Puerto Rico 🇵🇷

Always wanted to visit the Caribbean Islands, and PUERTO RICO is the pearl of the Caribbean. This tiny Island is steeped in Spanish history and heritage. Puerto Rico offers a melting pot of cultures including a lively mix of African, Taino, American and Spanish influences. This exotic blend extends to almost every aspect of Puerto Rican life including the cuisine, art, craft, music and the festivals.

I was so excited to leave Boston’s freezing cold weather in January, that I packed my bags at least a week before 😜 I planned this entire trip with my better half sitting in a beautiful & cozy bakery in Brookline. Here is my Itinerary, and experiences on this pearl of the Caribbean.

Day 1: Old San Juan

Day 2: Old San Juan

Day 3: Isla de Vieques

Day 4: Culebra

Day 5: Culebra

Day 6: El Yunque National Park

Day 7: San Juan

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Day 1: Old San Juan

Old San Juan

Old San Juan is a vibrant gem of culture and history, transporting you to another time, where large forts overlook colourful houses and plazas resplendent with music, food and culture. Old San Juan is a favourite port of call for cruise ships, and the town offers incredible shopping, from the largest mall in the Caribbean down to local boutiques, and street artisans.

Hotel El Convento, Old San Juan
Hotel El Convento

We stayed in Hotel El Convento, a 350-year-old property in the heart of San Juan. Hotel El Convento is an alluring mix of Spanish colonial architecture and contemporary styling with a panoramic terrace on the rooftop with a plunge pool and Jacuzzi. I highly recommend this place, great service, beautiful room, and unbeatable location!

We checked-in and spent some time enjoying the view of the city from our room. We started our day with Mofongo, a Puerto Rican dish with fried plantains and a glass of Pina colada at Punto De Vista Rooftop Restaurant, which is one of the best restaurants, if you are looking for authentic local cuisine. And yes they have happy hours throughout the day!

Punto de Vista Rooftop Restaurant, Old San Juan

We both were full and little high! The Pina Colada’s were definitely strong!!! Our first stop was El Castillo San Felipe del Morra. Built in 1500s as a military structure, it’s now a UNESCO World Heritage site. Do take a guide, the history is very interesting.

El Castillo San Felipe Del Morro, Old San Juan
El Castillo San Felipe del Morro, Old San Juan

After exploring El Morro, we let ourselves get lost in the colourful streets. The buildings are historic and super photogenic and quintessentially “Old San Juan”.

Streets of Old San Juan
Old San Juan
Old San Juan

Next stop was La Perla, a colourful neighbourhood in Old San Juan. This place got really famous because of the song “Despacito” by Luis Fonsi. This is east of the beautiful Cemetery of Santa Maria Magdalena de Pazzis. La Perla is not the safest place to be, but you got to see what you want to see. Period!

Walked till Castillo de San Cristobal, a fortress built by Spanish. The best view of La Perla can be seen from here.

La Perla, Puerto Rico
Cemetery of Santa Maria Magdalena de Pazzis
Castillo de San Cristobal

After a tiring, and colourful day, it was time to hit the Rooftop Jacuzzi, I remember it was drizzling and the view from up there was divine. You can see San Juan Bautista Cathedral and listen to the music played by locals on the streets.

Rooftop Pool & Jacuzzi, El Convento Hotel

Time for some Wine & Dine! Got ready, and to our surprise there was a protest going on which looked more like a party just outside the hotel. We spent some time roaming around, shopping, and found a cozy place to dine, Barrachina Restaurant. Great place for Seafood and this is where Pina Colada was born!!!

Protest outside Governor’s House, San Juan
Barrachina Restaurant, Old San Juan

Day 2: Old San Juan

Started our 2nd day with a bang! Tried Mallorca, a sweet bread, for the first time at La Bombonera Restaurant. Hands down best breakfast place!

La Bombonera Restaurant, Old San Juan

After a delicious meal we explored the other side of Old San Juan. The cobblestone streets, artist’s performing, local artisans boutiques, outdoor markets, ports, and colourful buildings basically sums up this old historic town! Just pick up your map and start exploring…We visited some open markets selling local handmade art, enjoyed few cocktails in some really cool street bars, loads of window shopping, and last stop for the day was Pigeon Park.

Old San Juan
Artist performing, Old San Juan
Governor’s House, Old San Juan
San Juan Port

Evening spent at the rooftop bar, overlooking the city, we talked about life and all things nice! And this blog will be incomplete without the mention of one of the best, and my favourite restaurant of this town, Verde Mesa. Their Lamb Stew with basmati rice, and Purple Cloud is out of this world.

