Seattle, WA

This is the second part of our Pacific Northwest trip, I talked about the first part here. We really enjoyed Portland and Seattle, with Seattle being our favorite. It would totally be a place we’d love to live if it wasn’t for the gloomy weather (and also all the vegan food is amazing but I’d be so tempted to eat out all the time). We flew into Seattle first and although it was rainy most of the time, which meant no hiking for us, we had a great time.

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The first place we stopped at was 701 Coffee (which unfortunately now seems to be permanently closed); we got in early and needed some breakfast and this place offered bagels with a cashew cheese! When we got there I asked for two bagels and the person helping me said, “we only have everything bagels, is that okay?”. To which I replied YES. Because everything bagels are, well, everything! These bagels really hit the spot and were a great way to start this vegan food tour of Seattle off right.

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Our plan was to have breakfast in Seattle and then drive to Portland, stay there for a few days, and then come back to Seattle for a few days. Well, before driving to Portland we of course had to stop at Mighty-O Donuts, which I was so excited for! Donuts are basically the perfect dessert. It seems that Mighty-O serves mainly cake donuts, which I am totally behind. Also, the entire place is vegan! And according to Michael their coffee is amazing. Yes we each had two donuts on our first time going (because of course we went again on our last day as well) we really like donuts, okay? 🙂

IMG_5938IMG_604396C53134-699B-4C66-B70D-DB39F81FDCF9225D07FE-A413-4C67-A6E5-615DED78343AOther than Mighty-O, the place I was most looking forward to was Wayward Cafe (all vegan!). Their menu here is enormous with a full breakfast and lunch/dinner menu. I really wish we had more time, there was so many items I wanted to try. We stopped in for breakfast and everything was of course perfect. Honestly, any place that serves vegan biscuits and gravy is okay by me. Also this was towards the end of our trip, after days of eating delicious but not so healthy food so I ordered a huge side of steamed kale with my biscuits and gravy, not the most exciting side but I was craving greens!

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Sugar Plum is a sweets shop that is, yes, all vegan (you people in Seattle are so lucky!). This is what we had, words can do no justice, it was as good as it looks. In fact, I had to talk Michael down from going in to get a second one!

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No Bones Beach Club (all vegan of course) was a place I really wanted to try but after several days of eating out, I wasn’t feeling so great. We ended up getting some sandwiches to go, both were really good!

IMG_6137IMG_6134The last place we went to, a few times, was Chaco Canyon Cafe. The last couple days we were craving healthy food and happened upon this cafe, which of course just happened to be all vegan! I didn’t get photos of everything we ate here, but we had a few sandwiches and bowls and they were all so good! Here is a photo of a smoothie, chai tea latte, and one of their elixirs.

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On the drive from Portland to Seattle we stopped at Stadium High School, the 10 Things I Hate About You school. Kat was my queen in high school, so seeing this school was a lot of fun. We also stopped at Gas Works Park because of the paintball scene in the movie.

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IMG_6100IMG_6182IMG_6188We also walked around Pike Place Market and stopped by the gum wall.IMG_6116IMG_6126Overall this was a great trip! Next time we go back we’ll have to pick a time with better weather so we can hike.

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Portland, OR + the Oregon coast

Myself, Michael, and our dog Basil went to Portland and Seattle in April. It was Basil’s first time flying and he did wonderful. We all had a blast and Michael and myself definitely ate way too much food, which was all delicious! I’ll have a separate post about what eat ate and did in Seattle.

We only had a few days in each city so we weren’t able to make it to all of the restaurants we wanted to try, but I think we hit some really good places.

One place we were really excited to go to was the vegan mini mall, which is a home of Food Fight!, the vegan grocery store, Herbivore clothing, a vegan tattoo parlor, and Sweet  Pea Baking Company.

We stopped into Sweet Pea to have brunch with an old friend and decided on several pastries, some granola and fruit (health, right?), and a biscuit topped with spinach, tomato, tofu, and covered in a delicious hollandaise sauce.

3B9C1214-45A3-4AAA-9D25-3E9D74E816D926EF3F55-1B40-4145-8152-F4BF3134EF4FThis was my first time at Herbivore clothing and I’ve been buying their clothes online for the past ten years! It was a really cute store and we had to try pretty hard not to buy too much.

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One of the most anticipated places for me was Homegrown Smoker because vegan comfort food! This was probably one of our favorite meals, we had tempeh bbq ribs, Mac and cheese, tofu fish, hush puppies, and greens. Fried tofu is so simple and such a classic vegan staple, but this one was so flavorful, especially topped with some lemon juice and remoulade. I’m not normally a big fan of tempeh but everything they do at this place is so good.

