Overseas Adventure Travel
Machu Picchu and Galapagos
May 11 through May 28, 2022


Due to the length of the review, it is in five parts to help with the download time. The links to the other pages are at the top and bottom of each page.

Page 1:  Lima through Sacred Valley day 1
Page 2:  Sacred Valley day 2 through Machu Picchu day 2
Page 3:  Machu Picchu to Cusco for 2 days, Quito for 2 days
Page 4:  Quito day 3 through Galapagos day 2
Page 5:  Galapagos day 3 through Quito return to home


Day 8 - Cusco day 1

I had slept through the night and was feeling pretty good.  I wasn’t interested much in eating, which is most unusual for me, and I did feel a bit weak from short term illness.  Thank goodness since I would not have wanted to miss the day’s activities.  We were heading back to Cusco for a couple days and would be taking the train along the Urumbamba River again.  We had to have our bags out of the room by 7:30 AM and we would head to the train at 8:10 AM.  It was a short walk there.  Kerry told us that the train we were taking wasn’t as nice as the one we came on, since the windows weren’t as large, especially on the top of the car.  When we boarded, the car looked great.  The windows were quite large.  The car must have been older though, since the only difference I noted was that this car didn’t have USB ports to charge my phone like the other one did.  Not a big deal.

I was on the river side again and able to get more photos of the gorgeous scenery.  It is an amazing train ride through the majestic mountains and rushing rapids. 




I will say that the ride is rougher at times than other trains I have been on.  That’s understandable continue the terrain the tracks are on.  The views make the bumps less of an issue.  The ride back was about 20-30 minutes longer.  This is due in part that we were going slower up the mountain.  The main time consumer is that we had to stop several times to let the trains going to Machu Picchu to pass us.  They always have the right of way.

After getting off the train at Ollantaytambo we headed to the Inca archeological site.  This site was the royal estate of an emperor who conquered the area and built the town and ceremonial center.  At the time of the conquest of Peru by the Spanish, it served as a stronghold for the Inca resistance leader.  I had watched videos about this place before the trip and was looking forward to exploring it.



Unfortunately, in my weakened condition there was no way I could climb to the top and see the structures up there.  The photos I saw of that area looked quite nice.  Kerry took those of us that chose not to climb the terraces on a tour of the ground structures.  I’m so glad she did, since it was most interesting to hear about life in the town and what the various structures on the ground and in the mountains were.  I will save you from those details and just put in photos of this beautiful place. 








At the set time everyone gathered, and we headed for our bus ride to Cusco.  After about an hour, we stopped at a very nice buffet restaurant along the way.  The food and selection were just outstanding, but I didn’t eat too much of anything just to be careful.  They had beautiful gardens including a vegetable garden that they used for some of their buffet items.  I had to take a photo of the below beautiful flower.


We got back on the bus for the last hour and a half of our trip to Cusco.  We asked the driver to make the air conditioning cooler.  He told us that it was already at max.  The air coming out of the vents was not cooled at all.  The coolest air was coming in through the open vents in the ceiling and the few upper windows that were open.  The driver’s solution to our problem was to shut the vents and close the windows so the AC would work better.   What was he thinking?  It never got cooler and just got warmer.  Added to that the road became very bumpy and there were frequent speed bumps.  It was a bus ride from Hell.  When we got off in Cusco, the outside air was so much cooler.  But we survived and were quite happy to have a hotel to go to and relax in. 

Our hotel was the Jose Antonio Cusco, a sister hotel to the one we stayed at in Lima. 


Once again, we had a nice comfortable room.  Our luggage that we had left behind in the Sacred Valley was waiting for us in the room.  We would be able to redistribute what we had in our duffle bags into the checked bags for the flight to Quito in a couple days.



Our room looked out on a large patio area, so I had to get some ground level photos of the patio.

We had a short meeting to hand out the next day’s agenda sheets and fill out a couple menus for lunch and dinner.  This was also the day that we had the opportunity to get our wash done, which we were really looking forward to.  A local lady came to the hotel and weighed our bags of laundry.  She charged 8 Soles per kilo or about $2 for each 2.2 pounds, a bargain.  We were so glad to see her.

