Hidden Galápagos and Peru
September 11-26, 2021
Mike and Judy Henderson
A neighbor couple recently went to the Galápagos and were very enthusiastic about it. We decided we'd give the Galápagos a try, and found this tour by Tauck, which also includes Machu Picchu.
While the tour is run by Tauck, the ship is the Silver Origin, which is owned and run by Silversea. The ship carries 100 passengers and 40 are projected to be Tauck tour members. This is the inaugural season for the Silver Origin - her maiden voyage (with passengers) was June 19, 2021.
9/10/2021 (Friday) We're off. It's been over a year, and a number of cancelled trips, but we're on the road again. Here's our "starting the trip picture".
The limo driver showed up on time and the drive to the airport (LAX) took less than an hour.
To check in, we had to have a COVID test within 72 hours of the arrival in Lima. To get that, we had to pay for a "same day" test. We got the results on time and they were negative. We also had to fill out a form for Peru, which was a bit confusing because it was in Spanish, but we got that done, also.
Normally we get to use the airport lounge, but LATAM did not have a lounge open at this time. We went to the food court and hung out at one of the tables until it was time to go to the gate.
We're flying on a Boeing 767-300.
The flight was uneventful and reasonably full. LATAM, does a good job but, even with lie-flat seats, we didn't get a lot of sleep. Having to wear a mask all the time is not enjoyable. The flight attendents did not monitor mask usage while we were sleeping so that helped.
9/11/2021 (Saturday) We arrived at the Lima airport on time, about 7am. Lima is two hours ahead of LA, so it doesn't result in the jet lag that you get when flying to Europe or Asia. This is our second time in Peru, and I mention that because of a small problem we encountered at customs. When we handed in our passports, the agent asked if we had been to Peru before and we replied in the affirmative - we had been on a cruise in 2017 that started in Lima.
She said, "We have no record of you leaving Peru." Regent Seven Seas was the cruise line then, and they handled the processing of all the ship passenger's passports with the Peruvian customs people before the ship departed Lima. They processed Mike's passport, because it showed as departed, but must have made a mistake when processing Judy's passport. The computer thought she had stayed.
It took a while, but eventually they got it all straightened out and passed us through. After claiming our bags, we met the Tauck representative just outside the arrivals area and he took us to the Belmond Hotel in the Miraflores district of Lima.
The tour had been indicated as "sold out" on Tauck's web site for quite some time. But the Tauck representative told us that there would only be ten people on the tour - all the rest had cancelled. While I'm sure we'll enjoy the small size tour, I feel bad for Tauck. Tauck allowed cancellation 24 (or 48) hours before the tour and apparently many of their customers took advantage of that. If the customers had cancelled 30 or 60 days before the tour, Tauck might have been able to backfill with people on the wait list.
Here's a picture of the hotel. It's a very nice place and the staff are excellent. There aren't many people staying at the hotel so they upgraded us to a seventh-floor junior suite, on the corner facing the ocean (right side of the picture below). It even has a sauna in it.
Here's a picture of the room showing the window overlooking the ocean and the beaches.
And the sauna.
Saturday was an open day for us - the tour starts tomorrow morning. We had lunch at the hotel and did some walking in the area around the hotel. The weather is surprisingly cool and it's been foggy.
We'll try to get a normal night's sleep this evening.
9/12/2021 (Sunday) We went to bed early last night and slept all night - we were tired. We met some of the other people on the tour this morning at breakfast.
We met the tour director, Marcos Soto, this morning at an 8:30 meeting in the lobby.
He gave us a briefing on the tour. There are only ten people on the tour.
The tour guide for the Lima area is Miguel Molleapasa. He spoke excellent English, having lived in the Miami area for part of his life, and was very knowledgeable of the places we visited.
We began our tour of Lima by visiting the district of Barranco, where we visited the "Bridge of Sighs" (or the Puente de los Suspiros). While the bridge of the same name in Venice has a sad origin to the name, this bridge gets it name from love.
We walked through Barranco, appreciating the architecture, to reach the Museo Pedro de Osma, which has displays of ancient and more recent Peruvian art.
I can't give a summary of the items on display but here are a few that I found interesting. There were these large silver "pins" that the women used to hold their garments together. They're quite large, over a foot long.
After the Spanish conquered Peru you begin to see a lot of European art. Here's a gold-leafed altar.
Here's a traveling altar piece that a missionary might use. It folds closed into a box for easier and safer transport.
After we left the museum, we went to Casa Garcia Alvarado, the private home of Ana Maria Garcia Alvarado, for lunch.
She invited us into her living room where we had drinks and appetizers while she told us about herself and the home.
Then we moved to the patio for lunch. There was a musical trio playing on the other side of the patio.
Madam Garcia Alvarado joined us for part of lunch. It was a very nice lunch and a memorable experience.
Then we went back to the hotel for a rest before our afternoon tour, which started at 3pm. We headed to the Plaza de Armas de Lima where the central city buildings are.
Nearby was the Casa de Aliaga, a 16th Century mansion. It was originally built by Pizarro's accountant, one of the few who was literate, who came with Francisco Pizarro Gonzalez, generally known as Pizarro.
The entrance is very unassuming, just a doorway between two food stalls.
Inside we were able to see the rooms of the house, some of which have been restored to close to original condition. Here's one room. The family still occupies part of the house, and is the 17th generation to live there.
The home has a Catholic chapel in it.
And a very nice atrium.
After we left Casa de Aliaga we went to Museo Larco, where we were able to view some of the early artifacts of Peru, especially some textiles and pottery.
Here's a burial textile that survived because the burial was done in the extreme desert.
And some pottery.
This is some gold work.
After seeing the museum, we had dinner at the museum restaurant.
It had been a very full day and once we finished dinner, it was off to bed - we have a very early departure tomorrow to go to Cusco.
Our adventure continues here.