Thursday, October 11, 2012

PeruRail and a quick tour of Lima, Peru September 2012


PeruRail waiting room

To see Machu Picchu you pretty much have to take PeruRail.  And that is fine because they have an excellent setup.  Trains run on time, there is a set schedule, the views are amazing, there are different levels of service (fancy Hiram Bingham to the backpacker car) and it is well organized.  Very well organized.  Just in case you missed the marketplaces at either end, or didn't wander past an alpaca sweater in Cusco, PeruRail have you covered.  On the way to Agua Caliente they flog (nicely) knick-knacks, books, CDs and postcards.  On the way back, they give you a show of local color.
And follow up with an alpaca wool fashion show where they pick a man and a woman from the audience to model the fianl sweaters.  Don't miss it!  Thanks to Mary for the pictures-I was too dumbfounded to pull out the camera!
Zoolander face
We did the usual logistics to get back to Lima where we met our next guide for the city tour.

Sometimes you just go with the simple food-the empanada won, though the panini was ok.

During the drive through San Isidro we see the old olive orchards that were put up by the Spanish. We saw some of the lovely plazas and the tourists as well.  The weather is remarkably like San Francisco, cool cloudy morning that most off give way to sunny afternoons.

Ah Pizarro, where would Peru be without you.

We learn a bit about everyday life.  People love their food and there is a festival happening now that takes up  10 city blocks and snarls the traffic.  Much of the food has an Asian influence-originally Chinese, but in recent years Japanese as well.

Voting is mandatory!  Everyone has a national identity card that you use for everything like banking.  And on the back they keep track with a sticker if you have voted.  If you don't vote, you can't use the ID card until you pay a fine.  After the fine you get a sticker, but of a different color, so everyone knows you didn't vote.  Holy cow!  

Gotta love the family crests

You are not allowed to take pictures in the churches, so I don't have the evidence that we went into the 'catacombs', but we did.  This is a big tourist draw, but they are not actually catacombs.  They were originally just tunnels that were mainly structural, and then were used to hide from the pirates.  But lack of burial space got them to think outside the box and use the space for burials.  The bones are lined up artistically, but that is just for the visitors :)

Some Moorish influence

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