That evening since we had dinner on our own and just went to the hotel restaurant.  Cathy wanted a burger, and I just had a bowl of soup.  I was feeling fine but being cautious.

We hit the sack early even though we had a late meeting time for the next day’s tour of Cusco.  We would have a later start, since the laundry lady was bringing the laundry back at around 8:30 AM.



Day 9 - Cusco day 2

After a good night’s sleep and delicious buffet breakfast, we were ready for the day’s activities.  We went to the lobby to wait for our laundry.  When she arrived, everything was wrapped in a nice package.  All the clothes nicely folded and ready to put in our suitcase for the next day’s flight to Quito.  This was a wonderful service that was provided.

With Cusco at over an 11,000-foot elevation, the hotel provided coca leaves and hot water for the guests that were concerned about altitude sickness.  We did take advantage of it, as well as the coca pills, I had purchased in Lima.  I don’t know which worked better, but I never got a headache from lack of oxygen.

We were supposed to have a walking tour to Cusco’s Plaza Armas in the center of their old town.  Its only about a 15–20-minute walk, but since it was uphill, she ordered several taxis to take us most of the way to our first stop, the Temple of the Sun.  It was constructed by the Incas.  Several walls of the temple are incorporated into the Church of Santo Domingo which was constructed on the temple’s foundation.  As we pulled up to the side of the church and exited the cabs, we saw ladies with alpacas welcoming us.   They were hoping that we would take photos with them.  I asked what they charge, and they said, “whatever you want to pay”.  That probably works out pretty good for them.  It is difficult to not be generous to these very sweet people. 


Like most of the group, Cathy couldn’t pass up the opportunity to rub their soft fur and hold the baby.  I must say it is the softest fur I have ever felt, and they are so darn cute.


After everyone had their photos taken, Kerry took us around to the side of the church/temple so we could see the temple’s original Inca walls.  As we had seen in other Inca structures, the blocks fit perfectly and had no mortar.  Just amazing and so lovely.


There was a pretty flowered courtyard area.


Kerry took us into the rooms that still had walls.  The whole complex is covered by a protective building to prevent its deterioration.



A popular photo opp was the below one where the windows lined up in the different temples in the complex.

Kerry pointed out how the stone was cut to fit the holes in the adjoining stone to maintain a wall’s strength.


We walked outside to see the outer walls and gardens.  They had some gorgeous plants.


I got a kick out of the restroom signs.  They were very appropriate, and the group took advantage of them.

We came back inside and looked around some more but couldn’t go into the church because it was closed.   We left the temple and began our walk into old town.  It was a lovely town and we enjoyed looking at the Inca walls, beautiful churches and lovely buildings.


As we got close to the Plaza Armas, there were some protests going on.  They were very peaceful.

Once again, we had some beautiful wood balconies and gorgeous church buildings.



In the center of the square was a beautiful statue of an Inca.

It was a huge plaza with covered porticos around it.  So pretty.


Kerry said she had something special for us.  She took us to the Inka Museum.  We weren’t going into it at this time, but she took us to a small room where a fellow was waiting for us.  He just happened to be in town while we were there.  He showed us ancient ways of making sounds and music.  The vases had water in them and when he turned them over, they would make sounds like birds and other animals.  It was fascinating. 




I wish that I had taken a video, since the sounds were so realistic.  He mesmerized us with his performance showing us the various sounds he could get from the different vessels and objects he was selling.  We were all impressed.  It was a special moment enjoying something that very few will ever be able to appreciate.

Kerry had made a few recommendations for lunch restaurants.  A few of us chose to eat at a local place called El Cafè del Mama Oli.    It was a nice setting, and our table was in the shade under a tree.  We were both ready to have a Cusqueña beer.  It was so good after walking all morning.  As we were sitting there, various vendors came around trying to sell their wares.  Cathy ended up having a long conversation with a woman who was an art teacher who was selling watercolors by herself and her students.  I should have taken her photo but was too involved in listening to her story.


Kerry told us there was a famous hotel right across the street and we should try to see their courtyard.  It was formerly a monastery.  So, after lunch we approached the guard and asked if we could go in and see it.  No problem. 


