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Old 04-23-2013, 10:19 AM   #46
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Originally Posted by abbyjt View Post
It's the same at the Great Wall in China. You don't ever see the entrance gate with the ticket takers on TV. Once past that area, you take an aerial tram up to the wall. You only see people already up there!

Thanks for this trip report Bobo. I'm really enjoying it.
That's just sad. But I guess gates & ticket takers don't make for good TV!

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Old 04-23-2013, 06:54 PM   #47
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Day 6
We said goodbye to Sol y Luna and headed for Pisac. The guides gave us 10 soles each to buy a gift at the Pisac Market for the white elephant gift exchange planned for dinner on day 7. This market is much like the other markets we had visited earlier in the trip. You can get some really cute things for 10 soles, especially if you use your negotiation skills. Next we visited the Awana Kancha Camelid Center. Everybody was given alfalfa to feed the llamas and alpacas. We werenít really told very much about the animals. It was fun to feed them, but it was a lot like visiting a petting zoo. There is a shop at the center where you can get some very nice scarfs, sweaters, table runners, etc. Here's a cute alpaca who needs to have his bangs trimmed.



After a lot of shopping, we left the llamas and moved on to Cusco. Our lunch was a buffet at Sara Cafť Bistro. There was Peruvian food (soup, alpaca, lamb, vegetables, and more) and chicken fingers and fries. Dessert was tres leches cake and a delicious lime cheesecake. After lunch we quickly walked a few blocks to the hotel. Our hotel, the Libertador Palacio, incorporates some of the original palace of Francisco Pizarro, but a lot of it is obviously more modern construction. Some areas of the hotel have some interesting architecture with stones and arches and courtyards. The part of the hotel where our rooms were located looked much more modern and ordinary. Everyone in our group got rooms in a newly remodeled section of the hotel. The room was nice enough, but nothing special. It was obvious that the carpet was new, because the bottom of my socks turned red from walking shoeless in our room. It appears that they didnít put any of their redecorating effort into the bathroom or else they had a plumber who wasnít very good at his job. The faucets in the bathtub leaked - not a little drip, but a constant stream of water. The water ran down the side of the tub and every time one of us took a shower, half the bathroom floor was covered in a pool of water. It was a mess. The hotel lobby is interesting. My son said these were the biggest candles he has ever seen.





There is oxygen and coca tea in the lobby for anyone affected by the altitude. I didnít need it, but I had some coca tea, because oddly enough, I sort of liked the taste.

The adventure handbook says we were supposed to have a guided walking tour of Cusco that afternoon and then some time on our own. But after we checked into the hotel we were left on our own for the rest of the day. I donít know what happened to the guided tour, and I didnít realize at the time that there was a scheduled activity, so I didnít ask. With the big group, it took quite some time for everybody to finish shopping at the Camelid Center and then to have lunch, so possibly we just arrived too late to take a tour. DS and I went out for a little walk on our own and then came back to the hotel. Our room overlooked a narrow but busy street and a church on the opposite corner. It was Easter weekend and there were a lot of people milling about the streets all weekend. From our room, we could hear a lot of noise from the street and there was almost constant police sirens sounding in the street below. I looked out and saw police cars and motorcycles all evening but never saw any reason why the police were there. I was afraid we wouldnít get any sleep, but around 9:00PM it got quieter. With all the police presence, we decided to stay in after dark, so we spent some time exploring the hotel, which is rather maze-like, and had dinner in the hotel restaurant that overlooks a glassed in courtyard. Then it was back to the room to try to locate something creative with which to wrap our white elephant gifts.
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Old 04-24-2013, 05:49 PM   #48
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Day 7 began with an unscheduled visit to an orphanage in Cusco. Normally, ABD hires a local guide at Machu Picchu, but since we had both Harvey and Rudy, who were both experienced Machu Picchu guides, there was no need to hire another local guide. Mike said since they didnt spend the $100 they normally would have paid the local guide, we would make a quick stop at the orphanage and make a donation. It didn't turn out to be "quick", but that was okay since we had a nice visit with the kids. Most, if not all, of the guests also made a contribution. In total our group donated 370 American dollars and 370 Soles. Funny coincidence that the amount turned out that way. When something like that happens, I think it is a sign. Not sure what its a sign of, but in this case, it was something good, Im sure. I hope the money makes life a little easier for these adorable kids. These two cuties were constantly pushing and shoving to be at the front of the group.



