20 Things I Wish I Knew In My 20’s.

Your twenties are to be enjoyed, to make mistakes and to start figuring out your future.

Your twenties are to be enjoyed, to make mistakes and to start figuring out your future. Here is just my personal list of things I wish I knew sooner or I wish I would have practiced a bit more in my 20’s.

  1. If you can only get one personal finance book, get The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey. I prefer the audio version.
  2. If you live with your parents still (I know many who still do–thanks Salliemae), try to pay off as much debt as you can and or save as much as possible.
  3. Ride out that hooptie car until you can’t any more and if you can, avoid a car payment all together. “Act your wage.”
  4. You don’t have to attend every event you are invited to just because a friend or a close acquaintance asks. “No” is a full sentence.
  5. Sis, you don’t need a new dress for every time you go out, who do we think we are? Focus on less material purchases and more experiences.
  6. Only get a master’s degree if it’s going to move you to next the step in your career. Forget the letters, if there is no concrete benefit, skip it.
  7. Read as much as you can. Never stop learning.
  8. Try more hobbies, learn a new skill.
  9. Stop being so hard on yourself.
  10. Say yes to the things you are afraid of.
  11. Apply for that job you think you are not qualified.
  12. You do not need to keep relationships just because of the length you know people.
  13. Remove yourself from toxic people, family included. Anything that costs your peace is too expensive.
  14. Stop comparing yourself with your friends’ accomplishments, God knows your timing. A grateful mentality will take you far.
  15. Keep your personal business to yourself and your therapist, specially when speaking negatively about significant others during a fight. You might forgive but your friends and family won’t.
  16. Don’t just vacation but travel as well, learn something new about a different culture and share your own with them.
  17. Stop doing things you think you like for the gram. If you are more focused on capturing the moment, you are not enjoying the actual moment.
  18. Give back, even if it’s just with your time.
  19. Be conscious of your privilege whether in education, career, upbringing, big or small, and check yourself whenever you have to.
  20. When you learn something new and useful, share your knowledge, resources, and even your network with others. You are not the gatekeeper of useful information and connections.

Hello Ireland & Portugal: Why Do We Travel?

Whether it is to get away from routine, learn something new, get better weather, get out your comfort zone or simply just because, just go and see the world.

Why do we travel? Whether it is to get away from routine, learn something new, get better weather, get out your comfort zone or simply just because, just go and see the world. I personally travel to learn a little bit more about other cultures and their way of living; it gives me this sense that all of us somehow have and will always have something in common despite our differences. Traveling has given me a larger hope in people; there are good people everywhere you go and you have to trust that.

Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

This time I went to Ireland and Portugal; I know weird combination. At times it felt like we spent more time in the airport than in the actual cities we visited but it was ultimately worth it. I traveled with three of my friends/sorority sisters.

Belem Tower, Lisbon Portugal.

At first, I didn’t care much about Ireland as I thought it was just another European country with a metropolitan city with one too many McDonald’s, pubs and known for its Guinness beer and Irish Whiskey. To my pleasant surprise, Ireland was more than that, their people were some of the warmest people I’ve encountered.

Dublin was diverse, I kept hearing multiple languages spoken everywhere and it’s a very young city since Ireland has one of the youngest populations in the world. I also realized how open they are which can be observed by their openly gay prime minister who has an Indian background and is only 40 years old. Talk about progression here.

The food was okay; my favorite was the full Irish breakfast at Lily’s Cafe, the fish and chips at Leo Burdock’s and traditional homemade Gaelic beef casserole at O’Neill’s Pub & Kitchen.

We got to go on a day trip to see the Cliffs of Moher and a quick stop for lunch in Galway. We enjoyed ourselves and for 45 euros I couldn’t complain. We visited the Jameson Distillery and although it doesn’t function as an actual distillery, it was worth learning a little of the history behind our favorite whiskey.

Although I don’t practice Catholicism, I was raised as one and I had a good time checking out Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. Make sure you take your college ID for discounts–I consider myself one until all the loans are paid-off in full.

Overall, Ireland is a country I can come back to, hopefully when it’s warmer. I would skip the Temple bar area, as it’s too touristic and pricey. You should walk the strip but the bars didn’t impress me, you are better off buying a bottle and hanging out. Do explore the country side and see the beautiful green scenery.