Since the rest of the afternoon was free and it wasn’t even 2:00 PM, we decided to do one of the other recommended activities for Cusco, the Chocolate Museum.  It was close by the plaza, so we found it easily.  It wasn’t a big place.  There was no charge to enter, and we walked upstairs where there was equipment behind glass.


Since there was no one there and we assumed that it was a self-guided tour, we were about to leave when an employee came out to do his spiel.  He explained the cocoa making process and showed us what equipment was used.  At the end he gave us some small samples and invited us to purchase some chocolate if we wanted to.  It wasn’t much of a presentation and the two small chocolate bars we bought weren’t that good.  Most of the bars ended in the trash can.

We went back to the plaza and the sun was higher in the sky and illuminating the buildings much better.  I used some of those photos earlier, since they were better than what I took then.  The churches were still closed, so I couldn’t go there.  The other church was open for a price, but it didn’t look that great from what I could see of it, so I passed on it.

Kerry had also recommended that we go to the Merced Museum, since they had some beautiful, jeweled objects.  Since we didn’t know what else to do, we headed that way.  It was originally the Basilica of Merced that was built around 1660 but has been turned into a museum.


It had a most attractive courtyard, and I really liked the ceilings in the covered porticos.



There were some beautiful objects in the museum, but there were only a few rooms where there were displays.  Photography was not permitted inside the building, so I don’t have many photos of it.  One photo I took was of its greatest attraction.  It is an internal relic, where a 48.5 pound, 49-inch-high monstrance stands out, which is made of gold, diamonds, pearls, rubies and emeralds.  It is one of the most valuable jewels of Peru.  I had to take a photo of it to remember it by and share with the readers of the review.  It was amazing.


As we were leaving, the guard turned on the lights in a small underground area that was covered in frescos.  It was quite a special sight.

After leaving the museum we thought about taking an Uber back to the hotel, which would only cost a couple dollars, but since it was downhill, we decided to just walk.  I’m glad we did.  It was interesting to see the local shops and some of the beautiful buildings lining the streets.

We also got a great view of the Sun Temple showing the dark curved original foundation.

As we got close to our hotel, I took some photos of the large mural on the side of a wall.  There was a lot of Inca history being shown in it.


After we got back to the hotel, the group met with Kerry for a farewell discussion.  This would be our last evening with her.  She told us how much she enjoyed our group and was saddened that she was saying goodbye.  She gave each of us the opportunity to tell the group something that was great about the trip or something that moved them.  It was quite interesting.  We then left for the Yuraq Restaurant for our farewell dinner.  We were quite surprised when we saw our friends Josiane and Mark at a different table for their OAT farewell dinner.  It was a nice event.


Day 10 - Fly to Quito

We would be flying to Quito, Ecuador to begin the second half or our adventure.  Unfortunately, to get to Quito, we would be traveling most of the day since we would have to fly to Lima first with a 2.5-hour layover there.  Our bags had to be out of the room by 7:00 AM and we would leave the hotel at 8:10 AM.  Kerry had made our traveling much easier by going to the airport the previous day to get our boarding passes for both flights and luggage tags, so we wouldn’t have to wait in any check in lines.  We really appreciated that.

With us leaving early to go to the airport, the traffic was quite light.  We were required to wear double masks while in the Cusco airport but only single while on the plane.  Once again, our flights were on Latam Peru planes and our legs were right up against the seat in front of us, so the flight was not that comfortable.  The view out the window flying over the Andes was most enjoyable. 

Thankfully, the seats had USB power available to charge my phone that I had been using a lot while traveling.  My cell carrier is T-Mobile, which allows me to have free cell coverage in most countries we travel to.  I get a lower level of internet speed, but it still gives me basic service.  As a result, my battery drains faster than if I was on a higher speed service.  I also need to get a new iPhone in September, since my battery health has deteriorated too much.

Our flight to Lima landed at 12:15 PM.  We had plenty of time at the airport to get some lunch before our flight to Quito.  We didn’t expect that everyone would want to eat at the same restaurant but headed out together to see what was available.  When we came to a TGI Fridays, everyone jumped at the opportunity to have some familiar American food.  It was so good and took up a good part of our layover time.

