Saturday, 16 June 2018

Guest Post - Anne Williams on Peru - Bookish World Cup - Peru

“I’ll write a piece about Peru”, I said, in a moment of madness. I really did want to mention books, but have never read anything by Mario Vargas Llosa or Thornton Wilder - so let’s just keep the books part to a passing mention of Paddington, his suitcase, and the marmalade sandwiches, shall we? Instead, I’ll tell you a bit about my experience of this spectacular and amazing country.

This was my first visit to South America, and the primary reason that I wanted to visit was to see Machu Picchu, the Inca citadel on a mountain ridge 50 miles from Cuzco, that features on so many people’s bucket lists. It sits at a height of 2430 metres above sea level, so it wasn’t just a matter of taking a coach trip. There are those who hike the Inca trail - I understand that arriving at sunrise via the Sun Gate is an unforgettable experience, but I do know my limitations. My holiday saw us spending a few days in Cuzco to acclimatise: the altitude caused havoc for some people, with dizziness and shallow breathing, but I found copious amounts of coca tea (and the occasional Peruvian beer) worked just fine for me. Cuzco was a gorgeous place to spend some time, with balconies around its sunny plaza to while away the afternoons, and its rather lovely Spanish architecture.

We visited Machu Picchu by train, travelling up the Sacred Valley - an experience in itself, as people visited our seats to sell souvenirs and we were even treated to a fashion show. But the citadel itself was everything I wanted it to be - breathtaking views, possible to sit in a quiet corner and contemplate with due awe and reverence, an unforgettable experience.

There were other unforgettable moments to that Peru trip. If you’re a fan of the pan pipes… well, you’ll be less of a fan by the time you come home. We were treated to renditions of El Condor Pasa with every meal, and our guide carried a beat box to set up and play it some more whenever we visited an attraction, lest we got withdrawal symptoms.

And then there were the meals themselves. You have to try guinea pig - really, you do - although it tastes like chicken and is rather off-putting when delivered to your table with a rictus grin on its face and legs in the air (they then take it away, and serve it carved up and less recognisable). We also ate a lot of alpaca - more like veal, and really delicious if you could eliminate the memory of the small fluffy creature you’d cuddled earlier.

At the start of holiday we stayed in Lima, and I found it a little disappointing, just a large and busy city: but our last stop on our tour was at Lake Titicaca visiting the floating islands of the Uru - woven from reeds, movable if threatened by rising water levels or threats from the mainland. The Uros used to survive with hunting and fishing, but nowadays tourism has rather taken over, as they welcome visitors by motorboat, and sell their handicrafts.

There, my whistle stop tour of Peru, and memories of a unique experience… but no sightings of Paddington’s family…

Thank you so much Anne, I have loved hearing about your trip to Peru and I would love to have visited Machu Picchu. 

Anne Williams is a wonderful blogger at Being Anne, and I always enjoy reading her book reviews and other posts.  Please if you aren't already following her, take at look  or on Twitter


  1. Thank you so much for featuring me, Rachel - really delighted with the post, and very much enjoying the feature xx

  2. Really enjoyed reading about your trip Anne, sounds amazing. I'll pass on the guinea pig though.....

  3. My partner is going in for an op next week, so we had to cancel our hols this year. Busy looking for future destinations therefore. This would be my dream hol, Anne. Thanks for sharing! Going to tempt the man! :) xx

  4. Wow - what an experience. Fabulous post Anne, and gorgeous photos. I'm with Joanne though, the guinea pig, with its feet in the air, no thank you!

  5. Right - that's it! Peru next year for us!

  6. Lovely post, Anne. I remember having altitude looniness and thinking that 6 pm was 6 am the next morning and the train to Machu Picchu had gone without me. The hotel staff were very understanding. "Happens a lot they said," and sent me off to get dinner and a pisco sour or two to calm down.

  7. I've never been to that part of the world but you paint a vivid picture - guinea pigs and all! Anything that grins back at me I suspect I wouldn't be able to eat :)


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