Portugal

Lisbon was colorful, vibrant and full of street art everywhere you went. It’s known for its 7 hills (although later I read it’s actually 8 hills) is built on, don’t forget to pack your most comfy shoes to walk those beautiful cobbled streets.

At our first restaurant stop, we tried a Francesinha, a typical dish of Porto, it has two layers of bread, steak, sausage, ham, cheese, egg and tomato and beer sauce all over it. Let’s just say we regretted choosing that restaurant as our first Portuguese cuisine experience. As polite and well raised Latinas, we tried to eat as much as we could and told our server we were satisfied. Their pastelerias (pastries), however were amazing, pastel be nata did the job. They are known for their bacalao or bacalhau (salted cod fish) and other seafood too. A local told us they know 1000 ways to cook their bacalhau.

We did a private tour to Sintra, a town 30 minutes away from Lisbon. I believe our tour also included visiting Cascais but three of us passed out in the back seat–another excuse to go back. We got to see the Moors Castle, Pena Palace and the National Palace. The views were gorgeous. We also enjoyed Ginja and chocolate, a cherry alcoholic drink served in shot like glasses made out of chocolate. Porto wine was also a nice touch, paired up nice with our steak and eggs.

Sintra, Portugal
Sintra, Portugal

We got to see the Belém Tower, Padrão dos Descobrimentos Monument and my first Caipirinha (Brazilian national cocktail). We also got to see the most western point of Europe at Cabo Da Roca and drove along the Portuguese Riviera by the coast of Cascais.

Padrão dos Descobrimentos Monument
Chilly in January in Lisbon!

We stayed at Barrio Alto and partied a bit one night. Drinks were cheap, probably watered down but the vibes were good along with great Portuguese reggaeton (not sure if that’s the genre but it was great).

Group trips are awesome if you have the right people. Hotels and taxis were split by four of us which made our trip much more affordable. Make sure to use MyTaxi app when traveling in Ireland since it’s cheaper than Uber. Also ask the driver to send you their code for 10 euros off.

Traveling recharges the mind and soul and while we tend to go for our personal gratification, it is important to have an exchange, to leave a little behind also so others can learn about you and your culture. Hasta pronto.

Hello Cuba!

Cuba is more than puros (cigars), salsa and classic cars, Cuba is about its warm and happy people who are hungry for more…

5 days in Cuba-2018

I was a little worried about being able to go to Cuba with the new regulations imposed by the new administration but I was glad to find it as easy as traveling anywhere else with our privileged blue passport.

During this trip, in July 2018, I chose to travel a bit slower and not overwhelm myself with multiple cities in a short period of time. All I can pretty much share is my experience in Havana and a day trip to Viñales.

From what I experienced, Cuba is more than puros (cigars), salsa and classic cars, Cuba is about its warm and happy people who are hungry for more and are persistent in their pursuit to provide a better lifestyle for themselves and their families.

Before Going to Cuba: Visas & Research

Visa: In order to travel to Cuba, American citizens must get a visa and select 1 of the 12 traveling categories, I selected Support of the Cuban People. You can buy your visa at the airport for around 50 dollars but since I am a control freak I wanted to buy them in advance. I purchased them here for $85. They also charge a nice $25 for shipping but it was waived for us since we booked our flights with American Airlines.

Research: You can find the 12 categories on this site including a link to restricted places by the US Government. I did not have a problem with many of the restrictions since I planned to stay at airbnbs, also known as casas particulares. I personally think that’s the best way to do it. While researching I found some great articles/blogs that explain more in detail the new restrictions imposed at the end of 2017: What to Know Before you Go to Cuba and What’s the Result of New Cuba Restrictions.

Also, I read a lot about Cuba from my favorite travel blogger How Not to Travel Like a Basic Bitch, she has an entire section about it, you can check it here.

I had absolutely no problem getting into Cuba or coming back into the US, no questions were asked. I’ve heard some people have an itinerary ready in case they are questioned while they are there. No one asked me anything. I always have an itinerary regardless. The only time I was asked the reason for me going there was by the monitor when I was checking in my flight at the airport.

