This past year I have visited 95 cities and I can say without a doubt that Buenos Aires remains my favorite city so far. The moment I stepped off the bus, and my foot touched the concrete of the city, I was in love. If I had the opportunity, I would move there today! The city has all of my favorite things that I look for in a city that I want to live in, along with some added bonuses that come along with it being a major location in Argentina!

Food

When I travel I like to experience the country and culture through my tastebuds. What better way to travel than to eat your way through everything, right?! The food in Argentina in general is amazing. Chimichurri, choripan, emapanadas, asado, alfajores, yerba mate, and the list could go on. Let’s put it this way, I haven’t found or tasted a food yet in Argentina that I wouldn’t devour in three minutes flat!

My mouth is watering just looking at this photo

Ohhh heavenly Choripan

Nom Nom Nom- no words needed.

Can you tell how much I love chimichurri. This stuff is orgasmic! HaHa

Alfajoooooooooores!!!!

The best lomo I have ever tasted in my life!

You can’t be in Argentina without enjoying Mate!

Architecture

After stuffing my stomach with local food, I usually love to take long walks around the city to digest all the yummyness in my stomach. Let me tell you, the streets of Buenos Aires is my favorite place to do it! Everywhere I would turn while getting lost in the city had the most beautiful and diverse architecture. I am usually not one to admire architecture, but I loved everything that I set my eyes on in this city, and even more when I learned the history and explanation behind some of them!

Puente de la mujer. This is my favorite view in Argentina. The bridge depicts a woman and a man dancing Tango. How beautiful is that?! Even the architecture is poetic.

🙂 🙂 🙂

El Ateneo Grand Splendid: the most beautiful bookstore I have ever laid my eyes on.

I sat in this very spot for hours devouring the literature and the architecture. No words to describe how much happiness this day brought to me.

Music and Dance

If you are reading this blog, you must already know that I am a dancer and have a huge appreciation for dance in general. If you appreciate dance or music, Buenos Aires is the place to be! There were so many days that I would find myself standing for an hour in front of one musician absolutely mesmerized by their skill, and if there was dancing happening in the streets I literally could not be pulled away! Let’s just say I have quite the obsession going on. Apart from the street musicians, the city is alive with so many different dances and places to dance the night away. I was happy to find that there are so many salsa spots to dance in the city, and that there are so many good dancers! It was absolute heaven. If you’re into the arts- get your butt to Buenos Aires and you can see for yourself how captivating it is!

This guy was SO good! He has been in this same exact spot for years.

Tango dancing in San Telmo on Sundays….such a beautiful dance.

Even through artwork dancing speaks

Live alternative spanish…this kid was a rockstar!

Spanish rock in the streets…i watched these guys for awhile. Such good music!

Salsa dancing competition at one of the salsa clubs in Buenos Aires….AMAZING!

In the summer there are free live music concerts, and to boot it’s mostly famous musicians!

Colorful

Seeing as Buenos Aires is such an artistic hotspot, there is no surprise that the city is splashed with color. If you head to the popular neighborhood La Boca, you will be surrounded by color in all it’s glory. It is a beautiful sight to set your eyes on.

Music and color in one 🙂

Beautiful – artwork lines the streets everywhere

Stunning. My favorite photo I took in La Boca.

The famous La Boca streets

Mafalda journey throughout the city

🙂 Happiness 🙂

Could this statue be anymore Argentinian? Haha!

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São Paulo is a monstrous city filled to the brim with culture, nightlife, art, music, and diversity! In a city this large it can sometimes be hard to find things to do that won’t break the bank! You’re in luck that we spent some time there and were able to scope out some of the free things you can do and when to do them. I hope you have a blast in one of my favorite cities!!

Walking Tours

Free Food Walking Tour
There is a free food walking tour that occurs every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 1:30pm and meets in front of Museum of Art of São Paulo (MASP) on Paulista Avenua 1578. This tour takes you all around São Paulo to try various Brazilian foods and you can check out our experience here.

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Caipirinhas on the Free Food Tour!

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Shots of Cachaca with our tour guide Ulisses!

São Paulo Free Walking Tour
There is a free walking tour every day of the week with the SP Free Walking Tour. They have three tours that run throughout the week in different neighborhoods: Old Downtown, Paulista Avenue, and Vila Madelana.  We were able to catch the Vila Madelana tour which covers the history of the area, the famous Batman Alley and tons of spots where locals head to grab a drink or bite to eat!

