A Travellerspoint blog

July 2019

Lesser Peru

brief description of the other towns I visited in Peru

sunny

Lesser Peru

Mancora: a small beach town near the Ecuadorian border. Not much to do here unless you are a surfer or heavy drinker and the drinks are somewhat expensive. Ordered margaritas from several places along the beach. They were all $6US and not one came close to the taste of a decent margarita. Ate at one sandwich shop right off the beach on the main pedestrian street that was a bit tasty and good value. Also ate at Tao, wonton soup was ok and I had tuna shashimi for the main course. Quite small for the price and it too was ok; however a bit pricey for a party beach town. I was scheduled to stay 2 nights decided to cut it a day short if that tells you anything.

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Chiclayo: awful; just awful. I caught the only day bus from Mancora to this town. I was headed to Chachapoyas and I arrived about 2 hours before the bus left that night for Chachapoyas. Of course, there are only night busses to Chachapoyas and I should have just jumped on the night bus to Chachapoyas. For whatever reason I decided to give Chiclayo a chance. One of the strangest hostels I’ve stayed in; nothing wrong with it and the guy was very nice just limited options and it was just a weird setup that’s all I’ll say. The driving around town is ridiculously aggressive and overcrowded. The food is crap and it was really hard to waste the next day waiting on a night bus. I had lasagna from the highest rated restaurant in town ‘Cafe 900’ and I’ve gotta say it was pretty average on the weak side. The restaurant was well decorated and had a nice upstairs overlook of a busy dirty street. I ate around the square the night before and I have no memory of the meal it was so plain. I don’t recommend leaving the bus station if you find yourself passing through.

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*note: I booked an overnight bus with Civa that offered 180 degree beds from chiclayo. The beds were on the top floor and the bus sways too much to get good sleep and it didn’t even have a plug at your seat. From Chachapoyas I booked with Mobil whenever possible. I booked the last seat downstairs in the single row on the right side. It only reclined maybe 170 degrees but the meals were good, the temperature always set right and they provide blankets and pillows. I recommend Olturso if Movil is unavailable or booked. I took Cruz del Sur once and I find that they take theirselves a bit too seriously. Demanding only passports for identification and they actually search your bags when boarding and take your fingerprint. A bit ridiculous if you ask me. I avoided them at all costs after this.

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Trujillo: a pretty town; I probably didn’t explore it long enough; however it has a few ruins and nice tours nearby. I took the tour that did several of the ruins. I went to the first stop which of course you had to pay for entrance then they brought us to an expensive restaurant in town that I knew had terrible food, so I just left and skipped the 2nd half of the tour. Hopefully it got better for the crew I was with in the afternoon. Nothing life changing maybe worth a look though. I heard the beach was pretty nice just didn’t want to stay too long and have to reacclimatize myself to my next destination of Huaraz being 12,000 feet in altitude. The square was quite striking and I enjoyed some nice cocktails on a balcony overlooking the square for sunset. Definitely worth at least a night maybe 2 don’t see much potential beyond that though.

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Lima: I was only here 2 nights and I ate at only 1 place worth mentioning. It is a somewhat famous place among locals and served up some exceptional ceviche, Mi Burrantu; I highly recommend a visit. I stayed at hostel Puriwani which was in a good spot and had an exceptional staff. It was in miraflores, I might stay in Burranco if I were to go back. Also, the large water park near La Victoria might be worth a visit. I went during the day and it was I think 4-5 soles for entry. Apparently Sunday and Tuesday nights they have 2 light shows with all the fountains worth attending.

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Paracas: a small beach town that looks to be quite the paradise in the summer. Has a high end resort with 2 really nice restaurants I didn’t get a chance to try. I came to Paracas because of a small private museum located in the main building in front of the main pier. It’s 10 Soles to enter when you can find it open. It contains elongated skulls that have been DNA tested and found not to be human. All the skulls were found on the reserve that surrounds Paracas. I was told there are motorbikes for rent here however couldn’t find one at a reasonable price that didn’t come with a ‘guide’. I stayed at Kokopelli which was under construction at the time yet a really nice spot right on the beach. They had a nice bar with activities nightly and I hear the food was good at the hostel. I ate out. Fruzion has good fruit salads along with burgers and fries. Even the guy across the street with a burger joint admitted their fries were better. Pizzeria Venezia: I took the free walking tour and this was recommended as the best pizza place in town. I had been warned by friends to not even try pizza in Peru as it is generally bad. However this place was quite delicious and with very reasonable prices. I’m told the rest of the restaurants on the pier are cheap copies of each other to feed the cruise ships when they arrive. ; Pizza Nick & Nate’s: this was the place across from Fruzion and I had the wings. It’s owned by a Canadian and he seemed to have quite the gringo menu wand pretty well done at that. His main restaurant was in lima so he has some experience. Lastly, there is a vegetarian place that has a great view of the city. The walking tour recommended it, so I went up to check it out. The menu was pretty pricey for a vegetarian place in a small town, so I tried one of their unique desserts. It was the sweet blue corn pudding. It was like a semi-sweet blackberry mash. Quite strange and it came warm.

