Tuesday, August 31, 2010

07 August: Lima

Woke up quite early this morning (6am) but dozed till half past seven when The Ageing Aunt & I got up, showered and went thru for breakfast.

Unfortunately reception is not very helpful because they hardly seem to understand any English but, we chatted to a French family (who had just finished another Intrepid tour) and a Dutch couple and got some tips for our free day in Lima.

Step one was to take a wander around near the hotel and change some USD into Nuevo Sol and then catch a taxi to the Museo Nacional de Arqueologia.

I feel quite safe wandering around here as there are so many other people walking too. Plus there are loads of very easy to spot and helpful security people too. The taxi's are also very easy to find and I like that you fix the price beforehand. Although we have had one or two struggles with trying to explain where we wanted to go and understanding how much it'll cost (at the moment my Spanish numbers only go up to cinco ;) ).

I was dead set on going to the Archaeological Musuem because I was so annoyed at having missed the one in Spain, but sadly the Museo Nacional de Arqueologia was quite disappointing, I thought. Just about everything was only explained in Spanish and mostly all they showed was pottery. I was hoping for a mummy or two ;)

After that we ended up buying a map of Lima. I was quite surprised to have to do that because so many other places I've traveled to seem to just have them freely available at reception. We only had a little map of Miraflores on the back of our hotel pamphlet. We thought we'd be able to walk between museums, but we ended up taking about taxi (this one over charged us, I'm sure!) to the Museo Banco Central de Reserva, which was a *free* museum in the Centro Historica de Lima which the Dutch couple had recommended to us.

I thought this one was well worth it because we even had an actual guide take us around and explain everything. I would definitely recommend this museum over the other one, if you find yourself with some free time in Lima! I especially liked seeing the ancient singing pottery they made actually working! Although I still clearly need to do some more online research into this whole "pre-inca" thing ... Seems like Peru was quite the melting pot of cultures.

When we'd finished our tour, we took a stroll to the nearby Plaza Mayor and generally wandered around looking for a spot for lunch. We found a McDonalds to try. I'm sure I've mentioned before that I tend to eat at least one McDonalds meal in each foreign country I visit because they always have such different menu items and I knew this would be my only day for it! I had the Pollo Gourmet Burger. Not bad, but I'll stick with the Cajun Chicken Deluxe from home instead, thanks.

After a little more wandering around, we caught a taxi back to our hotel and The Ageing Aunt climbed into bed to catch up on her sleep while I took a stroll down Ave Larco to see the South Pacific Ocean for the first time in my life :) Had a wander around Larco Mar (like a mall / plaza thing perched over-looking the sea) and watched paragliders in the air and loved hearing the ocean waves ... I certainly miss some things by living in Joburg!

And then it was back to the hotel after a quick browse around a little deli-supermarket - for some reason I love going to see what weird and wonderful things the day-to-day grocery shops stock in other countries. There are no odd flavours of Fanta for me to try tho, sadly (another travel-quirk of mine ... I can't explain this one either tho! Haha).

We had our tour joining meeting this afternoon too. It's a much smaller group than I've traveled with before, there'll only be a total of 8 of us, and that's including our tour-leader (2 of the group have yet to arrive tho).

The 6 of us all went to a local restaurant for dinner called El Parquetito and got our first taste of Pisco Sour, a very popular cocktail made with the local Pisco alcohol. Actually it was a whole evening of trying new things. I had Loin of Alpaca cooked in Pisco with mashed sweet potato (while in Peru you'll be told they have anything up to 4000 varieties of potato, I checked online and WikiAnswers says it's actually more like 184). It was delish! I also tried another non-alcoholic local drink called Chicha Morada ("made with Midnight Corn" - inside joke, sorry), which reminded me a lot of Gluhwein, it was quite cinnamon-y, but cold.

After dinner we took a bit of a wander around Parque Central Kennedy which was bustling with people and children and stalls all night. We noticed a very fancy old-style car outside the Inglesia Matriz Virgen Milagrosa (Catholic church) and realised there was a wedding going on inside so we (along with quite a few other passers by) popped in for a quick look. Voyeuristic, I guess?

And then we went to another spot for a drink. We all tried a Machu Picchu Cocktail (also made with Pisco but with 3 colour layers), which was quite potent!

After that we headed home, I was quite tired. Seems I wasn't as successful as I thought at breaking in my new hiking boots tho, because my ankles are now killing me after the day's walking around :(

Post-Holiday Blues

Sigh. I did not wake up feeling happy this morning. Rather I was quite overwhelmed with the whole real-life-ness of everything. I can't remember when I felt like this (no doubt sometime back when I was dating Varen and my life was *far* more mundane and I spent ages wondering if that was as good as it got ... but luckily it wasn't!).