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Our tour guide (pictured here) said this car has been in this same spot since he was a kid!

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Batman Alley!

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Batman Alley continued

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Whooo Whoooo

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Bolivia represented!

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The guy on the left is a very highly respected and famous graffiti artist from SP. He was promoting his brand new art on the wall all while offering us a joint (haha)

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During the tour we stopped at a local bakery and sampled some famous cake, yum!

Museums

There are about 90 museums in the city of São Paulo and thankfully there are handful that are free!

Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP) (open from 10:00am to 6:00pm and free on Tuesdays!)Brazil_RIO_lmx (11)

Museu Do Fotbol (open from 10:00am-5:00pm and free on Saturday!)

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Images and video clips from past years surrounding futbol

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Futbol (soccer) field in São Paulo!

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Museu Afro Brasil (open from 10:00am – 5:00pm and free on Saturday!)

Pinacoteca do Estado do Sao Paulo Brazil (10:00am – 6:00pm and free on Saturday!)

Museu de Arte Moderna de Sao Paulo (open from 10:00am – 5:30pm and free on Sunday!)

Museu Paulista (1st Sunday of every month, (9:00am – 5:00pm and free on Sunday!)

Cemeteries
We only had time to walk thru one cemetery while we were in SP, but wow are they impressive! I was amazed by how monstrous the graves are and how much art goes into each one. Cemetery’s are usually a little creepy walking thru, but the ones in SP have an added eeriness to them. They can surprisingly provide a great view of the city too. Check out any of the cemeteries in SP! If you take the free walking tours, they will give you several names to check out. The photos below are of a cemetery close to the Museu do Futebol

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Great view of the city from the cemetery.

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Wow!

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Parks
We spent an entire afternoon in Parque do Ibirapuera and were impressed by how much the park holds! This park holds museums, running, biking, and walking paths, lakes, water fountains, playgrounds, resting spots, and large green areas for games.

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I loved watching this fountain. It would change every few minutes to do something different.

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This park is huge!

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Interesting chairs for sleeping 😛

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Everywhere you go, every country has their own specialty of food that they sell on the streets. Bolivia is one of my favorites so far because there are so many delicious goodness that is on the streets of Bolivia! Everywhere you turn there is someone selling fresh squeezed orange juice, sandwiches, or meat on a stick. So cheap and so delicious- the perfect combination for all backpackers!

Saltenas
These things are the epitome of street food in Bolivia and are most commonly compared to empanadas, but don’t be confused because these are way better! They are filled with either meat, chicken, or veggies. They are baked in the oven and come out with a delicious soupyness inside that I just can’t explain how they do it! Bolivians love these things so much that they actually now have complete restaurants dedicated to the sole purpose of making and selling these. You can find these almost anywhere on the streets of Bolivia, but usually only up until mid-day as they are considered only a morning/early afternoon snack. If you want to try these and are a little weary about eating them on the streets then head to the restaurant called La Pacena in La Paz and this place is completely safe and SO DELICIOUS. My favorite is the chicken…but please try all of them!

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This is what you will find on the streets.

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Pollo y Carne. SO DELICIOUS. I always eat at least two, don’t judge, they are that good.

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If you are in La Paz and want a saltena, head to this place! Each saltena is 6Bs. Pacena.

Anticuchos
Anticuchos will be some of the most tender meat that you will try (this is 100% my biased opinion). It is cow heart, but don’t worry you wont even realize what it is when you eat it! It is cooked on the grill and usually served with potatoes and a yellow/pinkish sauce that is on top of it. Must try, just make sure the meat is fully cooked when you do.

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Anticucho market in Las Velas. There were about 30 stalls to choose from!

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Cooked straight on the grill…so delicious!

Buñuelos

Buñuelos are the perfect evening snack and go great with Api or tea. They are usually served with fresh powdered sugar and/or a sweet syrup, much like what is served on Pancakes in the U.S. You will find them in different styles such as a donut shape or like the photo below. If you head to Las Velas in La Paz you can head to many of the shops that are there and drown yourself in buñuelos, Api, and fine movie selection. Every single buñuelos stall we went to was playing a different movie on an enormous T.V. screen! This is a must try and must see.

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Bunelos are the ones on the far right. These are the large ones that we ate in Las Velas in La Paz. Yum!

