Machu Picchu and Waynapicchu

Machu Picchu and Waynapicchu

Kyle and Emily completely hooked us up on this adventure!  They booked hostels, train rides and reserved Waynapicchu tickets all from Seattle. Booking anything for Machu Picchu is hard because your not really sure the best way or best price because there are so many options but kyle sorted it out perfectly.

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We took a fabulous 3 hour train ride from Cusco to Aguas Calientes (closest town to Machu Picchu).  From there we all bunked up in a dorm room and woke up at 4:45am to catch the bus up the mountain to the entrance of Machu Picchu.  The gates opened at 6am and there was lines of people pushing to get in first.  The people who walked up the mountain to get there were sweaty and looked a bit miserable…. Good thing we bussed!  We also saw tons of people that were attacked by the mosquitos,  bites covered their poor arms and ankles.  Emily’s 90% deet she brought saved us from being completely covered.

We got in the gate and had an hour to make it to Waynapicchu the mountain looking down on Machu Picchu.  We walked in amazement at the Inca ruins and tried to ease drop on English tours to hear the history.  We did pretty well I think we at least caught half the tour.  Hahaha

Waynapicchu was a hard but extremely gorgeous 4 hour hike up to the top and around the mountain side.
Now for the pictures!

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Lima markets

Lima markets

On Sunday there was a market going on right next to our place in Barranco that reminded me so much of Seattle.  The market was full of samples and vendors who were making there own jellies,  humus, tapanades, soups you name it. Of course they were all organic and some vegan.

After we headed over to China Town to hit their market central and eat amazing Asian food!  The market had everything you could think of. From trinkets to dresses to aprons and so much more.  The food court was full of huge slabs of beef,  hanging chickens and rows of slimy fish.  The smell is the worst part but very interesting to see all the types of meats.

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Since we now had a huge appetite after the smelly market we headed to a Chinese restaurant for our feast.  We ate Hum bois, roasted duck with plum sauce, fried rice and garlic chicken then rolled out of there with our top buttons on our pants undone.

Lima was full of exploring neighborhoods and eating amazing foods.

Here is our walking route:

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Peru adventures with Kyle and Emily!

Tevin left us in Santiago, Chile and the same day we met Keith’s brother and girlfriend in Lima,  Peru.  Kyle booked us an amazing apartment in the Barranco district that looked out over the water and had a huge living space.  The first night we got in late like 2am and then slept in the next morning to make up for it.

Keith and I ran to the super mercado to make a feast for breakfast.  I found juicing oranges and was so excited to make fresh oj for our first day in Peru. IMG_2881 IMG_2883 IMG_2885

After a lazy day we explored the Barranco area and found a cute restaurant for dinner.  They had an amazing band playing with all sorts of instruments and it was funky jazz style.  Our favorite instrument was the washboard, it was so impressive.  Although I think Emily liked the tap dancing the best!

Every morning Kyle and I got up to run and I just loved getting outside to start my day.  There was a perfect path going along the water for as long as you wanted to run.  Great running town!

On Emily’s birthday Kyle treated us all to a fabulous amazonian dinner at La Maza. We ate and drank like kings and queens! We started with the snails,  chicken rolls and jumbo shrimp then shared lomo saltado (sautéed meat and veggies) and a fish curry dish.  We were stuffed and headed home to play cards.  Keith and Kyle went to grab beers and came back with churros for dessert!! These churros got rated the best in Lima and wow they were melt in your mouth good.

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On Sunday there was a market going on right next to our place that reminded me so much of Seattle.  The market was full of samples and vendors who were making there own jellies,  humus, tapanades, soups you name it.

Valparaiso

Valparaiso

Valparaiso is about a 3 hour bus ride west of Santiago and is right on the coast.   It’s a port town and still has strong influences from the Navy.  There are funky artistic graffiti paintings all over town making it so much has fun to explore and a complete sensory over load.  Valparaiso is also build on the hillsides of the coast which creates amazing views everywhere you go.
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Watch out for the pee filled streets….. Men pee everywhere and anywhere in Chile.  You get whiffs of pee in most of the streets and you can typically see men peeing in bushes or on walls.

Here are just a few of the view points and spectacular graffiti works we passed by:

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Brunching!!  My favorite day was when we went to this lovely cafe that looked out over the town and had views of the water. The cafe just felt nice and comfortable when you walked in.  We knew this was going to be a long leisurely brunch right when we sat down and we all ordered bloody Mary’s!