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Ica: not much here, they have a large mall if you need to get some shopping done and they had places that sold large fruit bowls for cheap. It’s a $5 sole tuck-tuck ride to Huacachina and there’s a bus terminal there. That’s about all I remember of the town. I stayed a night there while I visited Huacachina and waited on a bus. There was a circus in town that advertised dinosaurs. I took the show in for $10 soles. I think there were a total of 15 people there with me, nonetheless entertaining for me at the time.

Huacachina: just a little lake in the dessert. Some say it’s manmade. I have no idea, it seemed like a nice retreat although supremely overly touristic. Sand boarding and dune buggies were the activities here. The new Wild Rover seemed to be really hopping as well. Nice views of the dessert if you choose to climb up the dunes or rent a dune buggy for sunset, not much else here besides the party scene which seemed to be happening, like I said even for the ‘off’ season.

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Posted by Veritas2377 07:00 Archived in Peru Tagged mountains skylines trees sky snow food sunset beach travel ruins museum tour tourist eats lodging tickets tips foodie Comments (0)

Huaraz

Tours and, of course, Eats

sunny 7 °C

Huaraz

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Honestly, this town may deserve its own post; I just don’t feel like I have as much food content as I would normally for staying a week here. I guess some of the places seemed quite expensive and maybe I just wasn’t in a good kind of mood. The altitude sometimes takes the energy away from you. I stayed in Alpes Huaraz which was quite nice with comfy beds, nice showers, a rooftop and from what I hear an ok breakfast just slow. I didn’t hear of any other better places to stay while I was there. The staff weren’t overly welcoming however nice enough to not want to leave. They never had change though; it was incumbent upon you to being correct change. And they spoke enough English in case I had complicated questions.

Laguna 69 Tour: I recommend taking a tour on this one. I got the tour for $30 Soles although many places in town try to get you for 35-40 just walk away until they agree to 30. They picked me up from the hostel at 4:30am. It’s a couple of hours on the bus and they stop for breakfast. Once done with breakfast the sun is up and you are starting to warm up. They drive you to take some pics of a lake at the base that’s quite pretty just nothing like you’re about to see on the hike. Then they drive you the remaining 30-40 minutes up the mountain to the start of the trail. Be aware it’s another $30 soles to enter the park or you’ll have an opportunity to by a multiple day pass or a month to save some money if you plan to return for other hikes. Once at the trailhead you are at about 13,500ft and the first 1/3 of the trail is relatively flat; then there’s an ascent that isn’t too steep followed by some more flat. Finally, the last ascent is fairly steep and most are being affected by the altitude as you are over 14,500 by now. The top is TOTALLY worth all the pain. Just absolutely surreal views. It feels like you are looking at a high def green screen. Incredible. The top is around 15,030ft and I was glad to be done with the ascent. We got to spend about an about and a half there depending on how fast you got up there. It’s about a 3 hour hike, I think I made it in 2:30mins. Although the altitude was really making it hard to breath. I had been in Huaraz at 12,000ft 4 days now and it was still difficult. Probably why I ultimately decided not to do the 4 day Santa Cruz trek there. That and I was by myself with my tent in those mountains would have been amazing though. It goes a bit higher than this to 4900 meters and 15,030 is about 4600 meters. After we had lunch and pics we walked down hopped on the bus and they delivered us back at the hostel around 6pm.

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Quri Tullpa: a quaint Indian restaurant that was extremely close to the hostel. Had really good butter chicken that came with some bread for 20 soles. I ate here twice and had the same dish.