Humintas

Humintas can be eaten at any time of the day, well that’s my opinion anyway. I would eat them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner if my waist wouldn’t expand because of it! The best humintas can be found in Oscar’s grandmas house…but sorry, she’s not open for business so you will have to try somewhere else.

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Made with love by Oscars grandmother

Pasancallas

Pasancallas are literally sent from the heavens above to satisfy my tastebuds…haha, no but really they are delicious. They are easily compared to popcorn, but are much larger and much sweeter. They are sold in various sizes of bags in the streets and prices depend based on which city you are in. The best pasancallas come from Copacabana and that is indeed a well known fact to all Bolivians. If you are buying from a street vendor, I would recommend you ask to try a piece so that you can taste the freshness. If they are a few days old, they will taste stale and then you wont be able to thoroughly enjoy the best food on earth and that would be a shame.

In Sucre buying a bag from a street vendor.

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Can you tell how much I love these things?! I wish I could have taken the whole bag with me!

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We came to São Paulo without really much of a plan but were lucky that our hostel (La Pamplona) had a ton of flyers laying around. Since we are budget travelers the first word we look for is FREE and if food comes after that we are always on board! Yes, all the food is free and all you have to do is give a tip at the end, if you want.

The tour meets on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 1:30pm in front of the Museum of Art of São Paulo (MASP) on Paulista Avenua 1578. You can locate the tour by the two guys wearing a yellow shirt that has FREE FOOD TOUR on it. The tour will last about two hours and is mostly around Paulista Avenua.

Guaraná

The first item that we tried is a typical brazilian soda that is made from the Guarana fruit and is very sweet. Ulissess, who is the owner pulled out a bottle of it from his backpack and his assistant passed out cups to everyone in the tour. The drink is so sweet that I was glad to only have a small portion of it.

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This is a picture of the fruit where the drink comes from and is made out of the black seeds

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This is a typical bottle of Guaraná

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Cheers with Guaraná soda!

Coxinha

The second item that we tried was at a typical Brazlian bakery that you see all around São Paulo. I was glad to finally try something from the bakeries because there are so many different things to choose from that I never know what is what! We tried Coxinha which is shredded chicken thigh meat in a breaded covering filled with potatoes. It was SO delicious and I was already full after finishing it!

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Coxinha’s are pretty large. We weren’t expecting for us to each get our own, but we did!

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Nom Nom Nom

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This is what the inside of it looks like. Potatoes and shredded chicken!

Pastel- Bauru

The next stop was at a shop that sold only Pastels and sugar cane juice. We tried the Bauru pastel, which has ham cheese, and tomatoes in it, but there are 100 of different types available. They were delicious and once I bit into one, I was glad it was not as filled as the previous item we tried! Ulisses, the tour guide said that the location we went to was the 2nd best place to go to to get these, but that if you want to try the best you will have to go to Mercado Municipal for it.

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Pastel- Bauru. Yum!

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This is what the inside of the Pastel looked like. Just a little bit of cheese, ham, and tomatoes.

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This is how they make the sugar cane juice. It was way too sweet for my liking! (This was not included in the tour though)

Açaí

I am already a huge fan of this fruit, so I was so excited for our next stop when we stopped at a little bakery that is known for this fruity deliciousness! Ulisses explained to us about the exportation of the product and how that it can only be exported through a specific process that kills all of the bacteria. I love this stuff!

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Açaí deliciousness being served!

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Ulisses told us that because of the preservation process, a lot more sugar is added to this and that this small portion has 250 calories.

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Group picture outside of Rei Do Mate, where we had Açaí

Cachaca

After scarfing down the delicious Açaí berry, we walked to the park that is in the middle of Paulista Avenua. Here, Ulisses started to explain about the famous alcohol of Brazil Cachaca, which is made to make Caipirinha’s. During his explanation, his assistance started passing around small cups to each of the tour participants and then he pulled out a bottle of Cachaca. We all looked at each other and Ulisses said, “Don’t worry, it is legal to drink in the streets,” with a huge smile on his face. He poured each one of us a small shot and we all cheered. It was way too strong for me and I was not a fan at all, so I passed the rest to Oscar who drank it for me.

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Listening to Ulisses talk to us about Cachaca.

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This is what a bottle of Cachaca looks like.

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Cheers!

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Our lovely tour guide Ulisses Jorge!

