November 28, 2013

Peru Wrap-Up / I’m Thankful For…

Today is a pretty different Thanksgiving Day for me than it probably is for most of you. After flying home from Dallas last night, I woke up pretty early to head to Flywheel’s “Turkey Burn” 75 minute class. However, while most people in the class were trying to burn as many calories as possible before heading to a feast, I actually didn’t have any plans after class! I ended up meeting up with my best friend for coffee before he went off to his family’s festivities, but then spent the rest of the day home in my apartment, lying around and not doing much of anything. It’s definitely been an unproductive day, but I actually can’t say that I mind – it’s rather nice to not have a set time to be anywhere and be able to ignore the clock all day. How often do you get to do that?!

In fact, though, I just had a “do nothing” day this weekend. When I last left off blogging on Saturday, I had just finished up a horseback tour of the sights in Cusco, Peru, and taken a taxi to my hotel in the Sacred Valley of Urubamba. My original plan was to leave from Urubamba for a rock climbing / ziplining tour the next morning, but after the altitude really didn’t sit well with me on Friday, I decided to cancel that – and instead just spent the day relaxing at my hotel. I started the day with breakfast in the beautiful hotel restaurant, and it was so incredibly peaceful to be able to eat, read a book, and listen to the birds singing in the tree through the open doors to the patio.

Quinoa Pancakes In Peru
These quinoa pancakes were the most delicious pancakes I’ve ever had – I’m currently trying to get the recipe from the chef. SO AMAZING!

I spent the rest of the morning wandering around the stunning hotel grounds…

Tambo Del Inka Entrance
View from the front lobby of the hotel…
Tambo Del Inka Grounds
…and around the back, where the guestrooms opened out onto the lush green lawn.

I ultimately ended up at the infinity pool, where it was just warm enough to lie out and read in the gorgeous setting.

Tambo Del Inka Pool
Unfortunately, I didn’t consider how the altitude would affect the sun, and ended up with quite a nasty sunburn all over my upper thighs/lower back. Oops.

Thanks to my hotel chain status, I was able to stay at this property all the way up until 4pm – and after a day lounging with no concrete itinerary, I ended up taking full advantage of that late checkout and finally leaving around 3:30pm. The ride back to Cusco was just as stunning as it had been on the way to Urubamba, but this time around I was wide awake and able to appreciate it (vs falling asleep the day before). I got back to Cusco, quickly dropped off my luggage, and then spent the evening wandering around the city, stopping for drinks in the most picturesque places.

Pisco Sour in Cusco
Pisco sour at The Crown looking out over the main square of Cusco – that white dot in the distance is the Cristo Blanco all lit up!

The next morning, before leaving Peru, I headed up the very very steep hill to visit the Cristo Blanco myself. It was one of the toughest things I’ve ever done! It only took 30 (painful) minutes to get to the top, but hiking from the town of Cusco to the Cristo Blanco has you doing roughly the same number of steps as going halfway up the Empire State Building – except in Cusco, you’re at 12,000 feet of altitude. Brutal!

Looking Down the Steps to Cristo Blanco
I took this view on one of my numerous rest breaks while climbing these stairs. (Other rest breaks were spent calculating how long it would be till another hiker came by to find my body and whether they’d be able to save me if I died from the exertion.)

At the top, though, the views were magnificent – and I was so glad that I had attempted the hike.

Cristo Blanco
If only that dumb fence weren’t around it, marring any photos taken by the tourists… though I know it also keeps it safe FROM the tourists.
Me at the Top of the Cristo Blanco Hike
This view of the city, though, was amazing!

Going down was scary, but a lot faster/easier than the other direction! After reaching the bottom, I headed back to my hotel for a quick shower, then grabbed a quick lunch at an awesome Peruvian-Italian fusion place before heading off to the airport. Bye, Peru! I love this country and can’t wait to come back again soon. Both times I’ve gone, it’s been the perfect combo of adventure and relaxation, which for me is the perfect way to spend a vacation.

Entering the Sacred Valley
And any time I get to spend in the mountains is an amazing time!

So going back to today… while I’m going to be celebrating my own Thanksgiving on Sunday with my family and a few best friends, since today is the real Thanksgiving Day, I thought it was appropriate to close with some gratitude.

I’m so thankful for how my job enables travel, and for my former job as an airline pricing analyst, which taught me how to find cheap fares that allow me to go! But as I reflect on the weekend, most of all, I’m thankful for my new-found ability in the last few years to be entirely self-sufficient. I am so happy and proud that I’m able to do things like travel solo to a foreign country, or enjoy a holiday like Thanksgiving when I’m completely alone. When I was younger, I hated any time that was spent by myself instead of with friends/family, and if you had told me that I might one day go on vacation or celebrate a holiday alone, I would have laughed. If I were stuck solo then, I would have spent the time frantically calling friends or AIMing anyone who showed up on my buddy list (yes, back in the day). Today, being alone really helps me to recharge – to the point that one of my coworkers saw me on Monday after I got back (on a red-eye, no less) and told me how rested I looked, and I realized that I felt fantastic. As much as I love packing my schedule and trying to see as many people as I possibly can on my weekends in New York, it feels great to spend some me-time recovering as well.

But enough of the me-time! I’m really psyched to be heading upstate tomorrow for my 10-year high school reunion, to reconnect with old friends I haven’t talked to in years. And then on Sunday, I’ll be hosting my own Thanksgiving dinner here in New York City, and I’m really excited to get that last kind of hurrah in my apartment with all the people I love. Things are shaping up quickly for my move out of Manhattan – more on that to come. Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!


4 thoughts on “Peru Wrap-Up / I’m Thankful For…”

    1. Honestly, Peru has now become my favorite vacation spot. It’s got sights to see, yummy (and cheap!) restaurants, adventurous active things to do, and beautiful places to veg out and do nothing. I can’t wait to go back!

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