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IMG_2749Towards the end of our outing a Brazilian musician started serenading us.  We decided we needed a fancy latte and stick around a little longer to enjoy the music.  Perfect ending to our 2.5 hour brunch.

Our first night we stumbled across this art event that was promoting a bring your own drinks and enjoy dinner at a cute specialty burger restaurant.  These were not just any burger they were fancy gourmet burgers and we ordered delicious calamari to start too.  The upstairs patio was full of Chileans socializing and enjoying the night views of the city.  So wonderful to be apart of a local event.  Later on the downstairs turned into a night club scene and everyone was getting there groove on.

Our first three days in Valparaiso we stayed close to the water so I thought it was a perfect place to go for morning runs….. The board walk was quite grimey and in places I had to run  close to the busy roads.  However, there were parts that were gorgeous and I had amazing views of the water.  Then to top it off I was 3 minutes from home and I tripped on one of the many uneven sidewalks and went down hard! My iPod seemed to be the first thing to smash the ground then I rolled to my hip.  A cracked Ipod and a blow to my ego is how I ended that run.

More pics!

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Hot and Dusty in the Atacama Desert, Chile

Hot and Dusty in the Atacama Desert, Chile

Hope on a two hour flight,  grab an hour transfer van and bam we were in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile.

Our hostel patio
Our hostel patio

This tiny town is based off tourism and has four main roads filled with vendors selling tours.  It was a bit overwhelming due to the aggressive haggling going on.  We had four days to get our fill of the desert and get out of the heat.  After some research on best tours we decided the geysers were a must and we booked a 5am tour to go check them out.  Well when 5:45am the next day came and no bus picked us up we were a bit pissed.  Back to bed….. Keith and I went to the office to complain and see what happened and they were shocked to see us.  Three others got on the bus and accidentally took our spot.  They offered us free bikes that afternoon and to do the tour the next day.  It was an OK solution.

It just so happened to be international yoga day and they had free yoga in the Plaza all day! Keith went to a morning class with me and we were the first of 5 to show up.  It’s a bit challenging to have Spanish instructions but so good for us to practice.

That afternoon we road out to Valle de La Luna and watched the sunset fall over the desert valley.  It was a hard 20 mile ride in the wind and on mountain bikes but so worth seeing the amazing landscape.  We got to see the crazy rock formations, sand dunes, and salt deposits along the ride.

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It’s named Valley de la Luna because it has luner like landscapes with pink streaked mountains and amazing sunsets.

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We grabbed a few beers and hit the sack.  Tomorrow was another attempt at the geysers!  They showed up!! The bus took two hours to get us to the highest geysers in the world at 4320meters (14,173 ft)  above sea level.  There were over 80 different geysers spread through out this area all going off at different times.  It’s the third largest geyser field in the world.  We walked around for a bit exploring and watching then had a light breakfast.  At breakfast a lady passed out due to the altitude and a week before a Belgium lady fell into the geysers while trying to take a photo.  Unfortunately,  she passed away from the severe burns.

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After breakfast we moved to a different area that had a hot pool you could get into.  We jumped into our swim suits and enjoyed the warm water.

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About 1 we arrived back at our hostel exhausted.  It was so hot out though and I was dying to find a pool.  We found a public pool just 3miles away, so we hopped in a taxi.  We were three of seven people there and the water felt so refreshing.  After making friends with another couple they gave us a ride home.  The Chileans have been so friendly and helpful.

The last night in the desert we did a bit of bar hopping.  First a pisco cola in a cute outdoor patio, then a bottle of wine and a lasagne appetizer and finally we stumbled across a restaurant with live music to finish the course.  Great last night out in the desert.  The desert has a very conservative community and all bars close at midnight.  Fine by us I was usually tired by then!

Bike rides, wine tours, and football what more do you need!

Bike rides, wine tours, and football what more do you need!

Our last few days in Santiago were just perfect!

