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Republic of Peru
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Lima, Lima Province
Lima's Beautiful Main Cathedral Lima Presidential Palace

Lima Cathedral:
(Left) Colonial Lima is filled with gorgeous Spanish buildings originally built during the time of the conquistadors. This cathedral, which houses the remains of Pizarro, Is the emblem of the city.

Presidential Palace:
(Right)  Notice the flags on the palace - the red and white flag is for Peru and the rainbow flag is actually the national flag of the Incas (Quechuans)

San Francisco Monastery, Lima, Peru Quit horsing around anHistoric City Center, Lima, Peru

San Francisco Monastery:
(Left)  Beneath this beautiful old church lies not-so-pretty catacombs which you can walk through. Make sure you get there early, people are dying to get in there.

Historic City Center:
(Right)   It isn't hard to see why this section of Lima is a UNESCO World Heritage Site! Fun Fact: The buildings are yellow to contrast with the ever-grey skies

Presidential Palace Marching Band, Lima, Peru Changing of the Guard:
When we happened to come across the Presidential Palace, a "changing of the guard" ceremony was going on. During this ceremony, I could have sworn the band played some Beatles tunes. I could be wrong about that, but the thought is nice!
Performing Monkey, Lima, Peru Monkey Business:
The Miraflores district of Lima is well-known for its up-tempo flavor as well as its markets in the main park. It is here where you can sample many of the local street food, purchase any number of handmade goods and Peruvian antiques, and even get to play with a monkey from the rainforest!
Desamparados, Lima, Peru Statue of Llamas, Lima

(Left)  This beautiful structure is Lima's main train station. The city is going through an impressive restoration that should leave the city beautiful - at least until the next earthquake...

Wild Animals:
(Right)  Llamas, llamas, llamas! You never know where they'll pop up next!

Cusco, Cusco Province & the Sacred Valley of the Incas
Cusco's "other" main church Isn't this picture "adorable?"

Compania de Jesus:
(Left)  Built upon the ruins of a grand Incan palace, this church on Cusco's main plaza upstages the cathedral next door and is a magnet for amateur photographers such as myself.

Cathedral Doors:
(Right)   The immense size of the cathedral can be understood when you see how the doors compare to a tired tour guide.

Main Fountain, Cusco Please don't "bug" me for an explanation of this picture!

Plaza Fountain:
(Left)  A beautiful fountain in the right light is a beacon for anybody with a camera.

Cusco Bug:
(Right)   While there were many bugs still in Peru, surprisingly most vehicles are imported from Japan, who exports the majority of their used cars to South America. Many of the cars still have Japanese writing on them!

"Now, let's add some happy little trees..." Cusco School Of Art:
Famous around the world, Cusco produces many famous artists who create art with a Spanish / Peruvian flair. This photo is a small portion of a huge mural that overlooks the art school parking lot. When you compare this with the graffiti that clogs most cities in the world, you can see it is very special.
It is impressive in real life, really... Don't worry, they are unreliable down there too...

Coricancha Temple:
(Left)   When the Spanish conquered the Incans, they destroyed most of their temples and built churches on their foundations. However, when earthquakes occur, the Spanish churches collapse, uncovering previously hidden Incan structures.

(Right)   Now that the Spaniards are gone, American imperialism can flourish!

I love these night pictures! "Anybody got a light?"

Plaza De Armas:
(Left)   Two of my favorite forms of photography are night photography and black & white. Put them together and this is what you get!

Colonial Shadows:
(Right)  I love how the light hit this lamp, giving the illusion of another lamp painted on the wall. Wow, I love photography!

I think this lady's name is Sigourney... Awwwww!

(Left)  Peruvians are known around the world for the quality of their weavings. A majority of the items are handmade and so affordable! Unfortunately, it is next to impossible to find anything in grande grande grande to fit my American frame!

Little Salesman:
(Right)  How can you resist buying something from this little fellow?

