Even before we got to Peru, the place Harper and I were most looking forward to staying was undoubtedly El Albergue in Ollantaytambo. The hotel is planted right along the only train tracks that lead to Machu Picchu, making the tiny town nestled in the Sacred Valley a destination as frequented as Machu Picchu itself. Seeing tourists going to and from a world wonder is a funny thing — on the departing trains, it’s all nervous energy and excited chatter; on the arrivals, everyone is sunburned, haggard, and asleep with their faces pressed against the glass. Harper and I spent many hours perched by the windows of their cafe, watching the tourists come and go while anticipating our own turn.
The hotel was originally built in the 1920s and was turned over in the ’70s to a young artist from Seattle, Wendy Weeks. Weeks and her husband lived there alone for a bit — painting, enjoying the views, and listening to the hum and whistle of the train going by—before restoring and reopening the property to the public. They couldn’t have made it any more breathtaking if they’d tried. Hummingbirds, passionfruit, and bougainvillea fill the courtyard, and their candle-lit dining room serves gorgeous Peruvian fare grown primarily on the organic farm they maintain out back. It was hard to leave this spot — it feels like a dream you never want to wake up from, or the flower-heaven that you’ve been lucky enough to get into.
(More about El Albergue on Gardenista!)
Harper and I arrived in Lima in the middle of the night, and the forty-minute cab ride through empty streets didn’t even give us a glimpse of what the city is like. We woke up the next morning to discover that Lima is filled to the brim with insane traffic, vibrant textiles, stray dogs, pink sunsets, and the most gorgeous foliage.
We split our time between the Miraflores district where we stayed (Hostal El Patio, a sweet oasis) and the Barranco neighborhood. Miraflores reminded us of LA with its tall palm trees, industrial skyscrapers, and grand cliffs over the Pacific. We spent countless hours in the Incan markets, wandered through the bizarre-but-cool Mario Testino museum, ate our weight in ceviche, and fell in deep love with pisco (and maracuya) sours. The flowers decorating the streets in Lima are next level, and it was sometimes hard for me to get down a street with all the photos I felt compelled to take. Coming from Charleston, we were not too phased by the intense humidity but gah, it was steamy. Perhaps the funniest part of our time in Lima was being interviewed by a local television station about the ceviche we were eating. We tried to pull the “no Spanish” card, but they were not having it — we just laughed and grinned with our mouths full.
I’ve had Iceland on the brain lately. Photos that I once skimmed over I now look at and can’t believe I was there to take them. It’s funny how quickly you become accustomed to new scenery, however beautiful it may be (“Oh another waterfall? Wake me up for the next one!”). For me, the magnitude of most travel experiences can only be fully realized in retrospect.
That said, I’m so happy to have photos to refer back to as reminders of such specific moments — exploring the black beach in Vik, taking in the view from the tops of numerous waterfalls, eating the best sourdough bread of our lives (two days in a row), swimming in an abandoned hot river, staying in an abandoned guest house, and of course, the ponies. Iceland is insane and I can’t wait to go back; next trip must-see’s include puffins, whales, fields of wildflowers, and the Northern lights.
More Iceland posts here.