The flight to Quito was also on a Latam Peru plane and was almost 2.5 hours.  Our flight landed at around 6:00 PM.  I was very surprised at how large Quito was.  I was expecting a small quaint town and it has over 2 million people.  We were so glad to finally be out of an airplane and not flying for three more days.  The Quito airport is fairly new.  We were impressed with how quickly we were processed through it on this flight and the two others we would have there.  The speed of the luggage delivery was also impressive.  After retrieving our luggage our group left the secure area to meet our tour leader for the next 8 days, Daniel Jacome.

We were very fortunate to have Daniel as our leader.  He was a great guy and having lived in the Galapagos from eight years old to adulthood, he was very knowledgeable about the area.  Throughout our time with him, he was always there to assist us in any way he could with his great attitude and love of his country.  He was also in a very popular Ecuadorian band called Tercer Mundo.  It was the number one band in Ecuador at one time.  He had visited 40 of our US states while touring and playing at times to thousands of people.  He was a celebrity, but he certainly didn’t act like one.  On one of our flights a flight attendant recognized him and chatted him up.  He is a very handsome guy.

On the drive to the hotel, we could see that Quito had a great highway system.  It was a pleasure to be on smooth, wide well-lit roads.  Quito appeared to be a pretty modern city.  We arrived at our hotel, the NH Collection Royal Quito, at around 7:30 PM. 

We were welcomed at the hotel with a delicious warm drink called Canelazo.  It is a popular drink, and we would have it again while in Ecuador.  Since we were on our own for dinner that night, Daniel made some restaurant recommendations.  He was going to try to make reservations at an Italian restaurant close by for those that were interested.  He told everyone that wanted to go to dinner to meet back up shortly in the lobby.  We went up to our room to drop off our luggage.  It was a very nice room.  The nicest we had been in so far.  A nice plus was that the bathroom floor was heated.



Unlike Peru, Ecuador uses US plugs and 110 power, which is handy.  They also use US Dollars as their legal currency.  Daniel told that us that their currency had been very unstable, and inflation was causing lots of issues.  In 2000, Ecuador adopted the US dollar as their official currency.  It was challenging at first but has helped to make Ecuador one of the fastest growing and most stable country in South America for economic growth.  It has also attracted lots of US expats to move there.

When we came back down to the lobby, Daniel told us that the restaurant was full, and we would have to go elsewhere.  He recommended a Mexican restaurant, and everyone thought it was a great idea.  It was a short walk around the block to the Taconazo Mexican restaurant.  It was a cute restaurant and certainly looked like a Mexican restaurant.


The menu was in Spanish, so Daniel had to interpret the offerings.  Some of the names were familiar, but the preparation was a bit different from what we are used to.  They were still very good.  They had a 3 for 1 margarita special for $6.79.  So, when you ordered a margarita, you got three of them.  It worked out pretty well.

Cathy and I split the 3 since I wanted to get a beer also.  We were introduced to an Ecuadorian beer called Pilsener.  They had four different versions of it: golden, dark, red and wheat.  The one time I wanted to try something other than the golden, the restaurant was out of it.  But that was OK because the golden was great.

We went back to the hotel, unpacked and crashed after our long travel day.  The weather forecast for the next 3 days was 90% chance of rain, which was very disappointing since the weather had been great so far and I was anxious to explore Quito in the sunshine.  The next morning, we would find out that we had a nice view of the city from our windows.  Even nicer, it wasn’t raining, and the sun was shining brightly.


Day 11 - Quito day 2

During the night Cathy woke several times with severe stomach issues.  In the morning, she was quite weak, and her stomach still didn’t feel that good.  We had some antibiotics for stomach bugs, but it didn’t seem to do much for her.  We were fortunate to have a doctor in the group, Michael.  He recommended a couple of different antinausea medications for me to get for Cathy if she still needed them after our morning tour, since all she really wanted to do was stay in bed for the morning. 