Besides staying at casas particulares, I also ate at paladares (privately owned restaurants), did some tours in Havana and Viñales, visited museums, and got lost in the middle of the night in Central Havana. Some of my readings said to keep receipts in case you get audited by the US government. I have yet to hear anyone getting audited for going to Cuba. I was not worried about that, I got pictures and a vague itinerary and if that’s not enough well “lo bailado nadie me lo quita” (what I have enjoyed nobody can take it away).

In Cuba

Money: Take cash, cards don’t work there, at least American cards. Well that is what every blog and person I know told me so I did not even try to use a card while there but who knows maybe things are changing; I would not risk it. I changed my dollars at my local personal bank to euros because the exchange rate is better when you go there and you have to change it to CUCs (Cuban Convertible Pesos). CUCs are one of the two currencies they use. This is the money you will use there. The other currency is the CUP (Cuban Peso) which is about 1 CUC= 25 CUP approximately. Just so you have an idea if it’s worth it to change your dollars to euros, here it’s an example with the rates given to me:

  • $1000 / 1.2466=802 euros. 802 euros x 1.3874=913 CUC

If I would have taken just dollars, I would have received this:

  • $1000 *.87=870 CUC

If you are scratching your head, based on the above I had about 43 more CUCs just by taking euros instead of dollars. Is it worth it? that’s on you. Take into account that exchange rates fluctuate often. I also heard from a friend, who visits Cuba often, that you can get a better rate (.90 or a bit more instead of .87) at La Moneda Cubana. I changed my money at a CADECA, casa de cambio, (money exchange house) in Obispo Street. You can also change some at the airport but their rates are a bit lower.

Just to give you an idea, I spent about 600 dollars in 5 days including souvenirs, tours, airbnbs, food, museums, etc. That does not include my flight and some of the costs were split with my boyfriend.

Where to Stay: Casas particulares (Airbnb) are definitely the place to stay, you get to mingle with local Cubans and get an idea of how they really live. This was my first international Airbnb experience sharing someone’s house and I loved it. They give you tons of tips and Cuban’s hospitality was excellent. I spent 35 CUC on average per night. You will not get luxury but a clean room with air conditioner was all we needed.

What to See: Havana has many zones but the ones most people visit or talk about are Old Havana, Central Havana and Vedado.

There is a lot to do in Old Havana (Habana Vieja), we were lucky to stay right next to Plaza Vieja, a charming old square. Some restaurants and souvenir shops are here but I would suggest to go the Almacenes for that. Obispo Street is one of their main and busiest streets for tourists that leads you all the way to Parque Central where the Capitolio, Paseo del Prado, Jose Marti’s statue, Museo de las Bella Artes and the Hot Corner are located among many main hotels, and more.

Watching the sunset at the Malecon (seawall) is a must, take some change or small bills as you will have many people approach you trying to sell you fruit, gum or simply start serenading you with some salsa, don’t just dance with them, a tip goes a long way. Not everyone there is going to solicit from you either, some people just like to know where you are from and want to have a conversation. If you can head over to The Christ of Havana Statue on La Cabaña Hill for some nice panoramic views of the city, it’s worth it.

We did the Habana Bus Tour for 10 CUC per person; it’s a hop on, hop off bus. We also did a two-hour classic tour for 70 CUC. It was actually a little over 3 hours. I am not sure if that was a good price for those tours or not but we enjoyed it.

We got lost in Central Havana our first night there, it was full of old alleyways with houses crumbling down and with people just walking or hanging outside. We kept being told that it was very safe regardless of how dark it may get in the streets at night and they were right. We also walked down the Malecon and let me tell you, on a Saturday night, that is where all the locals go. They gather in small or large groups while playing music on their phones or speakers and just hang there in the dark. You may also find some kids just twerking there lol, don’t ask, or couples engaging in some exuberant PDA– hey it’s their place not mine. It was a site to see, I wish I would have taken a picture but the simplicity of enjoying just their own company was refreshing.

