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Quick Getaway to Lima and Machu Picchu Before Christmas

Quick Getaway to Lima and Machu Picchu Before Christmas

Old Dec 25, 20, 2:42 pm
  #1  
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Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: LAX
Programs: AA
Posts: 16
Quick Getaway to Lima and Machu Picchu Before Christmas

So needless to say 2020 has been a crap year. Naturally, my wife and I wanted to make it more challenging and add a divorce as a cherry on top! Fast forward 10 months after all the paper work has been signed and filed and I was ready to turn the page on a new chapter. Travel has always been my salvation and I look for any opportunity to go somewhere, anywhere. I did a fair amount of domestic travel with the kids this year to Charleston, Colorado Springs and Honolulu but was ready to go internationally again. With the now ex-wife taking the kids for the first part of winter break I began plotting my journey. But where?

Going through the list of countries open to US citizens none really caught my eye until I read that Peru will be opening up Machu Picchu starting Nov 1. Done. I've been wanting to visit Machu Picchu for awhile but was turned off by the crowds and the amount of time needed to make that trip. I only had a max of six days total so it was going to be quick. Luckily for me, there aren't a lot of people clamoring to head overseas in the midst of a pandemic. With a few clicks I cashed in some AA miles in J leaving Dec 19 and back on Dec 24. Let's do this!

Saturday, Dec 19
After an early workout at my gym (outdoor only in LA County) it was a quick trip to LAX. Short visit to the priority counter to check my travel docs and we're off. With Pre Check I was airside within a couple minutes, but had to walk from T4 to TBIT where my flight was departing. Boarding started promptly at 8:10 am and was fairly orderly.

AA 369
LAX-MIA
B777-300
Seat: 4J


legroom

Bye LA!

Over Dockweiler Beach

Flight was uneventful. Breakfast was some surprisingly good scrambled eggs. Did some reading and watched a Japanese travel documentary on the IFE. Before I knew it we were on approach into Miami. With about 30 minutes before boarding the MIA-LIM leg I grabbed a chicken empanada and a cortado from the Versailles stand across from my gate.


Almost time to board

Again, boarding was on time and orderly. I was surprised at how full the flight was as it seemed as it was mostly Peruvians. I think dinner was some sort of chicken dish that was passable. Sorry forgot to take a photo. Nodded on and off a bit and spent the rest of the time watching one of my favorite movies, The Big Short.

AA 917
MIA-LIM
B787-800
Seat: 3A

Got into Lima slightly earlier at around 11:00 pm. Peru requires a negative COVID test taken within 72 hours and a health affidavit. Immigration was empty so I was through in no time. I had booked a car and the driver was waiting for me for a relatively quick (for Lima) ride to the hotel. Ever since Starwood was acquired by Marriott I've switched over to Hyatt because I like the properties better. However, Hyatt only had one option in Lima I decided to stay at the JW Marriott in Miraflores. It was just one night anyway since I would be off to Cusco the next day. The hotel is undergoing major renovation to its lobby so check-in was temporarily on the fourth floor near the restaurant. Service was excellent on arrival and they "upgraded" me to an ocean view room. I use upgraded loosely as I don't think the hotel was more than 25% occupied. Nonetheless it was much welcomed even though I didn't spend much time in the room.


View from my room taken the next morning
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marcopolo-ken is offline  
Old Dec 25, 20, 3:28 pm
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 944
Looking forward to this report. My similar trip was canceled for April 2020 and I am looking at options for 2021. I'll be curious as to the ground situation in Peru - hotels, transportation, etc. Safe travels!
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Old Dec 25, 20, 4:01 pm
  #3  
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Join Date: Feb 2009
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Sunday, Dec 20
Couldn't fall asleep until almost 2:00 am since I was still on West Coast time and was up around 8:00 am and hungry! My flight to Cusco wasn't until mid-afternoon so I had some time to explore Miraflores. After some searching I found a popular sandwich place called La Lucha Sangucheria a short walk from the hotel. They serve a variety of sandwiches, with their most popular one the chicharron. There was a line when I got there but it moved pretty fast and after a quick temperature check and spritz of hand sanitizer I ordered a chicharron sandwich with a papaya juice and took a seat.