Rooftop Bar, Hotel El Convento
Verde Mesa, Old San Juan

Tips:

1. Visit San Juan in early winter ( January-March) to enjoy a pleasant and comfortable temperature

2. Plan day trips to El Yunque National Park and near by islands

3. Carry comfortable shoes and beach wear, and don’t forget your favourite Hat & Sunglasses

Top Attractions:

1. El Castillo San Felipe Del Morro

2. Cemetery of Santa Maria Magdalena de Pazzis

3. Castillo de San Cristobal

4. La Perla

5. Go Souvenir Shopping

6. Walking tour of the city

7. Museo de las Américas

8. Condado and Ocean Park Beach

9. Fortaleza Street

Day 3: Off to Isla de Vieques

We woke up with so much excitement as tonight was going to be the best night! We witnessed one of the most beautiful natural phenomenons on Earth. Bio Bay is home to millions of bioluminescent organisms, which emit bluish light when agitated, and are quite stunning against the backdrop of the black Caribbean sea at night, specially on a no moon day. And that’s how we celebrated our Third Anniversary ♥️

Off to Isla de Vieques

To reach the two islands Isla de Vieques and Culebra you can either fly or rent a car to Fajardo, and then take a ferry from Ferry Terminal Ceiba. We drove to Fajardo, 80 miles from Old San Juan. It took us almost an hour and half. The drive was beautiful, and scenic as we crossed the Tropical Forests of Puerto Rico.

We reached the Ferry Terminal at Ceiba just on time! I recommend to book the tickets in advance (Porferry.com). It takes about 30 minutes to reach the Island. We stayed close to the Mosquito Bay, eighth wonder of the world! Everything was walking distance from our cute & cozy Airbnb.

In the afternoon we enjoyed a breezy, sunny day near one of the beaches. This is a wonderful destination for one seeking to get away from civilisation and enjoy the peaceful surroundings.

Isla de Vieques

And finally it was time for the magic! We booked the Bio bay tour from Viator. They had all the equipment’s, and were very knowledgable, and made sure we had fun. We had the time of our life!

Mosquito Bay, Isla de Vieques

Day 4: Culebra

Of course, if you’re going to the Caribbean, you want to see some beaches! And what if they are the most beautiful beaches of the world 🌍. To reach Culebra, we took the early morning ferry from Isla de Vieques back to the Terminal at Ceiba and again took another ferry to Culebra from the same terminal.

We stayed in Mamacitas Guest House. This place was perfect for our needs, nothing fancy. Rented a golf cart as our preferred mode of transportation from Jerry’s Jeep Rental. A golf cart will run you about $45/day.

Culebra is home to one of the top beaches in the world: Flamemco Beach, and I wanted to get there ASAP. It’s truly just as nice as everyone says- full of that pure, white, silky sand that curves up and down the coast and that crystal clear turquoise water that just makes anyone go crazy, and even though I visited in the heart of high season, it wasn’t too crowded. A main draw is checking out the tank further down the beach. It’s been covered in colorful graffiti and is a must-see.

We rented beach chairs, umbrella, and ice bucket full of beer.

Flamenco Beach, Culebra
Flamenco Beach, Culebra
M4 Sherman Tank, Flamenco Beach
Flamenco Beach

After spending full day at the Flamenco beach, we indulged into some really delicious cocktails, and local catch of the day!

Day 5: Culebra

We started our day with beach hopping on our little cart. But before that, the most important part was a good Breakfast at Blac Flamingo Coffee.

After a short 10 minutes drive we reached Melones Beach. Melones is a beautiful beach equipped with swings, picnic tables by the sea and some great folk art. But the real beauty is only a couple of steps into the water. The coral here is spectacular, vivid purple sea fan, and an active reef makes this my favorite. This is a great spot for sunsets too. Next we headed to Tamarindo Beach, here the waters are very calm and you will find yourself snorkeling with sea turtles, many fishes, stingrays and more. The beach is full of corals so wear water shoes or rent a snorkel gear. One of the highlights of Culebra

Blac Flamingo Coffee, Culebra
Melones Beach
Snorkelling at Tamarindo Beach

In the evening

Day 6: El Yunque Rainforest

At nearly 29,000 acres, our single day of exploring didn’t allow us to see much of the forest, but we were able to check out a lot of terrific waterfalls that inhabit this beautiful piece of earth. Do collect a map from the visitor center.

Road to Paradise

House Plants

I love House Plants, brings me so much joy. And I want to share the love with you. Hope this will be useful, and will help in keeping your plants happy and healthy! Most of the plants can survive in low light and most of them filters indoor air, even at night.

