New 7 Wonders of the World: Machu Picchu & Christ the Redeemer

July 9, 2012 by · Comments Off on New 7 Wonders of the World: Machu Picchu & Christ the Redeemer 

#3 Machu Picchu, Peru – February, 21, 2012

Machu Picchu is not an easy place to get to. From the town of Cusco it took 90 minutes by car to get to the Peru Rail Dome Train. (You can take the train from Cusco but not during the rainy season due to mud and rock slides.) Then it takes another 90 minutes to go 27 miles to the town of Aguas Calientes at the base of the mountain. From there you have a 10 minute walk to the center of the town where you board a bus that takes you up a narrow, one lane, twisty road with 18 switchbacks. After 30 minutes you arrive at the top at 8000 ft. After walking up a lots of steps you see the breathtaking city.

And actually that is the easy way to get there! If you want you can hike there and it will take you four days and three nights. Machu Picchu was built around 1450 and was probably the most amazing urban creation of the Inca Empire at its height. Its giant walls, terraces and ramps seem as if they have been cut naturally in the continuous rock escarpments. The natural setting, situated in the midst of a tropical mountain forest on the eastern slopes of the Andes, encompasses the upper Amazon basin and is extraordinarily beautiful.

Aguas Calientes

#4 Christ the Redeemer, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – February 24, 2012

The statue of Christ the Redeemer is located at the top of Corcovado Mountain and commands a panoramic view of the city and the bay. The entire monument of statue of Christ the Redeemer is 125 ft high with the statue accounting for 98 ft and overlooking the city of Rio de Janeiro is one of the tallest statues in the world; the span from finger tip to fingertip is 92ft and there is a small chapel housed in the base.

Heitor da Silva Costa was the engineer who designed the statue. Construction was started in 1927 and completed in 1931. This was much easier to get to. It took 15 minutes to get to the train station and then a 20 minute ride to the top. From there you have 222 more steps to reach the base of the statue.

In the summer of 2007, more than 90 million people cast their votes to determine which architectural marvels in the world deserved to be one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. There were a total of twenty-one landmarks vying for that title.

Of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World, only the Great Pyramids in Giza, Egypt still stand. The pyramids were given an automatic spot after infuriated Egyptian officials said it was a disgrace to have to compete for something that had belonged to their country for so long. I agree!  We saw them in 2007.

It is our goal to see all twenty-one landmarks. Also, Chris and I have collectively seen a lot of the twenty-one, however, not together. So the rule is, we go back and see all of them together!

New 7 Wonders of the World  we’ve been to:

  • #1 Chichen Itza, Mexico – 2005
  • #2 Great Wall of China – 2010

New 7 Wonders of the World  Runner Ups we’ve been to:

  • #9  Statue of Liberty, New York – 2005
  • #10 Sydney Opera House, Australia – 2005
  • #11 Hagia Sophia, Istanbul – 2007
  • #12 Acropolis, Athens – 2007
  • #13 Angkor Wat, Cambodia – 2010
  • #14 Eiffel Tower, Paris – 2010
  • #15 Stonehenge, England – 2011


FUN-travel: South America: Cusco, Peru to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

March 4, 2012 by · Comments Off on FUN-travel: South America: Cusco, Peru to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 

Day 19 – Wednesday, February 22 – Cusco to Lima, Peru to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – big thick clouds w/sun – high 60’s

  • 9:30 breakfast & all ready for check out
  • Good News – take morning walk into plaza
  • Really Good News – Carnaval parade through town w/over 3 dozen stilt walkers (5 to 25 yrs old) – adorned in colorful costumes w/marching band of drums & horns
  • Good News – go shopping for my birthday present (money from my dad) find beautiful baby llama sweater on sale
  • 2:00 pickup for airport – arrive 2:15 for 4:00 flight
  • Bad News – flight delayed
  • Good News – rescheduled on 4:55 flight
  • Bad News – bag search for alcohol (we assume it’s a scam for them to get free booze)
  • Good News – we lie & say “No” – poor search turns up nothing!
  • Really Good News – no baggage police or gate Nazi’s in force
  • Good News – ask to upgrade to biz class – told only $246 each
  • Bad News – only one seat left
  • Good News – nice, big terminal – relax & have beer & sandwich while waiting
  • Good News – depart 9:50 pm
  • Bad News – plane is full

Day 20 – Thursday, February 23 – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – light wispy clouds, hot & humid

  • Good News – arrive on time 5:50 am
  • Bad News – really 2:50 am body time
  • Really Good News – breeze through customs! & we are at Sea Level!
  • Good News – get yellow taxi outside to hotel @ Ipanema – 40 minute ride
  • Good News – arrive  7:30 am & room is ready

Carnaval Stilt Walkers

  •  Bad News – they charge us half day rate
  • Good News – includes breakfast
  • Good News – sleep for 5 hrs & take long walk on Ipanema beach
  • Good News – Route 66 restaurant serves Mexican food & cold beer
  • Bad News – not that good – order nachos – chips, meat, cheese whiz, little pico de gallo, Tabasco sauce on table
  • Good News – Italian restaurant w/thin crust pizza across the street
  • More Good News – nice wine – great people watching spot

BB-(Buyer Beware) – taxi in airport costs 99 reals – outside yellow cabs cost 75 reals

FUN-travel: South America: Machu Picchu to Cusco, Peru

March 3, 2012 by · Comments Off on FUN-travel: South America: Machu Picchu to Cusco, Peru 

Day 18 – Tuesday, February 21 – Machu Picchu to Cusco, Peru – sunshine, blue skies, mixed w/white fluffy clouds – high 60’s