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It rained most of our trip but we were lucky enough to have a nice sunny day to eat outside at The Bye and Bye, a vegan bar. We had some snacks, which included the best edamame (but no kombucha at this bar..).

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We did some fun touristy things on this trip and first up was going to Multnomah Falls. It was rainy but luckily we all had our rain coats (including Basil!).

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We also stopped into Powell’s Books, which was enormous and I could have spent hours in there exploring.

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We had lunch one day at Vtopia with some family members, where we had Caesar salad and the best Mac and cheese I’ve ever had. We also took with us some camembert cheese which we ate with crackers (and it was of course so good).

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The last meal we had in Portland was breakfast at Vita Cafe; the food was good but everything was really oily. They did have several different types of really good looking cakes and also some lunch items we wanted to try if we were staying longer.

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The last place we stopped at before leaving was Petunia’s Pies and Pastries, which is a completely vegan and gluten free bakery. We had a black and white cake which was amazing (we could not tell it was gluten free) but it was also too sweet (which is something I do not say very often..).

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We had a lot of fun in Portland and on our way to Seattle we went out to the Oregon coast and saw Haystack rock. The coast was really beautiful and Basil had so much fun at the beach!

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Wynwood Walls and Plant Food + Wine in Miami, FL

On our way home from our Peru trip, we had quite a long layover in Miami, about ten hours! Luckily we have family in Miami so they picked us up from the airport at about 5 a.m. and we went to nap for a bit at their house, which was amazing because our flight was a red eye and our entire travel time to get back home was over 24 hours.

Can I just say how amazing it was to take a shower in a familiar place and then put a dress on after five days of trekking and so much time spent traveling.

fullsizeoutput_cbAfter we cleaned up we went to the Wynwood Walls where artists showcase their work. They change up these walls pretty often and it was really fun to walk around and look at it all!fullsizeoutput_cefullsizeoutput_d5fullsizeoutput_cffullsizeoutput_d0fullsizeoutput_d3fullsizeoutput_d2fullsizeoutput_d4We then went to Plant Food + Wine which is a beautiful raw vegan place.fullsizeoutput_cafullsizeoutput_d9We started with a cheese plate with pretty tiny portions but it was really good! fullsizeoutput_daI had the coconut ceviche tacos and Michael had the zucchini lasagna. Everything was really flavorful and satisfying.  There were some really creative items on the menu; although I don’t normally frequent raw places, I’d definitely go back here to try more things. I was worried I wouldn’t get full on their portions but that wasn’t an issue.fullsizeoutput_dbfullsizeoutput_dcOh and the cheese cake, and ice cream yes that definitely helped fill us up; isn’t dessert always the best part of a raw meal? 😜 Specifically it was a strawberry hibiscus cheesecake and a banana split, but not your typical banana split! The ice cream was so creamy and amazing, it really hit the spot.fullsizeoutput_ddimg_2164We were lucky to be able to spend the day with family in such a beautiful place!

Vegan in Cusco, Peru + the Salkantay Trek

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Eating vegan in Cusco was very easy, we had a lot of fun walking around Cusco and finding different vegan treats! We found a small natural foods shop and had these corn chips and this smoothie.fullsizeoutput_bbfullsizeoutput_bc

We really loved coca leaves so finding it on this chocolate was amazing.

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We also had no issues eating vegan at the hotels we stayed at, they offered soy milk for coffee and cereal and they also had fun things like coca jam and local fruits.

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There are a couple vegan places in Cusco, such as Green Point, which has two different locations, one in San Blas and one in Plaza San Francisco. They have amazing food, including the best, most epic vegan cheese plate I’ve ever had! We definitely went there three different times..

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They also made kombucha, and sweets like this traditional alfajor and a mini apple pie.

fullsizeoutput_c5fullsizeoutput_b9fullsizeoutput_c1We were really worried about eating vegan on the Salkantay trek; they serve all of your meals for the entire five days. We discussed it numerous times with the agency we booked the trek with, but there was a language barrier so we weren’t positive what we were going to get. Luckily the trekking company was amazing and made sure to always accommodate us! All of the soups they made for our group were vegan, if they served our group pizza, they made us a cheeseless version, if they did rice with egg, they made us our own rice without egg, etc. It was a lot of rice, vegetables, and potatoes. For the amount of trekking we were doing, I don’t think we always ate as much as we needed, but luckily we brought a lot of bars (Clif, Lara, etc.) with us to snack on.