Sharing some TIPS & FACTS:

  • Talk to your plants. Talking to plants really can help them grow faster. And they grow faster to the sound of a female voice than to the sound of a male voice
  • With most plants, you should water when the soil feels dry to the touch. You can gently stick your finger (up to the knuckle or so) in the soil to see how dry it is. For water lovers, water when the surface is dry; for succulents and drier plants, water when most of the soil feels dry
  • Fertilize the plants during Summer & Spring
  • Quit re-arranging your plants

Aloha Hawaii 🏝🌸🍍

Celebrating our 1st Anniversary, Oahu

After traveling to over 16 countries, I’m frequently asked about my favourite destinations around the world. To answer this I have to delve into choosing just one out of so many beautiful places, that makes my heart skip a beat…

Often it’s Hawaii!!!🏝 This is one of the many places where I wish to go again and again…

All I knew about the Hawaiian Islands 🌴 was the five star resorts & bustling tourist centers in Waikiki ( all of which I have nothing but love for, by the way). But these Islands have so much to offer. Hawaii is a great tropical escape within America.

Oahu

Day 1

My heart was bursting with happiness as our plane took off from San Francisco to Oahu. This trip was very special as we were going to celebrate our 1st wedding anniversary! Our trip kicked off with the Hawaii tradition, a beautiful resort at the Waikiki beach 🏖

Infinity Pool, Waikiki Beach Resort

Waikiki Beach

Oahu is very touristy but we loved every bit of it. The very first day we enjoyed at the Waikiki beach & later at the infinity pool of our resort. After traveling for almost 12 hours from the east coast we just wanted to go little easy. The vibe of this side of the island is vivacious & fascinating. We spent little time shopping, roaming around the bustling streets, talking to local people & enjoyed local food, which goes well with tropical cocktails 🍹. Had dinner at Duke’s Waikiki. There is no better way to end your first day than sipping mai tais while watching the rainbows and sunset colours dance over the city skyline.

Baked Fish with Forbidden Rice, Duke’s Waikiki

Duke’s Waikiki

Enjoying the sunset

Day 2

Oahu is also famous for it’s water sports. We got some good deals on Groupon🤑 and we had free time in the morning before Luau. Para Sailing was fun, though I was little motion sick by the end!!!

Para Sailing ⛵️

Always wanted to see the famous Hula dance & know more about the Polynesian traditions, and Hawaiian Luau is the best way to get familiar with the local culture. Luau is a traditional Hawaiian feast accompanied by entertainment.

The bus came to pick us from our hotel. As we reached they welcomed us with Orchid 🌸 garlands & drinks! The sound of drums beating, artists performing with fire & the beautiful dancers 💃 will make you say WOW!!! All this we enjoyed with a grand feast! We also took part in a lot of other activities they offer!!! It’s fun and gave us a good taste of Hawaiian culture.

Trying to light fire 🔥

Beautiful Hula Dancer 💃

Hawaiian Luau

Day 3

The other side of this island is very peaceful. Known for easy hikes with breathtaking views from top. We highly recommend to hire a car. We drove down to Lanikai Beach in Kailua on the east side of Oahu. It’s just half an hour from the city. It’s one of the most beautiful beaches of not only Hawaii but the world 🌍. Surrounded by endless miles of calm tranquil aqua blue water.

Before hitting the beach, we decided to go for our first hike. Pillbox Hike is a very famous spot for Travel Bloggers because of the heavenly view! The hike was easy & fun yet provided rewarding panoramic views.

Trying to climb up for the view

View from the top

After the not so tiring hike it was time to take a dip in the ocean. Trust me when I say this, I have never seen such a beautiful sight!!! The water was calm, warm & blue! We were just so mesmerised as we walked into the crystal clear water. Best place to celebrate our big day!!!❤️

Flying high, Lanikai Beach

Us, Lanikai Beach

Celebrating our 1st Anniversary

After lounging around the beach all day we drove down to Hanauma bay, just 30 minutes from the beach! This is the most popular place to snorkel on the Island of Oahu. Though we didn’t go in water, but we absolutely enjoyed the breathtaking natural beauty. It’s a 10 minute walk from the parking lot.

Hanauma Bay

Day 4

Last day in Oahu! Early morning started the Diamond Head Hike, the volcanic tuff cone that looms over the east end of Waikiki beach. This will require sturdy shoes and a bit of cardio, but the views of downtown, the mountains, and surrounding sea are well worth the effort.

