Category Archives: Adventure

Travelling Peru – Urubamba and the Sacred Valley

After we spent three nights in Cusco, we started our tour through the Sacred Valley. Our first stop was a nice but very touristic lama and alpaca farm. We fed the animals and watched local women colour the wool and the weave it to truly wonderful patterns. The farm helps local women to preserve their weaving tradition and gives them the opportunity to sell their products to the tourists.

Our next stop then was the Inca ruin Pisaq.

Pisaq - Sacred ValleypisaqThe terraces were breathtaking. I like the idea that the Inca not only had those terraces for crops and stability of their cities but also as a sort of decoration. If you look at this mountain I can see what they liked about it.

On our drive further into the Sacred Valley, we stopped for the special peruvian dish – guinea pig. I know, a lot of especially European people would never dare to eat what is for us a pet. But to be honest I always try to experience the culture of a country also through its food and the guinea pig is such a dish in Peru. So if you are not too light hearted or didn’t have a guinea pig as a pet you should give it at least a try.

As we arrived in our hotel for the next two nights in Urubamba, we still had some time to explore the city. Urubamba itself isn’t that much different from other Peruvian cities. It mainly exists for tourists who head out for the Inca trail and Machu Picchu. However, despite its touristy atmosphere we found two very lovely spots hidden in between.

cafe cielito Linda UrubambaThe Café Cielito Lindo is worth every visit. The girly decoration and perfect cakes combined with great coffee makes this café one of my culinaric highlights of our trip.

The other highlight was a small restaurant called Paca Paca which you have to check out if you are in the area. The restaurant offers a range of delicious dishes from peruvian to european. You can simply have pizza from the stone oven or indulge in a light and modern variation of peruvian food like I did ;).

Paca Paca - UrubambaOn our second day in the Valley, we headed off to the mountains. Our drive dropped us at a small village from where we walked down to the salt mines of maras.

walkIt was a bit rainy and the clouds just looked amazing between the mountains of the Andes. After a short walk of around 30 minutes we arrived at the salt mines of Maras. Local farmers cultivate, harvest and sell the salt to the government and in little amounts to the tourists.

salt mines marassalt mines of marasIt was incrdible to watch people working there. It must be hard to balance 30 to 50 kilo of salt on your back walking on those very small bars between the fields.

From the mines we walked down to Urubamba and enjoyed our free afternoon with some cake and coffee. The next day we visited another breathtaking Inca site – Ollantaytambo.

OllantaytamboOllantaytamboOllantaytamboIn Ollantaytambo you can feel that this site was once a big fortress. It just looks and feels massive. The rocks transported there were the biggest I saw on the whole trip.

On the way back to Urubamba our guide took us to a local bar. We tried corn bear which tasted quite sour. I preferred the local special with strawberry to the normal one. It was much sweeter :). More fun than drinking was playing the typical game of those bars. You get a specific amount of coins which you have to threw into the holes of a table with a frog in the middle.

peruvian bar gameI really sucked but it was soooo much fun to play :). Try to get to a local bar and throw some coins.

Travelling Peru – what to see and do in Cusco

During our trip we stayed most of our time in Cusco and the nearby Sacred Valley. Of all the cities we went to during our tour, I liked Cusco the most. Maybe, one reason for this was that we had more time to explore the town by ourselves. However, with its rich history and great atmosphere, I think I also would have loved it after just having stayed for one day.

We had some tours organised by our travel agency in advance. In the afternoon, we had time off though and enjoyed exploring the area by ourselves. Here are my recommendations for you if you are planning to visit that beautiful town:

1. The artists’ quarter San Blas

My absolute favourite place in Cusco was the San Blas quarter. Walking up from the central square this area felt very modern and young. There are a lot of small shops with handcrafts and local designs as well as some cute cafés and hostels. I just loved walking around the narrow streets peering into the shops we passed.

San Blas QuarterSAn Blas Quarter in CuscoMake sure you walk as high as you can, because the views over the town get better and better.

Cusco
2. The local Market

Unfortunately, I have no picture from the local market. I guess I was so concentrated on taking in all the fruits, fish, meat and other products on offer that I completely forgot to take pictures. If you have the chance, do go to one of the big markets in Cusco and just walk around and enjoy the exotic feel of it.

3. The Temple of the Sun – Coricancha

This mixture of a colonial church with the remainings of the old Incan temple is definitely worth a visit. It is intriguing how perfectly the Incas placed there stones to beautiful buildings which were much more stable than the later colonial ones. Because during an earthquake in the 17th century most of the colonial church was destroyed while the Incan walls remained.

Coricancha - Temple of the Sun in CuscoCoricancha - Temple of the Sun

4. Eating in a local Picanteria

Our tour also included a meal at a local picanteria. Those restaurants serve all the local specials like fried pork or even guinea pig. If you can, go with a local and make sure you order the local anise liquor for your digestion. Trust me it helps!

5. Plaza de Armas – Main Square

Just sitting at the steps in front of the main cathedral on the Plaza de Armas watching people – this was one of our favourite occupation during our stay. It is fun watching the locals and tourists mix on that main square. If you have time also visit the main cathedral which is a great exampl of the mixture of Incan and Catholic religion.

Main Square in CuscoCathedral

6. Saqsaywaman

Another very impressing Incan site is Saqsaywaman at the edge of the city. You can either take a driver there or walk up the hill to the ruins. Saqsaywaman is a huge Incan ruin located in a beautiful park. On weekends the locals come here to picknick and to play with their children.

