Hello, all!

After the difficult hike up to Humantay Lake, we had to make the decision on how we would reach AguasCalientes. Originally we were determined to complete the entire process on our own with only means of transportation being collectivos and a lot of walking. After the first hike kicked our bus we settled on a decision to compromise: we would take a bus to Hydroelectica and then hike to AguasCalientes. Through our hostel (Pariwana Hostel) we booked the shuttle ($15), rode for 5 hours over the steep cliffs along the Urubamba river, ate lunch, and then began the hike along the train track and river for 3 hours with a group of Mexican girls and one French girl. Remember it is an active train track so don’t get too close to it as it passes by (as Analeise learned when she tried taking a photo of the train and it briefly missed her). By the end of it, Analeise, Ana (the French girl), and myself were the only ones left after taking our time, stopping for snack and water breaks, and taking so many photos.

 

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When you begin Googling, you will see a blog post about the “reality” of Machu Picchu: long lines, crowds, and rain. Unfortunately, this was exactly what we got. We got in line for the bus to Machu Picchu (which I would recommend purchasing the night before- $25 roundtrip) at around 5:15AM and…oh. my. goodness. the line seemed never ending. It was difficult to not get discouraged as we headed towards the end of the- what felt like- mile long line. Thankfully the line went faster than we anticipated. It was probably about an hour later that we were on the buses up the mountain to the entrance of the Machu Pacchu.

We completed the Mountain Hike ($65 with entrance into Machu Picchu) within the 7AM to 10AM slots. Although we stayed much later at the very top in hope that the view would clear up. The hike was definitely bad, but it wasn’t terrible. Its countless steps, slippery when wet, but if you keep a slow and steady pace eventually you will reach the top- which I pray is a clear and remarkable view for you. Unfortunately we were among the clouds, getting drizzled on, and phenomenally cold.

The day wasn’t a loss though, as when we arrived back down we got to witness the Machu Picchu everyone raves about. I’ll let the photos of the remarkable landscape with its constantly rolling clouds and lush greenery do the explaining. Of course I met up with my new llama friend and took some photos of him/her. I think they are some of my favorite photos ever taken!

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(Iphone)

In AguasCalientes we stayed at EcoPackers ($14 a night) right next to the station we finished our trek at.  It was a 6 person coed dorm. Although a little loud due to being right next to the track, it was definitely one of those hostels that you make as fun as you want. There is a bar on the rooftop where breakfast is also served. One of the best nights of our trip was hanging out with Phoebe and George again and our roommates Daniel, a German medical student, and Ahem, an Argentinian father and teacher. We ended up chatting into the early hours, switching between French, Spanish, and English, from everything about how plastic is destroying our environment to following our dreams. Ahem shared with us it had always been his dream to ride a bike throughout South America. “If I don’t follow my dream how can I teach my young students to follow theirs?” That is when I realized how lucky I was to be living one of my dreams at that exact moment: being able to meet people from all over because we share a mutual fascination on exploring the beautiful world we live in.

And man, what a beautiful world we live in.

Until next time, friends!

-Mary Anna

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Peru- Hidroelectrica Trek

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Peru, Peru, Peru. I am not sure how I’m going to explain this trip. Sure, I can write out the details: the places we went, the things I saw, so on, so forth. But how do I begin to explain what it meant to me? I’ve decided to break this trip up to several parts- trying to cram it all into one post would get extremely lengthy and we would all lose focus halfway through. Somehow I’ll try to fit into words how awing this time was for me. And if in the scenario I do not fulfill that duty then I hope my photos will.

As flight attendants we normally stay in pretty okay hotels. Everything is clean, wake-ups are made, its relatively quiet (for the most part). So when Analeise and I decided to backpack I wanted nothing else than to stay in hostels with other backpackers. Honestly, for me, I needed to remember why it was that I started traveling in the first place. It wasn’t for timed layovers and having to feel rushed all the time when I’m somewhere new. Don’t get me wrong, I love being a flight attendant. I’m constantly seeing something different. However, in this job, as much as everyone knows the airline world is a chaotic mess, on layovers there is no room for error. So with eight days to explore, we made a general list of things we wanted to see, but no concrete plans so that in any unexpected scenario occurred we could just say, “No prob-llama!”