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Somewhere in Havana Central

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Somewhere in Havana Central

Our last night, we rented a private studio in the Vedado area which is their more residential neighborhood. Here we had some wonderful massages for 25 CUC for one hour and an amazing facial for 12 CUC. We checked out their “mall” a galeria de tiendas that consisted of a handful of clothing stores, a large electronic store and a food market. You can also catch a little train for 1 CUC that takes you via the Malecon area from Hotel Melia Cohiba all the way to the Almacenes San Jose (huge flea market).

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Classic Car Tour

We were able to go to their local beach, Santa Maria del Mar or Playas del Este, it was about 20 to 25 minutes away from Parque Central. We took a bus for 5 CUC round trip per person. The last one runs at 6pm. There were three stops for the beaches. We got off at the last stop recommended to us for a more private area. It was a Tuesday so it was not busy at all. At first, I was going to go to Varadero but I am glad we did not thanks to my fave blogger’s suggestion. I was just as pleased with this beach. Soft white sand with clean and pristine water was all I needed; I had a great time there.

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Playas del Este

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Playas del Este

We also went to Viñales on a day trip, from 7:30am to 7:pm. The cost was 67 CUC per person which included pick up from a major hotel, lunch, a free drink (if you want to call it that, some green liquid), a tobacco tour, a cave tour and a quick stop at a mirador for some panoramic views. You can purchase the tours at major hotels or you can rent a private taxi which may be about 120 CUC or more, if you split it with more people then you are better off.

If you have time, stay in Havana 2 to 3 nights and get out the city and explore places like Trinidad, Cienfuegos, Santiago, etc. I just scratched the surface but I will be back.

Food: Food was okay but it was not great and this opinion can be biased since I am used to the taste and seasoning of Caribbean American food and this may have messed up my taste palate. Keep in mind they don’t enjoy the luxury of having supermarkets with 1 million products and seasonings as we do in the States. Some of the typical dishes I enjoyed were rice and black beans (moros y cristianos), puerco asado (roasted pig) yuca, tostones and veggies. Also, their lime soda nacional is bomb.

For breakfast, we mainly ate at our hosts’ house for a small fee of 5 CUC per person which included eggs, fruit, coffee, smoothies and bread with some type of spreading.

Food was relatively cheap at restaurants depending on where you go. I loved Don Julio’s Cafeteria-Pizzaria in Plaza Vieja. We had ropa vieja (shredded or pulled stewed beef), a pizza pie and two mojitos for 14 CUC total plus live music. Besides the lady who screamed at me because I did not want to buy a rose at that moment, I think that was my favorite place to eat. Castropol had excellent views of the Malecon and decent seafood. The paella was better than the one I ate in Valencia Spain but I also only tried one paella while in Valencia so don’t pay my paella reviews too much attention.

WiFi: What they say is true, WiFi is not really at hand’s reach but you can have it if you really want it. You need to buy a WiFi card, I got mine from Etecsa their main WiFi and phone company for 1 CUC for 1 hour or 5 CUC for 5 hours. They also sell it at other places for a slight premium. You can get WiFi at different parks or near certain buildings by the Malecon. It’s very easy to spot them since you will see a lot of Cubans all on their cellphones. I was lucky one of my casa particulares hosts had a WiFi router, which later on I was told it was illegal by another Cuban; if that’s true, well you got to love the ingenuity. There and at Floridita Restaurant were the only places I used WiFi for a total of a few hours during my entire stay. Being able to unplug almost completely was beyond relaxing, I guess one does not realize how dependent we can be to our phones until the internet vanishes.

What I learned: I was told repeatedly the average monthly salary for a Cuban is between 20 to 25 CUC, while a doctor may make 40 CUC a month.

They want more. They don’t understand how they have some of the best doctors in the world and they still get paid 40 CUC a month. I mean damn, I don’t understand either.

Cubans are highly educated, all my casa particulares’ hosts were former attorneys. One of the drivers was also a former attorney and the other a recent graduate of economy. They all turned to the tourism industry, Cuba’s highest paid industry. While all the people we spoke with seemed to express their desire for more for their country as far as income and a better quality of life, I did not get the same sentiment from my hosts. I actually asked the wife of one of my host if her husband was out working another job when I did not see him at home and her response was “no, this is more than enough.” This same sentiment was shared with us by some friendly guys at the Hot Corner, it seems like there are people doing pretty well for themselves with private businesses but this is not reflective of the pueblo (all the people). Our friendly masseuse said the same; she told me she knew the deal and some will be better off than others and that is how they will prosper. It was amazing to engage in conversation with them and how willing they were to speak with you just by us asking them how was Cuba.

