Home Safely

Thank you to our second son for collecting us from Heathrow last night, we are now safely back, unpacked, even slept (melatonin helps with the jet lag) and washing done.

Next Thursday we are off to Cardiff to see No 3 son graduate as Doctor of Psychology on Friday.  Then on the Sunday we will be picking up kittens Bruce (blue point) and Matthew (chocolate point Siamese) after watching granddaughter’s dance show.  This is really the end of the blog, but I will put pictures of the new kittens up on 17th if you want to check back then.  Thank you for sharing the journey with us, happy holidays all!

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Last day

Usually holidays fly past, but we have had so many wonderful new experiences that in may ways it seems we could have been away for much longer than 3 weeks.

Last days are often devoted to shopping, and in a way this is no different, I have a love of Canada’s Laura shops, and have to hunt one down as we are in Toronto.  Roger has gone off to collect the ironing from Preeners, so I have a moment to update the blog.  Have put lots of photos of Niagara Falls and Niagara on the Lake on the Toronto 2 page (scroll down  that one for latest update)

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This is the ‘small’ car we were upgraded to for the drive to Niagara Falls and Niagara on the Lake!

 

In Brief, in Toronto

We had a lazy morning, but then walked along the lake side and booked a dinner cruise for this evening.  Have just come back, and too late to transfer photos, but watch the Toronto 2 page tomorrow!  We are off to Niagara Falls and Niagara on the Lake in the morning.

Settled in Toronto

As you will have gathered, it has been a long haul getting here.  We left Cusco at 3.30 pm, 31 hours ago.  I have written about the Cusco airport hotel and the kindness in letting us hang out there until we thought check in would open.  Having finally managed that and taken seats in the Sumaq Lounge at Lima, I was able to finish the blog for the day there.  Rog was keen to get to the gate in good time (he always is!) but a member of staff told us to wait in comfort, and then escorted us to the changed gate at the right moment.  We then realised she had stamped our boarding cards with ‘Sumaq’, and we were getting priority boarding, in fact I think we were in the first 10 on the plane!

It is no secret that I hate night flights.  I can’t sleep, get incredibly restless, and arrive exhausted.  We had booked extra legroom seats at the front of a section, and I think I have finally found a way to make it bearable.  Put your carry on bag at your feet, put a specially designed blow up footrest on top of the bag, and put the pillow the airline supplies on top of that.  You won’t exactly achieve a flat bed, but it will be way more comfortable, especially if you have short legs, like me.  Bring your own fleece blanket with you, these pack into the smallest space, and are much warmer than the airline supplied one, which you can put over it.  The J pillow I blogged about at the very beginning when we set off can convince you you are lying on a proper pillow.  If you struggle with the light, use eye shades and even ear plugs.  It was a struggle at first, but I did actually fall asleep, Roger had to wake me when breakfast arrived!

The pilot took the plane down to land it, then we were aware of a sudden engine rush, and we shot up into the sky again.  A slightly concerning moment, but he was soon on the intercom to assure us it was just that something had to be cleared off the runway.

Our pre-booked car was there to meet us, and in less than half an hour we were getting the keys to our Air BnB ‘Condo’ at the tower block 38 Dan Leckie Way.  We have a view of two building sites and a motorway, but the double glazing is effective, and on the 16th floor we are above most of the noise.  If I go out on the balcony, I can just see the lake.

As I type this at 10.00 pm I am still tired, but should be okay by the morning.  We are facing West, so sunset is spectacular.

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Roger working on his piece!

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Roger ponders Peru

The memories are so vivid just now, and many will never fade. We walked away from the main square in Cusco some 32 hours ago, to enter the dispiriting airport processes of queueing, checking-in, screening, waiting and  boarding on our journey from Cusco to Toronto via Lima. In Cusco on Saturday morning it had been as though they were celebrating our departure, but their multiple parades, were obviously for much more important religious and cultural reasons. Wonderfully decorative costumes in bright colours; vibrant, energetic dancing to rhythmic music; smiling faces of performers and onlookers alike. Then we strolled up into another square; more music and colourful costumes; ladies sitting patiently to see if we will buy – we do!

Peru is not a wealthy country, and it is diverse, but wherever we have been, from Lima to the rain-forest, to Cusco and wondrous Machu Picchu, we have encountered people generous with their friendliness,smiles and help, and rightly proud of their heritage. We have seen exciting animals, plants and trees in mountains and valleys. God in all His glory, Mother Nature and Pachamama expansive! We have tried new foods and enjoyed them and, well yes, a couple of sours too!

Lastly, a testimonial to the people who brought me to this wonderful country. Sorry Air Canada, I do not mean you. Thank you to Roz for having the idea in the first place – it struck me as a bit daring initially, given that, come the day, our combined ages would tot up to 138 and our knees had been giving trouble! Anyway, she did the research and coughed up half the cost, so I knew there would be no point in resisting. Importantly, she found “Peru for Less”. Emma, you and your team tackled the logistics so coolly, and kept us reassured all along. Virtually everything worked perfectly, and your drivers and tour guides were very good indeed. I think both Roz and I agree that our first sight of Machu Picchu at sunrise was our star moment, but our rain-forest experience at Concepcion was similarly stellar in a different way. We shouldn’t have a favourite tour guide perhaps, but the young man we came to refer to as Fabricio 2 was terrific in his knowledge of the Sacred Valley. Furthermore he held Roz’s hand to warm it when he noticed she was looking cold. That’s caring for you! So, thank you all for the planning and transport, the fun, the sights, the sounds and for teaching and showing us so much about Peru in just two amazing weeks.

 

 

 

The leaving of Cusco

I am writing this at the airport hotel in Lima, awaiting our 02.55 am flight to Toronto, not looking forward to that!  Have put a bit about our unusual morning on the Cusco page.  The flight was only 90 minutes, we left in brilliant sunshine, the scenery was barren Andes all the way, until we approached Lima, which was in thick fog as usual.  Must be dispiriting to live here, perhaps a different season might bring a bit better weather.  I will hope to add more in the airport lounge, just off to eat.  The hotel staff have been wonderful, they know we are not staying, but they have put all our luggage, still on trolleys, into storage, gave us the internet code, a seat in the bar, we had a good meal in the restaurant, and they pushed my luggage all the way back to the terminal for me.

Okay, back now, Air Canada took ages to open their bag drop, but we reached the lounge about 12.40 am.  Fortified with strong coffee to keep me awake, and a couple of sandwiches I don’t need, but it might fool my body into staying awake for a bit longer!

Peru has been an incredible eye opener.  At no time did I feel unsafe, Peru4Less could not have done more to ensure we were looked after, never had to carry a bag or worry about a boarding pass.  They were always on time, with a smile, and that meant a lot.

I imagine people will ask what was the best bit, and the usual response is ‘all of them’.  I guess for me what will stand out is the stay in the rainforest, and Machu Picchu itself.  But the friendliness of the local people and their willingness to help made it special too.

Rog continues to cough very frequently and his nose is pouring.  He had real problems with ear pain coming into land at Lima, so I had to find an airport pharmacist for some decongestant tablets and cough pastilles.   Hopefully a change of country may bring a an improvement.

A few final shots of Peru

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Isn’t she cute?!

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Shopping in Cusco

Today was our day for souvenir shopping, Cusco is the place to do it, and we went a little overboard on the alpaca front.  But we will only be here once, it is really cold, and the light and warm sweaters are ideal.  There are lovely throws for really very little, and if some of them are not 100% Alpaca, I am not too bothered.