Outside

Menu

Dining room

Chicharron sandwich with papaya juice


The sandwich was fantastic with the bread crispy outside but soft inside. The meat was juicy and flavorful with just the right amount of fat. After being thoroughly satisfied with my meal I kept walking up the street and eventually reached Central Park, which along with the adjacent Kennedy Park are full of cats.


Central Park

We will see more from this guy later

Just chillin

Church

After snooping around a bit it was time to head back to the hotel and off to the airport for my flight to Cusco. During my walk back I noticed quite a number of Chinese restaurants known as chifa. I always knew Peru had a large Japanese population, hell their former president was Japanese, but didn't know there were so many Chinese as well.


Only interesting to me since I used to live in Hong Kong

The ride to the airport took an hour due to the ridiculous amounts of traffic. Once I got there there was a never-ending line to check in. Luckily I had no checked bags so I used used the automated kiosk, got my boarding pass and headed for security. I had booked my ticket directly from the LATAM Peru website for the local fare and I had no issues as all. Took about 15 minutes to get through security and when I got to my gate there was a sea of humanity swarming it.

LATAM allows families and those needing extra time to pre-board, which seemed like half of the plane. Ironically, those of us with priority ending up boarding somewhere in the middle of the scrum. On a side note, Peru requires everyone on public transport (planes, trains, bus) to not only wear a mask, but also a face shield. I found out the hard way when I boarded and they asked me to wear my face shield. When I told them I didn't have one they kindly handed one to me. Flight was a short hour or so with some great views of the Andes.

LA 2015
LIM-CUS
A321
Seat 5F


LIM gate

Andes

Approach into Cusco

Met my driver on the gates outside the airport as only passengers are allowed in. There are a number of great hotels in Cusco and I chose the Palacio del Inka. It's right in the heart of the city across the street from the Santo Domingo church. Ride took about 10 minutes from the airport. The hotel doesn't seem like much from the outside, but once inside it is absolutely stunning. It is like a museum inside as there are paintings all throughout the hotel as well as these fantastic courtyards. My room was tiny, but the view more than made up for it. Service, just like the JW Marriott, was excellent.


Hotel exterior

Lobby atrium

Courtyard

View from balcony

I dropped my bags down and headed out to explore the city. Cusco is a very charming city with its cobblestone streets and these little alleys you explore for hours. I headed down the hill from the hotel to the main street, Ave Sol. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed a lady with a cart on the street grilling something. Those who know me know that I'm a sucker for street food. Hell if McDonald's ever opened a stall on the street I would be first in line. Anyway, I wandered over and saw that she was grilling anticuchos, the popular Peruvian meat skewers which is commonly beef heart. Of course I had to try some so I ordered one chicken and one beef. Her beef skewers were not heart, but rather the meat. That'll do for now. With some potatoes and hot sauce on the side it was a perfect snack.


Looking up toward Santo Domingo

Street vendor

Ready to eat

After wandering for an hour I decided to head back to the room and relax. Watched some Sunday Night Football and soon enough I was getting hungry. I really wanted to try pollo a la brasa, Peruvian roast chicken, and the concierge gave me a good recommendation so off I went. It was only about a five minute walk to a place called Los Toldos Chicken in the Centro Historico district. Ordered an avocado salad and a 1/4 chicken and my goodness I have to say that was one of the best chicken dishes I have ever had. It was just so juicy and flavorful from all the spices. It was the perfect meal to cap the day. Headed back to room to try and get some sleep because tomorrow was going to be a big day, but was thwarted by the altitude. I had been fine ever since I landed so of course being arrogant idiot that I am I doubled down by not drinking much water and by 1:00 am I was wide awake with a throbbing headache. Oh well, lesson learned.