Diamond Head Crater

Tips:

  • If you are interested in going around the island, rent a car
  • Carry sturdy shoes and comfortable clothes for hiking
  • Pillbox Hike Parking: You cannot park at the trailhead. The most convenient place is Kaelepulu, Aalapapa and the beach parking
  • Go kayaking at Lanikai beach
  • Try to hike early in the morning, to enjoy the sunrise
  • Go for snorkeling in Hanauma bay, you can rent the gear from here. This place has lifeguards, changing rooms & showers
  • Do book your flights well in advance to save money to do more adventures here😜
  • Spend 2-3 days in Oahu, because the real magic happens away from the big resorts
  • Flights between Islands are quiet inexpensive (50-80$) can be booked last minute
  • Island hopping is also one of the options, but spend at least 2-3 days in each island

Top Attractions:

  • Attend a Luau
  • North Shore for surfing
  • Pearl Harbour & Arizona Memorial
  • Diamond Head, Makapu’u Point & Pillbox hike
  • Shopping in Waikiki
  • Tour of Polynesian cultural center
  • Walk around historic Honolulu

Restaurants:

Oahu

  • Steak Shack
  • Duke’s Waikiki
  • Tikis Grill & Bar
  • Murukami Udon

Kailua

  • Kalapawai Cafe & Deli
  • Nalu Health Bar & Cafe
  • Chadlou’s Cafe & Rotisserie

Big Island

And then we were back at the airport clutching our boarding passes for Big Island!!! The next 6 days felt like a dream. We landed in Big Island, rented a car from the airport. We split our time on the Big Island between two locations Kona & Volcanic National Park, because, well, it’s a big island!

Day 5

Drove down to Kona, west side of the island. This side is drier and gets the bulk of tourists. But there’s a reason for that: some of the best snorkelling in all of the islands can be found in Kealakekua Bay & Honaunau Bay.

We stayed at Royal Kona Resort in a beautiful oceanfront view room. It’s a paradise at waters edge. The location of this Resort is great, right in the heart of downtown Kona. I could spend days just sitting in the balcony, watching the colourful sunsets of Hawaii! The shops & restaurants are within walking distance and a snorkel rental place is right on the premises. First day in Kona was all about food, meeting the local people & beautiful views.

On The Rocks, Kona

View from the room, Royal Kona Resort

While watching the splendid sunset we planned our next day! We decided to explore the near by places to snorkel.

We strolled in Kona Downtown looking for places to eat, saw a beautiful church and decided to go in. The priest invited us to get dinner with his guests at the church. We were surprised but felt so happy! Had couple of pizza slices. They all were so welcoming and shared so many old local stories & food with us. It was fun!!!

Day 6

The island life starts quite early! Anyways we were badly jet lagged so it worked for us. Started our day with a bowl full of Acai berry smoothie & tropical fruits over it. Just rent a snorkel gear and you are all set! Just 14 mins drive from our hotel was Kahulu’s Beach Park. It’s a great place as we snorkeled for the first time.

Kahalu’u Beach Park

Sea Turtle

We had the time of our life. The ocean is usually very calm and the water is just perfect temperature. We saw schools of bright yellow tang, turtles and so many colourful fishes. Spent almost 4-5 hours in the water. This was just the beginning!!!

Returned back to the hotel, and after a long adventures day the only thing we could think of was food! Found a really cozy terrace restaurant overlooking the ocean. The food was delicious.

Day 7

Just 35 mins from downtown Kona, Two steps is a paradise for people who likes to snorkel. This place is located just next to the Pu’u Honua O Honaunau National Historic Park also known as the City Of Refuge.

This is by far one of my favourite places to go in Hawaii. The water is crystal clear with visibility of more than 💯 ft. We saw live corals, a lot of beautiful fishes and swam with Spinner Dolphins, they like to put on a show. Also we swam in the middle of the bay, which was deep (100ft) and this was a big accomplishment for us!!!

Sorkelling Gear

Basking, Two Steps

Just next to Two Steps is the City of Refuge. This is the Ancient Hawaiian Sanctuary that protected law breakers from death sentences. We could still feel the spirit of peace and forgiveness that surrounds and bless this sacred place. Highly recommend to hire a guide.

Tiki Totems, Pu’uhonua O Honaunau

City of Refuge, Kona

Our Guide, City of Refuge

Day 8

After that we headed to the eastern side of the island, via the southern coast. If you’re taking this route be sure to stop at South Point, Papakolea Green Sand Beach & Punaluu County Beach Park!

South Point ( also known as Ka Lae) is the southern most point in the United States. It’s about 50 miles from Kona. It’s a fantastic place away from the crowd with a great view from the end of the world. I feel this place is very romantic and if you can swim, best spot for cliff jumping!

View from South Point

About 67 miles from Kona is the Black Sand Beach (Punaluu County Beach Park), a good stop along the way. The feel of the sand is very unique. The beach is rarely crowded, and is a wonderful place to relax. Also this is one of the best beaches for spotting Green Sea Turtles 🐢

Black Sand Beach

Black Sand Beach

After travelling for almost 96 miles we reached Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. We booked an Airbnb just 5 mins drive from the park in Volcano Village. At night we planned to visit the Park to see the Volcano glow🔥 over the Halema’uma’u crater. We also visited the Jaggar Museum which is closed now due to the Lava eruption. The sight was spectacular! The sky was red & orange. Very amazing to see the enormity of the crater.

