Day 6 - Around Cusco

Today (12-21-2005) we spent the day in and around Cuzco. It was very hot during the day. We now know better how to deal with the many sellers and street vendors. We went on a short tour to see the Cathedral (unfortunately no photography is allowed inside) and some ruins.

The cathedral has a wonderful architecture and many gold altars. I would have enjoyed it more, had I not known that the stones were stolen by tearing down Inca castles and fortresses and that many Inca had to die for the gold.

The picture above is from Sacsayhuman (the tour guide pronounced it like Sexy Woman). The ruins were overrun by tourists (as seen on the picture). The stones are some of the largest that the Inca fitted with incredible precision. The ruins are part of the head of a puma. The image shows the lower jaw (zig zag shape). The city of Cusco (seen in the background of the image) had the shape of a puma itself with the ruins and the temples being the head and the water pool being the eye.

Our guide was herding us like a bunch of farm animals and rushing us through the ruins. I had a really hard time squeezing out some good photos (sometimes you just have to wait or try different angles). No time for art with this guy. At some smaller ruins we only did a drive by shooting (literally) so we could spend more time with the street vendors whom he let into the bus to yap about their stuff.

Discoveries: None

Photo shot with Canon 20D and Canon 24-85mm Lens

Day 5 (12-20-2005) - Cuzco (Cusco) Heart of the Inca Empire

Cuzco Plaza
Shot with Canon 20D and
Canon 24-85mm Lens

Today we finally made it to Cuzco (pronounced Cusco). The city is built on INCA foundations and features some of the finest colonial architecture. Before coming here, we visited the Monestary in Arequipa. It was the most beautiful Monestary I had ever seen. Back to Cuzco. The flight was very interesting as the plane did a wide swing to shoot in between two mountain ridges. It almost looks as if you are going to hit them. Then you are flying in a very narrow valley between the two ridges on a really bumpy ride.

Other than that and the few rain drops (the photo was shot during the rain) the weather was quite good and the altitude seems to be of minor concern only. Dehydration due to the Altitude Medication seems to be worse. Funny how you take medicine to fight the altitude just to feel the side effects.

Otherewise we are really well off and just happy to be here. Tomorrow we will have a city tour. I just did some nice night shots and will now go have dinner.

If you are lucky, you can see me at this webcam:
http://www.casasanblas.com/cuzco-cusco/webcams01.php

I will be sitting here at around noon local time tomorrow (12-21). That is 9am West Coast Time and 6pm European Time.

New Discoveries (not many):

  1. Catalytic converters seem to be unknown. Arequipa and Cuzco are very polluted. With the thin air this can be a problem.
  2. The vultures (people who jump you to sell stuff) are much worse in Cuzco than in Arequipa.

Day 3 and 4 (12-18/19-2005)-Colca Canyon

We spent Day 3 and Day 4 in the Colca Valley. The photos are shot from the LCD display of my Canon 20D (since I don`t have a RAW converter here).
Day 3 went pretty smooth, we drove from Arequipa to a little Town in the Colca Valley. The Hotel was very good and on the way we saw lots of Alpacas, Lamas, Vecunas (wild Lamas) and some funny looking rabbits. We arrived during a thunderstorm and in the hotel the lights went out. On our way we crossed a pass of 4900m (approx. 16,000 feet). Amazingly we did not get dizzy.
Today we drove to the condor lookout of the colca canyon. The whole canyon was engulfed in a dense fog. You could barely see 10 feet.
The right picture above shows the fog of the canyon (to the left). The photo was shot just outside the canyon.
We still spotted some Condors here, but they were either flying very high or whizzing past us at incredible speeds.

New Discoveries:
  1. Road Marks are for Decoration only
  2. The Coke and Pepsi tastes different here and has more carbon hydrates. Try not to drink it above 4000m or your mouth will literally explode with gas.
  3. Peruvian Food is gassy and Alpaca seems to be a main dish everywhere
  4. Alpaca does taste strange if it is not roasted (my initial discovery was with roasted Alpaca)
  5. Peruvians outside the big cities are very friendly.
  6. Diamox does work. I am not scared of Puno anymore since we already went higher (for a short time).
Overall we had a pleasant trip, the only disappointment was the fog in the canyon. The tour was very well organized.