Backpacks fully packed and tickets in hand, we headed off at 11:50PM to Bogota and then on to Cusco.

Day One: Exploring Cusco, Peru

After dropping off our packs at the hostel, we made our way to the city center to begin our wandering. It is true what they say that the altitude will certainly affect everyone differently. Although I didn’t notice a difference besides a bit more heavy breathing, Analeise did feel light headed as we walked around. Later on we discovered that it is best to eat before you are hungry to combat any lightheaded feelings that may occur due to the high elevation. Unfortunately I don’t have a photo of the delicious and decently sized empanadas that we ate for lunch. I wish I had though, I would certainly go back for another one.

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We stayed at Pariwana Hostel for the first two nights of our trip. I was originally planning on taking photos of the entire place, but we quickly became occupied with the activities taking place in the evening. I would highly recommend this hostel to any traveler that wants to meet people. It hosts different activities every night and the staff is remarkably friendly and good at getting people involved! We ended up playing some sort of soccer-volleyball game with this great British couple, Phoebe and George. Little did we know we would end up hanging out with them a lot and running into them in another hostel in AguasCalientes later that week! After a ridiculous game (which we lost), we went up to the bar for dinner and after a beer-pong tournament (sorry, Mom!).

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The room we stayed in was an 8 female dorm. Each bed had a shelf on the wall, a light, and a locker with outlets inside (though you had to bring your own lock). Pariwana really did have it all: a yummy restaurant, activities, a movie room, a kitchen, etc. The only problem we ran into was an extremely drunk roommate that decided to have a little too much fun with someone in the shared bathroom. Though, I guess this only allows me to now have an interesting hostel travel story.

Day Two: Humantay Lake

Originally we had planned on taking it easy on the first full day in Cusco. This idea quickly disappeared as we saw that the excursion desk had a trip the next day to hike to Humantay Lake. I’m truly thankful that Analeise had heard of it before and really wanted to see it. If not then I don’t think I would have experienced the breathtaking (because that altitude really does take it out of you!) views on this day.

The Humantay Lake was originally part of the starting point of the Salkantay Hike which finishes in Machu Picchu. Up to recent only those participating in the hike would have seen it. Thankfully for those of us that aren’t able to do a multi-day hike there are excursions that now make it possible. The process begins with a 4:30AM showtime, a 2-3 hour bus ride, breakfast in a small town, and then a couple more hours of driving up extremely bumpy, slightly dangerous, winding dirt roads up to Soraypampa. Here is where it gets really fun. The hour and a half trek proved a lot harder than I would have originally thought. At first I was confident…then every few steps became a bit more challenging… Still, with views like these (photos below), it was easy to become mesmerized as the ice-capped mountain became closer and closer.

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The Vilcabamba mountain range that surround Humantay Lake were  sacred to the Incas. According to our guide, sacrifices of a young child, who was considered the most pure, would be made when grand natural disasters would occur that, at the time, could not be explained. As we sat in a circle and listened to our guide, he directed us to take three cocoa leaves and place them within the rocks that were piled high as offerings and make one heartfelt wish. Of course I can’t say what I wished for, but I sure hope someone heard me.

I cannot really describe how majestic the environment was to witness. However, I need to explain the unfortunate reality of such a beautiful landscape. Picture this remarkable lake even grander and the mountains even more snow-capped. 60% of the ice has disappeared and it only continues to vanish every year. The lake once greatly surpassed where I stood to take these photos. It is receding every single year. Climate change is real. These landscapes, ecosystems, key landmarks of cultural significance are all disappearing. It is finally time for everyone to open their eyes. I don’t know about you, but I desperately wish my grandchildren (and so on) to witness the amazing sights I’ve gotten the chance to, but that won’t happen at the rate things are going. Protect Mother Earth, y’all.

