Discovering Peru: Lima – The City of the Kings

When we departed Cusco, bid adieu to our International Expedition guides, Harvey y Miguel, and continued on to Lima. We were greeted at the airport by another IE representative who led us to our hotel. Most of our tour group would be departing for home the following day. We would be staying a couple extra nights on our own.

We discovered that we enjoy traveling with a group but also enjoy the flexibility and spontaneity that traveling alone provides. We wanted to see Lima – but we didn’t have any solidified plans or an agenda of any kind. We just wanted to relax and allow opportunity to present itself.

Lima: Ciudad de los Reyes @WellTraveledFamily.netLa Ciudad de los Reyes

Lima is the capital and the largest city of Perú. It is located in the valleys of the Chillón, Rímac and Lurín rivers, in the central coastal part of the country, overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

Founded by Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro on January 18, 1535, as Ciudad de los Reyes, Lima is a fascinating city and a treasure trove of history.

Here tourists can explore ancient Incan archeological sites, stroll through the elegant cathedrals and palaces dating from Spanish colonial times, explore one of the many shopping areas, or spend the day at the beach.

Things to Do in Lima

  • Cathedral of Lima
  • Museo Larco
  • Plaza de Armas
  • Huaca Pucllana
  • Historic Center of Lima
  • Parque de la Reserva
  • Iglesia y Convento de San Francisco

wongmarketAfter a fast paced and exhausting tour first of the Galápagos and then Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley, we wanted nothing more than to nap. We thereby didn’t venture far from our hotel, the Swissotel. I know – very sad considering all there is to do in the capital city.

We went for a couple of walks around the neighborhood to stretch our legs, enjoyed browsing the aisles at a local grocery, and caught up in our journals. We also found a wonderful pizzeria – where we actually dined twice. I don’t know if it was their pizza or their sangría that brought us back.

cirquedusoleilCirque du Soleil

One of the adventures that life presented during our stay in Lima was the opportunity to see a Cirque du Soleil performance. The company was on tour, presenting Corteo, a joyous procession, a festive parade imagined by a clown, on the edge of the Pacific Ocean.

This was a fabulous introduction for the kids to the dramatic performances for which the company is well known. When we were shopping at a local mall the following day, we were able to see the magnificent costumes on display. Serendipitous!

Discovering Peru @WellTraveledFamily.net

This concludes my 5 day series Discovering Peru. In case you missed an earlier post,

Arriving in Cusco & the Sacred Valley

Machu Picchu

Ollantaytambo Temple & Peruvian Paso

Cusco – The Imperial City

travelguidesWhen we travel, I always purchase a DK Eyewitness Travel Guide to familiarize myself with the country and the culture. Updated annually, each book provides a detailed description of popular tourist attractions, restaurants, and lodging options.

Each guide divides the country (or city) into color coded regions enabling quick browsing while on the road. The DK Eyewitness Travel Guides are comprehensive guides that provide everything to see at a location. While comprehensive, the books give just the right amount of information to spark interest in the particular sights you want to see. They are organized intelligently for the traveler, and they always provide a map.

As a special expression of gratitude to you, I am giving away one DK Eyewitness Travel Guide of choice to a lucky reader. The contest closes on the 20th of September at 12 a.m.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

My post is one of many hopscotch link-ups. Hop over and see what others are sharing. You might also be interested in my post, 5 Misconceptions in Science & How to Dispel Them, on my homeschool blog.

Hopcotch2015

Discovering Peru: Ollantaytambo & the Peruvian Paso {GIVEAWAY}

After our final delectable meal at the Inkaterra, we boarded the train and began our trek back to Cusco. I’d awoken with a terrible tummy ache. In fact, as I recall, I’d gone to bed not feeling so well. I thereby abstained from eating anything; drinking only one cup of Muña tea. {I wish I could find this tea in the states.} I wasn’t looking forward two the long journey with gastro-intestional issues.

Fortunately, by the time we arrived at Ollantaytambo – an Incan temple that had not been completed – I was feeling myself again. Well enough, in fact, to bound up the steps behind Jeffrey.

OllantaytamboTempleOllantaytambo Temple

The Ollantaytambo Temple is located in the city of the same name, some 60 kilometers northwest of Cusco. During the Inca Empire, the temple was the royal estate of Emperor Pachacuti who conquered the region and built the town. At the time of the Spanish conquest, it served as a stronghold for Manco Inca Yupanqui, leader of the Inca resistance.

As we walked about the site, Harvey pointed out numerous architectural points of interest. When we reached the top, we had a magnificent view of the pueblo below, including the agricultural fields.

ollantaytamboIn town, the roads were amass with people. There was a festival taking place and as a result, the roads were blocked. We weren’t able to get through and thus were advised to stay near the bus just in case a last minute opportunity arose.