They had small shops when we would stop for breaks where we could buy water and snacks. (I highly recommend bringing a water filterer if you plan on doing this trek, no water was provided for us, you had to purchase bottles; luckily we brought a filter with us).

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Here are a couple of the spots where we stopped for food. In the first photo you can see one of the little shops on the right (and look at the views behind this building!) the second photo is a restaurant along the trek.

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The only place we didn’t have enough food was Machu Picchu day.  The trekking company gave us breakfast that morning at about 5 a.m. and we spent about 10 hours at Machu Picchu, bringing extra snacks that day would have been a great idea. There was a restaurant right outside of Machu Picchu but we didn’t see anything that could be vegan. So, when we got hungry enough we went back to Aquas Calientes and had dinner. Luckily, even with the language barrier, the people at the restaurant understood exactly what we did/didn’t want!

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We had chicha morada, a sweet drink made from purple corn, at a cafe while we waited for our train back to Cusco. We also had chicha morada sorbet!

fullsizeoutput_c3fullsizeoutput_c2We were so happy to find all of the vegan food in Peru! Everybody we came across was extremely helpful and acommodating. And seriously that cheese plate was the best I’ve ever had!

Salkantay Trek Days 4-5 + Machu Picchu

file_000If you haven’t already read about the first three days of the Salkantay trek we did, you can see it here.file_005file_003file_001On the fourth day of the trek we chose between hiking part of the trail (on a dirt road, so not missing much), or zip lining it. We of course chose the latter and it was not only our first zip line experience, but an absolutely amazing one. Our zip line was with Vertikal Zipline in Santa Teresa, Peru. I was definitely terrified once they started explaining what I’d be in charge of, like turning myself in the right position and slowing myself down.. However, after the first line I went on, I realized it was easy and I was completely fine and we had a lot of fun!file_002file_000We’ve had other opportunities to zip line but we wanted to wait to do it in a beautiful place and zip lining in Peru, over a canon, cannot be beat (especially for only $30) and I’d definitely do it again. Except for the suspension bridge, that bridge was awful and I’d be happy if I never had to walk across another one like it!file_006After zip lining, we had to walk about six miles, mostly along a train track, to our final destination, Aguas Calientes. There weren’t many views on this hike and it was the worst hiking experience for me as I had blisters that were so painful, but it was the last leg of the trek and we were rewarded with a real bed that night!file_001Aguas Calientes is the town that sits below Machu Picchu. It is also known as Machu Picchu Pueblo and is filled with shops, restaurants, and hotels; the only way to get there is by foot or train. We arrived and checked into our hotel and we wanted to take a shower but our bags hadn’t arrived yet, so we walked around the town to explore. Later we were able to get our bags, take a hot shower, have dinner, and then get ready to wake up early the next morning.file_003file_007file_005The last day of the trek we met in our hotel lobby at 4:30 am and then went to stand in line for the bus to Machu Picchu; the first bus arrives at 5:30 am. You can bypass the bus and trek to Machu Picchu but we decided to take the bus as we were going to hike Machu Picchu mountain; also it was raining (the only time of our trip where we saw rain), so the bus turned out to be a good choice!img_3763Once we were able to get into Machu Picchu, the rain cleared up and it was really misty. Seeing Machu Picchu for the first time was truly mesmerizing. Knowing that it was all built in 1450 and abandoned only 100 years later is incredible and the thought and care that went into it was so detailed.img_3762img_3776img_3758We had a two hour tour with our guide, and then we were on our own. One of the people in our trekking group had a book that had a self guided tour, which I highly recommend having with you. So, we explored the different areas and then went on to hike Machu Picchu mountain. img_3772img_3768img_3775img_3790img_3769After four days of trekking, the Machu Picchu Mountain hike was not easy; in a little over a mile we climbed about 1500 ft. However, the views on the top made it worth the hike.img_3781img_3779img_3783img_3786img_3766img_3778After the hike we napped in the grass near some llamas and just enjoyed the views for awhile. Then we continued to explore, there is so much to see! Everything looks so different from the different areas/angles you view it from.img_3757img_3789img_3777After spending most of the day in Machu Picchu, we went back to Aguas Calientes and had dinner and waited for our 9:50 (PM!) train back to Ollantaytambo, where we caught a bus (in a very hectic crowd at about 11:30 PM), and we finally made it back to Cusco at around 1:30 AM. (For those keeping track, by the time we went to bed we were up for almost 23 hours, it was a long day..which we then proceeded to get three hours of sleep before our tour the next morning, whoo!)img_3791Some parts of the trek were hectic and overwhelming, but overall it was one of the best experiences of my life and I highly recommend this entire trek.

img_3787I believe any fit person could do this hike as long as they acclimate to the elevation. We only spent less than a day in Cusco before the trek, but we are acclimated to elevation due to where we live. I’ll be writing up another post soon about eating vegan on the trek and in Cusco!

Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu Days 1-3

We had plans to take a travel notebook with us on this five day trek to Machu Picchu to recap everything we did and saw and felt. The travel notebook came with us but by the time each day ended, neither of us felt like writing. We were either just completely exhausted, or having too good of a time to remember to write anything down. The photos though, we did not forget to take photos.IMG_3604I didn’t get good sleep for a full week before our trip; when I’m stressed, I don’t sleep, and a five day trek after having only been backpacking for one night at most = stress/anxiety. Our flight to Cusco was overnight, so again I didn’t have sufficient sleep and, as I stated in my post about Cusco, we were in Peru for less than 24 hours before we left for the trek.

Minutes before our 5 a.m. pick up, I was in the bathroom of our hotel lobby crying. I didn’t think I’d be able to trek for five days, I thought I wouldn’t keep up or I’d get sick or hurt. I was messaging one of my friends who had done the trek and she helped to reassure me; I wiped my eyes, walked out into the lobby, and got into the van that came to get us a few minutes later.IMG_3603We were driven two hours away to a small Andean village, Mollepata, where we had tea, breakfast, and took bathroom breaks. We then continued our drive until we reached our starting point.IMG_3606As soon as we started hiking, I started to feel better. The first day was relatively easy, it was only about five miles and had amazing views.IMG_3611IMG_3597After a few hours of trekking, we arrived at the most beautiful campsite in Soraypampa.IMG_3623IMG_3622We never once camped in random locations, but always in an established campsite or small village. I’ve had two other friends do this trek separately and their experiences were different, they camped in random spots; we always had running water and toilets.IMG_3620From our camp site we then hiked up to Lake Humanatay, which was the most difficult part of day one and we were rewarded with one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. On top of the ridiculous views there were also cows grazing near the lake.IMG_3619IMG_3601The first night was the highest elevation we’d be sleeping at (about 12,600 ft) and it was freezing, I slept in every piece of clothing I brought with and still struggled to get warm. Despite the frigid weather (in which Michael was perfectly comfortable), I finally had a good night’s sleep.IMG_3654The second day started early and we made our way through the Salkantay Pass, which would be our highest point of the trek at about 15,200 ft. This would also be our longest, most exhausting day at about 13 miles and 2500 ft elevation gain.IMG_3651IMG_3640Seeing the Salkantay and Humantay mountains is one of the main reasons we chose this trek over the Inca Trail. At this point we stopped for a break and our guide performed a coca leaf ceremony to give payment to the earth and the mountains.IMG_3641IMG_3645IMG_3657IMG_3644We then made our way down to Huayracpunku, which was amazingly gorgeous, where we had lunch and a quick nap before we continued on to our campsite for the night.IMG_3661IMG_3647IMG_3662IMG_3660On the third day we were in a lower elevation and it was much warmer. We began to see beautiful flowers and coffee plants; we hiked about 9 miles. By this day my anxiety had subsided and I was feeling really great; the hardest day had passed and I realized that all of my hiking in Colorado made this trek relatively easy for me. The second day was still pretty difficult, especially because I don’t think I had eaten enough calories, but I was handling it all just fine.IMG_3700IMG_3702IMG_3698IMG_3699Our camp for this night was in Santa Teresa, a town where we saw roads for the first time in days. This camp had electricity, the most modern bathroom we’d seen the whole time (a toilet seat and a light), and hammocks to relax in.IMG_3703IMG_3707For a small fee we were able to get a ride to one of the most beautiful hot springs I’ve ever seen. Although the water wasn’t as hot as I’d felt in other hot springs, it was really nice to soak at the end of the third day of trekking.

IMG_3694Photo from one of the guys on our trek.

I’ll have a follow up post about days four and five of the trek, day five being Machu Picchu day!

Cusco, Peru

We took a trip to Peru in May in order to do the five day Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu. I’ll be writing a separate post about our experiences on that trek and Machu Picchu. Spoiler: it was unbelievable.

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This is our first international trip, not counting a cruise we previously went on to the Caribbean. The cruise was a lot of fun but doesn’t compare to actually staying in a new place and experiencing the culture firsthand.