The locals like to say that when spoken, the name of this place sounds like "sexy woman." It is funny until about the 300th time you hear it... Sacsayhuaman:
This huge temple is even more impressive once you realize that 80% of the complex was removed to help build & rebuild Cusco. Cusco was originally shaped like a Puma and this complex was the head. The jagged walls that you see in this pictures were the teeth. Archeologists have yet to unearth the toothbrush.
Can you believe a place this beautiful actually exists? Sacred Valley of the Incas:
Situated among the towering Andes is a beautiful valley which is considered sacred to the Incas. Within this valley are ruins of many, many temple complexes and small villages with markets and quaint mountainside farms. I could spend a lifetime here!
Here's looking at you, kid... The steps on the right are for agricultural purposes... I wonder how they got the tractor up there?

(Left)  It always pays to have your camera ready. I was lurking around Chinchero and spotted this lady looking for tourists to pose with. Thankfully she didn't spot me and I was able to capture this moment.

(Right) Overlooking the sacred valley, Ollatambo is an immense complex where the Incas actually defeated the Spaniards. Sadly, their victory was short-lived.

Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu... What else is there to say? Machu Picchu:
One of the great places in the world, it was truly an honor to have visited Machu Picchu. No photo can do this magnificent complex justice. My advice would be to add Machu Picchu to your"must-see" list and just go. You will not regret it! One bit of advice, bring lots of bug spray. I've been home for three weeks and still have tons of bug bites.
And you thought your house had a good view... The City in the Clouds:
Thankfully the Spaniards never found Machu Picchu so the site is relatively intact and can be viewed in all its splendor. 20th century developers, however, haven't been so kind. Part of the ancient structure was removed for ill-fated helicopter landings and they are even planning, sigh, a cable car for the site. Why?
Before.... After...

Machu Picchu Window:
(Left) The trapezoidal Incan windows seemed to call my name to be photographed.

Beautiful View:
(Right) After I got my shot, I was able to pull down the wall to get this perfect shot. (I'm kidding, don't worry!)

Breathtaking, isn't it? Classic Machu Picchu:
The beautiful thing about Machu Picchu is that it never changes. The view in this photograph is the same view the Incas enjoyed hundreds of years ago. I hope visitors centuries from now can enjoy the same view too.
Modern craftsman cannot duplicate the complexity of these walls using the same techniques. Master Stoneworkers:
What looks like a jumble of stones is actually an earthquake-proof, mortar-free fortress with fittings so tight that you can't even slide a piece of paper into the cracks. The stones do not intersect on the same lines as this provides stability during the many earthquakes which shake the region.
The classic tourist photo Machu Picchu Llama:
Llamas... Machu Picchu... how can you go wrong with this combination? I'm not sure what is more amazing - the fact that llamas made it to the top of these peaks or that there wasn't anybody there to demand money for the opportunity to photograph them?
Arequipa, Arequipa Province
A true desert oasis It is very hard to take a bad picture here...

Arequipa Cathedral:
(Left)   On our last day in Peru, we were able to fly to Arequipa, a gorgeous city located within a vast desert in southern Peru. Pictured here is the fountain in the Plaza da Armas, the main square of Arequpa.

Colonial Architecture:
(Right)  The city is known as "La Ciudad Blanca" (The White City) because most buildings are constructed using local white volcanic rock.

The Convent of Santa Catalina in Arequipa, Peru Convent of Santa Catalina:
 Within Arequipa is a walled convent which was closed off from the city for over 400 years. Inside is a beautiful series of buildings and alleys which are painted in gorgeous Mediterranean hues.
Interior walls of the Santa Catalina Convent in Arequipa, Peru Archways within the Santa Catalina Convent in Arequipa, Peru

Santa Catalina:
(Left) I spent a few hours strolling in this city within a city and loved every bit of it. Most convents in the world are drab and dreary, however this one is light and lively. I guess if you are going to be confined to one city block for your entire life, you'd make it nice too...


(Right)   Such a contrast from the rest of the city, the small alleys are a delight to explore.

" El Rover, Get down! Bad dog!" The City the Moon Forgot:
Arequipa is surrounded by massive volcanoes which provide the white rock that gives Arequipa its beauty. The entire city center is constructed from this unique material, which inspired this local saying: "When the moon separated from the Earth, it forgot to take Arequipa."
Arequipa's Plaza de Armas:  A perfect ending to a perfect trip... Arequipa at Night:
Truly one of my favorite pictures, everything seemed to come together for this photograph of the Plaza de Armas at night. My father and I sneaked up to the balcony of a dinner party to get this shot, and it was worth the inconvenience and every odd look that was cast our way. I miss Peru already!

