Best. Trip. Ever.
Peru was that amazing, kiddos. I should have lit a cigarette and blew droopy smoke rings afterwards as a sign of my gratitude. Yes, that good... haha! But I digress. I've summarized my trip into three parts: the good, the bad, and the ugly...
Cusco is an hour flight southeast from Lima and served as the official Incan capital during the ancient civilization's heyday. While the Spanish eventually took over, the native Quechua culture is persistent amongst the heavy catholic influence. The scenic mountains, throwback cobblestone and completely relaxed lifestyle will make you forget about the outside world. My recommendation: stay close to Plaza De Armas! As above pictures shows, the Plaza is a sight to behold. It was also the perfect eye of the storm and jump off point for any adventure. And McDonalds was right there too... haha!
Incans were some bad people. Their use of rocks as the basis for home and agricultural structures transcended mere functionality. They created visual wonders with great purpose and insight. After turning a corner and coming into the base of the ruins, I literally gasped out of sheer amazement (have since pledged to never gasp like that again...). My recommendation: Explore the rest of the Andes Mountains! Machu Picchu is the most well known ruins but there are tons of other gems hidden in the Andes. My friend and I rented ATVs for 5 hours and explored Quechua towns, other relevant ruins, local salt mines and other obscure areas oblivious to visiting tourists.
While Machu Picchu was a pretty penny (about $200 alone), everything else was relatively inexpensive. Peruvian clothing, trinkets, massages, taxis, hostels, and (my personal favorite) food were sold at ridiculously ugly prices. I bought my mom an all white Al Paca fur shawl for 30 soles (about $12). This was the same price for an hour massage. My recommendation: get lost! We found some of our best deals wandering through the city and finding shops in unexpected places. Even the alley in picture above resulted in some great finds. Shout out to my high school spanish teacher (Mr. Cush!) for teaching me everything I should learn to get by. I was pretty fluent in broken spanish by the end of the trip. haha.
One of my new goals is to visit all seven new wonders of the world. Next stop, Rome! Wish me luck.