Yurac Yacu Cafe: it’s a small cafe kind of far from town however has a great overlook on the city of Huaraz and they hire local women to work there. They take no profits and just help foster a community there and provide a place for the local women to make some money and sell any wares they make. Probably the best price and place to buy and hand made objects you want to buy. The food was extremely fresh as they grow almost everything on site and they also sponsor a school for the local children. I good spot for philanthropic reasons if nothing else. However, the food was excellent and the service quite friendly. Again, just a balance of getting a taxi up there or taking the long journey on foot.

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Chilli Heaven: owned by an English woman, just walk in the place and take one deep breath and you’ll know you will be eating there. Have both Thai and Indian favorites extremely well prepared with fresh ingredients and super tasty. I didn’t want to leave. I just took the chef’s recommendation on everything and it was truly a fantastic meal.

Fruti Frutita: there are several places like this around town; this just happened to be my favorite. For $4 soles you get a huge bowl of cut up mixed fruit with some yogurt, honey, and granola sprinkled on top. A great stop every morning.

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California Cafe: it’s worth a mention. Seems to be a central meeting place for gringos and the food is supposed to be really good. However it’s quite pricey. I had some tea and a dessert there as I just wasn’t ready for a meal when I visited.

Posted by Veritas2377 06:38 Archived in Peru Tagged mountains lakes hiking landscape travel tour tourist eats foodie Comments (0)

Buenos Aires

Mainly Eats and where to stay

sunny 9 °C

Buenos Aires

Started at hostel Rayuela: nice small place in San Telmo. Good location and clean with friendly staff with a balcony and Netflix room. Within the first few minutes of arriving was treating by a friendly Texan that said one of the owners was coming to BBQ Argentinian style for the hostel and asked me to sign up. I agreed somewhat reluctantly because I was excited about so many places I wanted to visit here in Buenos Aires. However, I do like to socialize and wanted to meet everyone around the place. So, I put away my things and headed out to explore the town. Sadly, it was Sunday and most things were closed, so I took the opportunity to get to know the neighborhood and surrounding parks. Upon returning to the hostel kind of hungry having not done my usual snacking I was informed we’d be eating about 9pm. I normally like eating late just hasn’t been the norm as of recent countries I was traveling through. I thought about heading back out to grab a snack before dinner, however I didn’t see anything quick in the hours I was walking and BA is a bit fancy with not a lot of street food out and about. It smelled really good and the owner promised wine, so I bided my time doing some research about future travels. I tried to make my usual in roads with everyone around the place. No one seemed real responsive. No one was rude or didn’t answer, just didn’t seem to have the regular enthusiasm I’m used to. The same attitude carried through dinner except for 1 girl from England. Conversation at dinner wasn’t awkward but it wasn’t what it should have been either despite my numerous attempts to involve everyone. Anyway, on to the dinner. Boy, I am glad I didn’t pass this meal up. It was easily the best meal I had in Buenos Aires. There were 5 courses! Yeah, 5 courses at a hostel dinner for $300 AP (about $8US). The first course was Choripan. Beef sausage on a garlic buttered soft bread. A salad was served with this course with an absolutely divine sesame dressing that the guy from Texas made. I can’t say enough about how perfect the sausage was cooked with a sweet glaze and the bread left nothing to be desired. It left me wanting for more. Then came the side of beef ( I wish I would have asked more about each course, it like I said conversation was a bit weird at dinner). Perfectly charred on the outside and there were a variety medium rare pieces to well done. The owner really knew his audience. I took one of the rarer pieces and it was tasty, well seasoned (although he told me he didn’t even salt and pepper it) and very tender. Next came the short ribs, again perfect then came the pork shoulder which I abstained from as most know by now I don’t eat pork any longer. Last came the mashed sweet potatoes mixed with honey and some of the glaze used for the sausage in the first course. Bravo is all I can say. That dinner cast a shadow over the rest of my culinary experiences in BA. Although there was nothing wrong with the hostel, I still chose to move the next day. The only real complaint was all the beds were covered in plastic and fairly small so quite noisy in a room of 8. The room had heat I just felt the need to leave even after the great dinner.

Now at hostel Che Juan: this place is like a dream hostel. It’s only a month old or the price wouldn’t be as low as it is I am sure. Everything you could want in a place. Great location, everything is new. Beds are super comfy with great pillows. Plenty of bathrooms and showers that have amazing pressure and temperature. Plugs, lights, and curtains at every bed. Free filtered water, A work room, Netflix room and the internet works good from the room. It’s 2 blocks from the metro in a great part of town close to Madero, ferry ports, parks, bars, restaurants etc. Everyone in the place was truly excited to be there and couldn’t believe how nice and well thought out everything was.