The head of the orphanage gave us some information on the kids and how they are cared for at the orphanage. We took a group photo with the kids and then the residents and the AJs played tag for the remainder of our visit. The kids looked a lot happier after they started running and playing than they do in the photo.

Next we visited the Incan fortress of Sacsayhuaman. While Harvey was trying to give us some history of the ruins, a lot of the kids, and some of the adults too, wandered off to visit with the llamas that were grazing in the area.



Sacsayhuaman is constructed from some really big rocks. I think this might be the biggest one and that is why I took a photograph of it. But I could be wrong.



We hiked up some stone steps for a view of the fortress.



Then we hiked up the opposite side for a view of Cusco.



After we finished our tour of Sacsayhuaman we walked back down to Cusco for lunch and an afternoon on our own. This was the street we took back to Cusco. It was an easy walk (maybe 15 or 20 minutes) and all downhill.



DS and I had lunch at Marcelo Battata, which is a nice restaurant, very near where our hike ended. We enjoyed a good meal on the rooftop (you can dine inside if you prefer). This was the view from the restaurant.



After lunch we toured the Cathedral and did some shopping. Being Easter there was a lot of activity in the area.

The Cathedral from outside (no photos allowed on the inside)



Another church there are a lot of churches in Cusco.



Dinner was at the hotel that evening. We had three menu choices - pairings of appetizer, entrťe, and dessert and a kid friendly selection, as well. I dont really remember what I had, except I think my entrťe was fish and the dessert was something with pineapple and it wasnt very good. Obviously, this meal wasnt particularly memorable. After dinner we had the White Elephant gift exchange. We had to have some strict rules in place to limit the number of steals that could occur, otherwise, with a big group like ours it would have taken all night. It still took quite some time for everybody to select a gift. Wrapping materials are limited, so you have to be creative. One very talented 16-year-old made an awesome condor out of a map. Here's a photo of all the gifts:



It was a fun end to our last day in Cusco and the last full day of our adventure.
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Old 04-26-2013, 06:41 PM   #49
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Day 8 began with us leaving our bags outside the door and breakfast in the hotel restaurant prior to our flight back to Lima. For both days at the Hotel Libertador we had the breakfast buffet. The buffet has a good selection. This was the first buffet that had oatmeal, but it looked like dirty water, so I didn’t have any. They must have a different kind of oatmeal in Peru. There were plenty of other choices and most were pretty good. After breakfast, we boarded the bus and headed for the airport. Once again, the guides checked us in and handed out our boarding passes. Couldn’t be easier. We got to the gate and our flight was delayed again – this time for just a little over an hour. We had another uneventful flight and arrived safely back in Lima. We were picked up by a very large motorcoach that looked nice, but had an unpleasant smell and when we sat down there were empty food containers on the floor and stuffed into the pouch on the back of the seat. I guess nobody checked to see if the previous riders had left a mess. Dirty bus – not up to Disney standards. After a short drive, we arrived in the neighborhood where the Peruvian Presidential Palace is located. There are many lovely buildings in this area. The bus dropped us off a short distance from the Casa Aliaga, where we would be having our farewell lunch. I tried to take a few photos, but the guides were leading us so quickly through the streets that I was afraid if I paused I would lose them in the crowd. We walked quickly through this arcade (I think the building is a post office) and I took this photo. It was pretty, but something in this area smelled really bad.



We arrived at the Casa Aliaga, where we paused near the entrance for Harvey to tell us about the history of the home. This is the view from where we were standing (obviously, I don’t have any interesting photos, but it's better than nothing, I suppose).



We climbed these stairs up to the main part of the house. We didn’t tour the house, but passed through several rooms and were served drinks and appetizers along the way. We reached the area where we would be having lunch. A band was there to entertain us , as well as another group of young men and women who drummed on wooden boxes (Cajons, I think) and danced. Sorry about the quality of the photo. There was something on the lens of my camera. No doubt there will be some better photos on the CD when it comes.