Pollo a la brasa

Evening view
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Old Dec 25, 20, 7:50 pm
  #4  
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Join Date: Feb 2009
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Monday, Dec 21
After a fitful night of sleep due to the altitude I woke up ready to go. Today was pretty much the whole reason for the trip: Machu Picchu. I had booked the MP tour through the hotel which included roundtrip private car transfer from the hotel to Ollantaytambo, roundtrip train from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes, lunch at the Inkaterra hotel, bus to and from MP, a private guide and entrance ticket.

After a quick breakfast of eggs and fruit in the hotel restaurant, I met my driver in the lobby for the car ride to the Ollantaytambo train station about two hours away. Now, you might be asking why doesn't the train just run direct from Cusco to Aguas Calientes? Great question as I was thinking the same thing. Apparently during the rainy season the train doesn't reach Cusco because the vibrations caused by it will create rock slides hence the two hour car ride to Ollantaytambo.

The ride was pretty scenic if a little bumpy at times. We got to the train station about 30 minutes before departure so I walked around the vendor stalls just outside. I had forgotten that a face shield was required so I picked one up. I didn't realize there were separate trains for tourists and locals. I tried to line up for the local train and was told to walk back toward the entrance where I could board the Expedition cars for tourists. Once onboard it was clear that there were not going to be very many visitors to MP. I think my entire car had about six people. The tracks followed the Urubamba River and provided some breathtaking views of the Andes. Unfortunately, I was trying to conserve power on my phone for pictures up at MP so I didn't take many photos on the train ride.

About an hour and a half later we arrived at Aguas Calientes (aka Machu Picchu Pueblo). While the Expedition cars didn't have many people the local cars were completely full. Everyone had to get in line and pass through what I can only describe as a little sanitation tent, which sprayed you down with God-knows-what. This created a little bit of a bottleneck, but soon enough I was in town!


Stalls outside of Ollantaytambo station



Local cars in front, Expedition cars in the back

Nearly empty car

Thwarted by the river

Urubamba River

Arrived at Aguas Calientes

Waiting in line to exit

I met my guide, Rehider, at the main square just outside of the station exit. We walked around the town a bit as our lunch reservation was not until noon. We chatted about the pandemic and how it has wiped out tourism in his country and how he spent a year living in Utah to learn English. We eventually walked to the Inkaterra, which is boutique hotel of 16 bungalows set next to the river. Lunch started with a tasty salad, then grilled chicken with quinoa and flan for dessert. A delicious meal with even better conversation.

Rehider suggested we head over to the bus stop in case we had to wait in line. He said during the peak season he has had to wait up to two hours just to get onto the bus to take you up to MP! This time, however, the bus was pretty empty. And by pretty empty I mean it was just me, my guide and the driver. The ride took about 25 minutes and follows a serious of somewhat harrowing hairpin turns with nothing holding the bus from going over the side of the mountain. I really wouldn't want to be on this road when it is rainy. With a little prayer we made it to the top and about to start one of the highlights of any trip I've ever taken.


Plaza de Armas




On the bus up to MP
marcopolo-ken is offline  
Old Dec 25, 20, 10:48 pm
  #5  
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Machu Picchu
After getting off the bus we had a few minutes before our timed entry at 2:00 pm so took a look at the map of the citadel. Pre-Covid, the number of daily visitors was around 3,000, but it was limited to just 675 per day when they reopened although they bumped that number up to 1,000 as of early Dec. There are three routes you can take: red, blue or yellow. The red route is the longest and takes you on a big loop around MP, but it starts off with fairly strenuous climb up to the top of the trail made worse by the humidity and the mask. But once you reach the top it was magical. Rehider thought that rain clouds were headed in our direction, but it never materialized and it was sunny the entire time.

Since there was hardly anyone behind us we took our time exploring the grounds and taking as many pictures as I wanted. There are park employees throughout normally there to move people along, but that was not necessary today. I was just in awe that I was actually standing here after seeing this place in so many pictures. We sat in the shade as Rehider gave me a history lesson on the Incas and MP. I think we spent a good 45 minutes chatting and relaxing before making our way down to the main site. Pictures just don't do this place justice but here goes.