Cuba also gave us a reality check of the privilege we often take for granted. For a Cuban just to get a passport can cost him 100 CUC, that can mean a 4 month salary for some. That’s not counting the visas, a visa interview can cost you a little over 150 CUC just to be denied and told to come back and try next year.

One other thing I noticed was the long lines at the Spanish Embassy, a fairly new legislation now allows Cubans to apply for Spanish citizenship if they can prove their grandparents lost or gave up Spanish citizenship as a result of exile. Having a Spanish passport would allow some the ability to travel more freely.

During Obama’s administration, they said there was an invasion of Americans, they did not know what to do, their prices skyrocketed but with the new administration that stopped quickly. They don’t see American tourists too often now.

One of our drivers mentioned Facebook and how his view of Cuba has shifted. He was only 22 and said when he was a kid he thought Cuba was the best country ever. Now that he can see more via social media and how others around the world live and enjoy life, he said that regardless of how hard he may work, he knows there is more to life that he cannot attain. I tried telling him it’s not always greener on the other side but who was I to really say that. Yes, I lived in poverty in Peru until 13 but I was given the chance to have a better life with more opportunities that others may not enjoy.

Cuba was refreshing, it was warm (well hot af in July) but you know what I mean, it was eye opening. It is not your typical all inclusive island vacation. There was obvious poverty, crumbling buildings left and right, dirty alleyways and a smell you get used to while wandering some streets. There were complaints from many, even the ones who made more money by working in the tourism industry. Not everything about Havana was colorful, in every sense of the word, but it was welcoming and beautiful at the same time, and I think you should all go experience it for yourselves. Take your dollars and enjoy.

You don’t travel for others to abide by your standards, you abide by their standards when you are traveling.

Hello Machu Picchu, Peru

I was fortunate to travel to beautiful Cusco in October 2017. There was so much to do, I wish I had more time but I did the best while kind of winging it. I was told by friends that the best deals are the ones you find at Plaza de Armas in Cusco and they were right. All I booked before going to Peru were my plane tickets to Lima and my round trip tickets from Lima to Cusco. My family lives in Lima, so I decided to spend the first three nights there. Check out my post about Lima here.

Flying to Cusco:

I bought plane tickets with Viva Air Peru for the cheap deals. Viva Air is equivalent to Frontier or Spirit, here in the USA. There are additional charges for bags and they only allow you one carry-on bag (small purse or bookbag), so keep that in mind. Make sure to have your boarding pass printed or they will charge you about 45 soles ($15) for each check-in. Their prices are the same for Peruvians and foreigners, which is why I chose them since I traveled with my American novio (boyfriend).

The flight is about one hour from Lima’s Jorge Chavez International Airport to Cusco’s Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport.

  • We caught a taxi from Cusco’s airport to Plaza de Armas for about 7 soles ($2.50). Always ask for the taxi prices before getting in and, at times, you are able to negotiate if you think it’s too high. The fair price from these two points is between 5 to 10 soles. Remember I went in October 2017 so prices are subject to increase.
  • We went with the first tour agency offer we encountered because we were tired but there are a lot of people offering tours to Machu Picchu and other locations in the main Plaza. It is up to you if you want to check a few and make a decision. We booked our tour with Qori Inka Travel after one of their guides approached us and I am very glad we did, they delivered everything they promised.
  • My brother and I had Peruvian IDs since we were born in Peru but because we were traveling with my boyfriend, we wanted to do everything together and skipped on some Peruvian-only discounts.  Keep in mind that everything we selected, such as hotels and method of transportation, were really budget driven and we told the travel agency representative that we were not picky at all. They told us they are able to accommodate other needs as well.
  • We chose to stay our first night in Cusco to acclimate ourselves with the altitude since it is higher than Machu Picchu. Cusco is at 11,152 feet and Machu Picchu at 7,972 feet. We chewed on coca leaves and drank mate de coca, a tea made of coca leaves. We all experienced minor altitude sickness like headaches and faster than usual heartbeats but nothing serious.