The Ferry to Colonial del Sacramento or Montevideo Uruguay: there are two companies. I checked all the deal sites and the cheapest round trip was $84US. I went directly to the companies site www.colonialexpress.com and got a round trip for $65.50US. Apparently there are even better deals if you go to the counter in person. The bus is $35US each way and is an overnight bus each way. I think 12 hours and it goes to towns that aren’t even as cool as Colonia. The ferry is by far the better option IMHO.

The subway here is nice and convenient and pretty easy to traverse. Depending on which station you go to you may have to search to be able to obtain a card to put credits on. The first two times I tried to enter I was turned away at the booth when I tried to purchase trips because I didn’t already have a card. I think some stores sell them on the street; I still haven’t figured it all out on that front.

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The Ferry to Colonial del Sacramento Uruguay: there are two companies. I checked all the deal sites and the cheapest round trip was $84US. I went directly to the companies site www.colonialexpress.com and got a round trip for $65.50US. The bus is $35US each way and is an overnight bus each way. The ferry is by far the better option.

Eats

Mundo: stopped in for a hot chocolate and some flan. The flan came with a side of canela. A strong dessert game. Has both indoor and outdoor seating a nice place to take a coffee. Fast friendly service. Don’t remember the price, however it wasn’t crazy.

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El Stablo: steakhouse that came highly recommended by some very experienced reviewers on yelp. It appears yelp is fairly new in this area; however I find it easier to use and more accurate than TripAdvisor. One comment was that it was better than Don Julio’s. (Which is supposedly the standard for comparison here in BA. I later found out he got famous for a single cut of steak that he apparently uses the Sous-Vide method for cooking to keep it tender and flavorful). Now I haven’t been to Don Julio’s. It’s supposed to be the best. The atmosphere was quite nice with a big wooden carved bar with a few tables packed in around it with big picturesque windows with curtains covering the bottom half. Waiters were all dressed nice and almost in a cliche way of a steak restaurant of this sort. I got a little excited as I sat down at one of the only tables left open. I ordered a nice wine and took the waiters recommendation on the appetizer, salad, and steak. The appetizer was beef tongue in vinaigrette with chopped pickled veggies. It was quite tasty and came in a large portion almost too large for 1 person. I had ordered the smaller salad with fresh palm hearts. It also was really good and I think the freshest palm hearts I can remember ever tasting. I didn’t get 1/4 through my salad when the steak was brought out. I really don’t care for nice restaurants that either are oblivious to when to put in the main course or are trying to rush you out the door. However, it didn’t seem like they were trying to rush me it’s just how it’s done in BA. Other than this fact the service was impeccable. So, I put my salad aside and dug into the steak. It was tasty, tender and cooked just how I ordered it. However, the flavor was average at best. I had stayed in for dinner the night before at the hostel. One of the owners came and did an Argentinian BBQ for us for 300 pesos. (Described in detail above) It was a 5 course meal with 4 of them being meat. That dinner blew this one out of the water and needless to say it was a bit more expensive almost 6 times more expensive. There was a lot on the menu I didn’t try and the place was packed on a Tuesday night I’m sure for a good reason; my experience was just average though. Whole 3 course meal with a full bottle of nice wine $1700AP

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Bocanada: fantastic empanadas I had the classic beef and the cheese and onion. Had a takeout deal for 2 empanadas and a drink for $125AP pesos. I made the block to get one more round they were so tasty.

Pizzeria Guerrin: a bustling pizza joint that seems to be constantly slammed serving slices as fast as they can rotate in the door. I recommend the neopolitana and the mozzarella. The onion one didn’t come with sauce. Kind of weird. There’s always a line however it moves fast as some sit and eat and others stand around the big bar and eat then leave. Just a face paced good snack or entire lunch. 2-3 slices should fill you up. 3 slices came to $148

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Pani: stopped in for a coffee and dessert. Had the cappuccino and the Floriquita dessert. The slice of cake was HUGE, really rich and delicious. I couldn’t even finish my portion despite it being absolutely delicious. Nice atmosphere with plenty of tables and seating with prompt friendly service and big picturesque windows. Looks like the women love this place as there was hardly a seat open for what seemed like table after table of women sitting and chatting. They have a full food menu that looked appealing; just wasn’t ready for another full meal just yet. I recommend this place on San Martin if you’re in the neighborhood. Cappuccino ran about $120 and the pie set me back $300.

