Back from South America

Back in the good old USA!!!!! Well that is what I usually say when I get home from a long trip but I have to say I was not ready to leave South America just yet. I am looking forward to going back and exploring more when I can, I really want to go see the Rain Forests and the Amazon and my next trip I am going to visit Ecuador and Galapagos islands. I usually do some posting while traveling but this trip I have not wrote about it at all so this post may be a little long but I want to share and also document for me to look back and remember the great trip we had. This trip was a little different than some of our past trips, we actually spent a full week each in two different places instead of running all over and spending 2-3 days in 5 or 6 countries. I enjoyed settling in and experiencing the people and the place and was way more relaxing and the time zone being only 4 hours ahead and then eastern for second half was nice, we didn’t experience our usual india/Asia jetlag and sleepless nights to start out the trip and coming home was easy. So here we go, our trip was suppose to start on the 23rd but the weather was really bad in Chicago and our flight got cancelled so we stayed and extra day and actually flew to Atlanta instead of JFK. Mei was in town for the holidays and I spent some time with her before I left and did some Christmas shopping and chilled since the weather was so bad. We flew to Atlanta on the 24th and had a pretty long layover so we decided to try to see a couple of the Christmas movies that came out so I check my Iphone app when we lande and we found a theater around 5 miles away so we hopped in a taxi and went to the mall and watched 7 Pounds and also Yesman. I liked both movies but started getting a little nervous towards the end of 7 pounds since it was quite long and we had a flight to catch, well we left few minutes early and called a taxi and waited about 30 minutes and they didn’t come and we called back and they told us they don’t come there, WTF they should have said that or called. Well we tried more cab companies and they all said yes and then turned out they didn’t come, well now we are really running out of time and we decided to ask a few people leaving the theater for a ride and offer $50 and after like 10 minutes one of the employees came out and raced us back to the airport. Well needless to say we made it but if it would have taken another 10 minutes we would have missed it. We fly from Atlanta direct to São Paulo and spend a night there, we stayed at the Sheraton in the city and had to find some place to eat dinner. We asked the hotel and since it was Christmas Eve the choices were limited but we ended up at an amazing Brazilian Steak house, it was like Fogo but so much better and with so many more meats and a incredible salad bar but that was not the best part. I have to say I have never had nicer more accommodating service in my life, we ate and drank and the main guy there that was making sure we were ok was awesome and was actually a Beer Sommelier and we drank Chimay which PJ knew and some other Dark beers. Well we were having a good time on our 1st night and because of the holiday we headed back to the hotel and asked if we could order some beer to the room since the hotel was dead and bar was closed. The guys at the front desk told us to go sit in the bar/lounge and they would have room service bring the beer to us there, well not only did he bring us like 6 beers in a bucket but he brought pringles and turned on the TV and this guy waited on us hand and foot till 4:30am. Not a bad 1st night and it was so clear that the people and everyone in Brazil were super friendly and awesome. We flew out the next evening to Rio after sleeping all day, we were worn out after traveling and a full night of drinking. I wish I would have taken some notes so I could remember more but I will try to get some of the highlights out. We got to Rio and checked in the Sheraton hotel which was really nice on the beach, we were about 10 minutes away from the main Cococabana Beach and that worked out just fine. We pretty much had the same routine each day and by the end of our trip I think our veins were all Black Label and for PJ after 3000 Agua con gas I think he had bubbly scotch in the veins. So pretty much every night we started with a little something to eat and drink around 4 or 5 and them drank a little more and then went out for dinner. I did pretty good for the old guy and we pretty much hung out around Cococabana Beach and some clubs and bars around there each night. We always ended up eating more late night and getting back to the hotel between 4 and 5 each morning. The weather was not so great for the 1st few days but got sunny for the last couple days in RIO. PJ took a short trip Florianopolis for 2 nights to visit a friend from his last trip and had a great couple days in a really small beach town while I Hoobed it up and caught up on some sleep and went out a little bit. PJ came back for New Years and we had a really fun night starting with some dinner and hung close to Cococabana