I began to fear that there might be some dancing in our future so I put a little distance between myself and the musician. About that time costumed dancers appeared from somewhere. After their performance, they taught a dance to the kids.



After the entertainment was over, we sat down to lunch. The room was not large enough for our group. There were three long tables in the room. The chairs were heavy and bulky and so close together that they touched. It was hard to move without elbowing your neighbor and also difficult get up from your chair, and we had to move around during the meal, since it was a buffet. This room would be fine for a smaller group, but we were packed in like sardines.

There was a very good vegetarian ravioli on the buffet (artichoke, if I remember correctly) and chicken cordon bleu. There was also a burger of some sort which all the kids around me agreed was kind of weird. Maybe it was alpaca. There was also a dessert that wasn’t too popular with the kids. It was a pudding – caramel or butterscotch maybe – drizzled with chocolate sauce. It tasted okay and it was interesting to have something different.

Once lunch was over we moved into a drawing room where the guides had set up a screen to watch the farewell video. For all of you who have been on an ABD vacation, you know this is always fun, but a little bittersweet. Once the video ended we headed back to the bus for the ride back to the Casa Andina in Miraflores. There was plenty of time for somebody to pick up the trash off the bus while we were having lunch, but it was still there.

Back at the hotel we were given rooms and everybody went their separate ways for a time. Our room was much larger and nicer than the one we had at Casa Andina at the beginning of the trip. We were there for 4 or 5 hours maybe. Time enough to rest a bit, have dinner and take a shower before heading off to the airport again. There were 18 guests and one Adventure Guide departing that evening. We met in the hotel lobby and several of our fellow travelers came down to say goodbye. Then it was off to the airport for the second time that day and we were all headed home.

This trip is billed as a 9 day trip, but it’s really 7 days. For 2 out of the 7 days, half of the day is spent flying to/from Cusco. One of the guides mentioned that there are plans for international flights into the Cusco airport. That would be fantastic because IMO this trip would be better if it began in Cusco. The official first day of the trip in Lima, there are no activities and no meals included. It’s just a place to stay while all the guests arrive. Day 8 it’s back to Lima just to be near the airport. We don’t do anything there except have lunch. It’s a nice setting for lunch, but I’m sure they could find something just as nice in Cusco. Day 9 is nothing but a travel day for anybody who didn’t already leave the previous night. Maybe ABD will redo the itinerary when international flight are available to Cusco and use the time that is spent on internal flights to do something fun instead.

When we arrived at our home airport, the driver ABD had arranged for us was waiting by the escalator near baggage claim. He helped us with our bags and took us home. Once again, very good, professional service. I hope ABD offers this perk again next year.

Last edited by Bobo912; 04-26-2013 at 09:05 PM.
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Old 04-26-2013, 08:33 PM   #50
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In conclucion...