 

From Cusco to Aguas Calientes:

At 7am, the following morning, a guide met us at our lobby, which was about three blocks from Plaza de Armas (can’t recall the hotel name). We walked three blocks to a white 15 passenger private minibus that took us around to three different towns. We chose this option because it was cheaper than taking the train.

  • It took us to Ollantaytambo, where we had a quick bathroom and snack break.
  • We then stopped at Santa Maria, Santa Teresa and finally Hidroelectrica Town, where we had lunch. The bus ride from Cusco to Hidroelectrica was about 6.5 hours. Tip: If you are like me, motion sickness pills and coca leaves will be your friend if you choose this route.
  • Hidroelectrica was our final destination before our 3 hour walk to Aguas Calientes aka Machu Picchu Town. We were told this was a simple and flat “2-hour” walk but it was much longer and if I would have known what I know now, I would have just taken the train and paid extra lol. Don’t get me wrong, it was an adventure, I got amazing views but I got bitten by mosquitos, I was sweating profusely and I was carrying a bookbag with two nights worth of clothes and my camera. Everything was hurting after that 11 mile walk but I’m also not in the best shape of my life, so that is a big factor to take into account.
  • We walked from around 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm and finally arrived at Aguas Calientes. Our travel agency already had booked us the hotel. We showered, ate and met with our new tour guide in the lobby to receive instructions for our Machu Picchu trip the following morning.
  • The following day, we started forming a line at 4:20 am by their bus station and people were already there. I believe the first bus started boarding at 5:30 am or 6:00 am and it comes every 5 or 10 minutes. Some people walk up to “the” Machu Picchu Mountain but I was not going to do a two hour hike and pass out somewhere. It was an easy 20 minute bus ride up the mountain.
  • We already had our bus boarding tickets and Machu Picchu entrance tickets so we met with our guide there and began our two hour guided tour. You get to enter Machu Picchu twice with your ticket, they stamp it for you. First with a guide and the second time alone if you want to go in again.
  • After my two hour guided tour, we had to exit but we went back for two more hours to explore more at our pace.
  • After you exit, there’s a station where you can stamp your passport with a Machu Picchu stamp for free.
  • We did not get bus tickets through the tour agency to go back down to Aguas Calientes because we were told it’s only a one hour walk down. After our walk the day prior, we just chose not to. We easily bought bus tickets when we exited. Remember, October is the beginning of their low season.
  • We chose to stay in Aguas Calientes one more night because we thought we were going to be tired from waking up so early. But looking back, I would have gone back to Cusco after Machu Picchu because there’s more to do in Cusco.
  • Back in Aguas Calientes, we had a full body massage for 45 soles per person (they are 20 to 30 soles in Cusco) and went to the hot springs for a bit and ate some more local food like alpaca anticuchos.

 

From Aguas Calientes to Cusco:

  • Our package included riding back, via train, in the Inca Rail to Ollantaytambo and then a private bus to Cusco from there. The train ride was approximately two hours and it was scenic and smooth. The private bus ride was about 2.5 hours. A guide waited for us at the train station and looked for us. We waited for other passengers and got going.
  • Once we got back to Cusco, we stayed at the same hotel for one more night before heading back to Lima.

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Thinking “why didn’t I just take this train in the first place?” lol

Our Cost: about $200 dollars per person included: 

  • Four hotel nights; two in Cusco and two in Aguas Calientes (at very budget friendly hotels).
  • Private bus ride with 15 total passengers to Hidroelectrica where we walked to Aguas Calientes. Lunch was included.
  • Bus ticket up to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes. It DID NOT include tickets for the bus to come down because we originally were going to walk down. My brother and I paid local prices at $8 per ticket but my boyfriend had to pay about $24. Check this site out for more current prices.
  • Machu Picchu entrance and guided tour.
  • One way Inka Trail tickets to Ollantaytambo.
  • Private bus ride to Cusco from Ollantaytambo.

