Saturday, February 17, 2024

Trust Your Gut, Peru

 


If things had gone as planned with the 3-year cruise I signed up for in March 2023 (Oh, well.), I would have spent two days visiting Callao, Peru. However, the area where the ship was to dock is listed by every source I checked as one of the most dangerous places to visit in Peru. Before getting off the ship, I would have made sure this was not the case.

Most likely, I would have stayed on board, or just visited the little artist vendors at the pier, but right next to the ship. No wandering around. Hopping on a bus for a ride to see Lima might sound inviting, but I wouldn’t risk it. The crime I read about is organized, and violent. I don’t know this from firsthand experience, of course, but why risk it?

When a single woman travels alone, especially to far away places, she must learn to listen to her gut. When reviewers on TripAdvisor raise a red flag, I pay attention. Sure, there was a disclaimer by TripAdvisor, but again, better safe than sorry. There are hundreds of places on my 3-year-round the world itinerary and skipping one wouldn’t matter in the long run.


If this information had been positive, instead of negative, I would have paid for an excursion to Lima since there are few cultural or architectural attractions in Callao. I visited Peru in 2017 and saw the lovely sand dunes. On this trip, I was interested in seeing the city. I saw a “highlights” tour for just over $100. That would have fit my budget, since I’m not into buying souvenirs.  


The Barranco neighborhood seems to be somewhere I would hang out for awhile. There are lots of art, shopping, restaurants, and stunning architecture. I also like historic centers, and would have enjoyed seeing the old government buildings in Lima. 


In addition to secular buildings, there are several lovely churches in Lima. I would have visited a few before going to the coast. 


I would have ended my visit to Lima in the neighborhood of Miraflores. There are stunning hotels, shops and other points of interest in what I read is a safe area. Then, I would have jumped on my tour bus, and headed back to the ship. Depending upon what I found when I first arrived in Callao, some or none of this would have happened on this trip. It's too bad. The topography in Peru is very different from SoCal where I live,  and I would have enjoyed seeing more of it. 


 

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Thursday, February 8, 2024

Chile Again

 


If things had gone as planned with the 3-year cruise I signed up for in March 2023 (Sadly it didn’t happen), I would have spent several days visiting Chile on my 3-year cruise. I was there before, in 2017. I was surprised by the landscape I saw. It reminded me of Provence, in France. The weather would have been to my liking too. Most of the time during our proposed stay it would have been in the high 60’s or low 70’s, with a light wind.


The first city where we would have landed was Valparaiso. Our timing would have been lucky, as there have been terrible wildfires in the area since. Much of the nearby forest was devastated, and homes were destroyed in Valparaiso. This wouldn’t have been the first occasion when timing was fortuitous for me while traveling. One year touring with students in France, we visited a police station in Paris, as one of my student’s fathers was a deputy sheriff in California. A week after we spent time there, it was bombed.

Valparaiso is another port city, of course, but it’s also known for its steep funiculars and colorful clifftop homes. I would have visited both. I love the funicular just outside of Sacre Coeur in Paris, and in Salzburg, Austria. I have ridden both several times. Love them.

Because of their history of European immigrants, the architecture and cultural institutions are reminiscent of Europe. It’s known as the “Jewel of the Pacific”. It’s home to the Chilean legislative Congress and headquarters of their navy. There are plenty of historic maritime buildings. I would have been pleased that our itinerary put us there for two days, because I enjoy all things maritime.

I would have spent some of my time in the UNESCO historic downtown area. I love artistic, bohemian culture. As I’ve mentioned before, charming, colorful, colonial architecture is my favorite kind. The views there, and from the top of Cerro Concepcion would have kept me entertained. I would have capped off my tour with a visit to the home of the writer, Pablo Neruda. Two of my favorite travel memories were visiting the home of Victor Hugo in Paris, and Claude Monet in Giverny. Adding another historical house tour to my list would have been a thrill.


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Sur le Pont d'Avignon