and the party but not right in the mix. The next day we chilled at the hotel pool and met a group of people from NYC and started drinking some crazy Vodka drink and got really wasted and hung by the pool till like 10PM and then went out for some more drinks and food. All in all Rio was great and I cant wait to go back ASAP. Off to Peru next, We flew to Lima on Friday the 2nd and almost missed the flight since I got back to the room 25 minutes past our wake up call of 4:30am. We got to Lima and actually flew right away to Cuzco which is a smaller town way up in the mountains. I think the altitude for Cuzco is around 13 or 14K feet and some people have real problems with being at that altitude but we were both ok, we both felt it for sure in the breathing but felt fine. We checked in the hotel and started our 3 day package to see Machu Picchu. I booked this part of the trip through Amex and I am really glad I did, we were met at the airport and taken care of and everything was really planned out for us. We spent the night in Cuzco and went out to dinner and enjoyed this small very nice city, and I have to say for the entire week of being in Peru I really loved the food. We ate so much fresh local trout and Civiche and fresh Veggies and really ate well for the entire week. The next day we got driven to the train and took this crazy nice old looking fancy dinner train to Machu Picchu call Hiram Bingham Train. The ride was around 3 hours and we were served wine and brunch and the ride was really nice and scenic. We didn’t take many pictures in Rio but we started taking them at this point of the trip. The train let us off in a small town with small hotels and restaurants and tons of people getting ready or finishing seeing Machu. It was like a backpackers town or stopping point. We then took a bus to Machu Picchu up a scary winding road with a cliff always to the left. We got really lucky and we actually stayed at place called Sanctuary Lodge and it was 50 feet from the entrance of Machu Picchu, our tour started right away and we spent the next 3 hours learning about the ancient city and the Inca trail and tons of history. We actually were part of a small group including PJ and I and a family from Chicago, go figure we are with a nice Dr and his wife and kids from Chicago. The tour was great and the weather was perfect, it was the rainy season and they say it could rain or be sunny and change in minutes. I posted plenty of picture of this part of the trip. After the tour we had some tea and munchies and then chilled in the room and came down for dinner chilled back in the hotel which was really nice and outside our room was like a garden and looking off into the mountains. We woke up the next day and went to climb Machu Picchu and it had been raining all night since we got home and continued all morning, we put on our ponchos and headed to the Inca trail to climb Machu Picchu. Pretty scary climb and we took some great pictures and went to Inca Bridge and pretty much called it a day since we were tired and it was rainy and a couple wrong moves on the muddy path was death to the side =) After Machu Picchu we took the bus back down and spent a few more hours in the small town and got a Inca massage for our tired legs and backs then took the train back to Cuzco. We dropped our stuff back at the hotel and then went to dinner and ate more amazing Peruvian food. We woke up the next day and flew from Cuzco to Lima and took a taxi to a really nice part of the city right on the beach called Miraflores and we spent 3 nights there eating and hanging out and actually did some gambling since there were Casinos everywhere and spent most of the time at a really nice Mall that was built into the cliff over looking the beach. It was actually really cool in this area and tons of surfing and this very cool parachute flying, it was like hang gliding but they actually flew around and could go up and down fly right back to the same place they took off. We were tempted to do it and I think next time we wont be lazy and give it a try. We ate and drank at like 10 different places and had a really enjoyable time in Miraflores Peru. Well that was pretty much the trip and as I said before I am looking forward to doing much more traveling through South America. The people are amazing and women are very beautiful. PJ’s mom spent 26 years in Caracas and she talks about how wonderful it is there and I hope to do go back and see Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela and more of Brazil and much more in the future. We had a nice trip and ended it with our last night enjoying my Birthday and we had more good food and of course plenty of Black Label. The hotel had a piece of cake with a candle waiting for me so I made my wish and turned 37 in Peru. Sorry the post is so long and not very well written but I had lots of info and 2 weeks of traveling to get out there and documented. Happy New Year everyone and I added a Gallery in the new Section with all our pictures and all the dirty ones have been removed =)

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