Arroz e feijão
Our last stop included the final two items. We were given a small portion (which was welcomed after all the food we had) of arroz e feijão, which is well known when thinking of Brazil.

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Plates of arroz e feijão

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arroz e feijão

Caipirinha

We ended the tour with Caipirinha’s, which is famous all around the world. Ulisses told us that this drink was not around until the early 1918. It was a delicious way to end the tour!

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Caipirinha’s for everyone! Yum!

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Cheers from The Quint’s!

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The group!

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Cheers from everyone!!! Thank you Free Food Tour SP!

If you are in the São Paulo area and have a few hours to spare on a Monday, Wednesday, or Friday head on over to meet Ulisses at 1:30pm under the MASP Museum!! You will leave with a diverse knowledge of Brazilian food, a great impression of the people of São Paulo (thanks to Ulisses’ cheerful attitude), and a full and happy belly!

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Obligatory selfie in the streets of São Paulo with our guide Ulisses!

You can check out their website here: Free Food Tour São Paulo

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Machu Picchu is a place that I never thought I would make it to. I always saw it in travel books and photos online, but it always seemed like such a mystical and magical place that I never imagined I would make it there. Then again, I never thought I would embark on a trip like this either, but here we are. Our trip to Machu Picchu was special because it was together, but also because four of our good friends from Rhode Island traveled all the way to Peru to meet us on our travels. Shout out to Chrissy, Max, Anne, and Dave! PVD Crew!

Our adventure started in the Cusco airport where we boarded the van that we booked and headed to Ollantaytambo where we would catch the train to Aguascaliente. The van ride took about two hours in total and we were blessed to see such beautiful scenery along the way. I never realized Peru is such a beautiful country. We arrived in Ollantaytambo and had about 5 hours until we had to board our train at 9:00pm so we headed straight to a restaurant for some Pisco Sours and a taste of Alpaca.

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Pisco Sour’s had to be drank at every meal!

Four pisco sours later….we boarded the 9:00pm train heading to Aguascalientes. The train ride lasted about 1 1/2 hours and sadly since it was dark so we were unable to see any of the scenery on our way through the mountains and to our place of rest for the night. When we arrived to Aguas we were beat and headed straight to bed in preparation for our early morning for Machu Picchu.

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The Machu Picchu crew! Providence representing in Peru.

We woke up on a Sunday at 4:00am and set off on our hike to Machu Picchu. We decided that we wanted to opt for getting up early and walking the hour or so up the initial part of the mountain to the entrance of Machu Picchu. We departed the town of Aguascalientes on foot by following the railroad tracks down the road. Now, it was pitch black in the dark so we didn’t realize we were going the wrong way until we came upon a tunnel for the railroad tracks. This was definitely the wrong way and as we looked down over the ledge we saw tons of flashlights and individuals walking so we shimmied down through bushes and dirt for a couple of minutes and finally found our way to the correct walking path. We walked for about 25 minutes in the dark until the sun started to rise and we came upon the entrance of the path. There were guards posted before the bridge and they checked our tickets and passports to make sure we had all of the proper documentation.

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5:00am and ready for our hike!

We crossed the bridge and headed up the mountain. There were a lot more individuals climbing up the mountain than we thought there would be. There are actually two ways to get up to the entrance of Machu Picchu; one is to hike for free (which we chose) and the second is to take a bus up the mountain for $12 each way. We wanted the hike and always try to save money where we can so we opted for the hike up!  The hike was a little more strenuous than I thought, but then again I really think it was just the altitude getting to us all. It was harder to breath the farther up we went and the hike was pretty much a vertical incline so by the time we got to the top our legs were aching a bit.

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Woohoo….hiking to MachuPicchu!!!

An hour later we arrived to the entrance of Machu Picchu. The park opens at 6:00am and there was already a long line to enter the park. We quickly found a guide for our group at the price of 20Soles per person (120 soles total) to take us around Machu Picchu until 9:00am. The park only allows each person to enter twice on the day of your ticket, so you have to be careful about how many trips you take to use the bathroom since there is not one inside the park. The very first thing we did once we were inside the park was head straight to the famous outlook of the park so that we could take our photos while there was still good weather. We were lucky that there were not that many people in the park and there was a clear view so we didn’t have to wait a long time to get our pictures. Large tours usually arrive around 11:00am, so if you want the park almost to yourself get there early!