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We rented cheap bikes and road along the river that flows right through the heart of the city.  There were bike paths and parks for miles along the river and we loved seeing all the art work on the cement walls,  historical statues in the parks and street vendors that lined the roads.  Finally we stopped at the Bicentennial Park which was the largest Park we came across.  It had huge grassy areas with umbrellas and lawn chairs setup to keep you cool and comfy! Before we set up shop there was a local street fair happening just above the park.  There were tons of local jellies, breads,  spreads,  wines, beers,  street food and crafts.  I loved the casual feel and excitement everyone had as they wondered through.  Tevin snagged a bottle of wine and we headed to the park to eat our picnic lunch we made and play Exploding Kittens,  Tevin’s new game he brought down.

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About 5 we road back dropped the bikes off and headed towards California Sports Bar.  Seahawks were playing!  Along the walk we stopped to see a cultural fair with crafts and food from the surrounding areas.  Lots of sweet corn and fruit drinks,  art work and we saw the native tribes all dressed in the traditional attire.

After an hour of walking and getting just slightly lost we found the sports bar.  Football games were everywhere!  Keith and Tevin were in heaven…. Haha.  A table right behind these two ladies from California was open,  which turned out to be the perfect spot for us.  We made friends with the Seahawk loving ladies and they quickly bought us shots of tequila.  Both of us happened to be heading wine tasting the next day at Cousin Macul Winery,  so we made plans to meet at the vineyard at 1 and enjoy a day of wine tasting together.

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After a 45 minute subway,  20 minute walk and a lot of not knowing where we were the winery appeared on the left! We were unfortunately turned away at the gate because we missed the noon tasting and the staff was at lunch….. Dang it!  On the corner there was a nice coffee shop to grab a cup of joe and wait an hour for the next tasting.  We emailed the girls and apologized for missing the tasting.  At 3  we tried again and got into the winery.  The Girls were there finishing a bottle of wine and cheese plate waiting for the next tasting.  It was perfect they also missed the early one but somehow snuck in.  They were hilarious as they complained about the service and being cold.  This is not the American way of customers get what they want it’s more like here are the rules like it or not.  The tour was so good and worth the wait.  We ordered glasses of wine for the tour and then headed outside to see the massive winery.  The grounds were gorgeous and sprawling,  the old oak barrels were stunning and the cellars were full of character.  After, we got to try 5 wines and of course we asked for more!

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The Girls wanted to go to one more winery on the way home so we jumped on board with them.  When we arrived it was not actually a tasting room and we couldn’t even order wine! Instead we bought wine and snacks from the super mercado and walked to there apartment for appetizers before dinner.  They had a great balcony and roomy living area to relax for an hour.  They busted our cigars and gave us some to take home. It was quite the treat.  We all went to their favorite Thai place and shared tons of food!  The Girls even treated us to dinner,  they were spoiling us.

Perfect ending to Santiago!

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City Life In Santiago!

City Life In Santiago!

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Tevin is here our first visitor!

We rented an apartment just 15 minutes outside the main downtown for the three of us to stay 5 nights in Santiago. The place was right but the subway line so getting places was a breeze.  Keith and I got there a day early so when Tevin arrived we would have breakfast and mimosas ready for him.  Tevin was such a pro traveler he got in an hour early and found us in the gym trying to get our swell on….. Hahaha the morning was great catching up,  eating and drinking.  Then we headed out to explore the famous fish market.

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The fish market was rows upon rows of smelly fish and shellfish.  It was fun to see but not the place to eat with that stench.  There were lots of haggling going on to get us into every restaurant or bar which gets overwhelming.  We made our rounds and then moved on walking towards Plaza de Armas.  In just a ten minute walk we were in a huge plaza listening to a live Chilean band.  I love live music and the day before this same Plaza had a singing contest going on.  So much fun  to watch!  In another ten minutes of walking we ran into the Hidalgo Castel.  A huge castle right in the center of the city,  pretty cool to see.  After that we were exhausted and Tevin was getting delirious due to lack of sleep.  We headed home to nap before our friends bday party.  That’s right we got invited to a Chilean house party!!

Party started at 9 so about 8 we ventured out to try and find this place using the subway.  Two hours later we made it!! The music was so loud he couldn’t hear us knocking and the door was locked….. No worries off to the corner bar to grab a drink and use the wifi.  He already checked in with us making sure we were OK,  such a nice guy.  His friends were just as nice and accommodating.  They chatted us up and helped us with our Spanish,  it was so great.  We drank beers and pisco colas till about 3am and then they even called us a can to get home.  The party was not even close to over when we left.

