Travel Tuesday!

Greetings, from rainy Minneapolis, MN! We’re currently visiting with my in-laws over the Labor Day weekend we had here in the U.S.

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I don’t know about you, but I’m daydreaming of Italy today! Sigh… I fell in love with Rome. Most people know that I consider it the city where I realized I was going to marry my husband. It was our 1st trip together. Besides being a beautifully romantic city, I felt as if I was transported back in time. I was in awe of all the architecture, ruins, and original statues that still remain around the city. Simply fantastic! That’s why for today’s Travel Tuesday, I picked Rome! A Must for any traveler.

La Vida Sunshine: What to do in Lima, Peru.

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Lima was full of surprises for me. First of all, it’s a much larger city than I ever expected. It’s home to some of the best restaurants in the world. It has ancient ruins in the middle of its modern day city. Which for me, puts it at the top of one of my favorite cities in the world.  

We stayed in Miraflores for 3 days. Upon our return from Machu Picchu, we stayed in San Isidro for another 3 days. Even with 6 days total in Lima, it still was not enough time to do and see everything. This city and country can easily keep you busy for months. 12366019_10105764968638568_3245820084875790901_o

Lima is the capital of Peru. It was founded in 1535. It resides along the Pacific coast in South America. It was about a 6.5-hour flight for us from Houston, TX. It had been on my bucket list for years. Our Lima itinerary consisted of 2 special reservations at Astrid & Gaston and Central Restaurante. We also had reservations at Maido, but we became so ill we had to cancel our reservation. That was thanks to some ill prepared burgers we ate at lunch one day. We paid for those burgers for days. Ugh! I don’t ever want to relive that experience again. We also visited 2 ancient ruins of Huaca Pucllana and Huaca Huallamarca, Larcomar, Museo Larco, and Parque de la Reserva for the night light and water show.

Can you imagine a modern day city with ancient ruins in the middle of it? Because that’s what you can expect in Lima. It’s pretty cool! Our 1st full day in Lima we visited Huaca Pucllana.  

It was within walking distance of where we stayed at Radisson Hotel Decapolis Miraflores in Miraflores.

The 2nd ruins we went to Huaca Huallamarca is in San Isidro, also within walking distance of our Hotel Atton in San Isidro.

Both of the ruins are great for a half day trip.  It’s a great reminder how Lima is an ancient world meets modern day city. I appreciate that Lima has made the effort in preserving its history. In fact, while we were there they were excavating. I read in the newspaper later that they actually uncovered bodies that had been buried hundreds of years ago on the site. How cool! They are still discovering stories to their past.

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One of my favorite things was simply walking the Malecon and stopping along the way at Parque Del Amor and people watch.

They also have a lighthouse that we walked to and enjoyed the views along the way. Here you’ll find people walking and running along the Malecon. You’ll also see families enjoying a picnic on a nice day. Oh, and people bike riding.

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We walked all the way down the Malecon and right into Larcomar. Larcomar is the large shopping center located in Miraflores. Here you’ll find everything you could ever need from clothes, shoes, and luggage. It rivals any huge and modern mall, the only thing is this one is incredibly beautiful and overlooks the Pacific ocean. Also, here is where we purchased our Peru Rail tickets for the train ride to Machu Picchu 4 days in advance. They have a kiosk and it was the perfect place to reserve and purchase our tickets ahead of getting to Cusco. I highly recommend this.

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From Larcomar to Museo Larco, from shopping to one of the best museums I’ve ever been to. First of all, Museo Larco is just as beautiful on the outside as it is on the inside with all of its ancient artifacts and history of the Americas.

My only regret is we didn’t stay to eat something in the beautiful garden museum restaurant. It was not within walking distance from our hotel, therefore, a taxi was necessary to get here. There also were plenty of taxi’s waiting outside when we were ready to leave.

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We had a perfect date night while visiting Parque de la Reserva. This park has one of the most extraordinary night light and water shows we’ve ever seen. The show was fantastic, the park is huge, and it was wonderful seeing so many couples and families enjoying the evening and the show together.

This was not walking distance from San Isidro or Miraflores, therefore, a taxi cab was necessary for the trip. We paid our taxi from our hotel a little extra for him to come back and pick us up after the water show later that night. It was worth it as it’s not located in the safest neighborhood.