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The hike down from the lake was not as challenging, except for the cold drizzle that fell upon us. Once all the way back to where we started, we hopped on the bus, and all fell asleep until we arrived back in the same small town for a delicious small buffet of hot soup, pasta, and other much needed filling food.

I would highly recommend anyone visiting Peru to complete the hike to Humantay Lake. Take a waterproof jacket, gloves, and of course layers that you can easy strip off with the ever changing weather. The guide insisted on walking sticks and I am so glad that he did. They really did help navigate our way over the loose terrain.

Most importantly, be ready to be amazed because it truly is a miraculous, significant, and serene place. Trust me, it is worth the huffing and puffing.

Until next time, friends!

Mary AnnaIMG_4692

(IPhone)

Travel

Peru (1)

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Travel

Taormina, Italy

Hello, all!

When fellow flight attendant and friend Mary-Kate told me I was going to need water shoes to get into the water I thought she was kidding. Alas, I quickly became thankful that I purchased a pair of awesome see-through booties (check them out at the bottom of this post!) when I witnessed how extremely rocky the beach is in Taormina. If you are planning on visiting soon, heads up! Still, I am content with every beach I get to touch down on. There was a moment when I was floating on my back led by the rhythm of the waves as I watched birds fly high above me. It was serene and everything I needed it to be. Below are tons of photos of this quick layover destination! I’m excited to continue exploring Italy’s coasts. This day was remarkable, from the perfectly sunny weather to snagging beach recliners right in front of the water, I wouldn’t change a thing about it!

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(IPhone photos)

Anyone have any other recommendations on places to visit?

Cheers, all! Until next time!

-Mary Reyes

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Travel

Capri, Italy 

 


Finally an Italy layover! After almost two years of being an international flight attendant, I finally got to experience a Naples layover. I only have a couple of “work” bucket list items to check off and visiting the island of Capri was definitely number one!

Josh, Sarah Bob, and I woke up early to catch the hour long ferry to Capri. There we had one mission, to get a private boat and tour around the island. This proved easy enough and in no time we were boarded up and introduced to our guide, Marco, the 22-year-old from Sorrento. I couldn’t believe what I was witnessing as we set off on our tour. It felt like I was living in a movie- how could this be my life? Continue reading

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Compilations, Travel

Recent Travel Compilation 

Y’all, I cannot fully express how fulfilling this work trip has been. In one short week I have gotten the chance to explore more of the world and I couldn’t be happier right now. Work last month was full of 28 very, very long days and I was extremely exhausted by the time I got home. So, I am so pleasantly surprised that this trip has been so lovely and full of excitement! Between having an amazing crew to wonderful new layover cities, I am 1000% satisfied with my travel/work life right now. (Until I get the next travel itch, of course!) So below are photos of my four main layover destinations of this past work-action. Enjoy! Continue reading

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Travel

2016: Year of Travel Review

Hi y’all! HAPPY NEW YEAR!

So this year has been ridiculously memorable. Both in the amazing, life changing way and in the heartbreaking, life changing way. I’m finishing out 2016 in Tampa with the love of my life and, as always, missing my family and friends. Hopefully 2017 is the year I can unite everyone together under one roof. Resolution! I will say though that in 2016 I finally learned how to manage my time between work, family, and Luca. It’s all about balance. Below are just a few highlights of my first full year of traveling as an international flight attendant. Times were sometimes rough (20+ hour working days, blah blah blah) but in the end, I have great stories of exploring new cities (Carnival in Rota, beer festivals in Osaka), checking off new countries on my list (Riding an elephant in Thailand, standing next to kangaroos in Australia, everything about Georgia), and making the very best out of every thing that got thrown my way (typhoons, plane delays, many missed flights). Yes, I still whined sometimes but in the end, everything worked out. It always works out. Continue reading

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Travel

Osaka, Japan

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Hello all!

Here are a few snapshots of a wonderful layover in Osaka, Japan. Cass, Alyssa, and I started the day early and eager to explore as much as we could. All we really knew was the general destination as we purchased our tickets from the train station with the help of a friendly clerk. In fact, every single person we interacted with was incredibly nice and helpful, even those in the train station.

Continue reading

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