Pisco is the national drink in Chile and in Peru. It’s a liquor made from grapes,  I’d compared it to rum.   They typically drink it with sour and it’s called a pisco sour but I prefer cola or gingerale.  It gives you a wicked hang over if you drink too much but really what doesn’t.

Well that’s day one!

 

Four Days on a Cargo Ship With Cows

Four Days on a Cargo Ship With Cows

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Keith was dead set on doing the Navigmag Ferry with is a 4 day ferry ride from Puerto Natales to Puerto Montt,  so we bought tickets over a month in advanced to make sure we got on.  Planning a week in advance has been our style so far so this was huge. Haha  I was excited about the trip after Keith sold me on it.  I mean being on a boat is always fun,  cruising through the fjords in Patagonia sounded amazing and we got our own room.  A private room is a luxury at times.  Then about a week before the trip Keith started reading reviews like these…..

“Boat of Death”

“Wear Every Layer you Own,  We Froze the Entire Time”

“Such Bad Food I Got Pimples at the Age of 42!”

The pimple one made me laugh.  Well we went from super excited to a bit anxious but we still heard good thing about the journey.  Positive thinking!

After waiting in Puerto Natales for four days waiting to leave on the ferry we almost missed it! We thought Che know in was the night before and we loaded in the morning.  Well that was not the case.  Check in from 4-7 meant check in for the 8 o’clock bus that takes you onto the ship that night. We showed up about 5:30pm figured this out and ran back to the hostel to grab our wet clothes out of the dryer and pack our bags.  At 7pm on the dot we checked in our bags and ran to get pizza and a beer before the 8 o’clock bus.  Whoo did that beer feel good.  The laundry mat next the door also agreed to dry our clothes for a nice premium price but at least they were dry.

On the ferry we instantly made friends with two other traveling couples.  They were awesome and made the boat ride so much fun.  Jemma and Johnny live in London but Johnny is from Australia.   They are doing a 9 month trip mostly in Central America.  Sara and Curtis are from New Zealand and managed to get away from their jobs for 6 weeks. All day long we were playing games and waiting for our illegal happy hour drinks.  We had to sneak on alcohol.  It was banned a few years ago when a truck driver started a fire trying to bbq in his truck….. Waisted!

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The trip could not have turned out better! Amazing sunny weather so we could sit outside and soak in the views,.  There were gorgeous views of water ways,  mountains,  volcanos, whales, sea lions and tons of birds. Sara loves to work out and teach a robot,  so we organized a boat workout session outside.  It was so great! 😊 About 10 of us were kicking,  jumping, speed balling and running around the boat.  The exercise was needed after sitting all day.  I even did a yoga session when the water calmed down a bit.  The food wasn’t bad either.  A bit bland and cafeteria lime but plenty and filled you up.  I don’t think I gained any additional zits from the food so I was happy!

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Now he cow smell was true.  There were about 6 cages full of cows, I’d guess about 100 cows all crammed together at the back of the boat.  During the day you would get nasty whiffs of cow…. That’s really the only bad part about the trip and it wasn’t a big issue.

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We showed up in Puerto Montt on a high from such a great trip and had four new friends to travel with.  We all headed to the bus station and stayed another week traveling north together.

The people you meet along the way really makes your trip memorable.   You realize how many amazing people are out there and how lucky you are to meet some of them.

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Torres del Paine – East to West ”W” trek

Torres del Paine – East to West ”W” trek
Enjoy the sun setting in Puerto Natales the night before the trek.
Enjoy the sun setting in Puerto Natales the night before the trek.

East to West in 4 nights:
Day 1- 12:30 start the hike at Hotel Torres, camp at the paid Chileano Refugio (1.5hrs) or the free Los Torres site (2.5 hrs), hike to the Torres in the late afternoon or wake up for sunrise the next day. If there are chances of clouds in the morning I recommend doing the Torres in the afternoon.

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Camp site Chileano
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The pilares, Torres del Paine

Day 2 – get an early start (830am) so you can take your time on the hike to the paid Los Cuernos refugio, the new Frances refugio or the free site Italiano. It’s a gorgeous hike along the lake but a long day with your packs on so take your time. I recommend Los Cuernos it’s right on the lake and you might be lucky enough to use the wood fired hot tub!! (12k-15k)

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Day 3 – valle de Frances, leave your bags at the camp Italiano and bring a day pack up the steep 8k hike through the valle de Frances. Here you see amazing views of the glacier and mountain peaks at the top. Along the way you can hear huge booms that sounds like thunderstorms but it’s just the glacier breaking off. The last 2 hours to the refugio Paine Grande is a mello hike but the environment changes dramatically. There was a huge fire in the park in 2008 and you can still see the effected trees and vegetation.

