April 1. We made it! It was not an easy trek from Michigan to Cusco, Peru, but we all made it in one piece!
Ethan, myself and my sister Ali are here to hike for 4 days to the Machu Picchu ruins! We started our journey yesterday morning with a long, rainy drive to Toronto. Since we are spoiled, Ethan’s mom, Dawn, drove us there so we wouldn’t have to get a hotel and pay for parking. Our flight was supposed to leave at 5:45, but ended up getting delayed two hours. It was annoying, but we had access to a lounge with free food and drinks so we took advantage of that. After our gate got changed and we waited even more, our flight finally took off at 7:45. We had a long layover in Lima, so we weren’t concerned about missing our connection. When we got on the plane though, we had plenty of other concerns.
The plane was an old one and there were no TVs and no individual air vents. It was boiling hot and I almost had a nervous, sweaty breakdown. Ethan ended up having to get me a cup of ice. It was brutal as we waited on the tarmac for takeoff. We also had accidentally left all our electronics in Ethan’s checked bag. So we couldn’t charge our phones and didn’t really have anything else to entertain ourselves with. The flight was long and uncomfy, but we’ve all endured much longer flights. We landed in Lima around 2:30am and our next flight was at 5:20am. We had to get our bags and go through customs and immigration then leave the airport and come back in since our next flight was domestic.
We got our bags checked again and headed to find another lounge to chill out in until the next flight. Ethan and I were both approved for the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card which gives you a Priority Pass for a year. The Priority Pass gets you into a bunch of airport lounges, where they give you free food and drinks. Fancy! This particular lounge wasn’t that great, but we ate some snacks and drank water. We were all exhausted and ready to be at our hotel in Cusco.
Our next flight left on time, but Cusco was experiencing a lot of fog, so we couldn’t land on time. They had to circle for about 20 minutes, but Ethan and I were so out of it that we didn’t even notice. The Cusco airport is teeny tiny and it didn’t take long to get to the one and only baggage claim area. As we were waiting, there were a bunch of porters with carts going around looking for the people they were supposed to be picking up. We had declined airport pick up from our hotel, so we weren’t expecting anyone. But as we were waiting, this guy rolled a cart up behind us quietly saying “Ali Parker” in a thick Spanish accent. Ali and I both looked at each other then back at him in utter confusion. Turns out the hotel ignored our decline for transportation and sent someone anyway. It was so weird and we weren’t sure what to do. We felt bad for the guy though so when our bags came we loaded them on his cart and he took us to a van, which then took us to our hotel – the very fancy Palacio Del Inka. Ali was able to use her leftover credit card points to book us two nights here for 22,000 Starwood points.Checking in was frustrating because they made a mistake and only made the reservation for two even though we requested three people. They wanted us to pay and extra $50/ night, but that was not happening. After a bit of back and forth and wondering if we should even stay, the check in guy relented. And bonus! He even upgraded our room! The hotel is a beautiful historic mansion that was converted into a hotel in the center of Cusco. We’re happy to have a nice place to hang out and rest before we head out into the wilderness in a few days!
We all took naps and then headed out to find a money exchange and lunch. Ethan had scouted ahead earlier and found a vegan restaurant not far from our hotel. It was down an alley and kind of tucked away , so we were a little apprehensive. The food was amazing though and they gave us huge portions. Everything on the menu was vegan and it was very reasonably priced. The restaurant was decorated with fun colors and lots of huge crystals. We ate our meals listening to Yanni and checking out all the beautiful pictures of Machu Picchu.
After we ate we headed out to see the city. Cusco is at an elevation of 11,150ft and our bodies are not used to it. But that’s why we came here a few days before our hike, to get our bodies acclimated. Anyway, we first walked to a hostel that we wanted to book for the night we return from our trek. Then we tried to walk up to Cusco’s version of the Christ the Redeemer statue. It’s up above the city and offers some spectacular views. Unfortunately, we only made it to the plaza below it when it started to rain. We started up the path to the statue but decided to turn back. We were all huffing and puffing and didn’t want to over do it. Plus it was raining. We also didn’t realize how high up Cusco is until just now, so we feel a little better about how hard that walk felt.
We headed back into town to find the office of the trekking company we booked our hike with. We chatted with the guy about the plan for our hike and he gave us some suggestions on other tours. We’re back in our rooms resting and hydrating since we all have headaches. We’ll venture out later for dinner and maybe some of Peru’s famous Pisco Sours.
Not sure what our plan is tomorrow, but stayed tuned! And thanks for reading!