Photo: Gisela Giardino
Traveling to the corners of the world has given me so much. Perspective, compassion, adventure, insight and knowledge are just a few of the traits I’ve brought home with me after exploring sights and places previously unknown. Journeying through Peru is no different.
This country, so full of rich treasures, provides travelers with an unparalleled experience: the Amazon, with its densely verdant landscape and diverse ecosystem; the Andes, which took millions of years to form and now wind through seven South American nations; and the coast, complete with butter-soft sand and breathtaking views. Pair Peru’s natural wonders with its complex history and booming future and you’ve got a nation that gives travelers more in one visit than they could have ever dreamed of.
New Year’s Eve is quickly approaching, which means if you’re coming to Peru for the festivities, you should start making plans for how you’ll say goodbye to 2014 and ring in 2015 now.
The epicenters for New Year’s Eve celebrations in Peru are Lima and Cusco, though parties and festivals go down in every city throughout the Andean nation. For a no-frills celebration, reach out to your hostel or hotel to ask what it has planned. Depending on the property, you can expect everything from a simple champagne toast at midnight to a raging party that continues into the wee hours of the morning.
If hitting the bars and clubs is more your thing, keep reading.
Photo: Alihf Esparza
It’s that time of year again. Whether you celebrate Thanksgiving (Nov. 27), Hanukkah (Dec. 16-24), Yule (Dec. 21), Nochebuena (Dec. 24), Christmas (Dec. 25), Kwanzaa (Dec. 26-Jan.1) or something else entirely, chances are sometime within the next month, you, your family and your friends will gather ’round the dinner table to express your blessings and share a meal together. And while tradition – I’m talking foods like turkey to latkes and everything in between – is nice, sometimes it’s worth spicing up the holiday spread.
It’s been 50 years since Roald Dahl penned the story of the penniless Charlie Bucket getting his hands on the winning chocolate bar in his 1964 book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The golden ticket, which was tucked inside the chocolate bar, gave Charlie and four other kids access to a world most children can only dream of – chocolate rivers surrounded by “eatable marshmallow pillows, likable wallpaper [...], hot ice creams for cold days, cows that give chocolate milk, fizzy lifting drinks [and] square sweets that look round.”
That book, which Hollywood later turned into two movies has inspired anyone with a sweet tooth to dream big. That’s why I decided I had to celebrate Dahl’s semi-centennial with a trip to Peru’s very own chocolate factory – the ChocoMuseo.
Photo: Linda Paul
Even before Peru became a nation, Cusco was an important city. Five centuries ago, it was the heart of the Incas. During its prime, the Incas used Cusco as the capital of their ever-growing empire and actually viewed it as more important than Machu Picchu. It is where the Spanish established their power which lead to the decline in the Inca empire and the rise of Spanish control over Peru. Nowadays, Cusco is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a place that nearly two million visitors embark on each year.
For these reasons Cusco, and the surrounding area known as el Valle Sagrado, contain a wealth of history, museums and archaeological sites.
Photo: Casa Cor Peru
The seashell-colored house sits on Calle Cajamarca in Barranco, one of Lima, Peru’s most fashionable locales. A neighborhood fixture since 1917, it’s not hard to look at the 12,000-square-foot mansion and imagine the roaring 20s. If these walls could talk, I’m sure they’d tell of elegant women clad in flapper dresses attending glamorous galas and puffing smoke in dimly lit hallways until the wee hours of the morning. Despite its regal appearance today, however, Palacete Sousa, as it is named, is the house that almost wasn’t. Enter Casa Cor.
Photo: Leonora Enking
Every day 2,500 people enter the gates of Machu Picchu and they are all there for one reason – to experience this beautiful, historical and magical place. But when there are that many people all on a common pilgrimage, problems can arise. To reduce potential issues and to maximize your enjoyment, it’s best to go with what I call the three Ps: a plan, propriety and lots of patience.
Alakazam, alakazoo, witches roam the streets of Lima, Peru.
With Halloween just around the corner, I decided to head to Lima’s Mercado de las Brujas, or Witches’ Market. While these witches don’t wear pointed hats or fly on broomsticks, they do cook up powerful potions and folk remedies said to cure everything from a hangover to a broken heart.
America’s love affair with watching grown men pummel each other as they outrun their opponents while carrying a prolate spheroid a few dozen yards is still an alien concept in much of the world. Peru is no different. Here fútbol is king; football, not so much. But for the sports fans to whom Sundays are sacred, their dedication to the football doesn’t go on vacation — even when they find themselves in a foreign country.