We managed to do a little shopping – I bought a watercolor painting and Geneva bought an oil on velvet painting. Both were are a peculiar size, so custom framing will likely be necessary.

After about an hour of delay, Harvey decided to have us walk through the crowds across town to two small vans he had arranged to meet us on the other side. There was so much going on in town – we wish we had done so earlier and to take in some of the festivities. This is one drawback of traveling with a group – you are forced to adhere to another’s schedule and unable to allow for spontaneity.

OllantaytamboPuebloWayra Ranch

We boarded the vans – assured that our luggage would make it’s way to our hotel in Cusco before our arrival – and soon thereafter arrived at Wayra, a ranch-style resort where we were to have lunch. The barbecue lunch at Wayra Ranch took place on the garden-view terrace located across the field from the stable.

Our meal was served family style with several courses: salad, empanadas, breads, potatoes, corn, tamales, beef kabobs, salmon and trout, and an assortment of postres for dessert. There was so much food and everything was delicious!

peruvianpasoThe Peruvian Paso

After our meal, we found a seat on the grass to enjoy a performance of the Peruvian Paso, is a breed of light pleasure saddle horse known for its smooth ride. It is distinguished by a natural, four-beat, lateral gait called the paso llano. They also put more weight on their hind legs and thereby kick up their front legs higher.

As the world’s horsemen moved from naturally gaited horses to trotting horses, the Peruvians continued to esteem and breed their naturally gaited “Caballo Peruano de Paso”. The Peruvian Paso horse descended from the bloodstock which was introduced to Peru from the Spanish, who at the time were the foremost horse breeders in the world.

Much to Jeffrey’s delight, he was able to ride one of the horses around a little. Geneva was content to stroke their neck.

We departed a short time later and continued our journey through the Urubamba or Sacred Valley. Originally, we were to have a few hours in the marketplace but due to the unforeseen delay in Ollantaytambo, we only had twenty minutes. Rather than do much shopping, I enjoyed speaking with the locals – meeting a young boy who spoke English quite well. He was delighted to learn we were from California and shared that he had had a teacher from California in the past. peopleofperuAlong the way, we caught a glimpse of an unusual lodging option. Suspended 400 feet above the valley are three capsules that resemble like airstream trailers. These transparent sleeping pods are crafted from aerospace aluminum and weather resistant polycarbonate, giving each visitor a 300 degree view of the valley below. I’m very pleased that IE didn’t arrange for our lodging here.

Discovering Peru @WellTraveledFamily.netJoin me tomorrow as we return to Cusco – The Imperial City. Be sure not to miss the other posts in this 5 day series:

Arriving in Cusco & the Sacred Valley

Machu Picchu

Lima – The City of the Kings (coming Friday)

travelguidesWhen we travel, I always purchase a DK Eyewitness Travel Guide to familiarize myself with the country and the culture. Updated annually, each book provides a detailed description of popular tourist attractions, restaurants, and lodging options.

Each guide divides the country (or city) into color coded regions enabling quick browsing while on the road. The DK Eyewitness Travel Guides are comprehensive guides that provide everything to see at a location. While comprehensive, the books give just the right amount of information to spark interest in the particular sights you want to see. They are organized intelligently for the traveler, and they always provide a map.

As a special expression of gratitude to you, I am giving away one DK Eyewitness Travel Guide of choice to a lucky reader. The contest closes on the 20th of September at 12 a.m.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

My post is one of many hopscotch link-ups. Hop over and see what others are sharing. You might also be interested in my post, 5 Misconceptions in Science & How to Dispel Them, on my homeschool blog.

Hopcotch2015

Delicious Santa Maria-style Barbecue

As we were planning our road trip on California’s famed coastal highway, a friend recommended we try Santa Maria Barbecue.  As I outlined our trip on a map, I tried googling it with the belief that this was the name of an establishment. I soon gave up my preliminary search when I came up empty handed.

Santa Maria-style Barbecue @WellTraveledFamily.netI didn’t give it any further thought until we were just a few miles south of Santa Maria. I had begun to seek out options for dinner.  When Patrick stated he wanted barbecue for dinner, I was reminded of my earlier failed quest.

I again struggled to find the restaurant, so I called our hotel to inquire. Only then did I realize my error – it was a style of barbecue.

Santa Maria-style barbecue is a regional culinary tradition rooted in and around the city of Santa Maria—which sprawls across the ranchlands and vineyards between San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara—for 150 years. This traditional style barbecue menu was copyrighted by the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce in 1978.

