Picture: My parents and I strolling through the streets of Cusco, Peru by one of the people in our tour group 🙂
Summer 2019 changed my life. My trip to Peru opened my eyes to so many new things and allowed me to learn so much more about the world I live in. I have loved creating this series about the places I’ve been and their highlights, and today we are talking about Peru. We spent about two weeks exploring various regions of Peru, and I can’t wait to share my adventures with you…
The first highlight isn’t a place or a site; it’s the people. Everywhere we went and everyone we met were so warm and welcoming. The people there shaped our trip and left a lasting impact on our vacation. They let us learn with them and they welcomed us into learning their culture.
A lot of the highlights from this trip were not simply the places we went, they were the experiences we didn’t intend on having. It was the people we met, wandering aimlessly through the streets of Lima, Cusco, and beyond. It was the exploration of the markets and experiencing the culture first hand that made all of these places a highlight. It was helpful that we had a tour guide who taught us about the culture, the history, and the spirituality of Peru.
Peru is what I would describe as a natural beauty. My great love for this country simply came from the adoration I have for the hillsides, the flora, and the fauna. Walking through Cusco and Puno, especially, there is a sense of purity in the untouched parts of Peru. You can tell that the people there had a great love and appreciation for maintaining what Mother Earth gave them and it’s a remarkable thing to get to witness.
We spent a lot of time getting to know Lima. The city is so full of life and is always bustling with people and traffic. We went into Lima two different times (once at the beginning and once and the end of our trip) and both times were an absolute treat. Lima is a city full of color and light. There are 43 districts in Lima (each with its own mayor) and all of them have their own distinct features that are different from the rest.
Plaza de Armas (Lima)– On our first full day in Lima, we were greeted by the beautiful yellow buildings in that Plaza. If you’ve been here a while and read the other travel posts, you would know that wandering is my favorite thing to do. Here we were able to meander through different alleyways and stop into a few shops, grab a yummy bite to eat, and take in all of the beauty the Plaza had to offer.
Parque del Amor- If you read my Spain and Its Highlights post, you would note that one of my highlights was Park Guell, created by Gaudi. Parque del Amor took inspiration from Gaudi and you can tell. This park overlooks the ocean below and is filled with colorful tiles that take after the creations of Gaudi. We visited this park a few times. It’s safe to say we loved it.
Huaca Pucllana- These are ruins from the Pre-Incan times and you can book a tour of these ruins and then experience a meal unlike any other. The restaurant at Huaca Pucllana is named one of the best in the world, and I couldn’t agree more. We sadly missed the timing for our tour but it was all made up for with delicious meal we had overlooking the lit-up pyramid. Truly an eating experience I will never forget.
Parque Miraflores/Kennedy Park– It’s no secret by now that my family and I love walking through parks, and this park follows suit. There are various flower beds, musicians, and benches to people watch scattered throughout this beautiful park. In such a bustling city, time stood still. This park is also known as “Cat Park” as a lot of stray cats call this park their home. It’s a truly wonderful place to hang out.
Cusco taught me so much about the history of Peru going all the way back to the Incas, including their spirituality and how they connect to Mother Earth. Cusco shaped a lot of the way I view my spirituality. It was the place that started a spiritual enlightenment and brought me to a new level of how I view the world and changed how I think. (If you want to hear about that spiritual enlightenment you can listen/read about it here)
Alpaca Wool Demonstration- We were able to visit a place that shows you the process of dying, weaving, and creating garments out of the wool. They use natural colorings found in nature to make cozy sweaters, shawls, beanies, and more. The alpaca wool regulates your body temperature, keeping it warm in the cold and comfortable in the heat.
Moras and Moray- Unfortunately you can no longer get up close to these salt flats due to tourists mistreating the flats, but you can still see and buy the salt from the flats, you just can’t get close. It was unlike anything I have ever visited. We got to learn about the process of making the salt and see how absolutely stunning it is on the hillside. We were able to sample the various salts and try chocolate that’s also produced in the area. This excursion also brought us to see the Incan ways of agriculture and how they were able to climate control various crops.
Machu Picchu- I think this one goes without saying as it is one of the great wonders of the world. It was truly magnificent to see it up close and personal. Our tour guide told stories about its history and got to see all of the little details scattered throughout the monument. It was a once in a lifetime experience that I am so pleased to have been able to see.
Ollantaytambo- A town and monument in the Sacred Valley. Here we got to climb up the 260 steps to the top of the temples that honored Mother Earth. We were in the town at the same time of festivals, so we were greeted by parades of children dressed in colorful outfits and telling the stories that make up their history.
Plaza de Armas (Cusco)- The main plaza of Cusco filled with people practicing for the festival performances, delicious eateries, and drenched with the spirit of those around us. We spent our spare moments walking around the plaza and visiting the shops and peeking into all that the Plaza had to offer.
Shaman– We visited a Shaman as part of an excursion during our time in Cusco. This played a large part in my own spiritual awakening. We learned that in Cusco, while they identify as Catholic, they integrate a lot of the Incas spirituality into their life. In a way, merging two different spiritual realms. Here, a Shaman set up an offering for us to give to the Gods and grant us blessings. It was a powerful experience, one that I can’t even begin to explain or understand. All I know is that it was powerful enough to have my mom and I end up in tears with no reason for crying.
The Cusco Market- After our time with the Shaman, we visited the local market. Anywhere you go I recommend visiting a local market, it unlocks a lot about the food the people eat, and therefore tells you a lot about their culture. Here my parents, myself, and two tour guides had a more private tour of the city. All of us got to be in each other’s company while trying passion fruit (my life changed after I tried it), apples native to that region of Peru, different health supplements/herbal remedies to aid different ailments, and so much more. We got to see the hundreds of potato varieties and learn about what makes the local cuisine so unique. This was one of my favorite parts of the trip.
Cemetery- This is a little… odd to say the least. Hear me out. Along with the private tour of the city we got to visit the local cemetery. Like looking at how people view food, how people treat death is a telling aspect to people’s culture while also providing a dive of sorts into history. I travel to experience different cultures, and this is one of the ways to do so. They treat death differently than how we do here in the States. Every Sunday, the family gathers with a meal and eats at the burial site of their departed, reserving a plate for them too. They also change out the gifts, offerings, and floral arrangements to keep the final resting place as comfortable as it can be. This was another experience I will never forget.
Our last stop before heading back to Lima before flying home was Puno. Here we got to take a more relaxed and slowed time on our trip. We of course frolicked around the city taking in all of its different buildings, people, and landmarks. The city rests on the bank of Lake Titicaca and we had an exceptional view of the lake (and sunsets) from our hotel.
Uros Floating Islands- When we weren’t meandering through the city, we took a boat to Uros Floating Islands, a set of manmade islands inhabiting a group of native peoples called the Uros. These islands were quite a cool experience to see how the people live their traditional way of life while also merging their lives with the technology on the mainland. There is also a lot of debate about the authenticity of the islands (that’s an issue to take up in an ethical tourism class), but a cool experience nonetheless.
Along with the people and the environment, the food in Peru was out of this world. Some of my favorite meals were the meals I consumed in Peru. It has such a diverse culinary scene and is home to some of the top restaurants in the world. I’m a huge foodie, so this was heaven on all levels.
I hope you enjoyed this little trip to Peru with me! Don’t forget to stay vibin!!
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