Did we enjoy this trip? Yes. Did it measure up to our past ABDs? Not completely, although itís hard for me to say exactly why it didnít. We got off to a really bad start with the driver not picking us up at the airport, but that didnít affect the rest of the trip. Honestly, by the end of the trip I had forgotten about it and only dredged up the bad memory to write this trip report (and fill out the ABD survey). Sometimes the stars just align and the trip is magical and this one didnít do that for me (and DS felt the same way). But it was still a wonderful trip. When we returned from our first Tauck Bridges trip in 2010 (the one to Yosemite) I posted my impressions and, although that was a very good trip, there were some specific things that I felt did not measure up when compared with our previous ABD trips. Re-reading those posts, I think a lot of the same comments apply to our ABD to Peru. The year prior to the Tauck Yosemite trip we had taken the ABD trip to Alaska which is the best ABD trip weíve taken in many ways (although SWS was a very close second) and the Tauck trip wasnít quite as good. Weíve had three absolutely fantastic trips in the last couple of years (2011 Lindblad Galapagos, 2011 SWS, and 2012 TB Blue Danube) and now itís an ABD trip that doesnít quite measure up. Iíve pointed out a few things in the previous posts that were issues, none of them major, but theyíre all little things that kept the trip from being perfect. I donít regret taking any of the tours weíve taken so far. They were all fantastic, itís just that some are a little more fantastic than others. Anyway, my conclusion is that one company is not always better than the others. There are a lot of factors in play and sometimes everything will not be perfect. And there some intangibles, like the bonds that form between the kids or the adults, that hugely affect your experience, but are unpredictable and certainly beyond the control of the tour provider. I thought this trip had the potential to be the best one yet, so my expectations were probably too high, but there were some things that ABD could have done differently that would have made this trip even better. I want to say again, it was a great trip and we really enjoyed it. If you are taking this trip soon, you will have a wonderful time. I hope your group is smaller than our's was.
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Old 04-26-2013, 09:49 PM   #51
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Great trip report, Bobo! Thank you for taking the time to write it and to post the photos. I totally agree with your "In Conclusion" thoughts and hope that AbD will respond to your comments.
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Old 04-27-2013, 08:33 AM   #52
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I enjoyed reading your trip report and thanks for the great photos!
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Old 04-27-2013, 11:41 AM   #53
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Thanks for the great trip report, Bobo912! This trip is still on my radar for some day. We shall see!

I love your pic of the orphans. What amazing faces!

Your in conclusion comments are very interesting. I do know what you mean, though, about the difference between a great trip and a magical trip. And how hard it is to articulate what specifically makes the difference.

But I have a burning question! What were the white elephant gifts you bought, and what did you end up with after the exchange????

Please be sure and post a link in the Trip Report sticky!

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Old 04-27-2013, 04:46 PM   #54
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Thanks everybody for the kind comments. I think I started running out of steam toward the end. And I'm not a good photographer at all. I need to take a class.

Quote:
But I have a burning question! What were the white elephant gifts you bought, and what did you end up with after the exchange????
There were so many choices, but I ended up purchasing a little carved flute and my son's contribution was a Incan Sun God necklace carved from serpentine. The gift he choose was actually a white elephant, a small one made from something meant to look like ivory. I never actually got to see it close up because somebody stole it in the game. Surprisingly, he really liked it and, he didn't say anything, but I could tell that he was really disappointed when it was taken from him. It made me sad. When he picked another gift it was a woven friendship bracelet which he wasn't interested in at all. I looked in all the gift shops at the airport hoping to find another elephant for him, but I was unsuccessful. I'll have to take him to Africa - he can probably find one there. DS's disappointment wasn't as bad as the child who got a stuffed llama toy stolen from him. He finished up the evening crying his eyes out. I believe every white elephant exchange I've ever participated in, where children were involved, ended with somebody crying. My selection was a knitted representation of the Incan mythological figures of the condor, puma and snake. I thought one of the kids would steal it, but nobody did. I gave it to DS to try to make up for the elephant. Here's a picture:

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Old 04-27-2013, 05:18 PM   #55
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Thinking about it, I've never done a white elephant exchange that included kids. I know how some adults get when something they really like gets stolen from them, so I can only imagine with kids. Maybe there should be no stealing, and you just get whatever you pick.

http://www.etsy.com/listing/124014887/lenox-white-ivory-2-34-high-elephant?ref=sr_gallery_38&ga_includes[0]=tags&ga_search_query=ivory+elephant+figurine&ga_r ef=related&ga_page=1&ga_search_type=vintage&ga_vie w_type=gallery

http://www.etsy.com/listing/113497545/faux-ivory-elephant-statue-vintage-hong?ref=sr_gallery_12&ga_includes[0]=tags&ga_search_query=ivory+elephant+figurine&ga_r ef=related&ga_page=1&ga_search_type=vintage&ga_vie w_type=gallery

http://www.etsy.com/listing/119445165/ivory-ceramic-elephant-figurine-statue?ref=sr_gallery_10&ga_includes[0]=tags&ga_search_query=ivory+elephant+figurine&ga_r ef=related&ga_page=1&ga_search_type=vintage&ga_vie w_type=gallery

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Now posting my Greek Odyssey Trip Report (2013)