Volcano Glow

We also visited Thurston Lava Tube, 500 years old. It’s a short steep downhill walk through beautiful forest. We both were petrified as we were the only people inside the tube at night. The whole experience was quiet adventurous!!! Sadly it seems to be closed now, if it reopens it’s a must-see.

Please carry your own flashlights as it’s going to be pitch black inside.

Lava Tube Entrance

Thurston Lava Tube

Day 9

We woke up to the sound of birds singing. The Airbnb’s location we stayed in is beautiful. Surrounded by tropical forest, so peaceful & cozy.

Road to Airbnb

The Kīlauea Volcano is the most active volcanos not only of Hawaii but the world. And the best way to see the crater and the active lava is from top.

Booked an off-door Helicopter 🚁 ride from Hilo, 30 miles from Volcano Village (45 min drive) We consider this as one of the most unforgettable experience despite the price. We were flying almost directly over the lava in the cone, very close to the action.

Kīlauea Volcano

Active Lava flow, Kīlauea Volcano

On our way back to Hilo we saw so many Waterfalls on the slopes of Mauna Kea which are impossible to reach by road. This two hour tour of the island was fabulous and the best way to see all aspects of this place.

Waterfall, Mauna Kea

Big Island offers many spectacular sights and this was a short hike in a delightfully Hawaiian setting, with the loop trail of Akaka Falls. We enjoyed the trail surrounded by beautiful flora & fauna.

Trail to Akaka Falls

Akaka Falls

Day 10

After exploring the other side of Big Island we were back to Kona. This time we stayed in an Airbnb in Captain Cook, 12 miles from downtown Kona. This place was peaceful and had some great breakfast options nearby.

Kona also has one of the most unique dives on the planet: a rare Manta Ray Night Dive. And we saved this for the last day. We were super excited and scared to do this. While booking this we looked at each other and just smiled. In my mind I was thinking that we are just two crazy non swimmers who wants to dive into the open ocean at night! But at the same time I wanted to see this magical show of Mantas. The instructors were so helpful. Finally it was time to dive in. And believe me it was the best 45 minutes of my life!!! After we came out of water, one of the lady who dived with us came to me and said ” If you can do this being a non swimmer, you can do anything & everything. You brave woman!” And yeah it was icing on the cake. We did it!👊✌🏻👏🏻

And this is how we spent our last night in Hawaii before flying back home. Taking back with us so many magical memories. Hope to be back soon in this Paradise.

Mahalo!!! 🌸🌸🌸

Manta Ray

Manta Ray

Tips:

  • Hire a car, most of the places are accessible only via car
  • South Point Access : Right turn off of highway 11 between mile markers 69 & 70
  • The Volcano National Park tickets cost 25$ to get in regardless of how long you stay
  • Carry flashlights if going to the park at night
  • Akaka fall is in a state park so there is a 5$ fee to park in the parking lot
  • Rent or take a Go Pro for underwater pictures
  • Try the Kona Coffee, one of the best coffees in the world

Top Attractions:

  • Hawaii Volcanoes National Par
  • Kona Coffee farms
  • Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historic Park
  • Akaka Falls State Park
  • Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden
  • Kealakekua Bay
  • Manta Ray Night Snorkel

Restaurants:

Kona

  • Huggo’s on the rocks
  • Fish hopper seafood & steaks
  • Splasher’s Grill
  • Island Lava Java

Hilo

  • Paul’s Place
  • Pineapples Restaurant
  • Cafe 100

Peruvian Adventures 🇵🇪

Machu Picchu was on top of my bucket list since many years. But had no clue that apart from the newly added wonder of the world Peru has a lot to offer!!! This country surprised me with it’s history, culture, people, food and the list goes on…..

I was in Peru for 11 days

Lima-Cusco-Augus Cilantes- Ollantaytambo-Iquitos-Lima

Day 1 Reached Lima, stayed overnight

Day 2 Took an early morning flight to Cusco (1.5hrs)

Day 3 Evening left for Augus Cilantes (Incarail), reached at around 9 pm

Day 4 Machu Picchu

Day 5 Took an early morning train for Ollantytambo from Augus Cilantes (IncaRail), reached at 10 am

Day 6 Explored Ollantytambo & near by Inca Ruins, rented a taxi

Day 7 Afternoon visited Chinchero on our way to Cusco. Evening took the last flight to Iquitos, stayed overnight

Day 8 Early morning left for Amazon River from Iquitos ( Boat )

Day 9 Amazon Rainforest

Day 10 Amazon Rainforest. Took an evening flight to Lima

Day 11 Lima. Night took the last flight back home!!!

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Day 1

From Boston I flew to Lima, stayed there overnight in Holiday Inn, very close to the airport.

