrees of Chicken, Beef, and Pork and vegetable sides, dessert and fruit. We were the only ones eating and there was a ton of food set out. We sat outside to enjoy our lunch. It cost 125 Sol before tip so about $40 for both of us.

After lunch, their WiFi went down when the wind picked up outside, so we took a nap. I’m not a napper but I hardly slept on the plane so a nap sounded nice especially since my friend looked so comfy in her twin bed under the blankets. It was super duper windy and the wind was howling loudly with the trees swaying in many directions. We finally woke up at 5pm and decided to take advantage of their WiFi again. Then we went to check out their spa. It was very nice inside and we will make reservations tomorrow.

When we first arrived at the restaurant for dinner, we were he first ones there but then others slowly trickled in. We talked about our day and the little adventures that got us here. The Trucha Ceviche (ceviche made with trout) was delicious! It had a little kick to it. My friend said it was the best ceviche she’s had and she had a lot in Belize. Then we shared the Trucha Salmonada (grilled trout) with a side of Salad. Both were really good and the portions were just right for us to share. I had a nice glass of white wine too. The service at the restaurant was even better at dinner time than at lunch. The meal cost us 102 Sol before tip so roughly $34.

After dinner, we had tea in the lobby in front of the warm fireplace and just hung out. We laughed about our Tuk Tuk ride and how we almost got dumped on the side of the road. The wind completely died down and we walked back to our room. We had very warm showers and watched some CNN tonight before laying in bed to talk to my baby over Google Hangout and to write this blog post.

Today was a great day. Good night!