Map of the different routes

Waiting for our timed entry


Just stunning



We took our sweet time exploring all the different nooks and crannies of MP. I'm not exaggerating when I say that there probably no more than 60 people the entire time we were there and even that might be a stretch. Rehider said in the 13 years he's been leading tours of MP he's never seen it this empty. I was definitely blessed to have great weather and minimal crowds on my visit. Of course this doesn't happen during normal circumstances.


Looking up toward Machu Picchu point from the main site


Llama llama, red pajama. Those with young kids will understand what I'm talking about.


Once last shot before leaving MP

We ending up staying just past closing time at 5:00 pm and as we exited there was a bus waiting to take us back down to Aguas Calientes. One neat thing I'll mention is that when we entered the park, the guy checking my ticket asked if I wanted my passport stamped with the MP stamp. You're required to bring your passport to enter as apparently in the past some tour companies were just copying tickets to take more people in than allowed. Now, each ticket has your name and passport number on it. Anyway, since immigration has stopped stamping passports at LIM due to Covid (not sure why not as they still take your passport to scan) it would be cool to have a stamp of some kind in there.

Back down in Aguas Calientes and I was pretty parched from all the walking. We had about 30 mins before our train left so Rehider and I found a cafe and shared a large, cold bottle of Inca Kola. For those who haven't had Inca Kola, it's a soda that looks like pee, but tastes like bubble gum. Yeah, go figure. Anyway, it absolutely hit the spot.

Back on the train I just plugged in my headphones and zoned out. Rehider hitched a ride with me back into Cusco and we decided to grab a late dinner of pollo a la brasa. It wasn't as good as the place I went the night before, but still really good. A short walk back to the hotel and I was ready to crash. But what an incredible day and one I will remember for a long time.


Passport stamp

Inca Kola

A sight for sore eyes
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marcopolo-ken is offline  
Old Dec 26, 20, 9:14 am
  #6  
 
Join Date: May 2001
Location: (AA EXP)
Posts: 561
Wonderful trip and thank you for sharing. Lima was my last international trip with my team before Covid. Some of them went to Machu Pichu after our team meeting. I didn't want to intrude on their fun, so I didn't go. Will certainly make the trip next time.

Thanks again,
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Old Dec 26, 20, 10:35 am
  #7  
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Posts: 25,112
Really outstanding trip report. It has been over a decade since I journeyed to Machu Picchu and I want to return.

Also, I thought AA was just serving a snack box from LAX-MIA. Nice to hear that you received a full breakfast.
MatthewLAX is offline  
Old Dec 26, 20, 12:04 pm
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: SoCal
Posts: 125
Thanks for the trip report and great photos. I’ve been wanting to see MP forever too. I’d like to hike the Inca Trail and visit other parts of the country, but never can find the time. Sounds like I might want to squeeze in a short trip as soon as possible just to avoid the crowds
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Old Dec 26, 20, 2:57 pm
  #9  
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Join Date: Feb 2009
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Posts: 16
Originally Posted by lamphs View Post
Looking forward to this report. My similar trip was canceled for April 2020 and I am looking at options for 2021. I'll be curious as to the ground situation in Peru - hotels, transportation, etc. Safe travels!
Both of my hotels were operating with most services open including the gym and pool. The buffet transitioned to a plated service, but you could order as much as you wanted. I will say the traffic was pretty bad in Lima. But I attribute that to the holiday season since the government was planning to ban all private car travel on Dec 24-25 so everyone wanted to get out and shop before that.

Originally Posted by MIAFlyer View Post
Wonderful trip and thank you for sharing. Lima was my last international trip with my team before Covid. Some of them went to Machu Pichu after our team meeting. I didn't want to intrude on their fun, so I didn't go. Will certainly make the trip next time.

Thanks again,
I really enjoyed Lima. Just something about blending in with the local crowds and feeding off the energy of the city. And yes, Machu Picchu is a must next time!

Originally Posted by MatthewLAX View Post
Really outstanding trip report. It has been over a decade since I journeyed to Machu Picchu and I want to return.

Also, I thought AA was just serving a snack box from LAX-MIA. Nice to hear that you received a full breakfast.
I was a bit surprised on the LAX-MIA leg too! Everything was served on one tray with each dish plastic wrapped.