Day 2

City view from top

After a good Peruvian breakfast at the hotel, taken an early morning flight to Cusco. Reached around 10 am. Stayed at Palacio del Inka, a gorgeous hotel situated within walls that date back to Incan times. The hotel is located in the centre of the city, very close to Plaza de Armas & Qorikiancha temple. After checking in, spent some time in the beautiful courtyard of the hotel & enjoyed some coco leaf tea ( helps in acclimate to high altitudes of Cusco)

Courtyard of Palacio del Inka

After getting ready in a very lavish & beautiful room Found a small cafe right next to the hotel, Sepia club cafe. The food was simply delightful. Now it was time to explore this beautiful & charming city!

After walking for 10 mins reached the center of this city, Plaze De Armas. It’s the main square of Cusco. The plaza is always bustling with some activity and is a great place to soak up the laid back atmosphere of this Andian city.

Spent some time roaming around the Plaza, visited few beautiful cathedrals. It was time to visit the local markets of Cusco. Not too far from the Plaza, walked to the colourful San Pedro Market. You can buy local handicraft here.

San Pedro Market

After shopping a bit decided to just take a walk in the alleys of the city ( Do wear comfortable shoes). Cuscosurprisescornercobblestonesurrounds

Streets of Cusco

You will find many Peruvian women in beautiful traditional dresses selling handicraft and petting Alpacas & Llamas. If you want a picture with the cute Alpaca do not forget to tip the owner😊

First encounter with Alpaca, Courtyard of Palacio del inka

After a long tiring yet beautiful day came back to the hotel and ended the day with Pisco Sour & exquisite dinner!

Pisco Sour

Day 3

Started the day right with a good breakfast spread. Visited Saksaywaman and El Cristo. From the main square just take a taxi, will cost around 40 soles. You will get the best city view from here!

View of Cusco city from top of Saksaywaman

El Cristo, Cusco

Also visited the Quorikiancha ( Sun Temple). This is considered as one of the most important place in the Incan history. Please do take a guide, the history will amaze you!

Quorikiancha, Sun Temple

After spending one & half day in Cusco, it was time to start our journey for Machu Picchu.

Left from Cusco at 4.30 and reached Augus Cilantes in the evening ( Inca Rail). Stayed in hotel El Mistico, a decent place very close to the train station and the main square of the town. Found some really cool places to eat & drink. Do try their local beer

Cusqueńa – Local Beer of Peru

Top Attractions:

  • Plaza De Armas
  • Quorikiancha
  • San Blas Area
  • Saksaywaman
  • El Cristo
  • San Pedro Market
  • El Baratillo Saturday Market

Restaurants:

  • Limbus
  • Chicha
  • Museum of Chocolate
  • Republic of Pisac
  • Huyanapata
  • Cicciolina
  • Sepia Club cafe

Food Recommendations:

  • Ceviche
  • Lomo Saltado (Stir Fried Beef)
  • Cuy al horno (Guinea Pig)
  • Causa (Potato Casserole)

Tips:

  • Just take altitude sickness medicine and stay hydrated, Coco leaf tea really helps
  • Go slow the first day
  • Choose a hotel which is in the city
  • Carry clothes for layering as it really gets cold during night
  • Enjoy walking around the streets.
  • Take out time to explore Cusco’s rich culinary scene.
  • Learn little Spanish, really helpful
  • Carry toilet roll, sunscreen & drinking bottled water
  • There is a limit to the weight when you travel in train, don’t worry about it. You can always keep your extra bags in their locker room free of cost

Day 4

The most awaited day of our trip, Machu Picchu!!! Booked a private guide. He came to pick us up from the hotel at 6.30 am. After breakfast we walked down to the bus stop and after waiting for around 10 mins boarded the bus to our destination.

Panoramic view of Machu Picchu

This place is magical. No wonder why this made it to the New Wonders Of The World. The views are breathtaking and the inca civilisation & history is impressive!

Machu Picchu Citadel

Machu Picchu means old mountain. Around 100-200 people stayed here in the citadel ( inca ruins). This is a remarkable example of archeological & technical excellence of Inca civilisation.

View of Huayna Picchu

We booked Machu Picchu & Huayna Picchu hike together. You can spend 6 hours with this ticket. Looking up to Huayna Picchu from below made me really nervous. Honestly I am not a hiker!!!🙈 This trail is demanding and takes upto 3 hours. But it’s not impossible and worth every drop of sweat to see the spectacular view of the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu from top of Huayna Picchu!

On top of Huayna Picchu

After an exhausting hike finally made it to the top!!! Trust me the hike itself was beautiful with terraces, nature and the view of the entire valley. I consider this one of the best trails I have been to! Coming back was comparatively easy.