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Old 04-27-2013, 11:05 PM   #56
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Thinking about it, I've never done a white elephant exchange that included kids. I know how some adults get when something they really like gets stolen from them, so I can only imagine with kids. Maybe there should be no stealing, and you just get whatever you pick.

http://www.etsy.com/listing/124014887/lenox-white-ivory-2-34-high-elephant?ref=sr_gallery_38&ga_includes[0]=tags&ga_search_query=ivory+elephant+figurine&ga_r ef=related&ga_page=1&ga_search_type=vintage&ga_vie w_type=gallery

http://www.etsy.com/listing/113497545/faux-ivory-elephant-statue-vintage-hong?ref=sr_gallery_12&ga_includes[0]=tags&ga_search_query=ivory+elephant+figurine&ga_r ef=related&ga_page=1&ga_search_type=vintage&ga_vie w_type=gallery

http://www.etsy.com/listing/119445165/ivory-ceramic-elephant-figurine-statue?ref=sr_gallery_10&ga_includes[0]=tags&ga_search_query=ivory+elephant+figurine&ga_r ef=related&ga_page=1&ga_search_type=vintage&ga_vie w_type=gallery

Sayhello
How sweet of you to include links to purchase a "white elephant" for bobo's son! Hope he gets one!

I think I would rethink a game like that with kids, especially after a long, tiring trip! Lol. If they include the "stealing" aspect, maybe they should do it BEFORE gifts are unwrapped. That way it is just silly stealing of wrapping or size. Otherwise, that could end up exactly as it did this time - with some upset.

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Old 04-28-2013, 06:45 AM   #57
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Thinking about it, I've never done a white elephant exchange that included kids. I know how some adults get when something they really like gets stolen from them, so I can only imagine with kids. Maybe there should be no stealing, and you just get whatever you pick.

http://www.etsy.com/listing/124014887/lenox-white-ivory-2-34-high-elephant?ref=sr_gallery_38&ga_includes[0]=tags&ga_search_query=ivory+elephant+figurine&ga_r ef=related&ga_page=1&ga_search_type=vintage&ga_vie w_type=gallery

http://www.etsy.com/listing/113497545/faux-ivory-elephant-statue-vintage-hong?ref=sr_gallery_12&ga_includes[0]=tags&ga_search_query=ivory+elephant+figurine&ga_r ef=related&ga_page=1&ga_search_type=vintage&ga_vie w_type=gallery

http://www.etsy.com/listing/119445165/ivory-ceramic-elephant-figurine-statue?ref=sr_gallery_10&ga_includes[0]=tags&ga_search_query=ivory+elephant+figurine&ga_r ef=related&ga_page=1&ga_search_type=vintage&ga_vie w_type=gallery

Sayhello
Thanks, Tobi! SingingMom is right - that was a very sweet thing to do.
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Old 04-28-2013, 09:57 AM   #58
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How sweet of you to include links to purchase a "white elephant" for bobo's son! Hope he gets one!
Quote:
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Thanks, Tobi! SingingMom is right - that was a very sweet thing to do.


I just figure kids have enough disappointments in their life. This is a relatively easy one to fix!

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Old 04-29-2013, 07:27 AM   #59
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Once again, I really liked your TR! I am sorry to hear it wasn't exactly as you hoped...maybe because of the country or too many people in your group .

I have another question for you (and I really hope nobody gets mad at me for asking this!). Do people follow you around asking for money? We were in Havana recently and this was constantly happening to us, which was a shock, because we had previously only traveled within Canada, the US and Europe, where that does not really happen.
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Old 04-29-2013, 10:21 AM   #60
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Once again, I really liked your TR! I am sorry to hear it wasn't exactly as you hoped...maybe because of the country or too many people in your group .

I have another question for you (and I really hope nobody gets mad at me for asking this!). Do people follow you around asking for money? We were in Havana recently and this was constantly happening to us, which was a shock, because we had previously only traveled within Canada, the US and Europe, where that does not really happen.
I never saw a single person ask for money. But people follow you around constantly trying to sell you trinkets, which gets annoying after a while. And I too hope nobody gets mad at me for saying that.
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