Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu has been on my Bucket List for a few months now. #30
Once I knew that I was going to study abroad in Chile, I knew I had to save some money to see Machu Picchu.

The Cost: It’s Going to be Fine

Machu Picchu is actually very expensive, at least for college students like me. The train to Aguas Calientes (town of Machu Picchu) is about $120 and the ticket entrance to the park itself is about $60. There are many ways to save money, especially if you have an international student card and can save 50%

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And there it is! In all its glory!

However, just like when you’re applying to college, you should never let cost dissuade you from taking a leap of faith! Traveling is worth it and it is SUCH a great investment (after educating young girls, in my opinion)

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reminder for whenever someone tells me that I am wasting my time traveling!

We arrived at the park a little before 10am, and we were the late group in out student program because other students hiked the 20km ride from 7am (God’s speed. Who needs legs?!)

Machu Picchu was HARD. Especially because I am not accustomed to hiking. As in, I’ve never hiked before in my life.

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thank God Ale was there because I am petrified of heights

I cannot recommend this trip enough!

It was breathtaking and my friends and I managed to walk around all of the major sites.

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we had to kneel on rocks. worth it!

We survived Machu Picchu!

Now, all we have to conquer is an 8 hour layover in Lima and then we are back in Chile!

Xoxo,

Steph

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Ollantaytambo, Peru

Greetings from Ollantaytambo (had to check the spelling. still unsure)

A few days ago we invested in a partial pass to see the ruins in Peru. Being the genius that I am, I forgot my Tufts ID with me and could not get the full discount for the pass. Nonetheless, we were able to see three ruins replete with guides (more on that later). We saw one ruin in Ollantaytambo

The view was incredible because from the top you could see the whole city (only 10,000 people). This was the easiest ruin to see because it was just three blocks away from our hostel

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the tiny houses! one of them was our hostel!

How the Inca people managed to carry these HUGE rocks up the hills and mountains is beyond me.

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the view from the drive up to Moray 

 

The next ruin on our list was in Moray. Firstly, getting to Moray is no small feat. We got on a bus from Ollanta to Ururumba then on another bus to Maras and then we had to get on a taxi for the last 13km to Moray to the ecological site. Just the view of the drive to Moray was breath-taking! We managed to snap a few photos in between dust splattering in our eyes from the dirt road.
And it was worth it!

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this took a long time to walk!

After Moray we went to Pisac (yes, we skipped lunch and it was a very long day)

The ruins at Pisac were my second favorite and they were unforgettable. Our taxi driver on the way taught us a little bit of Quechua (the language of Indigenous people in Peru). We chatted a bit about the relationship between the government and the indigenous people and the differences and similarities between the US and its indigenous people.

Would definitely recommend going at sunset to see the sun shining on part of the mountains and listen to birds singing!

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We have had a few obstacles here in Peru; accidentally drinking the water, altitude sickness, and last-minute hostel cancellations. However, we made the best of the situation and powered on to learn as much as we could about this country and its rich history.

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never ever ever hike with skinny jeans (hike was impromptu)

Five Tips on Cusco

I make a TON of mistakes when I travel: I lose my receipts, I miss buses, I forget to research business hours, and many many others! Needless, to say, there is ample room for improvement and learning. After 1.5 days in Cusco, I have learned many things and I hope to remember these tips next time I hop to another city.

And now, here are the five essential tips that I have learned so far: (these lessons were hard to learn so I am going to relieve the pressure with pictures of pretty sights and delicious foods. You don’t mind)

1. Always Have Cash Available
Although, this is a pretty touristic city, some places still do not take card. It is very preferable that you have cash as they will always ask if you can pay “con efectivo” (which means cash). However, my American friends there is good news.
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you were so delicious and I want to marry you.

2. You Don’t Have To Have Soles
The Peruvian money is called soles but all the places we have visited so far have made transactions in both USD and soles which helps a lot because sometimes you don’t have time between sites to go exchange money (although they are on every corner of Cusco)
3. Bring Toilet Paper
The bathrooms are free in Cusco (unlike Santiago). However, that means that there is most likely no worker maintaining them and so they often run out of toilet paper. You hostel might also not have toilet paper. BYOT…P.
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I had this with delicious black coffee mixed with pisco

4. Bargain
You can bargain at the artisan shops because there usually many shops that are close to each other and they usually have the same minimum prices. Additionally, I am almost certain they hike up the prices for Americans (as they do in most countries). Bargaining does not just apply to artisan shops, it applies to tourist shops, too. Always consider if you can do the tour yourself or get on a public bus to get to the sites. However, there are many tours that are beneficial to have because of the rich history of the sites.
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peruvian chocolate is amazing. peruvian hot chocolate is amazing-er

5. Altitude Sickness Medicine
The first half day here was rough. I was nauseous, exhausted, and cranky. It does not help that I had a throbbing headache. I could not even see straight and needed to stop every few meters to catch my breath (my friends graciously waited for me). Also, when you are buying altitude sickness medicine be sure to buy just that. I almost mistakingly said morning sickness medicine and very well could have gotten a totally different drug.
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the alpaca ties are a great touch to the city

I hope these have been helpful! We have one more day here in Cusco until we move on to our next town. Cannot wait!
Xoxo,
Steph

Cusco, Peru

Cusco has been amazing so far! We landed yesterday around noon and it took us about 2 hours to get our bags, get situated, and arrive at our hostel.
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the view from one of the Cathedral

After talking to many tour guides and getting as much information as possible, we decided to do one tour in addition to Machu Picchu (this Monday!). I am beyond excited because MP has been on my bucket list for a few months and I am bubbling with excitement!
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view from another Cathedral

Initially, we thought it was going to rain today but it only drizzled and we are super thrilled. So we strapped on our hiking boots, got our maps, and walked around the city today. In most of the churches and museums, we could only take pictures outside and not inside but the Plaza de Armas at Cusco is impressively better than Santiago’s Plaza de Armas.
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Cusco, you’re so pretty!