Came back to the town and it was time to celebrate the victory!!! You can spend time around the main square of the town. There is a very beautiful flee market right next to the train station. If you are planning to take souvenirs back home this is the best place!

Restaurants:

  • Cala Tratoria
  • Mapacho Craft beer & Peruvian cuisine
  • Full House
  • Inkani Cafe

Tips:

  • Do book the tickets for Machu Picchu & Huayna Picchu in advance, at least 3 months
  • Avoid going to Machu Picchu on weekends as it’s free entry and gets overcrowded
  • Do wear hiking shoes
  • Stay hydrated & chew coco leaves
  • Highly recommend to book a guide
  • Carry Poncho
  • Don’t forget to get your Passport stamped

Day 5

Started the day early! Boarded the Train to Ollantytambo. It’s a small Andian town of cobblestone streets & buildings built on foundations of inca stonework , in the Sacred Valley Of Incas. You can spend 2-3 days here and visit many near by ruins & towns. Reached at 10 am. Stayed in Hotel Sol Miranda, walking distance from the main square.

Cobblestone streets of Ollantytambo

Visited the Fortress Of Ollantytambo. Highly recommend to take a guide here. Just below the fortress, the small local market is worth a visit.

Ollantytambo Fortress

After strolling around this charming Incan town tried some local brews. Peruvian people are quite friendly and they love to dance! Met few of them. Though we didn’t understand the language, dancing with them was fun!!!! Booked a taxi for next day as I planned to visit Some nearby villages & ruins.

Made few Friends

Day 6

After breakfast headed out to visit the Moray Terrace. This is considered as the Agricultural Lab of Incas. It’s a one hour drive from Ollantytambo.

Moray Terrace

The best thing to hire a taxi is being able to stop whenever you want. Drove down a stretch of road lined with crops and backed by giant snow-covered mountains. The driver was tech smart, entire trip he was talking via google translate 😎

Reached Maras in hardly 45 mins. Maras also known as Salineras de Maras are privately owned salt mines. Entry to this is only 10 Soles. Both the places were the highlight of our visit to the Sacred Valley.

Salineras de Maras

After a half day outing reached back to Ollantytambo. Had dinner in Apu Veronica. The best Peruvian food!!! Great presentation, taste 💯 & excellent service! A must visit if you visit this town.

Restaurant Apu Veronica, Ollantytambo

Day 7

Before flying to Iquitos, decided to visit Chinchero. As it was on the way back to Cusco. Chinchero is the home to the famous Peruvian weaving & center of Andean textiles. You can see the demonstration of how they spin Alpaca wool. Enjoy a free cup of Coco Tea ☕️

Weaving demonstration, Chinchero

From Cusco flied to Iquitos via Lima. Stayed overnight in Hotel Europa.

Tips:

  • Buy a 70 soles ticket which is valid for 2 days allowing entry to Pisac, Ollantytambo, Chinchero & Moray
  • In Chinchero, there is no fee for demonstration but it is appropriate to tip the women

Day 8

Booked a 3 day 2 night Amazon River tour with Curassow Amazon Lodge! They came to the hotel in Iquitos for pickup. From Iquitos it’s a 3 hours ( 62 miles ) one way boat ride along the Itaya, Amazon & Yanayacu river and the only way to reach this place. This place is completely off the grid!!!

Reached during lunch time. Checked into my private bungalow, with a hammock in the balcony! The room had everything one could ask for.

Curassow Amazon Lodge

After a heavenly lunch headed into the rainforest.

Jungle Walk into the Amazon Rainforest

The jungle walk was for 2-3 hrs. Learnt about medical plants & explored the wildlife. At night went out for a Night Excursion by boat searching Caymans, Nocturnal Birds, Tarantulas etc…

Sunsets in Amazon River

Day 9

Early morning wild exploration by boat, jungle walk, fishing of Piranhas!!! This activity included breakfast on boat!

Fishing Piranhas

Post lunch went to explored the Pink Dolphins & swam in the Amazon river. Started raining in the evening so had to cancel the Night excursion but the boys enjoyed a good soccer game ⚽️

Soccer in Amazon

Day 10

Early morning excursion by boat for Bird Watching! In last 2 days saw almost 46 species of birds, Caymans, Wooly Monkey, Common Squirrel Monkey, Pink Dolphins & Piranhas.

Bird Watching in Amazon River

Early afternoon after a delicious lunch left for Iquitos. From Iquitos flied to Lima. Stayed in JW Marriotts, Miraflores.

