TRAVEL. As a couple travel is on our top 5 most important things list. Not only do we feel like it’s important to have something to look forward to and work towards, but seeing other places, experiencing other cultures, and getting out of our comfort zone is what makes us tick.
This year our travels took us and 6 of our friends to Peru. Our first stop: CUSCO.
Cusco’s plaza is not only rich in history, but filled with simply breathtaking architecture, local flavor, and the bustle of city life.
Because of the altitude, most people feel dizzy and short of breathe upon arrival to Cusco and we instantly fit into that majority after stepping off the plane. Luckily, the locals pass out coca leaves in every restaurant, hotel, and street corner for you to chew or (more preferably) to drink as tea. (Marissa found it disgusting, but choked it down anyway.)
Huffing and puffing (because of the altitude…seriously it makes you feel out of shape!) we did our first big climb and reached a city outlook for our first glimpse of Cusco.
We hit our first patch of rain and to avoid the slick streets and steps we quickly found shelter. Luckily, to pass the time, Roberto found us a street food vendor where we tried the local BIG corn on the cob.
Our tours took us to all sorts of amazing Inka ruins.
The incredible thing to point out here is that the Inka’s actually carved these stones by hand, dragged them from a quarry several miles away and placed them in perfect precision without using anything in-between such as mortar. AND they are still standing.
Traveling the countryside to find more ruins…
Onto the Pisco market to haggle and buy from local weavers and carvers.
These llama keychains were a group favorite. Erik ended up with 5 by the time we left Peru.
We got our workout (think stairclimber) on this tour.
Our next stop: MACHU PICCHU The most fantastic part of our trip was waking up before dawn and trekking up to Machu Picchu, “the last city”, before sunrise. Absolutely stunning, although that doesn’t even capture it. When we saw it for the first time our whole group was speechless.
Our biggest group challenge was climbing Huaynu Picchu (see the mountain behind us in the photo above? Yep, that’s it.). We all made it to the rocky top, each of us with our own trials and tribulations, but we made it! (Below: Erik’s view from the top.)
From Cusco to Puno the view out the window wasn’t too shabby either.
Our next stop: PUNO & LAKE TITICACA
Our adventure continued, just the two of us, onto a boat in the middle of Lake Titicaca.
Our boat stopped at a floating island, Uros, where we road a reed boat, spoke with the families, and got a glimpse into life on the beautiful island.
Each island we visited on the lake had these incredible views.
One night we stayed with an island host family. We had to get a photo of the door sizes. Erik hit his head 3 times going in and out.
We met some wonderful French friends and the middle daughter of our host family.
Soccer is big here. Erik fit right in.
A night hike landed us on the top of an island where we watched thunderstorms rolling in.
Getting on the boat headed back to Puno and the airport. Our trip came to an end.
What a phenomenal leaning experience, cultural explosion and special trip we will remember forever. Thanks Peru.
And a special thank you to our traveling buddies- Roberto, Hisam, Giselle, Henry, Jinah and Michael. It wouldn’t have been the same without you all. ~Erik & Marissa