I can only put this down to post-holiday blues. But honestly, if I thought I could've gotten away with it, I would've switched off the alarm and stayed in bed and panic-ed all day about all the grown-up adult and responsible things that need doing in life (even more so now that I've spent a blissful 3 weeks far from thinking about any of them!). Omg, I own an apartment again. And my tenant has just moved out (her lease with the previous owner was up at the end of August and she decided not to renew it because while I was waiting for transfer to go thru, she put an offer in on her own place which she's moving to instead ... which makes total sense, but sucks for me!). So I have a month to find myself a new tenant. Sigh. Admin. I have to sort out my Tax (urgh). I have to get round to booking all those annoying annual doctors/dentist visits.

And then there is all the day-to-day nonsense that I'm avoiding. Yes, not every day is the same, and let's be honest, my life could be more boring ... by midday yesterday I had plans for every evening this week until Saturday! (Sheesh).

I'm sure this too will pass, as life just rolls on and things just happen and it all just has to get done (let's just take it one day at a time, okay?). But honestly, I'd often rather just hide away and ignore all the responsible things.

Monday, August 30, 2010

06 August: Johannesburg to Buenos Aires to Lima

My Ageing Aunt arrived from Cape Town last night and caught the Gautrain to Sandton where I collected her and reloaded my travel card in preparation for this morning.

When we got home I was about to start actually trying to pack everything I'd put out into my bag. Three attempts later and plenty of items returned to my cupboard and I was done. I don't think I've ever struggled as much to pack. All this additional gear (hiking boots, sleeping bags etc.) really takes up more space than I'm used to!

This morning we woke up at 05h30 sharp and left the house an hour later. TheHousemate took us to the Sandton Gautrain station, which we then took to the airport. So much better than needing a lift to the airport at that sort of hour! Again, I freaking *love* the Gautrain :)

We checked in for our flight, went thru passport control and then had a delish breakfast at Newscafe before boarding. I will point out my amusement at the irony of getting metal cutlery on the plane but that awful plastic stuff at Newscafe in the airport :P

The SAA flight to Buenos Aires was *long*. We left Joburg at about 10am (5am Buenos Aires time) and flew for about 11hrs (arrived in Buenos Aires at 16h15). I didn't really want to sleep too much on the flight, it being "daytime" and all and me trying to set my body clock for our new time zone. But they pretty much faked a night flight with the lights off and windows closed the entire way :(

I did snooze a little. What I did not do was enjoy the flight. We had those main-console entertainment systems which showed only 2 (rubbish) movies the entire flight: The Ghost Writer (which I was interested to watch but was so boring I fell asleep during) and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (which I've seen before and know that it is so bad that even the presence of Sean Connery can not save it!)

The food on the plane was fine, I particularly enjoyed the vegetarian meal I had.

And then we landed in Buenos Aires and got shuffled thru, had our hand-luggage re-scanned (I dunno what they think I might have found on the plane to add to it :P Metal Cutlery?) and were told to go to Gate 2 for out TACA flight to Peru.

Except we didn't have a boarding pass for our second flight. Every other time that that has happened to me (Morocco to Spain), we've arrived and gone to a check-in desk to collect it. Not here! Here they were quite rude and all anyone would tell us was "Lima, Gate 2!" ... Yes, surprise, I already know that :P

About an hour before out Lima flight, someone arrived at our Gate and people swarmed to the counter. Turns out no one in transit had a boarding pass and they were about to be issued.

The flight to Lima was uneventful. I slept thru most of it. It also only had main-console entertainment and the meal was the most pathetic I've had on a plane in memory.

But, we arrived in Lima safely, now 7hrs behind South African time at 20h50. We got our passports stamped, collected our bags and cleared customs. And then waited while being harassed by taxi drivers for our pre-booked transfer to the hotel.

They tell you they'll have a sign with your name and not to go with anyone else, but they didn't. I was pretty sure tho that this poor guy who could only speak Spanish couldn't have guessed a name like mine when asked, so I felt okay going with him anyway.

After a lengthy drive from the airport, we arrived at Hostal Buena Vista and checked into our room. It is now a full 24hrs since we'd woken up in South Africa to start our journey! Straight to bed.

The Return

Ola. Buenos Dias amigos y amigas. Allyanchou.

Yes folks, I'm back from a truly awesome 3 weeks in Peru. I won't go into too much of the holiday detail now (ruin the suspense and all), but the much anticipated holiday posts will commence shortly and then we can all vicariously live it again. Yay.

Sigh, I can't believe I am already at the office. More importantly I can't believe I'm the first one here ... am wondering if we moved while I was away?! It's not impossible considering some recent events, but the place looks the same and my key still works - haha.

So what have I been up to post-return. Not too much really. TheBundles have not yet accepted my presence sadly :( But things do seem calmer between them all. I have unpacked (that is not to say I have re-packed anything that was unpacked away yet tho). I spent a fair amount of time online trying to catch-up ... mostly that means faffing on The Big Fake and trying to get my first week of holiday posts done and dusted (they take a fair amount of time, transferring the manual entries onto the blog and then tracking down links and re-sizing photos). Have not even thought about my #365 project yet tho ... give me a chance!

