Links and Reviews

Check out Maggie’s other websites:

The official Cycling from Vancouver to Patagonia blog on the Community Alliance Network (CAN) website:
http://theworldcan.org/biketrip.html

Our wedding website with picture and video from the ceremony, skydiving, reception and more!
http://maggieandbryan.wordpress.com/

 

Reviews:

Peru Hop – bus company – Lima to Cusco, Peru
http://www.peruhop.com/

Our Peru Hop bus at one of the sightseeing stops out of Lima

Our Peru Hop bus at one of the sightseeing stops out of Lima

Peru Hop is a fairly new company who does a hop-on-hop-off bus service from Lima to Cusco, stopping at the highlights in between (Bolivia Hop from Cusco to La Paz just started as well). There are a bunch of different options for how far you can to go and if you want to stop in Arequipa or not but they all have in common that buses run approximately every second day and the ticket is good for a year. You can stop in each location for as long as you want and just email the team whenever you’re ready to leave to get a seat on the next bus. We really appreciated that the bus picked us up and dropped us off at our hostel, which saved on hassles of getting our bikes to and from various bus stations. However, Peru Hop is much more than just a transportation company – it is a construction of community. The people you meet on the bus become a little family that often met up for dinner together, end up staying in the same hostel and we met others that continued to travel with each other after the bus. It is really awesome to wander around a new city and run into people that you know. Peru Hop also has an all-inclusive option that includes the boat trip to the Ballesta Islands, dune buggying and sandboarding at Huacachina and the Colca Canyon (excluding the 70 sol entrance tax) trip and all accommodation (private room surcharge for Arequipa only) for the minimum amount of days to do the trip. It made it fun and really easy. We ended up staying extra days in each place anyways, which does make it a bit harder because you keep changing bus groups and their associated guide. However, our pick-ups and tours always went off without a hitch and we were always picked up when we were supposed to so the staff did a great job organizing. Only thing I would complain about is their horrible choices of movies in the buses – they’re all in English but tend to be all teenage/college party and getting laid dilemmas movies with jokes that made me wince a little in their terribleness. Admitedly, the bus is geared towards a younger crowd of backpackers but they worked really hard to cater to Bryan’s parents….and for our bikes! However, if bad movies is all I had to complain about then the trip was overall pretty amazing!

The House Project Hostel – Lima, Peru
http://www.thehouseproject.pe/

Comfy courtyard at the House Project

Comfy courtyard at the House Project

A great base to explore Miraflores, the hostel is right thick in the middle of everything. It just around the corner from “Pizza Street”, which true to its name, is a pedesterian lane lined with pizza restaurant right off from the center Kennedy Park area. The rooms are clean and not fancy but has the simple touches of matching sheets and a towel rolled up on it that gives it a classy style for a hostel. The beds are comfortable and the showers are hot. There was one of the best stocked (in terms of equipment) kitchens I’ve been in, which serves a delicious breakfast of eggs, bread, tea or coffee and fresh fruit juice in the morning. My favorite part was the outdoor living room in the back courtyard with couches, bean-bag chairs and hammocks. It is an “adventure” hostel rather than a party hostel so much more chilled with great people to meet. Pedro, the owner who actually lives in the hostel, was so excited about our trip and hung out with us one evening chatting about everything from things to see in Peru to life in Lima. The only thing that Pedro actually warned us before we arrived is that it can be a little noisy since it is right in the middle of Miraflores and close to bar filled Pizza Street. However, I found it was not as bad as Pedro warned us at all and the most annoying thing was car alarms going off which you would probably find anywhere in the city.

Oaxaca Spanish Magic Language School – Oaxaca, Mexico
http://www.oaxacaspanishmagic.com/

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Our garden classroom

We studied for a week at Oaxaca Spanish Magic language school in Mexico. We did the four hour a day option and did classes from 9 to 1 then returned back to the school after lunch for an optional language exchange with local people. In the language exchange that the school organized for us, we were paired up with a brilliant medical student and practiced what we learned in class earlier that day. It was so amazing how much we have learned in just five days of classes and it built a firm foundation for further practice as we continued to travel through Latin America. I felt like I learned more Spanish in a week here than three years in high school. I think it is a combination of excellent teachers at Spanish Magic Language School and the great environment of Oaxaca where you can practice Spanish everyday, every moment of the day if you want to. It was great to walk around and understand random words in other people’s conversations as you pass by. It made me feel so much more HERE. The classes were fun and informative and the teachers were caring and kind. It was a pleasure to study with Oaxaca Spanish Magic Language School.

Cooking Classes Oaxaca with Chef Agustin – Oaxaca, Mexico
http://www.cookingclassesoaxaca.com.mx/chef.html

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Good times over food and drink with Chef Agustin!

Chef Agustin led a fun, informal all day cooking class where we got to learn the basics of the famous Oaxacan cuisine. We started at 11am and first walked through Benito Juarez market to buy the supplies for our cooking class. We cooked everything from scratch and we  went to half a dozen little stands to get everything we needed from chilies to cheese to garlic to fruits and vegetables and more.  We walked through the 20 de Noviembre mercado to the chocolate factory, aka our second home in Oaxaca, and saw their tasty creations. Both of our moles we made used chocolate as an ingredient.  Chef Agustin has a restaurant downstairs and upstairs is the kitchen classroom to teach the classes. He has a big sunny terrace that overlooks the centro. We get started cooking…and drinking. His classes are open bar beer and mezcal. We do four different courses – quesadillas with guacamole and two types of table salsa then mole rojo and mole negro then chicken enchiladas, then two types of chile rellenos with a desert of fried plantains dribbled with crema. It was like four cooking classes combined into one as we would cook a meal together, eat it on his sunny terrace, then start the next round and so on.Chef Agustin says that there are 5 core sauces that are the base of Oaxacan cuisine: black mole sauce, red mole sauce, red tomato sauce, green tomato sauce and ground bean sauce. With these five bases, you can cook most of Oaxacan food and we learned how to make four out of the five in the class.

 

 

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