2/28/17

CUSCO, PERU

A SWEET ENDING TO OUR SOUTH AMERICA ADVENTURE
HM dress, Proenza Schouler wallet on chain, Prada sunglasses, Kenneth Cole kam sneakers


If you were to ask what city I loved the most, out of all 6 cities visited in South America Cusco was my favorite. Cusco is one of the oldest cities in South America (founded in 1100) and was the capital of the Inca Empire before it's invasion by the Spanish. Architecturally, its easy to get a sense of all the historical impact just from walking around. Cusco is full of narrow/cobbled streets, Incan, colonial, and Spanish architecture, plazas surrounded by buildings from different eras, and locals dressed in traditional quechua clothing. There was so much to explore in this quaint city and I loved wandering around and walking into all the random storefronts. During my time in Cusco, I discovered some things that I wish I knew prior to traveling, so I've shared them below so you can learn from my experience.
  • Bring change in small bills: most locals that sell you stuff on the street or market will hustle you. They'll tell you a price, and when you give them a bill they'll frequently say they don't have change. This happened to me several times and I kept getting ripped-off because I'd pull out bills from the ATM and although what I kept purchasing was a fraction of the price they'd claim they don't have change and just keep my bill.
  • Pictures cost money: In Cusco, it's rude to take pictures of locals (especially those in traditional Andes clothing) without offering money. There are also locals who walk around with alpacas so you can take pictures with them, but this also cost money. Hence, carry change with you. 
  • Alpacas galore: The city thrives on alpacas. Almost all markets have alpaca souvenirs, lots of businesses have some sort of alpaca symbol/logo, you can buy almost anything wearable made of alpaca wool, and even order alpaca meat at restaurants. I had the most fun buying an alpaca wool sweater because it was so soft, comfortable and only $13 USD. 
  • Coca tea: Order this everywhere you go. It's an herbal tea made of coca leaves that's very soothing, tasty, helps with headaches, and even helps prevent altitude sickness. In terms of taste, it reminded me of green tea but earthier. I wish we had this in the states. 

2/27/17

MACHU PICCHU

THE LOST CITY OF THE INCAS
Nike flyknit running shoes, Girlfriend Collective leggings, bralette from PacSun 

Traveling to Machu Picchu was the most exhausting part of our South American trip. It took us a total of 18-hours to arrive here from Santiago, Chile when it should have taken 12. For starters, our flight got delayed 3-hours which caused a domino effect on all other things booked. We missed our scheduled PeruRail train ride and also had to re-coordinate other planned activities. Although I wish we had more time, we still got to explore Aguas Calientes and hike Machu Picchu which was our primary goal. For those seeking to travel to Machu Picchu and have a limited amount of time, below is how we did it along with tips on how to travel with ease into the rainforest. 

2/20/17

COLORS OF SANTIAGO

VIBRANCY AWAITS
Shirt and handbag from a street fair in Santiago, AEO shorts, Steve Madden sandals
We stopped in Santiago which is the capital of Chile for 2-days after our Patagonia excursion. I didn't know what to expect since I did seldom research but I fell in love with Santiago and felt the most at home here out of all places in South America. The differing neighborhoods, vibrancy, and streets filled with art and culture reminded me a lot of San Francisco. One of the first things we did was stop by Centro Artesanal Santa Lucia to buy souvenirs, which was such a fun market to explore. I also ended up getting this top for 9,000 Chilean pesos ($14 USD) and a purse for 19,000 pesos ($30 USD). Some other favorite activities consisted of visiting Cerro San Cristóbal which is a steep hill you walk up to see the cityscape, going to the Metropolitan Cathedral, and walking around Lastarria which is the area we stayed in. We stayed in Hotel Ismael 312 which had a cozier room but the overall hotel was super hip and the location was walking distance to so many great places. Overall, Santiago was such a vibrant city and left me with a great impression of city-life in Chile. 

2/8/17

PATAGONIA ADVENTURES

 CROSSING BORDERS FROM ARGENTINA TO CHILE
The North Face hyperair GTX rain jacket, Under Armour cold gear long sleeve shirt, Girlfriend Collective leggings, Nike flyknit running shoes, Ray-Ban aviators
If you're into nature and adventure, Patagonia is a must-do. Patagonia is a huge region (402,700 mi²) that crosses through the south of Argentina and Chile with the Andes Mountains dividing the border. Due to the scale of Patagonia you can experience it in so many different ways. Josh and I only had 4-days to explore Patagonia so decided with the stop-and-go route rather than the week long hike. We planned everything independently of each other and created our own itinerary to do all the activities we wanted to do. Perito Moreno Glacier and Torres Del Paine were high priority items on our list. Planning Patagonia wasn't easy, so I'd love to share my itinerary with you along with some tips. See below to see it all. 

2/6/17

JUST ARRIVED IN PATAGONIA

EL CALAFATE
Lucca Couture ruffle off the shoulder blouse, vintage earrings from Austin, American Eagle shorts, Apple Watch stainless steel with pink leather buckle
Patagonia is breathtaking and nothing like I could have ever imagined. Seeing pictures of it is one thing, but being situated there is another. Josh and I started our Patagonia adventure in El Calafate which is a small town on the edge of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field. We stayed at Design Suites Calafate which was one of the nicer hotels here, yet still affordable. Getting here was quite the journey since the suite was located on the outskirts of town with nothing but dirt and land around it. We also had a crazy cab driver driving 90mph over dirt roads, cutting other drivers off, and the rickety car didn't help either. Regardless, once we got to our destination we were in complete awe and soaking it all in. I would definitely recommend staying here if you travel to El Calafate as the view is priceless. See below for more pictures taken at our beautiful suite.