Then we got some lunch which was very delicious! Three course meals for three people was about 15 USD which is very cheap and awesome!
One more thing: Cusco is full of artisan shops that sell everything alpaca themed (earrings, necklaces, ties, shoes, etc..)
They also have coffee with pisco sour. So there’s that.
Xoxo,
Steph

Boat Rides and Houses on Stilts

Still reminiscing about our great trip last week to Chiloe. I didn’t know how much of a toll all the travelling would have on my body and have been in bed for two days—SO TIRED.
One of my favorite excursions of the trip was jumping on a boat to Achao to see the local churches! Chiloe is famous for its marvelous and ubiquitous churches! After Castro and on our way to Puerto Montt we stopped at Dalcahue! There we had delicious Curanto.
Curanto is a traditional Chilean seafood dish. It is chicken, ribbed mussels, pork, sausage, clams, potatoes, and (sometimes) salmon all cooked in a steamy and savory broth. It is one of the best Chilean dishes, in my opinion.

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The boat is called “Titanic 2” ended much better than Titanic 

As we were walking back to Puerto Montt, we saw some fishermen out in the dock and asked them of they were giving boat tours! They said it wasn’t quite the season for tours yet but they would take us anyway! For about $15 each we were on our way for a 1.5 hour tour across the island!

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such a beautiful island

Our captain even showed us how to stir the boat! I was petrified but I did it. Ale did it for about half of the trip.

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He was supposed to be stirring the ship but he did this and left our fate in Ale’s hands.

Our captain was to nice and hospitable and told us about how he got his fishing license decades ago! He was so happy to share his life with us.

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so much fun stirring the boat!

We got a big surprise when we saw a pod of dolphins and sealions!

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SO SCARY

I cannot imagine going on this trip with anyone else. I am learning a lot on this trip about growing, meeting new people, and stepping outside of my comfort zone. When I first met Ale her height intimidated me. And just weeks later, I am flying across the country to see volcanoes with her– a woman twice my height! Ok, not really twice but sometimes it feels like it!

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I cannot wait for Machu Picchu and exploring Lima in less than 2 weeks!

*The featured photo is the famous “Houses on Stilts” in Castro, we snapped a photo on a rainy day and still managed to capture the beauty!

Xoxo,

Steph

Muelle de Las Palmas

Muelle de Las Palmas was a sight to see and one that I will never forget!
We originally had plans to visit the National Park of Chiloe that day and had no idea about Muelle. But our hostel owner (the sweetest guy you’ll ever meet–even picked us up from the airport!) suggested it and showed us pictures and we knew we could not pass up this opportunity!

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little did we know that we would see such great horses

He told us when and where we needed to take the bus and said that we would walk a few minutes to get to the wooden structure at the Muelle (it was an hour hike each way). I love Chileans. They ALWAYS underestimate how much time something should take.

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the hike up was breathtaking

The next morning it didn’t rain–IT POURED! Still, we pulled out our hiking boots and rain jackets and we were on the way.

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the winds were incredible!

On the bus we met the sweetest couple on vacation. We even made a video with them. Unfortunately, the hike up was so difficult and slippery that the wife fracture her ankle. She took a break on the green luscious meadow while we finished the hike and came back for her.

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the wind from the ocean almost knocked me down—several times

At the end, a horse had to be called from another town to transport her to the bus. It was quite an ordeal but we survived it!

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we made it to the Muelle!

The sights were breathtaking and I could not stop taking pictures of the horses and sheep. So blessed to be living this life in this incredible way.

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never will I forget this trip!

Xoxo,

Steph

Ancud, Chiloe

A few weeks ago, my friend Ale convinced me to buy flights to Chiloe,  Chile. Chiloe is a small island in the south of Chile. Soon Ale (God bless her) was purring together a Google drive filled with information on poet cities, restaurants, tourist sights to explore! It was tight given that this would be my FIFTH trip while I am (Machu Picchu is next!) here in Chile but I said cool!

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Beautiful house near the Pacific Ocean!

Thursday night we arrived in Puerto Montt and spent the night in the nicest hostel right in the middle of the city.
Next, we went to Ancud on Friday morning! There we dropped our luggage at the bus station and went straight to the plaza! We visited the the beach and walked along on the chore near a canon sight. Ale took a nap on the beach and I munched on her chocolate.

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Near the Bus Terminal

Then we spent the next two days in Castro! We are currently in Puerto Montt and are going to see volcanoes tomorrow!
Cannot wait!

Xoxo,

Steph