A Travellerspoint blog

This blog is published chronologically. Go straight to the most recent post.

Dreams can come true

semi-overcast 23 °C

Yes fairy tale fans, after 17 years of boring everyone to tears banging on about it, various get rich quick schemes to save up enough for it, and two months of leaving do's, I've finally made it to the gringo trail.

First stop Lima, Peru and Condors House Hostel in Miraflores, where we were greeted by a table of equally as fresh off the plane new 'backpacker fwiends' and our new adopted personal guide and all-round good bloke Billy.

Within hours of landing we had sampled two of the local favourites, ox heart BBQ skewers (Anticuchos de Corazon) and Pisco Sours- a cocktail made from Pisco a local liqueur (I think grape based), lime & egg white... dangerously too drinkable on a backpacker budget!

Whilst getting involved with the beef heart, conversation at the table turned to weirdest thing you've ever eaten and one of our new pals from the U.S won hands down as she had been to the 'Testicle Festival' (no joke,look it up on Google) in Montana USA, an event held at several small towns in which the featured activity is the consumption of animal testicles, usually battered and fried. And I thought deep fried Mars Bars were mental. Take note though ladies, could be a great boyfriend cheating deterrent?

A fun filled first night as the oldest-backpacker-in-town was rounded off with a good old singalong to Oasis Wonderwall thanks to the talented fellow traveller Matt's guitar skills. You can take the Northerner out of The North...(but they'll still sing 90's Britpop at any drunken opportunity)...

Billy, the hostels unofficial tour guide extraordinaire was a proper legend and took us round the main sights of Lima over the next two days in return for a few beers including but not limited to;

•Central Lima Plaza De Armas (Main Square) to see the changing of the guards... Brass band type parade behind big iron gates... Not dissimilar to London if London had menacing looking police with machine guns stopping you getting near the gates

Changing of the Guards

Changing of the Guards

Plaza Del Armas, Lima

Plaza Del Armas, Lima

•First empanadas ever! We tried Pollo y carne, both well nice... Not dissimilar to a cornish pasty if a Cornish pasty had a sneaky egg or olives hidden in the middle and cost 50p instead of about £6 at the cornwall pasty co. at the train station

First Empanadas of the trip

First Empanadas of the trip

•Washed down with the local pop,'Inca Kola' not dissimilar to Irn Bru if Iru Bru was radioactive and sold to you by a woman with no teeth

•Monasterio de San Francisco; this old monastery was beautiful & like something out of a horror film; ancient moorish dark architecture, faded canvases depicting the most twisted scenes from the bible, and a network of tunnels beneath holding the bones of thousands of unfortunates, stacked in patterns using skulls for emphasis. The library held rows upon rows of old texts dating back to 14/15th century, with two waist height giant books displaying the prayers in Latin... Wes Craven/Stephen King you can have that location tip for free. Coming soon to a cinema near you... 'gringo zombie monk librarians II' in 3D

•'anyone fancy a pint?' yeah we did too..popped into the oldest bar in Lima for a Tortilla & Cerveza

Oldest bar in Lima

Oldest bar in Lima

•Walking around the edgier central Lima markets and china town was pretty hectic, crowds everywhere flogging flying toy helicopters, bracelets, street snacks... Incessant horn honking, traffic gridlock and extreme un-roadworthiness rules the road

•a night out in the bohemian district of barranco led us to the romantic viewing point and picturesque (yet precarious) bridge 'of sighs' puente de los spiros, where legend (Billy) has it if you hold your breath whilst crossing the bridge and make a wish it will come true. My wish was that it didn't fall down while we were crossing.

Bridge of Sighs (Puente de los Suspiros)

Bridge of Sighs (Puente de los Suspiros)

•back to miraflores to a local club where I noticed how open & unashamedly amorous people of the area are... Witnessing a Peruvian reenactment of the dancefloor scene in Rita, Sue & Bob 2...and a breakdance dance off with locals and people from our hostel until we called it a night before someone put their back out.

Local breakdancing action

Local breakdancing action

Posted by nickiwilloughby 02.10.2012 15:43 Archived in Peru Tagged peru the of lima del plaza changing guards armes Comments (0)

An Oasis in the Desert...