Originally Posted by strummerjones View Post
Thanks for the trip report and great photos. I’ve been wanting to see MP forever too. I’d like to hike the Inca Trail and visit other parts of the country, but never can find the time. Sounds like I might want to squeeze in a short trip as soon as possible just to avoid the crowds
The full Inca Trail was closed when I was there, the only option being the one-day trip. Even the separate hikes up to the two peaks were closed. If you can stomach traveling during this period I highly recommend it. Less crowds and prices are much lower. But I also know a lot of people who think I was crazy for flying during a pandemic and I completely understand. To each their own.
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Last edited by marcopolo-ken; Dec 26, 20 at 3:54 pm
marcopolo-ken is offline  
Old Dec 26, 20, 9:29 pm
  #10  
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Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: LAX
Programs: AA
Posts: 16
Tuesday, Dec 22
So do you remember how I said it was sunny and beautiful when I woke up yesterday? Well, today was…the complete opposite. I opened the curtains to wind and rain. Oh well. My flight back to Lima wasn’t until early afternoon so I had some time to explore the city.

After a quick breakfast of coffee, museli and fruit I grabbed an umbrella from the bell desk and was off! Last night Rehider had told me about the local market not far from the hotel. Now, the only other thing that compares to my love of street food are markets. I’m just fascinated by them. Any type market of really. Big, small, clean, dirty it doesn’t matter. I just love to watch people go about their daily lives and sample different things along the way.

After making my way to the main avenue I noticed huge lines wrapped around the block. I later found out that these people were waiting in line for their Covid relief money from the government. I was told some people starting lining up the night before to make sure they got their funds.

A short stroll later and I was at Mercado San Pedro. As with every type of business in Peru, your temperature is checked and hand sanitizer is given before you may enter.

This market did not disappoint. With soaring ceilings it seemed as if there were not that many people inside even though it was fairly busy. I just started wandering down the aisles seeing what the vendors were selling. The front half of the market was poultry, pork and other animals on one side with fresh fruit and spices and herbs on the other.

The back half of the market was dedicated to all different cuts of beef and food stalls. Now, pre-Covid I would have been all over these food stalls like a fat kid on a Snickers bar. But then I saw these people sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with no mask scarfing down food. As much as I wanted to grab a seat and join them, I just didn’t have it in me. Practicality won this battle so I just watched as everyone enjoyed their caldo de pollo and lomo saltado while I settled for a piece of coca candy.


Waiting for Covid relief funds

On the way to the market

San Pedro church

Mercado San Pedro entrance

High ceilings

Sausage making

Pork, the other white meat

Cuy, the other other white meat

Not sure what animal this is from

Hooves and snouts

Food stalls



I had hoped that the rain had subsided by the time I left the market, but no such luck. So, with umbrella opened, I forged ahead to Plaza de Armas a few blocks away. It was practically deserted due to the rain so I snapped a few pics and moved on.

As I had mentioned, Cusco has these great little cobblestoned side streets to wander down. I just started walking and found a couple shops selling little trinkets so I picked up some little things for my kids. After 30 minutes or so I decided to head back to the hotel to pack and get ready to leave. But I had one more stop to make.

We had passed by this little chocolate shop near the hotel on our way to Ollantaytambo yesterday and I vowed to go back before I left. I arrived at Origen Artesanal Chocolate and chatted with the owner who told me all the cocoa bean are grown in Cusco and processed right inside their shop. I tried many different kinds of chocolate and ended up buying way more than I should have, but it would make great gifts and also help a local business at the same time.


Plaza de Armas

Cathedral

Alleyway

Origen Chocolate Artesanal

I finished packing and grabbed a cab to the airport. Because of the rain traffic was backed up, but the driver found a bunch of side streets and alleys to bypass the congestion. Cars and non-passengers are not allowed inside the airport I got dropped off outside and walked in.

Again, the automated kiosk and security were quite fast and I was airside with plenty of time to spare. Except I didn’t see my flight listed on the screen. After about 30 minutes of waiting my flight finally popped up on the screen with the dreaded words “Delayed.”