Dome Train

  • Good News – slept for 10 hours
  • Good News – awake to birds chirping

Native Weaver

  • Good news – take morning walk for post cards – have to go to 3 places to get 6 for 5 soles (about $2.00) they all want 6 soles – unbelievable!
  • Good News – we have 2 day pass including climb up to top of Wayna Picchu – only 400 persons allowed each day – neighboring peak looks down on Machu Picchu
  • Bad News – no railings & straight up  narrow path – fear of heights!
  • Good News – tour company sent a bottle of wine to our hotel for giving back tickets we had already paid for
  • Good News – today is Fat Tuesday

Urubamba River in Aguas Calientes

  • Good News – able to book earlier train – get to Cusco @ 5pm instead of 7pm
  • Good News – on train ride back see glaciers on mountain tops
  • Bad News – feel hungry all the time but nothing tastes good (except for the chocolate brownie cake @ tea)
  • Good News – dinner @ Bodega 138 – pizza! wonderfully fresh salad! nice wine! half the price of other dinners – filled w/locals

FF – (FUN-facts) – This  is the rainy season and that means fewer tourists. The mountains are green and the flowers are blooming. It’s not hot and humid and there are no bugs or mosquitoes.


FUN-travel: South America: Cusco to Machu Picchu, Peru

March 2, 2012 by · Comments Off on FUN-travel: South America: Cusco to Machu Picchu, Peru 

Day 17 – Monday, February 20 – Cusco to Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu at 9:30 am

  • Good news – we are off to see our 3rd New 7 Wonders of the World!
  • Bad News – pick up @hotel is 5:05 am
  • Bad News – need to drive 90 minutes to train station – (Cusco trains don’t run in February because of potential mud/rock slides on tracks)
  • Good News – arrive train station 6:35
  • Really Good News – train departs 7:05 – last week mud slides closed tracks 2 days & week before for 4 days!
  • Good News – on Peru Rail – nice Dome train – big seats – takes 90 minutes to go 27 miles
  • More Good News – we are down to 7000 ft
  • 1st stop – arrive Aguas Calientes (town @ base of Machu Picchu) @ 8:30 – thin wispy fog like clouds hug the mountains & the Urubamba river roars by

Machu Picchu at 12:30 pm

  • Bad News – now have to transfer to bus for another 30 minute ride up one lane windy, twisty road
  • 2nd stop – sacred ruins on top of mountain – 8000 ft
  • Bad News – raining, shrouded in fog & clouds (have a déjà vu moment – same thing happened to us at the Great Wall of China)
  • Good News  – by 11 am fog is going away & rain stops
  • Lunch stop – buffet @ Tinkuy in Sanctuary Lodge
  • More Good News – sun comes out after lunch & low clouds are gone!
  • Good News  – I insisted on spending the night here – (travel mantra #1, “I’m only doing this once.”
  • Good News – Inkaterra is lovely (& expensive) – as LA Times travel reporter says, “If you can afford it, stay there) – rustic casitas w/fireplaces, private outdoor patios & thatched roofs (moss grows quickly, then flowers & plants attach)  – breakfast, lunch, dinner, afternoon tea & happy hour drink Pisco Sour included
  • Good News – take stroll through town to market (stalls of vendors selling tons of junk mostly)

    Alice the Alpaca

  • Bad News – totally forgot about happy hour – what was I thinking! clearly I wasn’t! too busy haggling in the market
  • More Good News – Machu Picchu is a tropical rain/cloud forest – orchids & flowers, hummingbirds & butterflies are abundant on my outdoor patio

FF – (FUN-facts) – You can walk in on the Inca trail. It takes 4 days & 3 nights and starts at kilometer marker 82.

FUN-travel: South America: Cusco to Sacred Valley, Peru

February 29, 2012 by · Comments Off on FUN-travel: South America: Cusco to Sacred Valley, Peru 

Day 16 – Sunday, February 19 – Cusco to Sacred Valley – blue skies mixed w/light clouds – 60’s

Alpaca Thread Dying

  • Good News – wake up to sunshine!

Carnaval in Pisaq

  • Good News – full day excursion starts @ 9:30 (whenever we want!)
  • 1st stop – Puca Pucara – a small fortress – might have been some sort of storage facility, lodge or perhaps guard post on the road from Cusco to the villages of the Sacred Valley
  • 2nd stop – Awanacancha – farm w/llamas, alpacas, vicunas & guanacos – relatives  of the camel –  alpacas have thick wool & most commonly used – vicunas are small & delicate w/fur considered the finest -see native weavers from different areas showing their different weaving styles & dress
  • 3rd stop – town of Pisaq for market
  • Really Good News – today is Carnaval! the whole town is decorated in colorful balloons, streamers & huge bouquets of tree branches & flowers
  • Good News – main town square filled w/locals, music & native dancers
  • Lunch stop – Sol y Luna hotel – eat traditional BBQ
  • Good News – see Peruvian Paso Horse show – instead of a trot, they perform an ambling (four equal beats) lateral gait – there are always two, and sometimes three, feet on the ground
  • 4th stop – Tambomachay – known as “Baths of the Inca” for its fountain, falls, and streams

Incan Ruins


  • 5th stop –  Ollantaytambo – more Incan ruins – 250 steps straight up to top – massive pink granite rocks brought from top of mountain on other side of valley – amazing!
  • Bad News – fear of heights, narrow trail on edge of mountain & no railings!
  • Good News – make it down – easier than I thought
  • Dinner – Lino’s on the plaza
    FF – (FUN-facts) – Guinea Pig is considered a delicacy in Peru & eaten on special occasions.

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