Lamplugh Glacier, Glacier Bay Alaska

Glacier Bay

While the whales were up and breaching at 4:45 AM, I woke up at 7 AM to get ready for Bay day! The view through the fjord was breathtaking with snow-capped mountains with waterfalls of melted snow running down to their bases. Seals heads were bobbing up frequently and you could hear the bird’s songs echoing off of the mountain tops. What a place!

Waterfalls coming from the snow topped mountains in Glacier Bay, Alaska

We were hard pressed to find a table to eat breakfast and, with the announcement of whales on the starboard side, I abandoned my food and Ryan to run upstairs to the balcony to look out on the water. I saw a few whale tails and we passed some smaller glaciers before coming upon the Margerie Glacier. I can’t begin to describe the beauty and the size of the mammoth chunk of ice before us. We had the best view on the top of the front of the boat, but the crew closed our area since the slight rain was making it too slick to be safe. Thankfully, Ryan’s sister’s balcony room had a fabulous view as well, so we soaked it all in from there.

Margerie Glacier, Glacier Bay Alaska

The boat was stopped at the glacier for about an hour, so Ryan and I hit the gym. I have never had such a fantastic view from a treadmill as a glacier! The window in front of my treadmill looked over the glacier and it was the most scenic run of my life!

Margerie Glacier, Glacier Bay Alaska

The boat then veered up another channel to Lamplugh Glacier. Again, absolutely gorgeous and huge!

We went to lunch in the back buffet for the “Taste of Alaska” buffet. I really hope that was a poor representation of Alaskan food as it was full of oil / grease and the fish was way over cooked. It was really hard to find a table but I thankfully secured one by the window in the Horizon buffet and I ended up getting a salad there to eat instead. We saw even more whales while we were eating lunch! Such a scenic ride.

Lamplugh Glacier, Glacier Bay Alaska

Post-lunch, Ryan went to the room for a nap and I went to the bar for a margarita and to type up my day’s adventures for this here blog! I ended up talking to a very nice landscape architect / planner from LA for a while and enjoyed the view until I was called up to the top deck for more whale watching.

Eventually, 5:30 rolled around and we met Ryan’s family in the Botticelli dining room for dinner! It was Italian night, even though the menu did not include lasagna, and I had some yummy veal and spaghetti and meatballs. I was surprised at how decent the veal was! I skipped desert in the dining room so I could run to the 7 PM magic show and grabbed some soft serve ice-cream on route instead. Upon arrival however, I realized that I was not the only one interested in the show and the lounge where the show was taking place was completely packed!

We headed to the Princess Theater instead for the tail end of the lumberjack talk. The guy who was talking had such an increasable story of wooing a Nordstrom makeup artist and convincing her to live with him and raise their kids in a cabin in no-where Alaska. They mainly lived off the land, catching fish, digging for clams, and hunting for one big animal a year whose meat would last them until the next year’s hunt! The speaker was a world renowned lumberjack and, at 54, got back into lumberjacking as his son won the world champion title for lumberjacking! He had such an amazing story and, after he finished his talk, 8 cruisers competed in an axe throwing competition and the winner got to partake in the axe throwing contest during the lumberjack competition in Ketchikan! Again, so cool!

Glaciers in Glacier Bay, Alaska

After the show, we decided to go back to the room and watch movies instead so we could get an early night for our very early arrival in Ketchikan the next day.

Cusco, Peru

Cusco Day 2, Peru

At 8:30 AM sharp, we were dressed and ready to meet our guide, Lizbeth, for our Cusco city tour! We walked down the street from our hotel to the chapel which used to be the main Inca residence in Cusco. You can see where the Spanish ruins stop and in Incan stones remain. The Incas figured out how to build huge structures out of massive lego-like boulders that are so earthquake-proof they still stand today, despite huge tremors. You can see the amazing architecture throughout Peru thanks to one great emperor who, with the help of his offspring, conquered most of the western coast of South America in just 100 years by using a trail system to create easier transit of resources and communication. A majority of these trails still stand and are used today and the technology was so confounding to the Spaniards that the Spanish conquistadors thought the ruins had to have been built by Gods!

We then walked to the Cathedral of Santo Domingo and I was quite surprised at how massive it was inside. It definitely does not look as large as it is from the outside. There were tons of murals inside but, unfortunately, many of them were deteriorating with time. We got to talking to our guide about the locals and apparently most natives in Cusco only may $3K per year!