Day 2 - Arequipa

Today we arrived in Arequipa. The weather over here is overcast but hot. The people are very friendly.
The picture is a drive by shooting (no art for this travel log) of the Plaza de Armanas at dusk.
Everything seems to run very smoothly now. We get picked up and get our tickets for the next tour. The guides and the hotels are great. Thanks to Richard and Susana from Peru4Less.

Today I learned 4 important lessons:

  1. The country is full of con artists. If you like to help out people, consider rethinking that practice.
  2. Lan Peru is a very good airline, that some US carriers could learn from.
  3. Alpaca tastes more like beef than lamb.
  4. Coca tea smells funny and makes the blood rush into your head.

We arrived in Lima

So we finally made it. The airport was chaotic. It took nearly an hour to find our travel agent. Now we are at the hotel exhausted. Couldn't find out how to make the darn camera connect to this strange computer so pictures will start tomorrow.

Peru - all good to go

My trip to Peru is booked and confirmed. My website is transferred. I will try a new experiment and try to get to some internet cafes in Peru and write here about my trip. I have to make a couple of final tweaks on this site, so that I can upload Photos from any Place in Peru. Lets see how everything goes.
While writing this up, I noticed I had to do 7 Flights + 1 eleven-hour train ride(CUZ->PUN) + a couple of 4h ones (CUZ<->MP).

Itinary

  • Day 1 (16th of December). Lima.
  • Day 2. Arequipa (8,000 ft)
  • Day 3 (18th). Colca Canyon
    10,725 ft deep (more than twice as deep as Grand Canyon)
  • Day 4. Colca Canyon/Arequipa
  • Day 5 (20th). Arequipa/Cuzco
  • Day 6. Cuzco (10,500 ft) 
  • Day 7 (22nd). Cuzco
    Sacred Valley tour
    Pisaq, Ollantaytambo, the Pisaq market, and Sacred Valley
  • Day 8. Machu Picchu (7,700 ft)
  • Day 9. Machu Picchu à Cuzco 
  • Day 10. Cuzco
  • Day 11 (26th). Cuzco/Puno (12,500ft)
    Train to Puno (11hrs through the Andean Mountains)
  • Day 12. Lake Titikaka.
    This will prob. be the highest point of our trip (or Colca C. don't know for sure)
    I got me some Diamox just in case ;-)
  • Day 13 (28th). Puno/Lima
  • Day 14. Lima
    Downtown Lima, Miraflores, San Isidro, Barranco, Catacombs, Cathedral, and the Main Square.
  • Day 15 (30th). Lima.
    Will prob. hire a ride to the ruins of Pachacamac
  • Day 16 (31st) Flight back

Flights

  • 16 Dec. San Francisco / Atlanta with Delta (Flight 632)
  • 16 Dec. Atlanta / Lima with Delta (Flight 335)
  • 17 Dec. Lima / Arequipa with Lan Peru (Flight 095)
  • 20 Dec. Arequipa / Cuzco with Lan Peru (Flight 095)
  • 28 Dec. Juliaca / Lima with Lan Peru (Flight 111)
  • 31 Dec. Lima / Atlanta with Delta (Flight 274) - Leave at 1:20am :-(
  • 31 Dec. Atlanta / San Francisco (Flight 582) - Arrive at 12:51pm :-)

A fresh new look

I finally did it and transfered this site over to a new look.
While I was working towards making the website more appealing I also added a whole bunch of functions that enable my viewers to comment and search for pictures.
You can browse for pictures using the navigation bar or you can search for a specific image using the built in search function.
Naturally I would appreciate some feedback on how this new look and feel is working for you.
You can use the Poll to the right (scroll down) to let me know how you feel about this new site or you can use the feedback form and send me a longer notice (or both).
My Travel Journal and my News have now all been merged into this front page for simplicity.
There will probably be a couple of items that I missed to transfer, which is not surprising considering that I have close to 1500 pictures and a bunch of other things online.
By moving to a content managed system, I now have the opportunity to catch up on a couple of galleries, wallpapers and tutorial that I would like to upload.
Since my trip to Peru is coming up, I don't know how much of it I can achive before then.

At this Point I would like to thank Vernon Mauery on who's software my image galleries are based and the drupal community.

Pharao




Statue in the Egyptian Museum in San Jose.
The Museum turned out better than I expected.
I could have done without the free show in the observatory though, as they were rambling on and on about some stupid religion and how it relates to the stars.