Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A guide to Cusco and Machu Picchu

In January this year, I was sent to Lima, Peru for work, so I took one day off to go to Cusco and visit Machu Picchu, which always has been one of those places that I have in my list of places to visit before I die.

During my trip I had some good and bad experiences; in this post I am going to tell you about some tips, so you can have a better trip than mine.

In Cusco you can find a lot of different tours that you can take and there are tons of different agencies that can arrange these tours for you, some of these agencies are more expensive than the others.

I was told that it is better to reserve these tours when you are in Cusco because there you can find cheaper prices, which is true. However, I recommend to make the reservations before you get to Cusco, why? Well, because in Cusco there are a lot things to do and see, so wasting time looking for the right agency and prices requires a lot of time and effort and it can be really stressing, specially because people in Cusco tend to be very persistent and they can overwhelm you with offers and a lot of different prices and options. Try doing the reservations via Internet, but even there look for different sites, you can find several different options for different tours and prices.

Another thing I was told was, get to Cusco early in the morning, have some rest and then do the City tour in the afternoon. Well you can certainly do that, but if you get affected by the height it would be better for you to not take any tour the first day and just relax, maybe walk a little bit around Cusco and get used to the height. Believe me, it is really hard doing all that walking on the tour if you are affected by the height, you don't enjoy it the same way.

Something really important to take into consideration is, have plenty of cash with you, most of the stores and restaurants are pretty reluctant to accept credit cards and if they do accept credit cards, they will probably charge you more. Also, if you want to buy souvenirs it is easy if you have cash, because some of the nicest souvenirs are those you can buy on the streets or on the markets and for people in these places is really hard to accept credit cards.

Another tip, when buying something, you can always negotiate, so do it and you might be able to get something in a really cool price. Also, walk a lot and compare prices, you can find the exact same thing cheaper in another store. Be aware when somebody offers you cheap Alpaca or Baby Alpaca coats, most of the times that is not real Alpaca, neither Baby Alpaca; both of these materials are expensive.

When you do the City tour, there is a visit to a Church (I don't remember its name right now) that you have to pay extra, I think it doesn't worth to pay that extra money, there is no much to see inside, they have a bunch of rocks but then you can see similar rocks in the other places you are going to visit.

Take a lot of water with you or Gatorade, because you have to do a lot of walking, so it is good to keep your body hydrated. Bring fruits and energy bars as well, because it is hard to find where to buy food in these places.

There are many nice things to see, so keep your camera battery charged, you wouldn't want to run out of battery in the middle of a tour. If you can, take a tripod with you, this would help you take better pictures, but bring one not too big so it is not heavy and hard to carry around.

I hope these tips help you on your trip to Cusco and Machu Picchu!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Cinepolis Costa Rica dealing with too many people!

These past two weeks most of the students of Costa Rica were on vacation and that coincided with the premier of a lot of major films like Get Smart!, Wall-E, Handcock and Batman The Dark Night, so as you imagine all the movie theaters were packed with people these past two weekends.

We went yesterday night to Terramall to watch Batman, we were really excited about it, we wanted to watch it in the VIP theaters to be more comfortable. We arrived there around 6:30 pm, the parking lots were incredible packed, there were cars parked even in the sidewalks, so people were not able to walk freely and it was hard to drive in the little roads of this mall, fortunately we found a spot in the underground parking lot, that was luck.

When we got to the movie theaters upstairs, there were no more spaces in the VIP rooms, only for the 11 pm show, but that was too late for us. I asked the guy if there were spaces in the regular theaters, he said that he couldn't help me, that if I wanted to know, I'd have to go and stand in line in the regular box office. That just sucked because I knew he could have given me that information, it was that he just didn't want to help me, what a nice treatment.

I was amazed by the amount of people there, it was incredible. There was even a sign saying that the 11 pm show was opened because there were too many people wanting to watch Batman, what a nice touch of Cinepolis opening that show, right?.

However, I was really disappointed with their service, you had to stay in a long line to be able to buy a ticket, once you buy it you have to go and stay in another line for around 2 hours if you wanted to get a good seat. People that wanted to buy popcorn and drinks had to stay in a line for half and hour, how hard can it be to serve popcorn and a coke? Come on!! The worst part of this is that while we were waiting on these lines, there were so many people that it was so hot, everybody was sweating, not cool!

Another thing was that I needed to go to the restroom, that was bad, there were no toilet paper, the toilets were all dirty, most of them, there were no even towels to dry your hands, thank God there was soap and water to wash your hands after using those dirty toilets.

I like Cinepolis, because they have nice theaters, but they need to be more prepared for when they are going to have this amount of people, it was just crazy, the service was so bad that I was wondering that if what was paying for the ticket was really worth it.