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Old Beijing: wow! What can I say the reviews and the food did not disappoint. They actually had hot and sour soup that tasted good. First, you never see that on a menu out here and 2nd if you so it’s a weak attempt. I’m not saying it’s the best I ever had; however it was a good attempt and they brought me a quite sizable bowl. I think it could have easily been shared between 4 people. The place is small maybe 9 tables and seemed to be run by an elderly Asian couple. Sweet as can be and she cooked up a heck of a kung pao Chicken. The best Asian food I’ve had since I left the states. Easily a 5 star rating by any standards. If you’re in the mood for Chinese food I’d aim to get over to Old Beijing. Huge bowl of soup, main course with rice $700 pesos.

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Bar Du Marchè: I tried the following wines here. Krontiras (organic Malbec) mild and smooth Bodegas Krontiras, Mendoza; padrillos fruity and a little dry. (Pinot noir Ernesto Catena Vineyards, Mendoza) Amalaya Rosado de Malbec-Torrontes (Bodega Amalaya, Salta) a house blend. Ordered the menu del dia ($320 pesos) which came with a spinach soup, small salad, a main course, a glass of wine and a dessert or expresso. Quite the deal for the fancy atmosphere they had to off. The soup was quite hearty and delicious just what I was looking for coming in out of the brisk BA air. The main course was an egg tart with tomatoes with a lettuce salad. The tart needed some salt; was fine after that. And it came with a small glass of the house wine Amalaya. All quite tasty with a very pleasant atmosphere with large tall windows on a charming street corner in Palermo. The extra glasses of wine were $150 pesos each. Sitting from my seat I spotted a sign a block away that said ‘wine bar’ which oddly enough I had looked for, expected and yet had not found yet in Argentina. Needless to say, I went straight there and sampled some of Argentina’s finest.

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Salumeria Wine Bar very nice place tucked away on a charming street lined with lots of trees I have to imagine would be a little prettier without all the leaves missing in winter. What can I say, I ordered samples 7 to be exact then finished with a glass of my two favorites. Went ahead and ordered a cheese plate because what’s a wine tasting afternoon for if you can’t indulge a little. The Argentinian wines were cheap 30-45AP for a sample. The Chilean wines jumped in price to 150AP per sample. Needless to say it was a fantastic afternoon. I won’t bore you here with my simplistic wine descriptions. Just go and try for yourself.

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Parrilla Peña: I decided to get one more steak before leaving BA. This place has a $$ rating with 4.5 star rating on yelp with great reviews. So did El Stablo though! Anyway I had a good feeling about the place so I hopped on the subway to traverse the mile to the place. Normally I’d walk and take in some more of the city, but I’m leaving the next day and still had some cash left on the old subway card. I arrived around 2pm on a Saturday. Downstairs dining was completely packed. They directed me to one of the 3 upstairs dining rooms. It too was pretty crowded however they found a table for me. Miguel was my waiter and immediately handed me a menu and offered his recommendations. There was already bread on every table. I ordered a house salad, a half bottle of wine and the ribeye. Service here was extremely fast and efficient. Promptly I was brought a starter empanada that apparently comes with every order a side of red chimichurri and some cut up onions, carrots, and bell peppers in an oil and vinegar sauce. Both went quite well with the absolutely delicious empanada. I’m not sure what it was filled with yet if the salad and steak hadn’t come out so fast I would have asked for 5 more. Wow, the dough was perfect as well. Anyway, the salad was onion, tomato and arugula with salt, oil, and a touch of balsamic vinegar. I saw Miguel doctor it up right next to me at his station. It was a lot of salad and only added $180AP to the bill. Again, just as at El Stablo the steak and fries come rushing out after just a few bites of salad. This time I finished a good portion of the salad first as it was quite tasty then dug into the steak. It was seared well and cooked just to order and was a hefty portion and very tender and juicy. I found it a little bland; so I added a few heaping tablespoons of the left over chimichurri sauce and it made everything perfect. A very pleasant experience overall and I would highly recommend a visit here especially for the reasonable price and high quality; that is compared to some other choices in town. $1050AP before tip.