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There is still much left to be seen and experienced in Lima. Before we left, we promised ourselves we’d return. I truly loved everything about this modern day city next to the sea. Until next time, Lima, I Love you!

My Machu Picchu Dream Come True!

Since I was in High School and first learned about Machu Picchu, from my Spanish teacher, I’ve wanted to go to Peru.  She was Peruvian and had shared with us about her people, culture, and history. Being raised in a proud Mexican-American family, I was fascinated with this other group of Latino history. Life went on… but I always thought about Peru, and especially Machu Picchu. I figured it was one of those places that I put on my bucket list and go to before I die. Whenever someone asked, where do you want to go? I would always without hesitation answer Machu Picchu.

Imagine my surprise when it became a reality before I was ready to visit the Almighty. We originally had planned on going to Germany for Oktoberfest in Sept 2015. We landed up buying a house and had to cancel that trip. Then, our very good friend told us she was going to Peru for Thanksgiving in November. That’s when we invited ourselves on her trip home. We had to jump on the opportunity to experience Peru. I have to admit, other than our wedding, there was never a trip I was most anticipating in my life.

 

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My Machu Picchu Dream Come True! We arrived in Aguas Caliente!

 

We landed in Lima on Friday. We flew to Cusco on Monday. I took the pills to help me acclimate to the altitude, which I highly recommend. We also drank plenty of Coco de Mate, which helped me immensely. We took the 2nd train to Machu Picchu on Tuesday morning. It was a 3hr, slow train ride to Aguas Caliente.

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My Machu Picchu Dream Come True! Welcome to Machu Picchu!

Aguas Caliente is the town directly below Machu Picchu. After getting to Aguas Caliente, we had to buy bus tickets to get up to Machu Picchu. Then, we had to go to the Tourism office for our admittance tickets to Machu Picchu. Yes, it would be easier if it was in the same place, but it’s not. They only accept cash, which is also important to know, as my husband had to find a cash machine when we found out they don’t accept credit cards of any sort.

 

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My Machu Picchu Dream Come True! Welcome to Machu Picchu!

 

After that experience, we had to wait in line for the bus. There is only one station for this. The winding bus ride up the mountain is about 25 minutes. Everyone is excited and scared to death going up this narrow and steep mountain. It’s even scarier going back down.

 

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Welcome to Machu Picchu!

 

I think I prayed the whole way down the mountain. Alas, we arrived at the entry of Machu Picchu, and we didn’t see anything initially. They have a station where we could stamp our passports with a stamp of Machu Picchu, which has become my favorite stamp on my passport to date. We were approached by several tour guides. We found one that spoke in English, as we were with a non-Spanish speaking friend. He was an accredited tour guide, knowledgeable, patient, and knew where to take all the best pictures. He was well worth what we paid him. I felt he enhanced our experience because he was able to walk  us through and explain everything to us about the history and the Inca Empire.

 

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My Machu Picchu Dream Come True!

Machu Picchu is truly magnificent. There are really no words that could accurately describe it’s majesty. It has breathtaking views in whatever direction we looked.

 

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My Machu Picchu Dream Come True! Team JP Travelers In Love.

 

 

I’m truly thankful my husband and I experienced this once in a lifetime experience together. It taught me, it’s never too early to pursue my dreams. Life is short. Life is unpredictable. It was not only an adventure of a lifetime but a spiritual awakening in knowing anything is possible. I felt on top of the world at Sun Gate. Now, excuse me, while I go update my bucket list and proudly scratch off my number 1. Mission accomplished.

 

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My Machu Picchu Dream Come True! Look Ma, I’m on top of the world!

I’m living proof that dreams do come true!

 

What to do in NYC in a weekend.

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What to do in NYC in a weekend – That view…

New York! New York! Is, indeed, fabulous. My 1st trip to New York City was in October of 2013. We stayed in Times Square. We saw a Broadway show. We walked through Central Park. Which, is breathtakingly beautiful with all the leaves changing colors in the Fall. It was all a tourist dream come true.