Tips:

Clothing

  • Carry a hat/cap
  • Long sleeved & light weight t-shirts
  • Light weight cargo pants
  • Lightweight waterproof jacket
  • Hiking/tennis shoes ( The lodge provides rubber boots )
  • Light weight socks

Accessories

  • Sun glasses
  • Flashlight
  • Camera & binoculars
  • Lightweight backpack

Sundries

  • Insect repellent – Picaridan 20% or Deet 100%
  • Sunscreen
  • Bodywash & shampoo

Day 11

Last day in Peru! Huh tired still wanted to go out and see the most artistic city of peru. Spent some time walking along the coast, boardwalk of Miraflores. This place offers stunning cliffside vistas overlooking the ocean – the perfect scenic stroll.

Apart from the gorgeous coastal views, you can go shopping and enjoy the food. Lima is famous for its fine dining options. After walking a few blocks reached the downtown. After the final shopping and it was time to head back home!!! ❤️

Taking back lots of great memories with me!!! ☺️☺️☺️

And Special thanks to the company who made this trip just unforgettable! Cheers 🥂

In My Kaleidoscopic Universe

Sometimes I wonder why people always complain that I confine myself to small groups of people, why I don’t smile or say a simple hi when I meet someone, why m I so rude….

Problem 1:

So one day I stood in front of the mirror and smiled to realise that it doesn’t show on my face. For so many years I was smiling back at people and they never got one.

Problem 2:

I am a day dreamer, so I don’t know half of the time what is happening around me. I get lost in my colourful world where everything is just so bright and happy. Sometimes I plan my dreams in advance and for several days I think about a particular scene till the time it reaches perfection.

I sound so insane but I have been doing this since I was young. This is my therapy and I get my peace in this parallel universe that I have created. Whenever I can’t deal with the real life world or feel low I just switch my life!!!

My world is really colourful just like this painting! Hope you will like it.🥰

Ultimately

Most of our desires are momentary. In time they become totally irrelevant!

Today what satisfies you is a mere need tomorrow. All those prayers & cravings becomes incoherent as time passes by. We evolve, people & situations around us change and all the worries disappear. We realise that we dissipated so much time evaluating how to consummate our desires which are insubstantial.

We always go too far to obtain what we feel is the best for us at the particular time, moment & situation. While fulfilling those desires we miss out on many opportunities which makes more sense that time. But we always realise this later on.

Past is to evaluate, future is unknown and TODAY is relevant! To make the present more desirable let go off some desires!

The Power of Patience

My weakness & sometimes my power is my mind which refuses to stay at one place. Sitting on my comfortable bed on a cozy winter afternoon my mind takes me to places which are just the fragments of my imagination. Sometimes we also visit to people who are too far away or just sitting next to us in real but we ( me & my dear mind) meet them in Mars or outside the black hole!!! We both travel faster than light most days. Now you can understand how impatient we are. Reading one paragraph takes us longer than climbing Mt. Everest, because we are always on some adventure.

Since I was in school it was a constant struggle for me to concentrate. I always wonder how I managed to clear so many exams. I remember sitting in a classroom in the front row making portraits of all my teachers. Once I was caught, I stood outside the class for rest of the day.

I have never given my 100% attention to anything ever. Even right now while typing this I am thinking of the colour scheme for my next artwork. And suddenly I’m thinking about last nights dream!!! I think this happens to everyone but some people can have better control over their mind. I’m not one of those for sure. I sometimes envy such people who are not lost and wasting their time day dreaming.

On the positive side, it’s not that bad after all. If you can manage to put together all your imagination and create something beautiful.

Few days back I visited a nearby art store and picked up three 18*20 size canvases – discounted of course ;)..haha! I did not realise what I was getting into. For few weeks they were just resting nicely in the loft. Just checked my Instagram by the way. My last post is getting good engagement & my friend is getting engaged. Okie okie coming back to this blog so finally I decided to make something. I was unsure, scared as I was not prepared to waste so much of my time, expensive colours and off course my carpet. Yes I don’t own easel, I sit on the carpeted floor and keep the canvas on my lap and paint!!!

So before I picked up my brush I was thinking about Dinner and after my first brushstroke I gave up! Again after 15 mins I tried again and continued painting for the next 10 mins. I wanted a break because I wanted to check my social media pages. After scrolling up & down for the next 20 mins I started again. I finished 10% of it and started thinking how the final painting would look like. I was happy with the 10% of my work which made me too impatient because the only thing in my mind was to see how it’s going to be once it’s complete.

But art can’t be rushed. Period! I really wanted to complete this painting so I can put it on my Instagram…Hehehe! Whatever the motivation was but I was motivated. I thought about how can I fill this big white canvas with beautiful colours successfully. For the very first time I was patient with myself. I played Freddi Mercury’s songs and just kept going. Tried really hard not to get distracted and not to rush with my brushstrokes, very patiently I finished something which I thought was just not possible.

I give all the credit to my new found friend Patience! Thank you for being there by my side and this painting is dedicated to you! With you I feel more powerful!

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