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Day 4 – This 10k hike has amazing views of lakes along the way and ends at the huge glacier Grey. The glacier is just a 10 minute walk past Refugio Grey but a must do! Enjoy an afternoon tea or cocktail if you brought one just staring at the glacier. (You can do this in 1 day 20k and skip hiking a 5th day. Then you relax and wait for the 12:30 boat the next day)

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Day 5 – last day! Hike down back to Paine Grande before 12:30pm to catch the boat back to the bus that will take you home to your lovely hostel in Puerto Natales.

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Don’t forget to book your massage and spa day at Hotel Indigo when you return. You will want it!!!

Great new friends sharing beers after the hike. Cheers!
Great new friends sharing beers after the hike. Cheers!

The W Trek Information, Torres del Paine

The W Trek Information, Torres del Paine

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What: The W Trek is a world famous trekking route in the Chile’s national park called Torres del Paine. It takes 3 to 5 days to complete the entire trek which is about 70k/46 miles. Depending on hiking preference, how much time you have and how fit you are you can choose how many days to hike. Three nights would be a fast pace, four nights medium pace and five nights a leisurely enjoyable pace.

Getting to Torres del Paine: Torres del Paine is in the Patagonia region of southern Chile. Most travelers stay in the town called Puerto Natales, which is a 3 hour bus ride from the park. The bus leaves about 830am arrives at the park about 1130am and then you take another 30 minute transfer bus to the start of the hike. You can expect to start your first day hiking around 12pm.

Getting to Puerto Natales: Option 1 (Chile) – fly into Santiago, then catch a connecting flight to Punta Arenas and then bus 5 hours to Puerto Natales. Option 2 (Argentina) – fly into Buenos Aires, catch a connecting flight to Calafate and then take a bus over the boarder to Puerto Natales. Option 3 (boat!) – fly into Santiago, catch a connecting flight to Puerto Montt and then get on the Navimag ferry to Puerto Natales. This is a 4 night 3 day cargo ship that also carries passengers. By all means this is not a fancy cruise but it’s quite the experience. The rooms are very comfortable, the showers have ample hot water and the food is similar to a cafeteria. The ship also carries cows, so be prepared for whiffs of cow along the way. There is no booze allowed on the boat but sneaking it on to drink under the radar is not a problem. I recommend this option either getting there or leaving Puerto Natales.

Camping options: there are various degrees of sleeping options depending on how you want your trip to be.
Option 1 (cheapest, free) – camping and staying at free sites. You will need to bring all your supplies with you. The camp sites only have toilets and maybe toilet paper.

Option 2 (midrange for price) – camping at the paid refugio sites. It’s about 10 us dollars and you get a designated site, running water, hot shower and a warm place to cook. Here you can also rent tents and sleeping gear.

Option 3 (most expensive, about $100 – 150 us per night) – stay in luxury in a bed and eat at the refugios. There are private or dorm style rooms available and all meals included.

Route options: East to West vs. West to East
Both options are great no right or wrong but to help choose here are some of the main arguments. East to west you hike the hardest days are first but your packs are heavy full of food.  East to west you walk towards the cuernos on day 2 as opposed to away from them. More people do east to west so bigger groups.

Gear you need to bring or rent there if you plan to camp: tent, sleeping pad, sleeping bag, hiking poles, head lamp, cooking stove, good hiking shoes, waterproof pants, waterproof jacket, 2 hiking pants, 2 long sleeves, 2 tshirts, 2 or 3 socks, gloves, hat, sunglasses, food and SUNSCREEN!  The sun is very intense there and you will surely want to use protection on your face. You can rent everything you need in the town or even at the refugios along the way.

Food ideas: ration out your food so it lasts you the 4 days. Breakfast – oatmeal, dried fruit, nuts, honey, chia seeds. Lunch – salami, hard cheese, hard boiled eggs, olives. Dinner – pasta and soup packets, canned tuna pasta, rice. Snacks – trail mix, nuts, fruit