Now, it’s one thing to be delayed, but it’s another to not know how long we were going to be delayed. The screen simply said delayed with no mention of when we would actually depart. To make things worse all the shops were closed and I was running low on battery for my phone. Luckily I found a charging station and just waited. About 30 minutes later the screen showed a new departure time 45 minutes after the scheduled time. I’ll take it.

Boarding was similar to LIM where at least half the plane was families and those needing assistance. Once on board and settled in and were soon pushing back only to have the pilot come on and tell us we would have to sit on the tarmac for an hour because of an air traffic controller strike in LIM (gulp).

I thought maybe it was some type of miscommunication and we would be on our way after 15 minutes, but we literally sat there for the full hour before wheels up for Lima.

LA 2062
CUS-LIM
A321
Seat: 5A


Departures area at CUS

Liftoff from CUS

Approach into Lima

It was an uneventful flight to Lima and once outside I grabbed a taxi to the JW Marriott. Traffic again was horrendous, taking over an hour to get to Miraflores. But once inside the hotel they greeted me warmly and thanked me for coming back. I was again “upgraded” to an ocean front room and that breakfast will be provided as well.

I was hoping to get into Lima with a little time to walk around but it was now past 6:00 pm and I was pretty hungry. I wanted to try some Japanese or "nikkei" food in Lima so did some researching and found some good choices. The first was Maido, which is on the World's Top 50 Best Restaurants list but they didn't have anything after 5:00. My second choice was Matsuei, which is where one young chef from Japan named Nobu Matsuhisa first started when he arrived in Lima. I decided to just walk in and see if I could get a table.

The walk took about 15 minutes and was great to people watch as they got ready for Christmas. The restaurant has a beautiful modern decor and I was seated promptly. All of the restaurants I went to in Peru did not have physical menus. You scanned the QR code with your phone to see the digital version.

I wanted to order a couple types of sushi, but it was not available so I just went with a wakame (seaweed) appetizer and the premium sushi set which included 12 pieces. Now, I'm not a snob by ay means but what followed was probably my most underwhelming meal the whole trip. The wakame salad wasn't even real wakame, but the packaged seaweed stuff you could get at 99 Ranch Market for three bucks a pound. The sushi was completely fine, but I guess I was expecting more from a "premium" sushi set. In their defense I probably should have taken a little more time to browse the menu after my first choices weren't available, but I was starving at that point. The dishes that were coming out for the tables around me looked much better so I probably just ordered the wrong things.


Entrance

Sushi bar

Wakame salad

Premium sushi set

After leaving thoroughly unsatisfied I was on the search for dessert. I had passed a place walking to dinner that sold churros so I made my way back, but took a leisurely stroll through Central Park first. It was very festive and lots of people were out and about.

I arrived at Manolo after they had stopped seating inside so I got an order of churros con chocolate to go and walked back up to the park to eat it. As soon as I sat down on the bench my little furry friend from the other day wandered over to sniff what I had. This clearly wasn't his first churro rodeo so he sat there patiently as I took a couple pics and dug in. Holy Sh!t that is good! The churros were hot and crispy, but when dipped in the thick, drinkable chocolate it became phenomenal. I'll put up with mediocre sushi if I could have this afterward any day! I had plenty so I offered up some to my buddy. He clearly was loving it too as he reached into my bag and helped himself to an entire one.

On a major sugar rush, I strolled through a small Christmas market they had set up next to the park. With nothing catching my eye I figured it was time to head back and call it a day. Tomorrow will be my last day in Lima and I've plenty more planned.


Central Park



Manolo

Churros con chocolate

Churro burglar

Christmas market
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Old Dec 27, 20, 10:48 am
  #11  
 
Join Date: Dec 2001
Posts: 3,146
Originally Posted by marcopolo-ken View Post
Tuesday, Dec 22
So do you remember how I said it was sunny and beautiful when I woke up yesterday? Well, today was…the complete opposite. I opened the curtains to wind and rain. Oh well. My flight back to Lima wasn’t until early afternoon so I had some time to explore the city.

