Our first “Married” Christmas in Cusco, Peru

To celebrate our first Christmas as a married couple, we decided to fly to Peru, and eat and drink our way from Cusco to Machu Picchu to Lima. Here’s part one of our oral history of that trip: Christmas in Cusco.

Happy Llamadays and Married Christmas from Cusco!

Day 1: Views of Peru, Papachos, and Piscos

Megan: I slept through most of our flights to Peru. And when I woke up, I got to see breathtaking views of the green AF mountains of Cusco — mountains I’d soon be climbing on our trek to Machu Picchu!

Mike: But first, we had three nights to acclimatize in Cusco. It’s over 11k feet, and the altitude takes some getting used to. As Megan was a bit challenged by Bogota, which is closer to 8k feet up, I talked her into taking Diamox for this trip — and we planned to slowly ramp up our activities before the serious hiking began.

Photo courtesy of Trip Advisor

When I stayed in Cusco six years ago to go on a different Machu Picchu trek, I remember seeing the Palacio Del Inka and thinking it would be an amazing place to stay if I brought back my wife sometime for an almost honeymoon, or won the lottery. Luckily, the last eight months of working every day on ‘The Gifted’ made me feel just fine about spending a few ducats to relax — and this hotel was a perfect way to settle into Peru.

Megan: I’m so glad he went with “wife on an almost honeymoon” because the hotel is wonderful. The location is right next to what used to be an ancient Incan temple but got converted into a church. And I’m not mad at at all that it’s the view of from our tiny adorable balcony. The hotel used to be a museum in the ‘70s, so the layout is vast with almost endless hallways and rooms and it’s easy to get lost. Plus they have a constant supply of Coca tea which helps with altitude sickness side effects.

“Hey Hun, I know our food dropped 5 mins ago, but can you help me take this picture?” And then I didn’t even use the photo.

Mike: We fought off our exhaustion to venture over to Papacho’s for lunch. Getting burgers isn’t exactly the most Peruvian thing to do — but it’s the casual chain started by my favorite South American chef (Gaston Acurio) — and there were lots of tasty options.

The view of Cusco from Papachos.

Megan: I got my first sweeping view of Cusco from that burger joint, and I was instantly enamoured. I enjoyed the view of the town square (that was being set up for a giant Christmas market that would dominate the next few days) and realized that Cusco is nestled in a valley surrounded by rolling green hills. I could not stop staring out the window next to our table and just saying “Wow. WOW! This place is gorgeous.”

It’s amazing to just see old Incan walls everywhere!

Mike: After a quick nap, we hit up a more straight-ahead Peruvian joint (Cafe Moreno) for lomo saltado, a nice causa (potato dish), and Megan’s favorite: fried bananas for dessert.

Lomo Saltado, a Beetroot Causa, and Chicken Anticucho at Morena Peruvian Kitchen

We grabbed some quality cocktails at Museo del Pisco (not actually a museum – just a good cocktail bar) — drinking our first Pisco Sour of the trip — and our first Chilcano (Pisco and ginger ale – their variation had a little Chili kick and a guava flavor. It was amazing).

Marvelous drinks at Museo del Pisco – Cusco — Semi-spicy Chilcano being enjoyed by a fully-tired Megan, and a sublime Pisco Sour with our initials in the foam!

It was a glorious first night in Cusco, followed by a tough night in the hotel room… Continue reading “Our first “Married” Christmas in Cusco, Peru”

The Dash and Dine’s guide to the best restaurants in Cusco, Peru

the best restaurants in Cusco - @thedashanddine
Megan inside MAP Cafe

For our first “married Christmas” we decided to fly to Peru and take a group trek to Machu Picchu. In doing so, we ended up spending a lot of time in Cusco, Peru — 3 nights to let our bodies adjust to the altitude, and then back again for 2 extra nights after the trek. We absolutely fell in love with the town, and along the way, we found some of our favorite restaurants in Cusco… Continue reading “The Dash and Dine’s guide to the best restaurants in Cusco, Peru”

From sobremesas to so much cheese: The 12 things I learned about Buenos Aires

Mike traveled to Buenos Aires a little while back. These are excerpts from
the journal he kept while there…

It’s 9:45 on a Sunday morning in November, and Buenos Aires is a ghost town. Guess this can be expected when everyone stays out until 5 am, which apparently is the norm on a Saturday night.

I’m sitting a cafe right out of what I imagined Buenos Aires to be… and when the friendly waitress walks over, I’m reminded for the fifth time in five straight encounters: I don’t speak Spanish. (It’s as if 15 minutes of Rosetta Stone for a single month isn’t enough to master a language!) I order a combination plate without understanding the components.

It’s ridiculously comfortable out. A touch more humid than Los Angeles. Blue skies. A slight breeze ruffling through the trees overhead. My cafe con leche arrives… and it’s fantastic. Same goes for the orange juice. And then… a ham and cheese sandwich (tostado). I will come to find out that many orders result in a sandwich — Buenos Aires loves sandwiches. It was just okay.

Here are some other things I learned during my time in Buenos Aires:

Continue reading “From sobremesas to so much cheese: The 12 things I learned about Buenos Aires”

The awesome hotels and best restaurants in Cartagena (that we discovered by accident)

We took a last-minute trip to Cartagena when we found out we couldn’t fly from Bogota to Costa Rica without a yellow fever vaccine. No worries, we re-routed ourselves to the gorgeous town of Cartagena, Colombia and found some amazing places to stay, and sampled from some of the best restaurants in Cartagena!

Keep reading if you want to know more about where to stay and where to eat…
Continue reading “The awesome hotels and best restaurants in Cartagena (that we discovered by accident)”

What to pack for Bogota with tips from someone who lives there

Clearly my color palette is of blacks and greys, feel free to wear more color than I do. BONUS: Most of these things can be either purchased from Amazon or Target.

We were heading for Colombia in December, and my huge question was: what to pack for Bogota? Fortunately, we have friends who’ve been living and working in Colombia for a couple years (shout out to Narcos!). So we reached out to them to get some tips on what to pack for Bogota in December. Although most of these tips will work for any time of year!

Here are the super-helpful tips from our friend and fabulous Colombian chica ShellyContinue reading “What to pack for Bogota with tips from someone who lives there”

The “bacano” bites and best restaurants of Bogota

Cheers, from one of my favorite restaurants in Bogota.

Bogota is an amazing foodie destination — one could even say it’s “bacano” — but it’s really underrated. It’s feels like New York with a South American flair. We were visiting friends who live in Colombia, and they took us to some of the best restaurants in Bogota.

Where to stay if you want to walk to restaurants…

We stayed at the Embassy Suites in Bogota. It’s a fairly nondescript business hotel, unremarkable, except for its fantastic location — Zona G. The G in “Zona G” is for “gastronomy,” and with good reason — it’s basically three square blocks of great restaurants!

Here are the best restaurants in Bogota…

Continue reading “The “bacano” bites and best restaurants of Bogota”