We had an 8:00 AM welcome to Ecuador meeting in a conference room.  He told us about what we would be doing and the rules to follow while in Ecuador for Covid and other things.  He didn’t tell us that we didn’t need to use the separate toilet paper trash cans in Ecuador, like we had to use in Peru, so we kept up that routine.  We found that out when he told us that we would need to use them on the Galapagos boat. 

We also ordered our wetsuits for the boat trip.  They had a wide selection of sizes that worked out well.  The cost to rent them was only $35 for the 4 days.  Pretty reasonable.  With the water in the mid-60’s, it was a required item for us.  Unlike Kerry who handed out printed itinerary sheets, Daniel wrote out the itinerary on a marker board for us to take photos of if needed.  It worked out nicely also. 

After the meeting we boarded the bus in front of the hotel for our city tour.  We met our local Quito guide, Israel, who would be with us for the two days of touring we would have.  Another very nice knowledgeable guide.  We were glad he was joining us.

We were supposed to first stop at the large cathedral at the other end of the street, but traffic was blocked there due to festivities in progress.  The bus instead stopped near the city’s Independence Square. 


When we arrived, there was a big parade marching down one of the streets.  Ecuador’s 200-year celebration of independence was underway.  The big day was May 24, two days away but the celebrations had already started.


After watching the parade for a while, we walked around looking at the beautiful buildings surrounding it.  The Metropolitan Cathedral was the main eye catcher.  With all the trees it was difficult to get a photo of the whole thing, so it took several angles.



The Archbishop’s Palace is now the fancy Hotel Plaza Grande.

We also saw the Carondelet Palace or Presidential Palace close by.

The main attraction in the square is the Monument to Independence.  Unfortunately, it was under renovation and would be unveiled on the big day.  All we could see of it was the lower section through a window in the construction wall.

After leaving the square, we walked into a lovely courtyard.  There are popular restauarants in there.

Not far away we stopped a small vendor who sold a candy item called mistelas.  Israel bought a package for us to try some.  They have a candy shell with different types of liquor inside.  He said put the whole thing in our mouth and not just bite it, since it would pop with flavorful juice when in the mouth. It certainly did and was quite delicious.   Biting it would have been quite messy.  This candy became popular when liquor couldn’t be sold in Ecuador.  This candy was created to work around the laws.  It was obviously successful.

We also tried some delicious, candied peanuts.  This had been a good stop.

We went back through Independence Square and stopped at the municipal library.  Israel wanted to show it to us.  All we were able to see was the courtyard since the building itself was closed due to the independence celebrations.  He was able to show us a fellow who was in the traditional uniforms that were worn back in the early days. 


We stopped in front of an old church.  The door was very nice.


The old town streets were quite pretty.  It was a pleasure to see everything with such gorgeous weather, upper 60’s with bright warm sun.


We then stopped at a beautiful old church.  Before the trip started, the one place that I had to visit in Quito was the Iglesia de la Compañia de Jesûs.  The interior photos of it that I had seen looked amazing.  Since it wasn’t listed on the itinerary, I had planned to see it during my free time.  I didn’t have to since we were standing in front of it and were going to be able to go inside.   It didn’t appear to be open to the general public at this hour, but somehow, we were able to.  Jesus told us to put our arms on the person in front of us and close our eyes.  He would walk us in and tell us when to open them.  When we were in the right position, we opened our eyes and WOW!  Truly amazing golden ornate beauty.  It was truly overwhelming.  I have been to some of the most beautiful churches in the world, and this was right up there with the best of them.  Everywhere we looked in the church was just so gorgeous.  Israel said that they used hundreds of pounds of gold in the decorations.  Construction on the church began in 1605 and it took 160 years to complete. 


My big disappointment was that photography was not allowed inside the church.  I did have to sneak a couple of photos to share with Cathy since she couldn’t see it in person.  Plus, I had to have something to show the readers of this review.


I am also including this LINK to other online photos to show the beauty of the church.  It is quite a place. 

We continued our walk passing by more beautiful buildings.  The Central Bank of Ecuador building that is now a museum was quite a looker.


Our walk next took us to the Basilica and Convent of San Francisco.  It is a massive structure.  Groundbreaking for the church began in 1535.  Construction was completed 150 years later.  Once again, we were not able to go inside the church.   I do understand why.  Since we did get to see the best one in Quito, I was fine with passing this one up.