After a quick breakfast of coffee, museli and fruit I grabbed an umbrella from the bell desk and was off! Last night Rehider had told me about the local market not far from the hotel. Now, the only other thing that compares to my love of street food are markets. I’m just fascinated by them. Any type market of really. Big, small, clean, dirty it doesn’t matter. I just love to watch people go about their daily lives and sample different things along the way.

After making my way to the main avenue I noticed huge lines wrapped around the block. I later found out that these people were waiting in line for their Covid relief money from the government. I was told some people starting lining up the night before to make sure they got their funds.

A short stroll later and I was at Mercado San Pedro. As with every type of business in Peru, your temperature is checked and hand sanitizer is given before you may enter.

This market did not disappoint. With soaring ceilings it seemed as if there were not that many people inside even though it was fairly busy. I just started wandering down the aisles seeing what the vendors were selling. The front half of the market was poultry, pork and other animals on one side with fresh fruit and spices and herbs on the other.

The back half of the market was dedicated to all different cuts of beef and food stalls. Now, pre-Covid I would have been all over these food stalls like a fat kid on a Snickers bar. But then I saw these people sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with no mask scarfing down food. As much as I wanted to grab a seat and join them, I just didn’t have it in me. Practicality won this battle so I just watched as everyone enjoyed their caldo de pollo and lomo saltado while I settled for a piece of coca candy.


Waiting for Covid relief funds

On the way to the market

San Pedro church

Mercado San Pedro entrance

High ceilings

Sausage making

Pork, the other white meat

Cuy, the other other white meat

Not sure what animal this is from

Hooves and snouts

Food stalls



I had hoped that the rain had subsided by the time I left the market, but no such luck. So, with umbrella opened, I forged ahead to Plaza de Armas a few blocks away. It was practically deserted due to the rain so I snapped a few pics and moved on.

As I had mentioned, Cusco has these great little cobblestoned side streets to wander down. I just started walking and found a couple shops selling little trinkets so I picked up some little things for my kids. After 30 minutes or so I decided to head back to the hotel to pack and get ready to leave. But I had one more stop to make.

We had passed by this little chocolate shop near the hotel on our way to Ollantaytambo yesterday and I vowed to go back before I left. I arrived at Origen Artesanal Chocolate and chatted with the owner who told me all the cocoa bean are grown in Cusco and processed right inside their shop. I tried many different kinds of chocolate and ended up buying way more than I should have, but it would make great gifts and also help a local business at the same time.


Plaza de Armas

Cathedral

Alleyway

Origen Chocolate Artesanal

I finished packing and grabbed a cab to the airport. Because of the rain traffic was backed up, but the driver found a bunch of side streets and alleys to bypass the congestion. Cars and non-passengers are not allowed inside the airport I got dropped off outside and walked in.

Again, the automated kiosk and security were quite fast and I was airside with plenty of time to spare. Except I didn’t see my flight listed on the screen. After about 30 minutes of waiting my flight finally popped up on the screen with the dreaded words “Delayed.”

Now, it’s one thing to be delayed, but it’s another to not know how long we were going to be delayed. The screen simply said delayed with no mention of when we would actually depart. To make things worse all the shops were closed and I was running low on battery for my phone. Luckily I found a charging station and just waited. About 30 minutes later the screen showed a new departure time 45 minutes after the scheduled time. I’ll take it.

Boarding was similar to LIM where at least half the plane was families and those needing assistance. Once on board and settled in and were soon pushing back only to have the pilot come on and tell us we would have to sit on the tarmac for an hour because of an air traffic controller strike in LIM (gulp).

I thought maybe it was some type of miscommunication and we would be on our way after 15 minutes, but we literally sat there for the full hour before wheels up for Lima.

LA 2062
CUS-LIM
A321
Seat: 5A


Departures area at CUS

Liftoff from CUS

Approach into Lima

It was an uneventful flight to Lima and once outside I grabbed a taxi to the JW Marriott. Traffic again was horrendous, taking over an hour to get to Miraflores. But once inside the hotel they greeted me warmly and thanked me for coming back. I was again “upgraded” to an ocean front room and that breakfast will be provided as well.