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Posted by Veritas2377 16:56 Archived in Argentina Tagged food restaurant eats lodging tips foodie Comments (0)

Colonia del Sacramento

Getting there and Eats

sunny 12 °C

Colonial del Sacramento Uruguay

Decided to take a ferry over to Uruguay for the night. The other option is by bus; however it was a 12 hour night bus going to a worst location for about the same price. $35US each way. There are 2 city options by ferry; Colonial Del Sacramento and Montevideo which is a bit further and a little more expensive of a ride. When I looked them both up neither one seemed like destinations I just couldn’t live without, so I chose the cheaper option. There are at least 2 ferry companies that make the route. Colonial Express and Buquebus. Colonial is by far the cheapest and prices seem to vary widely depending on how you search. I found that if you go directly to the website https:\\coloniawxpress.com you could find the cheapest rates. They offer one way for about 900AP ($21US) however they were sold out of the cheapest option for my dates. I ended up getting a round trip for about $65US while most all-in-one ferry ticket searches were asking $84US for the round trip to colonial and $98 to Montevideo. Apparently if you go to the ticket counter in person the cheap tickets can still be found after they’ve disappeared on the internet.

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I must admit I was a bit pleasantly surprised at the beauty and quaintness of the town upon arrival. It’s quite gorgeous and I saw one of the prettiest sunsets in all of the year and a half I’ve been traveling now. After reading reviews of the place and the food I wasn’t expecting a whole lot. Maybe it was the lowered expectations that made it seem a little better. The reviews state expensive food that isn’t good and absolutely nothing to do. They are right about not much to do; however arriving with that mindset kind of put me in the mood to just relax.

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The best way to relate the town is that it’s kind of a cruise ship kind of town that caters to high volumes of tourists arriving by ferry daily. However, it was winter and slow season. Key West is a small cruise ship town and like Colonial has tourist traps with high priced bad food. That doesn’t mean there’s no good deals or tasty food to be found.

Don Peperone: my first food stop in Uruguay. I hadn’t read any reviews and it was rather early for me to be hungry (11am) however I needed something to eat so after strolling around a good part of the town checking out menus I pulled in here. The place was empty however all the tables were nicely set with an L shaped dining room and a small courtyard. It was chilly outside so we sat at a table inside near the bar. The waiter came over; handed us the menus and told us pizza couldn’t be ordered until after 1pm. Oddly enough I was in the mood for a pizza; however I settled on the Peperone Hamburgeusa. I was just being told back at the hotel by somewhat of a local that the food sucked in town and the fries are always undercooked. The burger arrived fairly soon after we ordered it and it looked amazing. I’ll include a picture on the blog. Wow, it really surprised me with its presentation stacked high all kept together by a toothpick with a rounded tomato on top. It had cheese, an egg, marmalade, creole mustard and a good sized patty. It looked intimidating to keep together. All in all it didn’t disappoint and the fries were plentiful and perfectly cooked. Burger and fries 320UP (just under $9US). Oh, and then you get to take off 18% for paying with a credit card. I’m guessing the currency must be fickle because everywhere in town offered about 20% off if you used a card. Fine by me, because the exchange rates were terrible for the Argentinian peso.

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Napo: After the pleasantly surprising lunch I really debated on where and what to eat for my only dinner here. After walking to several places to check out the atmosphere and menus I rescinded on this little Italian pizza place. I arrived at 7:55 to find locked doors. The waiter pointed to his watch through the glass door. So, I waited with another couple outside for the necessary 5 minutes. The doors opened and I walked in and found a seat near a window and was handed a menu. Within 3 minutes all tables in the small place were filled and I knew I had picked the right place. I took the waitresses suggestion on a pizza that is 10” in diameter and I ordered a half bottle of wine since they didn’t offer cups. It came rather quickly with generous sauce and really fresh basil leaves scattered about with a huge ball of freshly made mozzarella smack dab in the middle of the pizza. I dug in. The crust was well prepared, cooked and was really fresh as well. More and more people crowded in as I ate to the point there was a line starting to form. The two guys in the kitchen were fast because the line never got long; yet there were no empty tables. After credit card discount (apparently you get 18-20% discount if you use a card, must have to do with the exchange rates) and adding tip $75UP it came out to be $689UP for a good sized fresh pizza and a half bottle of wine. ($18US)

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Faro/Lighthouse: apparently the main attraction in town. 111 steps to the top and has the best view of the town. Looks like it got crowded around sunset; yet there are countless restaurants with great seats on the coast for sunset. And no, Colonial doesn’t actually have a coastline it’s a river bank, it just happens to be a river that 110km wide. The lighthouse fees are as follows: 30 Uruguay pesos or 69 Argentinian

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Bortolot: stopped in for a late night cheesecake and coffee. The two girls behind the counter were cheerful and very friendly. Cheesecake was light with an almost yellow cake consistency. A very different cheesecake to say the least. Wasn’t bad; just strange to me. The strawberry topping was quite tasty and super fresh. I’m not a coffee connoisseur so I’ll just say it tasted like coffee.