Santa Maria-style Barbecue @WellTraveledFamily.netRecords from the days of the ranchos, the giant cattle ranches that covered this territory when it was Mexico, describe almost bacchanalian scenes of whole bulls’ heads and other beef cuts roasted in pits dug in the ground. Tortillas, salsa, and beans were served along with a slew of other sides. These were all-day celebrations—for vaqueros relaxing at the end of a cattle roundup, or guests from the city invited for a ranch adventure.

By the early 1900s, a less daunting cooking style emerged—asado, which involved skewering hunks of beef on green willow rods and setting them across a pit of burning red oak. The Santa Maria Valley is often rather windy, so the style of cooking is over an oxidative fire as opposed to a reductive fire that many covered BBQs use.

Remarkably, that’s still pretty much how people here do it: over a fire of California coastal red oak and on a grill that raises and lowers the meat to the flame. The meat has no sauce, just a dry rub of salt, pepper, and garlic salt. The traditional accompaniments are pinquito beans, fresh salsa, tossed green salad, and grilled French bread dipped in sweet melted butter.

Santa Maria-style Barbecue @WellTraveledFamily.netWe settled upon Shaw’s Restaurant and were not disappointed. Upon entering, we were immediately drawn to the Asado-style bbq pit that was slowly roasting the meats. We also observed that the dining room was full of customers.

We ordered the trip tip and it was by far THE best tri tip we have had. The food portions are generous; the kids shared a rib eye steak and we had leftovers for lunch the next day.

We all loved the taste of the red oak smoke given to the meats while cooked on a wonderful open pit wood grill. Next time we’re in Santa Maria we will be coming back to Shaw’s for Santa Maria-style barbecue.

Tip :: If you are looking for a deal, lunch is cheaper than dinner and they also have early bird dinner specials on the menu from 4-6:30pm.

 

California’s Central Coast: Ventura Beach

The past couple of years, we have enjoyed a week long holiday road trip in the spring. This year, we chose California’s Central Coast via Highway 1.

Ventura Beach @WellTraveledFamily.netWe departed Anaheim mid-day on Wednesday and headed to Ventura where we began our road trip northward along California Hwy 1. Upon checking into our hotel, the Ventura Beach Marriott, we ventured out to explore the area.

Ventura is home to beautiful beaches, a vibrant downtown, and a fun-filled harbor. Here, Island Packers’ crews transport guests via boat to the extraordinary Channel Islands National Park – one of three key destinations on our trip.

Our first stop was San Buenaventura State Beach which consists of a 1,700 feet pier featuring a snack bar, restaurant, and bait shop. People often come to this beach to surf, swim, and picnic. Biking is also done here and there are bike trails that lead to other nearby beaches.

While there, we observed a group of young people playing volleyball, another passing the time idly, as well as several runners and walkers. We eagerly began to explore the beach according to our interests – Patrick sat along the pier and watched for whales, Jeffrey rolled in the sand building an imaginary airstrip, while Geneva and I looked for small invertebrates.

Wildlife on Ventura Beach @WellTraveledFamily.net

We were were rewarded handsomely finding hundreds of Pacific Mole Crabs (Emerita analoga). Belonging to the superfamily, Hippoidea, these decapod crustaceans are adapted to burrowing into sandy beaches. These delightful little sand crabs cannot walk; instead, they use their legs to dig into the sand and beat their uropods to swim.

Geneva and I spent time watching them surf the waves and burrow down into the sand for protection. I shared stories of the investigation I undertook in graduate school one summer looking at whether particle size influenced what beach the larvae settled upon.

We also observed many By-the-wind Sailors (Velella velella).  Velella is a cosmopolitan genus of free-floating hydrozoans (very small, predatory animals) that live on the surface of the open ocean. There is only one known species. The deep blue, by-the-wind sailors that are recognized by many beach-goers are the polyp phase of the life cycle. Each “individual” with its sail is really a hydroid colony, with many polyps that feed on ocean plankton.

Snowy plover (Charadrius nivosus) nesting sites are monitored here and temporary informational/warning signs and fences (or ropes) are erected near nest sites during the breeding season. To help in the recovery of the bird, non-native vegetation that threatens the beach habitat has been removed and beach goers are educated to the sensitive nature of the area.

After a couple hours on the beach, we began to get hungry.  Craving fish & chips, we sought out a local eatery and chose Spencer Makenzie’s Fish Company. Their signature item is most definitely the Giant Fish Taco and it was delicious! Geneva ordered the Ceviche – also very good but heavy on the vegetables.  The boys each chose traditional fish & chips which were average.

Spencer MacKenzie's review @WellTraveledFamily.netThey have communal benches along one side of the building outside as well as shady tables out front. We chose to dine inside, however, and came to regret that decision as the sun was beginning to set and there were no shades or blinds on the window.