PVD in Machu Picchu!

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❤ Love at Machu Picchu ❤

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After we took our obligatory Machu Picchu photos we spent the next three hours following the guide around the park listening to him as he told us the history of the park that was before us. Machu Picchu was built around 1450 and abandoned approximately 100 years later as a result of the Spanish conquest. The guide told us several stories of tourist misconduct and deaths that have occurred over the years. In the 1980’s the king of Spain wanted to land his helicopter in the open green area in the middle of the empire and an important stone was moved out of its placement to allow for this. There is at least one death every year due to heart attacks from altitude sickness, falling and slipping from the mountains, and other accidental deaths. The guide was very adamant about staying within the boundaries, keeping from the sides, and taking things slow as we descended and ascended each part of the ruins.

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Macchu Picchu in the afternoon when the sky is less clear.

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This is predicted to be a sundial that was used. A portion of it was ruined by a movie crew and is now roped off.

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The Inca empire worshiped the mountains. This is a rock replica of the mountain Huayna Picchu.

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Our guide showing us the shape of the Condor in the rocks.

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Obligatory selfie.

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Lunchtime! It was a long morning and we had our lunch at 10:00am with this fantastic view.

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The views were so incredible. So many beautiful mountains to take in.

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It is incredible how they built this place with such pristine and precision and that it still stands from the 1400’s!

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At 9:30am our guide departed and we took a moment to devour the sandwiches we had brought in near the exit of the Machu Picchu park. Of course, like the dumb tourists we are, we didn’t realize this was forbidden and got yelled at by some of the park workers. Oops. In our ticket prices we had purchased the opportunity to climb the actual Machu Picchu mountain that lay behind the ruins and is told to have the best view of the area. Since we had been up since 4:00am, only a few decided to do the 3 hike up and down the mountain. While Oscar, Anne, and Dave made their way up the mountain, Chrissy, Max, and myself reentered the park and explored the ruins one more time, but this time with more detail and a little more slowly. It was amazing how many things we had missed with the tour guide and there were so many more rooms that we discovered.

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View of the river from the top of Machu Picchu mountain.

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Incredible view from the top. Hike well worth it!

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Oscar and Dave at the top of Machu Picchu mountain. What a view!!!

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View of Machu Picchu ruins below. The mountains in the Sacred Valley are incredible.

At about 2:00pm in the afternoon we decided to make our way down the mountain. Chrissy, Max, and myself decided to walk down the mountain since we didn’t hike up the additional mountain as the others decided. Also, who doesn’t like saving money? Ha!  The rest of the group took the bus down and rightfully so after that additional three hour hike up the mountain!

Once we were back in Aguascalientes we all went straight for food and then headed to the thermal waters that we had been hearing so much about. After a morning of hiking and walking around all day, we were all excited to submerse ourselves into some warm natural pools. However, as we walked up to the thermal pools after paying 10 soles each we realized they ended up being glorified swimming pools with lukewarm water and rocks at the bottom. We were told after that the actual hot springs had dried up years ago and now they use these in place of them. Since we had paid for the entrance we decided why not try it and hopped into the pools. Some of the pools were warm and some were just plain cold and gross. The entire thing was weird being in a pool with tons of people where the water was really warm and people being served drinks. I know its just like a swimming pool, but the fact that it was warm and there was rocks at the bottom freaked me out. I would say it was not really worth it and it is something you can skip when you are in Aguascalientes; unless you really want to experience go for it!

Thermal Pools…Max is not that excited for it.

We stayed the night in Aguascalientes and got up early for the 9:00am train ride back to Ollantaytambo. This time, since the train ride was in the morning we were able to see the beautiful views that the Sacred Valley had to offer. Our breath was taken away by all the beauty that was surrounded us as the train made its way through the mountains. We were able to see individuals who participated in the Inca Trail walking with their packs on their backs following the river, ruins high up in the mountains that seem to have yet to be discovered, and the farm life in Peru. It was so beautiful.

 

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Trains go thru the middle of the town of Aguascalientes and is the only way to get to the town.

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Breathtaking views!

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Dave and Anne on the train. The train has windows all over in order to provide amazing views of the Sacred Valley.

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Machu Picchu was an incredible adventure for all of us and it was even more special to enjoy it with friends who traveled all the way to Peru to see us! Don’t forget to check out our video montage of our time at Machu Picchu!!

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