I took CollegeInstructor out for some Thai food on Saturday evening for dinner to say thanks for looking after TheBundles so well. And I even managed to keep my eyes open till late enough on Saturday night to make a swing past Red Room ... there were promises of a big night with the whole crowd which didn't materialise so I was home and in bed before 1am. And on Sunday I had a lovely catch-up lunch with @Arkwife :)

> Follow @Arkwife on Twitter:

And now excuse me while I head off to work my way thru my office emails (and hope someone arrives) ... luckily only 158 (of the 1625) have not been auto-filtered (and therefore ignored).

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Peru in T-minus 24hours

So folks, this is it, my last working day before heading off to Peru for 3 weeks. Granted tomorrow will mostly be spent on an airplane, and I'll technically only be arriving in Peru int he early hours of Saturday morning, South African time ... but it'll still be Friday night in Peru, and that is what counts!

In the mean time I've had a typically busy week. We celebrated the dog's 11th Birthday at SCM Dinner on Monday evening. Yes, with a cake and everything. I gather it's rather a tradition.

On Tuesday I had one of my rare night's at home but it was not spent climbing into bed early watching series, this time it was spent preparing for my impending trip. Half of my dining room table is now covered with non-clothing items to pack (with all this hiking gear, there is a lot more than usual!) ... I am hoping I'll manage to squeeze a few clothes into my bag at all looking at this lot! So, this evening all that needs doing is setting out the clothes and I'm ready to pack. Wow. Can't believe it's already here! I suspect there is something to be said for planning a trip long in advance for how it keeps you mood up having something to look forward to. I will admit I am a little worried at how I'll get thru the rest of the year knowing my holiday is already behind me when I get back and discover it is only September!

And then last night I headed off to my favourite sushi spot, Yamada, with @saulkza and @Nadgia for dinner. Which naturally we had to follow up with a stop at our new favourite Hot Chocolate spot, Rocket. Yum!

> Follow @saulkza on Twitter:

> Follow @Nadgia on Twitter:

And tonight, well tonight is the big packing night, as I already said. But my Ageing Aunt is also arriving this evening too. And then we will be all-systems-go for Peru :)

And don't worry, CollegeInstructor will be keeping a capable eye on the bundles while I'm away :) The spaying doesn't seem to have helped Coal's temperament too much sadly, but as long as you let her spend her time digging, she seems content to leave the others alone ... mostly.

See y'all when I get back :) Although you may have some sneaky #Peru2010 updates via Twitter using SMS, depending on how my signal is over there.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Six of Six

Well, that was my last weekend before Peru and my last 30th Birthday Dinner!

Friday was spent climbing into bed early and watching series. I was pretty exhausted from the week. On Saturday I went to try and collect a box of mine that Varen said he'd found, but he was true to form and completely unreliable and when I arrived at the guard house of his complex to collect the box (what, did you think I'd want to see him?) they had no idea what I was talking about. I'd smsed him earlier in the morning saying what time I'd be there by, although he hadn't responded. And when I got there to discover there was no box for me, I called him. He didn't answer and I haven't heard from him since about the box. What is wrong with people that they get in touch with you when you'd really rather have nothing to do with them, make a plan and then not follow thru with their part of the arrangement ... I mean he was the one who got in touch with me about it, you'd think he'd want me to take it :P Urgh, it just really annoyed me and just upset me as I wondered how on earth I'd actually dated this person for *so* long ?!? Have been wondering that about quite a few of my exes lately ... I mean why have I wasted so much time? Anyway, I went shopping afterwards to cheer myself up :)

I bought ingredients for the dinner party and then some not-so-necessary items for my trip ... a new toiletry bag (I've had my one for more than 10 years!!) and some cheapy sun-glasses to take with me (always an advisable purchase for a holiday since they break or get damaged so easily on trips like this an I've just recently bought myself some really nice new expensive ones so *really* did not want to be taking them along).

And then I went home and headed off on my Neighbourhood Trek. Took along 2 bricks in the back-pack (brick-pack?) this time and survived. And then it was time to get ready for dinner. I had a few of the SCM Dinner crowd over and made Nam-Jim Chicken for dinner. (Yes folks, it's hard to believe but, my 30th birthday parties have finally come to an end).

We had a lovely time, you really can tell that we all eat together regularly. And polished off seven bottles of wine between 5 of us ... I was expecting to just have to crawl into bed after dinner so I wasn't too worried. But then everyone decided Red Room was the place to be, so I got a lift with @samanthaperry & @scottjorton and off we headed. I stayed over at their place afterwards and we all awoke feeling less than ideal the next day.

After a very slow morning we eventually headed off to Cars in the Park at Zwartkops Raceway to have a look at all the old cars ... an ideal #365 opportunity. Made it a bit of a memorial weekend for me, spent a lot of time chatting about and remembering Gum. Had me in tears at one stage even, as I read my 2yr old blog-post ... can't believe 2 years have flown by like this!

Other than that, Sunday was very uneventful. Managed to get my #365 up to date tho :)

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