Saqsawamanstone slide - SaqsawamanMake sure you follow the example of the local children and try the natural rock slides in the park – so much fun :).

Make sure you plan two to three days for Cusco. I asure you, you won’t regret it. Do tell me if you go or already have been there and share your experience in the comments.

 

 

 

 

Hiking through an enchanted forest

HörrschbachRecently we did a great hike starting in Murrhardt a small city half an hour drive away from Stuttgart. The hike is 10km long and leads to two waterfalls and along a river wounding its way through the valley. The forest was glowing in all shades of green and the water was glittering and floating calmly past us. Hiking, especially along a water stream, is the best way for me to calm down and relax.

first waterfalls - Murrhardt

The hike starts in the center of Murrhardt leading you straight out of the town into the forest (Download the route and a description here). After twenty minutes we arrived at the first waterfall at the beginning of the valley. Up to this point, the way is pretty easy to walk on, but from there the ground gets more muddy following the stream to the end of the valley.

Since I have been a little kid I most enjoyed hikes like this where we walked over roots of trees, stones and were you had to cross the river ocassionally – either on a bridge or just by using the bigger stones sticking out of the water.

Crossing the river After an hour of marvelling at all the different shades of green and having fun on and around the water, we finally arrived at the second waterfall.

second waterfall Murrhardt

The water was dripping down the moss-covered stones which wasn’t what I expected but was still very lovely to watch. However, when we reached the top of the waterfall, we realised that this wasn’t the waterfall in its full power. Because the fiver is dammed up and hikers can control the waterfall with a small flap. After opening this flap the waterfall gets more powerful.

second waterfall - Hörrschbachtal – Doesn’t this look beautiful? –

At the top of the waterfall you can have a nice break and eat your paked lunch or you keep going until you hit the waterfall restaurant at the top-end of the valley. We had our paked lunch with us and continued the walk through the forest back to Murrhardt.

It took us roughly three hours to finish the hike. Not because of the distance but more due to the uneven ground and the fun we had balancing on stones and trees along the way. Stopping from time to time to take photos ;).

Murrhardt

Make sure, you walk around in Murrhardt as well because the town is also really lovely and what better than having some ice-cream as a reward for finishing the hike?

What to think about when you start skiing

skiing as a beginnerFirst of all, I am generally not very adventurous. So putting myself on two small boards to slide down a steep hill in high pace isn’t my first choice of spending a nice saturday. However, my boyfriend is a skiing teacher and all my friends ski since they are little. So I figured after I pushed myself to start climbing and to try surfing, I could as well also give skiing a go.

If you are also thinking to start skiing as a complete beginner, here are some of my personal tips further extended by the more professional advice of my boyfriend.

  • Skiing is a sport
    It is truly exhausting, trust me. You don’t have to be an athlete but you should have a normal level of fitness I would say. It doesn’t do any harm to do some sport before, especially to strenghten your legs. While skiing your knees are constantly bend which my muscles weren’t used to and I strongly regretted not having done any workout before.

skiing tips for beginnersfirst time skiing

  • Start Skiing with a professional teacher
    To get starting with skiing you should book a professional skiing teacher (or get a friend who did a certified training). They know best how to teach beginners and will be able to teach you the rigth technique from the beginning. When choosing a skiing school look out for certificates like the Deutscher Skiverband, Deutscher Skilehrerverband in Germany or the Östereichische Skiverband in Austria. Just generally try to make sure the teachers were trained on a high level. For children, group courses are better because they most of the time feel more comfortable in a group. In a group there is also the possibility to playfully do some small competitions so that the children learn faster and with fun.
    For adults smaller groups are better suited because adults don’t learn just by watching someone and repeating the movement but by mentally understanding what to do and trying to put that into practice. With a smaller group the teacher can react to the individuals better and might be able to explain things individually.

skiing equipment

  • Equipment
    You need a winter jacket and winter trousers. On top of that you should wear some warm layers under your jacket, although don’t put on too much because you will get warm pretty fast. Gloves and goggles are also quite handy.
    If you don’t have own skies and shoes don’t worry you can borrow the complete equipment in every skiing area. The ski should reach up to your nose when standing, although smaller skies are easier at the beginning. When trying on shoes you should be very comfortable in them and be able to move your toes. Don’t try them on walking but standing with bend knees. In this position you shouldn’t feel any pressure of the shoe on your foot. If they feel uncomfortable when trying, they will hurt when you start skiing. The ski poles should be at a lenght were your arms form a right angle. The helmet should fit your head tightly so it really protects you if you fall.
    Normally the people in the shop will know all of that, so if you don’t have the feeling they are checking all these things and especially don’t ask you some question about what you want to do, you better go to another shop.

lift 2

  • Start slow and don’t excpet to much of yourself
    Last and most important. Skiing needs practice. This means that you won’t be a perfect skier after one day of practice. I spent basically my first day on the children’s hill learning to use the lift and just practicing the basics. But it felt great to slide down that little hill on my own in a controlled way after half of the day.
    However when we went up the hill for our first run down the slope, I was terrified and lost confidence. With the help of my boyfriend I managed to get down in one peace and  was even able to do the last quarter by myself which felt amazing. But I had realised that I need a lot of practice before I will feel perfectly fine.

I hope these tips help you when thinking of starting to ski and also took away some of your concerns. After all the day was a great experience and adventure which I would like to repeat soon.

Can you add any tips for beginning to ski? Are you a skiing pro or thinking about to start?