Peru here we come! (March 19-20, 2008)

Well, this is our first post in a long time. Seeing it is a travel blog, it gets updated on our big trips.

This year, we decided that we were going to Peru for 2 1/2 weeks. We are going to meet our friends Kevin and Melissa there. Kevin is presenting at a conference in Peru so it was a good excuse to travel there (not that we need an excuse :)) Neither of us have ever been to South America so we were very excited to go. Peru has always been at the top of our list so it worked out great to be able to meet some friends there and travel together.

We flew out from Montreal at 2:00 pm via Toronto, met Kevin and Meliisa in Toronto and took the same flight to Lima, Peru. We even ended up getting upgraded to business class. Yahoo! Long story short, last year when we flew to S.E. Asia, we were supposed to fly business class all the way but didn´t end getting it on the Montreal to Vancouver leg. So, Roger made a phone call to Aeroplan the morning we left and did some sweet talking at the airport and voila – Business Class! The trip from Toronto to Lima was close to 9 hours so getting the nice big seats and special treatment was a real treat.

We arrived in Lima around midnight and spent the next 5 hours in the airport. We had booked a flight to Arequipa at 4:55 am so decided so just wait it out in the airport. Man, the airport in Lima is busy all night long. At times, we thought were were in shopping centre there were so many people. We bought a few beers, sat on the ground and hung out.

Our flight to Arequipa left right on time. We were all pretty tired as we had been up for 24 hours. The flight was only a 50 min. flight. We snoozed a bit on the flight but were awake for when the sun came up. And wow, what a sight to see. We were flying over the desert for a portion of the flight and then were flying over these amazing mountains. When we landed in Arequipa, the runway was right beside this beautiful snow capped mountain. We were not at all expecting it so seeing something so beautiful was breathtaking.

We took a cab to our hotel and checked in at 7:00 am. We were all really tired so we took a 5 hour nap. The hotel we stayed at was Hostal Las Torres de Ugarte, which was really nice. At noon we headed out. At first we were going to have something to eat and then visit the Convent of Santa Cantalina. However, seeing it was holy Thursday, the convent was closing at 3:00 pm. We decided to visit it first. We quickly grabbed two waters, 2 little packs of cookies and 4 madeleine type pastries and were pretty surprised when it came to $1.75!

The convent was really beautiful with gorgeous colours. It was closed to the public for 391 years, up until 1970. It was almost a small city enclosed within walls. Each nun´s appartment had a small stone oven as well as a simple bed. They only communicated to the outside world via little revolving windows. It was a very interesting place to visit and see how they lived for so many years.

After visiting the convent, we went made our way to Plaza de Amrmas (or square of weapons as they translate it) which is a gorgeous square with a beautiful cathedral. We then went to a simple restaurant where we had some amazing empanadas. We wanted to have a beer with lunch but were told that because it was the holy week, beer was not sold on Holy Thursday and Good Friday. However, on our way back to our hotel, we found a small bar that sold us beer. And man is beer cheap here. In a bar, they cost about $1.50. And the beer is great as well. They played 80s music with the music videos, it was quite funny.

In the evening, we walked around for a while. It is Semana Santa (Holy week) and Peru is very catholic. Many people were in the city and very few tourists. It was a festival and thousands of people were in the streets with tables and street food all over the place. The cathedral was packed! It was quite the thing to see. We had supper at a street both with grilled beef which was delicious, and some tripes with potatoes which I think I was the only one (Marj) to appreciate! We kept walking around following the crowd which was going from church to church. We then had hot drink a one of the outside table. It was called Diana drink as far as we could gather and it as delicious (milk, sweet, coconut). Seeing we were all still pretty tired from our long day and wondering around hundreds of people, we went to bed around 10:00 pm that night.

Our first impressions of Peru? Arequipa is a beautiful city. It was amazing to walk around and take it all in. The people all seem very friendly. It is interesting to walk around with Marjorie and Melissa as they stick out in this country – Marjorie with her blond hair and Melissa with her red hair. Then were already asked if they were sisters.

Peru itself is a very cheap country to travel in. Our lunch was about $2/person and the beer was $1.50. Taxi cabs cost us about $1.00 to travel across the city.  Bottle water costs about 40 cents and internet access is about the same price (40 cents).
All in all a very busy 2 days (if we count the plane ride) but great ones that already started more amazing memories.

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