Peru Travel Resources

Encarta map of Peru: See an excellent map of Peru.

Peru Travel Information: Lonely Planet Destination Guide: Lonely Planet's guidebooks are second to none. Go here to read their online edition.

Peru.com: Peruvian Menu: Peru has a very diverse national menu. How many countries specialize in guinea pig and raw fish "cooked" in lime juice?

The Incas.com: Read about one of the great empires of the world, at least until the Spaniards stopped by.

Inca Kola: In this age of either Coke or Pepsi, it is refreshing to see a truly national drink... even if it does taste like bubble gum!

Guinea Pig Dining: When you travel, you should always try the local cuisine... especially if that cuisine is a pet back home!

Cusco Photos: Probably one of the most photogenic cities in the world, see some fantastic photos of this former Incan capital!

Incan Flag Controversy: Show your inner "Incan" pride and fly the flag!

Inca Link: Handicrafts: Feel free to look at some great handicrafts, available in Peru for pennies on the dollar... (especially if you know how to bargain!)

Straight Dope: Guinea Pigs: Everything you've ever wanted to know about those tasty little morsels!

Sheraton Peru: A good history of Peru from an ugly hotel with a casino that is closed way too often.

Peru Pictures: An exhaustive archive with many beautiful pictures of Peru. It puts my piddly little page to shame!

Virtual Tourist: Lima: If you need a second opinion on the sites I've mentioned here, check out virtual tourist. Don't worry, I won't be offended.

Culinary History of Peru: Interesting information about the main dishes of Peru, including recipes.

Peruvian Potatoes: The next time you think about potatoes (what, you don't?), forget about Ireland.. think of Peru, the original home of our favorite spud!

Machu Picchu: One of the many beautiful photo collages of this world wonder.

History of Pachacamac: An odd site, but it does have a good history of Pachacamac for you to read.

InfoPeru.com: Arequipa, The White City: View the gorgeous buildings and historical sites within this UNESCO World Heritage city!

Enjoy Peru: Multimedia Gallery: A superb way to see all the wonders of this vast and exciting country!

Flags Of The World: Peru: Information about and history of Peru's flag.

Travel Comments
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Questions and Answers

Time Visited: October 2003

Main Cities Visited: Lima, Cusco, Sacred Valley of the Incas, Machu Picchu, Arequipa

Modes of Transportation: Airplane, train, car, taxi, bus

How I Ended Up There: Driving along with my father, we were naming places we'd like to visit on our next trip. Deciding on South America, we thought Peru might be an interesting choice. Why Peru? Why not?

Memorable Foods: Guinea Pig, Alpaca, Ceviche, Everything Chicha (Chicha Morada, Chicha Beer,Chicha Ice Cream), Arequipena, Cusquena, Cuscola, Rice Pudding, Anticuchos (Beef Hearts... on a stick!), Chirimoya, Trout, Empenadas, Inca Kola

What I Liked: The intricate crafts of the local artisans, the outstanding architecture, the breathtaking ruins, and the dirt-cheap street food!

What I Disliked: The Spaniards completely destroyed a vibrant civilization and threw a country into lasting turmoil just to satisfy their never-ending greed. That is truly sad.

Where I Stayed: A tourist hotel in Lima, a fantastic guesthouse in Cusco, and a resort hotel in Lima thanks to the idiots at Aero Continente!

Peru in Five Words: proud, impressive, sadness, regret, optimistic

My Thoughts: Up until my trip to Peru, I knew absolutely nothing about the country, except of course that it had one of the great ancient temples in the world that I had to see, Machu Picchu. Seeing the opportunity to learn and explore a culture that I knew nothing about, I jumped at the chance for this new adventure. Besides, I was finally able to go below the equator and even visit a new continent to boot! Peru is a country with a fantastic, yet sad, history filled with great empires and even greater tragedies. The countryside is not to be missed and don't believe the ever-numerous complaints and warnings about the safety of the cities. I've been more intimated in the nice sections of many other "safe" world capitals than I was in all of Peru. Oh, and by the way, try the guinea pig!

© David Metraux 1996-2006

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