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Neither Michael or myself speak Spanish, although we do know some words and phrases. So, getting to Lima, Peru at 5 in the morning, having to figure out our first international airport experience, with a language barrier in order to catch our connecting flight to Cusco was a bit nerve wracking. Michael kept saying “No hables espanol” to the people working at the airport, essentially telling them that they didn’t speak Spanish instead of that he didn’t speak Spanish. Haha. Luckily everybody was very patient with us and we eventually made it to Cusco!

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We arrived in Cusco by ten a.m. on a Friday and we had already arranged travel to our hotel. After overnight flights, we were excited to get settled into our hotel, but also ready to explore!

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We arrived at our hotel, Hotel Prisma, and were immediately given a cup of coca tea. I’d been told about coca tea and was a bit apprehensive as I’d heard differing opinions on whether it would make me high. So, Michael drank both of our coca teas and felt fine. Coca tea, or chewing on the coca leaves, can make you feel energized and can help with digestion; it is actually very helpful for those who suffer altitude sickness. At one of our hotels we did see a commercial form of coca tea in tea bags, but everywhere else it was just a bowl that contained the dry leaves. We drank coca tea every morning and afternoon, and even chewed on the leaves during our trek. We really loved those coca leaves but unfortunately they are illegal in the states so we couldn’t bring any home.

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Our hotel had such a beautiful balcony and it was an amazing way to take in the city on our first day. After getting settled in we decided to go explore Cusco.

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We walked around the city and went to a few different markets. Cusco had busy streets full of people, traffic, and a lot of street vendors selling things like fresh fruit. The streets were small and mixed with the traffic there was, at times, an overwhelming smell of exhaust. Sadly we also saw animals on the streets, such as alpaca and baby lambs wearing knitted clothing. These animals are here for the tourists; if you pay a fee you can get your photo taken with them.

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We headed over to the Plaza de Armas and saw the absolutely beautiful La Compañía de Jesús church and the Cusco cathedral.

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Some of the sidewalks on the streets were so tiny you had to walk in the street until a car was coming by and then you had to squeeze yourself against the building.

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One of the things I loved the most was seeing Quechua women in the traditional dress, with their beautiful hats and brightly colored wraps and skirts.

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After exploring around Cusco for the day and grabbing some dinner, we finished up the arrangements for our trek, went back to our hotel room, and got everything organized. We were being picked up the next morning at 5 a.m. for the Salkantay trek! So, we had less than one full day in Cusco before we began our trek to Machu Picchu. Luckily, being in Colorado meant we did not have to acclimate to the elevation, otherwise it is recommended to spend more time in Cusco, which is at 11,152 ft; the highest point on the Salkantay trek was about 15,200 ft.

After the trek, you take a train  and a bus from Aguas Calientes back to Cusco. That night we stayed at Casa Adina, which was a really nice hotel. Taking a shower in a nice hotel after five days of trekking was beyond amazing, I definitely recommend this hotel. Unfortunately we spent less than five hours in that room (including sleeping), before we woke up the next morning for our tour of the Sacred Valley, specifically Moray and Las Salinas de Maras (the salt mines).

While driving from Cusco to the first stop on the tour, we saw all different areas of Cusco; driving through different towns and near the mountain ranges was a great way to see the different areas. One notable thing is how many stray dogs there are; they aren’t really interested in people, you’ll see them roaming around, sleeping in the street, and even on top of dumpsters trying to get food, it’s really sad.

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We first went to a small village where they demonstrated how wool was dyed using natural ingredients.

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Then, we went to Las Salinas de Maras, the salt evaporation pond located in the town of Maras.

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You can actually get out and walk in between the ponds, you can touch them, and even taste them! We were encouraged to dip a finger in and taste the stream that feeds the ponds.

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We learned that only members of the Maras community can own the salt ponds, and they pass it down to members of their family.

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After the salt ponds, we then went onto Moray, the Inca ruin. It consists of large, circular terraced depressions. The temperature difference between the top and the bottom is quite dramatic; they believe these depressions were used to experiment on crops.

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It was really interesting to see how enormous the depressions are.

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It’s so amazing to think of all of the experimenting the Incas did so long ago, they were incredibly intelligent people.

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That night we stayed in the Marriot, which was amazing. (Yes, we ended up staying at three different hotels for the three different nights we were in Cusco). We were gifted a stay at the Marriot, which included massages! A massage after our trek and having not gotten good sleep in about a week, was absolutely amazing.

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The day after our Sacred Valley tour was our last day before heading home. We spent the day catching up with some of the people we had met on the trek, walking around Plaza de Armas, and doing some shopping. We really enjoyed Cusco and are so happy we were able to travel there!

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