This time, around we did none of that. This time, we stayed in Tribeca. This is what a true NYC neighborhood is made up of: small bagel shops, cafes, and plenty of bars all surrounded by early 19th Century buildings and cobblestone streets. It even had people offering us knock off designer purses and watches on most street corners. Most importantly, it wasn’t flooded with first-time tourists walking around with giant maps or cameras trying to capture everything that is Times Square. We spent our days walking through SoHo, Greenwich Village, Little Italy, and East Village. I got to see and experience Manhattan for what it really is, and it isn’t all bright lights and glitz that is Times Square and the Theater District.

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What to do in NYC in a weekend – One World Trade Center

We did manage to get some sightseeing done. Mostly things that weren’t available for us to see and do on our last trip. For starters, in 2013, One World Trade Center, was still under construction. We were able to visit the 9/11 Memorial on the ground, but not enter the building as it was not yet completed. Fortunately, it was a crappy day out. It was cold, rainy, windy, and it snowed. We paid $34 each to go up to the 100, 101, and 102nd floors of One World Observatory. Tip: if you pay using a Mastercard, you get upgraded for FREE to VIP/Express Entry, which comes in handy when there is a long line. This is a state of the art experience. The experience starts in the elevator. I won’t ruin it by saying any more about it, but it is pretty cool. On the 101st floor, there is a restaurant and bar. It was about 11 a.m., and we were ready for a beverage. Plus, it was cold out. We weren’t in a rush to go back out anytime soon. Here we were on the 101st floor of One World Trade Center. I found myself thinking about September 11, 2001. I thought about the victims, their loved ones and how the whole world changed after that. To be in the exact location drinking my cocktail, talking, laughing, surrounded by 360-degree views of Manhattan in this structurally stunning building is humbling. It made me proud as an American. It also made me feel that it was an unsaid, “F-YOU!!!” to all terrorists around the world. We are America. They may have tried to destroy us, but they never did. They didn’t break us. We rebuilt ourselves from the ground up, literally, stronger, and will always rise from the ashes. That’s what we do as Americans. Please visit the 9/11 Memorial and take the time to pay your respects, or enjoy a cocktail or two on the 101st floor of One World Trade Center. It’s something I’ll never forget.

While, I, by fortune’s favor, had the privilege of being born in the U.S.A., many people in my family did not. In fact, millions of Americans, come from other countries. My husband’s family immigrated to the U.S. in the early 1900’s through Ellis Island.

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What to do in NYC in a weekend – Welcome to Ellis Island

When we last visited NYC, Ellis Island, was also closed and under construction due to damage from Hurricane Sandy in 2012. This time, I wasn’t going to miss out on this experience.

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What to do in NYC in a weekend – Next stop… Ellis Island

We paid $18 each to take the ferry from Battery Park to Ellis Island. It also included a stop at the Statue of Liberty. It was a nicer day for a ferry ride – no snow or rain, thankfully.

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What to do in NYC in a weekend – Happy Tartan Day! Ellis Island

We were greeted by bagpipes and a woman dancing a traditional Scottish dance in honor of Tartan Day. Ellis Island is no longer a port of entry, since 1954. It is now a wonderful museum. It is modern and interactive. I learned things without feeling as if I was being taught something. I asked my husband, “what does it feel like knowing that your ancestors stood and came through here? Your American story starts here.” He said, “it’s hard to imagine and take it all in. To know what they went through.” It’s true. For most of our ancestors, it wasn’t an easy journey coming to this country. Whether it was by chains, on foot through the desert, refugees, or by steamboat, we reap the benefits of the courage our forebear’s had before us. Which is why Ellis Island, is my new favorite must see/do American/NY experience.

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What to do in NYC in a weekend

The NYC experience is unique and personal for everyone. People flock to New York City to experience something different, something new, something we’re not able to experience in any other part of the world. Whatever we may be looking for is here. This is what keeps us going back. We still have more NYC experiences to discover. I love that giant concrete jungle.

What’s your favorite NYC experience?

Throwback Thursday

NEW YORK CITY!!! STATUE OF LIBERTY! She’s just as gorgeous in person! I’m in awe of her and this beautiful gift the French gifted us. This was in October 2013. While I’m looking forward to going back, I’m not looking forward to how cold it will be this weekend. I’m used to Texas Spring now.  There’s so much left to see and do in New York! Any recommendations? Thinking of going to the Empire State Building and Ellis Island this time around.

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