Upon arrival into Mendoza, we quickly booked our wine tour. We were picked up at 2 in the afternoon and taken to the Mendoza wine region. Our first stop was an olive oil factory. It is believed that olive oil coats the stomach and is therefore beneficial to consume before drinking; this advice we took seriously. Interesting facts:
1) black, green, and purple olives all grow on the same tree, but are just at different stages of aging/ripening.
2) Light green leafed trees produce olives for eating and dark green leafed trees produce olives used to make oil. This could be reversed as we are slightly behind on our blog posting and do not have our notes.
3) One tree can produce 15 litres of oil per season; which is Feb- Mar
4) The trees are old, anywhere fro, 300-400 years old...again notes are missing
5) Only 20% of the oil produced in Argentina stays in Argentina: The rest is shipped around the world including the US and others.
Enough fun facts...pay attention though because we will quiz you when we arrive home to see who read this.
After Mendoza we took Two and a Half Days worth of buses through Chile to arrive in Arequipa, Peru. This was a beautiful colonial city that is credited as being Peru's second largest city. The city is nestled between three active volcanoes. We enjoyed this city so much that we stayed 4 nights instead of two and actually lived through our first earthquake. Ok, it was only a mild tremor that reverberated our beds and closed our window, yet neither of us have ever experienced this, so it was pretty cool.
Arequipa to Cuzco proved interesting as we had to literally run to jump on our departing bus. A 600 approx kilometer drive took us 12 hours. The bus constantly stopped to pick up people on the side of the road. When the bus stopped for food our only options were random street food and a package of dried ichiban. We got dried ichiban, quite delicious; package of crackers; cheese that is fried on a pan in the street; and potatoes that were piled into a plastic bag by the hands of a questionably dirty street vendor. Obviously the Jesus that was given to us by an older lady on another bus has been with us because we have survived that and more. Thank you Argentinian abuela (grandma) and God; we love you.
We stayed in a matrimonial suite in Cuzco where several interesting things occured.
1) We ran into the largest festival to hit this town; Corpus Christi and Rani Amasti (spelled wrong). While enjoying the festival we even met two photographers from National Geographic that took our picture. We are not sure where that will turn up, but we hope it is somewhere great.
2) A loud noise pulled us to our window one day after breakfast and we were shocked to see that a bus had driven into a concrete telephone pole moving to a 45 degree angle and collapsing the telephone lines onto the street. We were very impressed by the arrival of emergency vehicles, but were somewhat annoyed by the persistant honking that we should have been used to at this stage. It was quite the experience.
After all this we were off to Agua Callientes for two nights to climb Machu Picchu. We awoke and left our hotel at 4 am and by 6 am we had climbed Machu Picchu. What we weren't prepared for was its beauty. The place is awesome and even if you have to take the bus trip up and down, we highly recommend going. To celebrate our accomplishment, we promptly rewarded ourselves back in town with beer, pop, and water.
After Machu Picchu we were on our last overnight bus to Lima Peru. Thanks to Chef Michelle from Lindsay's work we were set up in the most pimp accomodation yet. Her brother lives there with his family and they were kind enough to set us up for a few nights. We love these people and thank them for everything, but most of all for the very amazing BBQ they set up for us on our last night. From Lima we flew to Bogota. Outside of getting lost the best thing we did was go to the Catedral de Sel. This is a church made out of salt in tunnels. It was quite spectacular.
We left Bogota to head to Madrid on what should have been a terrible overnight flight, however, it was not so bad. We arrived at our hostel that turned into a gorgeous apartment and we decided we never wanted to leave. With the help of Lindsay's friend Carlos, we picked Sarah up from the airport. We told her all about how peaceful and quite Madrid was. While we were at dinner we witnessed a minor accident followed by a major fight. Carlos and his girlfriend Patrice generoussly offered to take us to Toledo for the day. What a gorgeous city.
We left Madrid on the train to Paris. The train and the view were great. The only not so great part was our last bunkmate......a woman with 8 month old twins. Cute, right? Um, no. This really is a story for another time. Paris, needless to say is stunning and we have amazing pics to show for it. The same day we hopped a train for Marseille. Our first day we spent a large portion of time at the beach which we were looking forward to for so long.
We are now in Cannes and spent the day where? At the beach. More updates to come with pictures.