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After the church tour, we hopped in the tour van and took off to the Inca ruins in the highlands at Sacsayhuaman (or Sexaay woman). We walked up to this beautifully green expanse of land with llamas and alpacas roaming through giant ruins of rocks that weigh up to 40 tons! I could have spent all day there, but we had to move onto the Maze ruins consisting of giant boulders that formed a cave where Incans used to perform burial rituals and mummification. Again, a super cool view and awesome history.

After our tour, we were dropped off in the main square where we found an Italian-ish restaurant for lunch. I had some lasagna to carbo-load for our shopping trip after. We went through the arts district and walked and shopped for two hours or so before some thunder told us to head to our next destination – an under-ground Museo de sitio del Qoricancha! The walk was long and the storm caught up with us about 200 yards from the entrance to the museum and we got soaked as we didn’t have umbrellas! It started to hail right as we closed the door. The museum was a little small but they had some beautiful jewelry and pottery and scary looking mummies which were cool.

By the time we finished at the museum, we were incredibly tired, so we ran through the rain back to our hotel for nap time. With some new energy, we took off to another museum in a small square up the street, but it was closed by the time we got there. We explored the cobbled streets, walked past the local kids playing soccer, back through the main square, up to a little restaurant called Cicciolina in the arts district. We had some amazing drinks, appetizers, a sweet potato gnocchi that would make anyones mouth water to try. The food in Peru can’t be beat and, if you are looking for a place in Cusco, you must try Cicciolina!

After dinner, we walked home to rest up for the next day’s journey to Machu Picchu!

Cusco tips:

  • Pack an umbrella as the weather shifts quickly.
  • While the days are nice and sunny, the temperature at night drops into the 30s, so pack warm.
  • Do all of your market shopping from Cusco and into Machu Picchu. The goods change as you make your way and there are great deals to be haggled!
  • Have dinner at Cicciolina!
  • Drink the tea in your hotels often as it really helps with the acclimatization.
  • Wear a hat, sun glasses, and lots of sunscreen since the higher altitude lets the sun effect your skin much more than usual.
View of the coast in Miraflores, Lima Peru

Lima, Peru – Day 1

I am not typically an early morning person, but on trips, the excitement and need to experience as much as possible gets me up bright and early. By 8 am, we were up and getting our needed nourishment for the day at the breakfast buffet. The hotel had these bright pink sausages that looked very strange but tasted delicious – I am never shy about trying something new and potentially tasty!

As our city tour did not start until after lunch, we decided to walk down to cliffs overlooking the beach. It was quite the journey getting down the stairs from the cliffs to the rocky coastline, but totally worth it. My mom wanted to “test the water temp” and needed my dad’s help traversing the rocks to get to the ocean. Unfortunately for my philanthropic father, my mom accidentally pulled him in the wrong direction and straight into an on coming wave that completely soaked through his sneakers! His sloshing sneakers marked the way back up the stairway to the coast trail lined with sculptures, amazing views, and gorgeous foliage.

The 70 degree, sunny day seemed to prompt everyone with the same “lets walk the coast” idea as us. It was packed! There were slack liners, dog walkers, hang gliders, work-outers, and all other types on the trails with us. We people-watched our way to this great outdoor shopping plaza overlooking the coast that housed our lunch destination – a resultant called Mangos. Not only is the patio view from Mangos out of this world, but the ceviche … the ceviche!! I felt like we were in food heaven “cheers”-ing with our pisco sours. If you visit Miraflores, you have to go to Mangos!

After one of the best meals I have ever had, we met our tour guide, and hopped on the van for our downtown adventure. The buildings in downtown Lima are heavily influenced by the French and Italian and are extremely ornate. Our van dropped us off at the Church of St. Francis for a walk-through. The church is packed with gorgeous, old murals that have both Spanish and Peruvian influence. It was fascinating to learn how the styles of the various cultures merged into the art hanging before us. We were also escorted below the church to the maze of a crypts that held over 25K bodies! Slightly creepy but still amazing to see.

A few blocks down from the church is the main square and Government Palace of Peru. We walked around the square, taking in all of the sights, until the sun set and our van picked us up.

We freshened up at the hotel and headed back to the Cat Park to look at the local art and find a spot for dinner. We ended up at a place called Alfresco based on the hotel’s recommendation – another winner! I had a fabulous sea bass in a shrimp and coconut sauce, while Ryan and my sister had delicious curries. We did have some food envy though when the table next to ours got their branzino… until our apple crumble ice-cream desert arrived! So yummy!

Thankfully, we were able to walk off our big dinner on the way home. In fact, based on my FitBit, we walked over 8.83 miles touring Lima. What a fabulous first full day to the trip!