I was hoping to get into Lima with a little time to walk around but it was now past 6:00 pm and I was pretty hungry. I wanted to try some Japanese or "nikkei" food in Lima so did some researching and found some good choices. The first was Maido, which is on the World's Top 50 Best Restaurants list but they didn't have anything after 5:00. My second choice was Matsuei, which is where one young chef from Japan named Nobu Matsuhisa first started when he arrived in Lima. I decided to just walk in and see if I could get a table.

The walk took about 15 minutes and was great to people watch as they got ready for Christmas. The restaurant has a beautiful modern decor and I was seated promptly. All of the restaurants I went to in Peru did not have physical menus. You scanned the QR code with your phone to see the digital version.

I wanted to order a couple types of sushi, but it was not available so I just went with a wakame (seaweed) appetizer and the premium sushi set which included 12 pieces. Now, I'm not a snob by ay means but what followed was probably my most underwhelming meal the whole trip. The wakame salad wasn't even real wakame, but the packaged seaweed stuff you could get at 99 Ranch Market for three bucks a pound. The sushi was completely fine, but I guess I was expecting more from a "premium" sushi set. In their defense I probably should have taken a little more time to browse the menu after my first choices weren't available, but I was starving at that point. The dishes that were coming out for the tables around me looked much better so I probably just ordered the wrong things.


Entrance

Sushi bar

Wakame salad

Premium sushi set

After leaving thoroughly unsatisfied I was on the search for dessert. I had passed a place walking to dinner that sold churros so I made my way back, but took a leisurely stroll through Central Park first. It was very festive and lots of people were out and about.

I arrived at Manolo after they had stopped seating inside so I got an order of churros con chocolate to go and walked back up to the park to eat it. As soon as I sat down on the bench my little furry friend from the other day wandered over to sniff what I had. This clearly wasn't his first churro rodeo so he sat there patiently as I took a couple pics and dug in. Holy Sh!t that is good! The churros were hot and crispy, but when dipped in the thick, drinkable chocolate it became phenomenal. I'll put up with mediocre sushi if I could have this afterward any day! I had plenty so I offered up some to my buddy. He clearly was loving it too as he reached into my bag and helped himself to an entire one.

On a major sugar rush, I strolled through a small Christmas market they had set up next to the park. With nothing catching my eye I figured it was time to head back and call it a day. Tomorrow will be my last day in Lima and I've plenty more planned.


Central Park



Manolo

Churros con chocolate

Churro burglar

Christmas market
It seems you were not that affected by the altitude? Except with your sleep? That is what worries me.
Bretteee is offline  
Old Dec 27, 20, 10:50 am
  #12  
 
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It seems you were not that affected by the altitude except for sleep? I am concerned about the altitude.
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Old Dec 27, 20, 6:28 pm
  #13  
 
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Originally Posted by Bretteee View Post
It seems you were not that affected by the altitude except for sleep? I am concerned about the altitude.
Diamox...when used as prescribed, works well for the high altitudes. Was not a believer until I tried it in Colorado for a stay at 9500 feet. (I am an annual visitor there and always wondered why I felt awful during the first day or two. It was not until I planned my trip to Peru for April 2020-CANCELLED that I discovered Diamox.) And as I understand it, Diamox is available OTC in Peru, whereas the US requires a prescription.
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Last edited by lamphs; Dec 28, 20 at 8:17 am
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Old Dec 28, 20, 2:49 am
  #14  
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Originally Posted by marcopolo-ken View Post

Churro burglar
Too cute
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Old Dec 28, 20, 4:53 am
  #15  
pjs
 
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Originally Posted by Bretteee View Post
It seems you were not that affected by the altitude except for sleep? I am concerned about the altitude.
We went to Peru last December. We started Diamox when we arrived in Lima for 24 hours, then continued in Arequipa (7k feet) and had no issues in Colca Canyon (12k) and Cuzco (11k). MP is actually around 8k feet so easier than Cuzco.
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