Tips and Suggestions:

  • Take the train both ways. The tour guy told us if we had bought tickets in advance for Peru Rail from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes, it could been way cheaper than Inca Rail. For this, we needed four to eight days in advance to buy these tickets but we did not have the time nor did we know. Inca Rail was really nice and I would take it again even if I had to pay more.
  • I think one night in Aguas Calientes is enough so you can spend more time exploring Cusco.
  • If you need to change dollars to soles, do it in Lima or Cusco. The exchange rate when I was there was: 3.25 in Lima, 3:22 in Cusco and 3.10 in Aguas Calientes.
  • Take mosquito repellent, toilet paper, chapstick, sunblock even if the sun is not out, and have plenty of coins.
  • San Pedro Market, in Cusco, has a large selection of souvenirs for a fraction of the cost compared to Aguas Calientes’ market.  
  • Museo Inka, in Cusco, is worth visiting. Pay the extra for a guided tour of the museum (they only had Spanish speaking guides).

Eat like the locals:

  • Cusqueñita Restaurant was a nice local spot with live entertainment on Sundays. My aunt and a local recommended it to us. The portions are huge. We could not finish half of our dishes. We took a taxi from Plaza de Armas for 5 soles there.
  • In Cusco, I would recommend to try the Lomo Saltado (beef stir fry with onions, french fries and rice), pollo a la brasa (rotisserie chicken), anticucho (beef heart kabobs) and picarones.
  • I think the food is better in Lima but that can be my Limeña biased opinion. If you find yourself in Lima, make sure to try their ceviche, papa a la huancaina, arroz con pollo and escabeche.

Hello Lima, Peru.

And 18 years later, I was blessed to go back to my beautiful country and see one of the wonders of the world, Machu Picchu, don’t forget to check my post on it!

My family lives in Lima, so as any Latina, you must visit all tios and tias if you are in town. I decided to spend three nights there and although most of my time was spent with family in Lima, I got to do a few cool things; many were free which is my budget of choice 🙂  

Barranco District:

I visited Barranco, one of their most colorful districts. It was filled with art murals and their houses are painted in bright colors. We got to see some cool live local artists and made a quick wish as we walked by el Puente de los Suspiros for good luck.  

Tip: Although, I did not have the time to eat here, my cousin, a local of course, highly recommends to get anticuchos (beef heart kabobs) from Anticucheria Tio Mario. Don’t knock it until you try it. Remember to taste anything at least once unless you are allergic lol

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Colorful Barranco!

Miraflores District:

This district is of one their more upscale areas in Lima. I felt like I was in some parts of the United States. People running with their strollers during the middle of the day, tall buildings and very calm areas. I went to see their shopping center called Larcomar which oversees the Pacific Ocean, that was dope. I also walked to their Parque del Amor (Love Park), which is known for their mosaic art, countless love quotes imprinted on these mosaic walls and a huge kissing couple statue. The ocean views are breathtaking and nothing beats a free park visit.

Tip: Anticucheria Grimanesa was amazing! The meat tasted fresh and the portions were large.

Miraflores
Parque del Amor

Other Things to Do: Plaza Mayor and Parque de las Reservas.

Plaza Mayor: When you go to Plaza Mayor, check out the Government Palace and go right before 12pm and you can witness their cambio de armas (changing of guards ceremony); it’s worth watching. While in Plaza Mayor, we also checked out the Catedral Basilica de Lima. I enjoyed its architecture, its ancient paintings and my favorite part was the narrow crypts with very well preserved remains. The remains of Pizarro are there also, if you care for it.

We ate at Cordano near the Plaza, the lomo saltado (beef stir fry with onions, tomatoes and fries) was to die for but I would skip on their ceviche. Their prices were also on the high but I expected it since it’s located in the center of a touristic area.

Tip: If you want a great ceviche, please try El Rincon Tumbesino in Lima.

 

 

Parque de las Reservas: This park has several fountains surrounded by gardens. In the evenings, they have lights and water shows, water plays and water tunnels. It cost about 4 soles per person. It was pretty cool, I’ve never seen one before but I don’t think I would check it out again.  

I hope you enjoyed my quick tips on what to do in Lima and. Lima is definitely a must, not just because I am Peruvian but because it has so much character, history and an amazing cuisine.