...and I dont mean a Gallagher Brother in Vegas

sunny 26 °C

After two days with Billy the Kid in Lima, it was time to bust a groove a few hours south to Ica.
Panic set in whilst stuck in Lima gridlock traffic on the way to bus station as the clock ticked closer to the departure time of 10 am. "quanto tiempo a estacion autobus?" we attempted to demonstrate our increasing sense of urgency to our taxi driver friend to no avail. Screeching to a halt at 9.59am we scrambled to the bus with backpacks flying everywhere.

To our delight the bus was still there and we took our seats thanking our lucky stars we made it in the nick of time.

One hour later, we were still sat stationary at the bus station. Lesson número UNO on Peruvian time keeping.

Despite the false start, I can't fault the bus service, proper comfy & we got to Ica & cabbed it to nearby Huacachina in no time.

Huacachina truly is a stunning chilled oasis in the desert, complete with mountainous sand dunes surrounding a peaceful palm tree lined sun drenched lake.

Popular with locals & travellers alike, a mix of families, honeymooning couples, sand surfer dudes and travellers saunter around the oasis and the air is relaxed and laid back.

Instantly at ease in the friendly and secure Desert Nights hostel we settled in for 3 nights of Pisco Sours, sing-a-longs with hostel staff featuring guest bongo appearance, late night salsa lessons (uno, dos, tres.... Quatro, cinco, seis!), hammock chilling, pool paddling & buggy (roller-coaster) dune rides.

The lagoon

The lagoon

Sand Dunes of Huacachina

Sand Dunes of Huacachina

Sand Buggy/ Rollercoaster

Sand Buggy/ Rollercoaster

Huacachina Sand Dunes

Huacachina Sand Dunes

Posted by nickiwilloughby 04.10.2012 15:15 Archived in Peru Tagged desert sand huacachina sandboarding buggy ica nights Comments (0)

The Poor Mans David Attenborough

sunny 26 °C

Sir David was otherwise engaged so you are stuck with the poor mans commentary of the poor mans Gallapagos Islands, the Islas Ballestas, soz.

From the resort town of Paracas (near Pisco) we speed-boated it across to the Islands, stopping to check out El Candelabro, a massive geoglyph (design in the ground) which, as the name suggests, looks a bit like a candelabra (or a cactus?). It is thought it could have been used as a orientation marker for sailors in the past, although in my opinion the design fault is that its not actually a real candelabra and doesnt light up so what are you meant to do at night? It wouldnt have made it through the Inca version of Dragons Den would it?

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As we got closer to the islands, which were basically huge rock formations, you could barely see them under the mass of birds, seals and sea lions covering every nook & cranny. The sky was filled with various sea birds, such as the guanay guano bird & the blue-footed booby!? Yes thats a real bird. The dodging-the-bird-droppings-game began, and our guide reminded those gazing open mouthed at the birds overhead that it was probably advisable to keep your mouth shut.

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Closer still and a lone Humboldt penguin could be spotted, the odd crab and lots of fur seals and sea lions, which have to be the laziest animals alive. Sprawled across the rocks sunbathing, they could barley be arsed to lift their heads from the rock as we passed, probably due to the fact that their disproportionately fat bodies outweigh their tiny heads and flippers by about 10 to 1. To be fair I probably wouldnt be that impressed if a boat load of gwaping sea lions went past my back garden when I was out sunbathing either. They appear to be pretty social animals, since they all chose the one rock to lie on, despite the fact there were plenty to choose from, even though it meant lying pretty much on top of each other. Maybe a bit like when your whole family fights over the best comfy seat on the sofa to watch TV? "move over, Sealenders is on".

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The smell of Guano (the name for bird & seal excrement, which is collected and used as fertiliser) combined with the rocking of the small boat and the petrol fumes meant a strong stomach was pretty essential for this tour, but it was well worth it to get up close and personal with the wildlife in its natural home. Ill let you know how it compares to the actual Galapagos when I get there!

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Posted by nickiwilloughby 30.10.2012 09:33 Archived in Peru Tagged sea islands penguin wildlife peru blue poor seal paracas lion galapagos islas ballestas booby footed mans guanay guano humboldt Comments (0)

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