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There’s a piano bar in town I wanted to check out; the doors were still locked at 10pm on Friday night. Maybe it’s because of the slow season. There was also a pub/dance club that looked interesting it was just a bit further than I felt like walking after dinner and dessert. All in all I think it could have some decent nightlife during busy season.

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Posted by Veritas2377 15:49 Archived in Uruguay Tagged boats food sunset travel ferry foodie Comments (0)

Chachapoyas Peru

The Machu Picchu of the North, Gocta Falls and more

sunny 10 °C

Chachapoyas: first you should know it’s a 10 hour bus from Chiclayo and 14 from Trujillo on the complete other side of the country with not much in between. Also, unlike my other posts I didn’t explore too much of the food scene here as I was busy with exterior activities. The Sacofagos de Karajia, Cavernas de Quiocta, Gocta Falls, and Keulap are the activities I took part in at chachapoyas.

It’s a quaint colonial type town with 2 pretty squares. From here you can take a bus to 2 different rather large waterfalls once classified as the 5th largest in the world and has only been Re-discovered in the last 5 years. Gocta waterfalls and Yumbilla Falls. I only hiked Gocta; it was quite impressive and the hike was medium to strenuous and I took the easy route which I will explain here.

I took a tour the first day that took me both to the Sacafogas and the caverns that included lunch. I feel we may have seen one other minor thing on the way. The lunch was actually pretty good and I enjoyed the entire tour however it pails in comparison to the other activities I did in Chachapoyas. So decide for yourself once there just don’t miss the falls or Keulap.

Gocta Falls: A taxi to anywhere in town should be no more than 3 Soles. Take a bus from the terminal in Chachapoyas, I don’t remember the exact amount maybe 10-15 Soles. They will let you out on the side of the road where some Tuck-tucks are waiting that will either take you to Cocachimba or San Pablo. I remember thinking that the tuck-tuck was quite expensive and almost decided that I would hike it and skip the fee. That would have been a huge mistake and I would have missed seeing much of the falls. In retrospect it was worth whatever they were charging to get up to San Pablo. What you need to know is there are 3 levels to these falls in which you can hike and San Pablo is about on level with the 2nd level of the falls. I started out from Chachapoyas about 9am thinking it would be an easy day since I was going to start in San Pablo and hike ‘down’ to the base of the falls and out to Cocachimba not realizing at the time you could actually hike to the 3rd level.

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The tuck-tuck dropped me off in the small town square of San Pablo where I was directed into the main building to pay my entrance fee. It’s Peru, of course they are going to charge you to see any natural beauty there. I think 20 soles which I found a bit steep especially after the bus and the tuck-tuck fee. I was asked what route I would be taking and I said I’d be leaving the falls area from Cocachimba. She informed me it would be a 6 hour hike. I was a bit shocked since it seemed on the map short and all downhill. So, I paid and the lady walked me out to the road and gave some short instructions on how to find the trail.

It was probably close to 10:30am, so I decided to keep a brisk pace to make sure I had plenty of time at the falls and make it out before dark. The path that looked straight and flat on the map was considerably more uphill to the first level of the falls than anticipated. There were very few people on the trail; however we were at some altitude and it slowed me down more than I would have liked. It was a very pretty trail with some gorgeous spots to stop and take pictures. Reaching the 2nd level of the falls I was ecstatic; I had seen views of them on and off for the entire trail and they didn’t disappoint up close. The downdraft at the base of the 2nd level was quite strong and with the mist from the falls it made it cold and even a bit hard to keep my breath. I spent 20-35 minutes here as the stream flows along a flat area about 100 meters before making its final descent which was the biggest part of the falls. I managed to make it right to the top of the 2nd fall. I don’t take selfies often however I was by myself and I made an exception here as the beauty of the canyon in the backdrop of the water seemingly falling off the end of the earth was just too good to pass up.

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After being satisfied I saw what I could and being pressed for time by potential nightfall I pressed on. To get to the lower level you have to re-trace part of the trail I’d say at least 1km before the trail branched off to lead down to the base of the falls. The trail was steep. Really really steep. It made me extremely happy I wasn’t going the other way climbing this trail. I was a switchback trail that was just shy of having to climb in a crawling position. Had I started to run down the trail I’m afraid I wouldn’t be able to stop at the switch backs. I would estimate 25+ switch backs. I was exhausted when I reached the bottom and just kept thinking thank goodness I was walking down to Cocachimba from here.