From the basilica, we could see the large statue, Virgen de El Panecillo, in the distance on a hill.  It is the world’s tallest aluminum statue and the world’s tallest image of a winged Virgin Mary.  The 135-foot-tall statue was inaugurated in 1975.  It can be seen from all over the city. 


We continued our walk through old town passing by different groups that had been marching in the parade. 


We stopped at Plaza Santo Domingo.  The Church of Santo Domingo was at one end of it.  The doorway area was quite nice.


There was a statue in the center of the plaza.  We could also see the large aluminum statue in the distance up on the hill.


The reason we had stopped here is that adjoining the plaza is an area where prostitutes can sell their services.  This was where we would be having a controversial topic discussion about sex workers in Quito’s old town.  One of them was going to discuss her work and life in the community.


She lives about 6 hours away near the coast where she is a farmer.  She comes to Quito to make extra money to support her family.  It is not an easy life.  She charges $13 for a 10-minute session.  $3 of that goes to hotel where she goes with the client.  She said that she makes about $100 over a weekend which helps greatly to support her family.  She doesn’t worry about her safety since the hotel provides security.  She also has regular clients that she is comfortable with.  She talked about various things.  When asked how long she planned on continuing this profession, she said that she is in the process of starting a propane business in her hometown.   I was glad when the conversation was over.  It isn’t a comfortable subject to discuss, and such a sad situation for the woman.  The only positive is that it is helping her to raise her family and hopefully allow her to start her own business.

We left her and walked a little way down the street to the La Ronda section of town.  It is a cute area that was made even cuter by the many multicolored umbrellas that were hanging above the street.

We walked into a small museum that I thought was in a police station.  They had representations of old Ecuadorian life.


Along the way Israel ran into a retired policeman that had decided to paint and sell his art.  His family was working along with him.  His son was a real cutie!


We enjoyed seeing some of the artwork murals along streets. 


It was after 1:00 PM and we were getting hungry.  The bus took us out of old town and up a mountain.  We were going to a very special place for lunch.  As we were walking up the street to the restaurant, we could tell that the restaurant, El Ventanal, probably had a really nice view of the city. 

Boy, did it ever!  As we walked in, we could look out through the windows to see the panorama of Quito. 

We passed through the restaurant up to a very large viewing area.  It was quite a sight! 

We had a great view from above of the cathedral we would be going to after lunch.

When we sat down to eat, we realized that we were the restaurants only customers.  It is normally only open for dinner, but they opened it for us for lunch.  How special is that?  The view from this place is apparently amazing at night also with the lights of the city.

After lunch we took the bus down to the Basilica of the National Vow.  It is the largest neo-Gothic basilica in the Americas.  It has a beautiful and unique exterior.  Rather than gargoyles, it has animals from the Galapagos and other parts of Ecuador on it.    It had condors, tortoises, monkeys and iguanas.  Definitely unique!




It was a gorgeous building, but I would have to come back on my own to see the interior, which I wasn’t able to do.  I had previously checked on Cathy, and she said she was doing OK, but I was anxious to see for myself.  When we got back to the hotel, Cathy looked better, but she said her stomach was still not right.  I immediately left to find the pharmacy that Daniel had pointed out to us at the beginning of the tour.  It was just a long block away.  Prescriptions weren’t needed for anything I was looking for.  After Cathy took the anti-nausea medicine that Michael had told us about, the stomach issues went away pretty fast.  We were so glad that he had told us what to get.  We were able to return the favor while in the Galapagos when his stomach started to act up and he needed the same medicine he told me to get for Cathy.

Later that evening, even though Cathy was feeling better, she chose to pass on dinner.  I certainly understood that.  We were on our own for dinner again.  This time the group was able to go to the Italian restaurant that Daniel had recommended, La Briciola.  It was a very nice restaurant, and the food was outstanding.  Great recommendation!


When I got back to the room, Cathy was feeling better, but she was still weak.  She didn’t think she would be able to go on the next day’s tour.  Once again there was a 90% chance of rain.  We hoped that it was the same 90% we had just experienced with beautiful weather.



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