Apparently there is some confusion about how to get to the lower falls base as I ran into several people trying to make their way up this trail looking for it. However, once you reach the bottom and cross the bridge the trail splits to the left is the lower falls and to the right is the trail that leads to Cocachimba. I even think the sign was pointed wrong however there was a guy resting at the juncture that told me which was to the base and he said it wasn’t far. I remember thinking I would hurry to see the base and get back to Cocachimba before the last bus left for town. It was quite a bit further to the base than anticipated and a decent amount of it was uphill. I was already pretty tired and I almost gave up, yet I kept thinking all I have to do is walk down hill to the town and I’m golden afterward.

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I reached the base of the falls and found that it was totally worth it. A lot more people were here than at the top and after the decent I understand why. I spent about 20 minutes here resting and taking some photos then decided to head back as I didn’t know how far it was. Let me tell you the journey ‘down’ to Cocachimba was anything but. It was up up and more up. My phone said I climbed close to 300 flights of stairs on the way out. Like I said, I was already pretty tired and it was steep and long. Upon finally making it to the end of the trail the road leads down finally where I stopped at this perfect house/shop that was selling Jugo de Naturals where I promptly ordered 3 sat down and marveled at the view this lady had of the falls in her own backyard. Truly an incredible sight as I looked back and reflected about the long day I had had. I had made the entire journey with time at the falls at about 5 hours 30 mins. I remember thinking it could easily take some people 8 or more.

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Shortly after this perfect spot down the road there sits more tuck tucks that I initially passed by thinking I’d catch a collectivo back to Chachapoyas. I promptly found one that agreed to take me. As I waited in the grass of the square I looked around to see a small beautiful town that seemed to be just really developing the tourism industry. New rooms and resort like places to stay were either just built or being built. Had a perfect view of the falls and it was quite gorgeous. I grabbed a glass of wine at one of the restaurants and removed my shoes as I waited. As 35 minutes rolled by and only 1 other person he signed up for this collectivo I realized the passing tuck-tucks were taking people down to catch the passing collectivos to town. I mustered up enough strength to walk back up the road a bit to grab one for myself. I paid a little extra because I was alone however at that point I was so tired I didn’t even care. He brought me down to the highway where I promptly got picked up by a passing collectivo and I was off back to chachapoyas.

All in all a fantastic journey and this is one strenuous hike I’d gladly do again. The views and the falls were worth it all.

Kuelap: obviously you can take a tour and it’s all auto-pilot however I found two Peruvian girls from Lima that we decided to make a little bit cheaper and do it ourselves.

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I can’t state enough what a fantastic day this was and how special and beautiful the place is. We took a collectivo from the bus terminal toward the town of Nuevo Tingo. The collectivo dropped us off at the entrance to the Teleferico to Keulap. However on the way back you’ll need a tuck-tuck or taxi to bring you down to Nuevo Tingo to catch the collectivo back. We ended up meeting a group of locals and we stayed in town for lunch and they drove us back to Chachapoyas. So, not sure exactly where to catch the bus back. It’s a really small town and I think it will be easy to find. It’s about 1:30 minute ride if memory serves.

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Once at the teleferico you’ll need to buy a ticket which was 21 Soles. From there you board a bus that takes you to the teleferico. The ride up had spectacular views as you traversed a large canyon and up onto the mountain. Once on top the mountain there’s of course another entry fee of 40-50 soles. Don’t remember the exact amount. I was thinking it was kind of steep; however you’re there now and it’s the ‘Machu Picchu’ of the North. Then it’s a short hike up to the sight. There were maybe 20 other people at the site that day and it all turned out to be worth it in the end. A couple of guys we met that had just come from Machu Picchu said the entire experience was better than MP. And now having gone myself I would agree with them. I’m sure I’m a few years as keulap gets popular it may wind up being the same as MP; for now it is a tranquil and peaceful experience I won’t soon forget. Definitely one of the top 3 things I did in Peru and chachapoyas contained 2 of them and Huaraz (Laguna 69 trek) being the 3rd

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Posted by Veritas2377 19:12 Archived in Peru Tagged landscapes waterfalls skylines trees hiking ruins mountain tourist Comments (0)

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