They should enable an Internet service so you can buy your tickets online and have numbered seats so people don't have to stay in a line for so many hours just to get a nice seat, check this site to get an idea: http://www.yelmocineplex.es/ideal_yelmo_cineplex.html

Also, they should hire more people to keep the restrooms clean and to serve popcorn and cokes faster and they should improve their air conditioning as well, it is just a matter of keeping their customers comfortable and happy with a good service, I think that is a good investment!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Tricking your mind.99!

In my last trip to the US, I spent a month there, we had this cable that had a lot of Infomercial channels, the rest of the channels had a lot of commercials as well.

It was funny, because after being some time there, I got this phrase in my mind "ninety nine", why? I'll tell you!

You know that most selling companies would sell their products with a price that would be something like $X.X9. This is a selling strategy that will make you think that if you are getting a product with the price of $9.99 it would cost you $9, when in reality it is costing you almost $10.

What it was interesting to me is how far they gotten with this, everything was something 99, you would see Gas offers at $2.99 a gallon, a shirt $9.99, the monthly payment for a car $199.99. The worst part is that it works, you see the payment for the car and you don't think that is $200, you think that is $100 and something.


Moab - Utah

I have a new job in a company that has its headquarters in Park City, Utah. I have to go there for training, I spent a month up there.

One weekend, me and my boyfriend went to Moab, somebody suggested it and we took the advice. To get there we had to travel around 4 hours, but it was worth it.

We got there around noon, we had lunch and then we went to Arches National Park where we spent the rest of the day.

Arches is just a great park, you can see these big walls of red rocks, very impressive. We did some hiking in some of the trails that take you to the main arches in the park, it is pretty cool.

The next day we took a Jet boat tour, it was pretty amazing, because you get to see a lot of cool things that you wouldn't see in any other tour. The tour lasted around 4 hours and includes a stop so you do some hiking to see mummified trees, we didn't get to see them that day, apparently there was a flood so we couldn't walk there. The tour guide was very funny, he really knew all the nicest spots and their history.

We wanted to do a 4x4 tour as well, but we didn't have the chance, we hope we can do it next time. We want to take a tour that is during the sunset so you can take great pictures.

In Moab Main St. you can find excellent restaurants, we went to an Italian restaurant called Pasta J's, it was just great, I really recommend it.

Moab is a really nice place to visit, you have a lot things to do, especially if you are into the outdoors activities. Just be sure to take the right shoes and clothes for these activities, inside the park there are a lot of sand places,so if you are wearing sandals, that might be and issue.

I took some pictures in case you want to check them out!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A New Cooking Experience - "Hongos Madrileños"

If you have been in Olio Restaurant, you might have tried the "Hongos Madrileños" (Mushrooms Madrid style). They are really good, I really enjoyed them. I enjoyed them so much, that I had look up the recipe and I found it, so my boyfriend and I decided to try cooking it.

I must say that it was a complete success even though it was the first time we made it and the fact that we had to replace an ingredient on the way.

After preparing it, we saw that the quantities of each ingredient specified in the recipe were not very accurate cause we have some of the stuffing left over.

I'll give you here our changed recipe so you can try it at home and see how it goes! Good luck!


* 1 box of freshed mushrooms (this meaning a box of around 15 medium fresh mushrooms)
* 1 roll of chives
* 15 ml. of olive oil
* 15 ml. of Lizano sauce (this should replace the Worcestershire sauce of the original recipe)
* Black pepper as much as you want
* Salt as much as you want
* 160 gr. of cream cheese
* 30 gr. of ground bread
* 30 gr. of ground Parmesan cheese
* 60 gr. of Serrano jam
* 60 ml. of heavy cream
* 60 ml. of white wine


1. Cut the mushrooms thallus and separate them.

2. Take the chives, wash them, cut the thallus and separate them.

3. Grind the jam and separate it.

4. In a food processor, put the mushrooms thallus and chives thallus, process them until they make an homogenized sauce.

5. Heat a frying pan with olive oil and fry the sauce you made in step 4, add the Lizano sauce, salt and pepper. When ready put it a recipient where it can get cold.

6. Mix the cream cheese, the ground bread, the Parmesan cheese and the jam.

7. When the mushrooms thallus and chives thallus sauce is cold, mix it with what you got from step 6. This would be the stuffing of the mushrooms.

8. Stuff the mushrooms with the mix you got from step 7.

9. In a frying pan, add the heavy cream, wait until is a bit hot and add the white wine, when this is hot enough add the stuffed mushrooms, cover the frying pan and cook the mushrooms for around 8 minutes using medium heat until the mushrooms are cooked.

10. Put the mushrooms in a plate, take some of the sauce left on the frying pan and put it on top of the mushrooms.


Note: You can have some Ciabatta bread to eat it with the mushrooms!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Along came Sam

I have a new friend, his name is Sam. He is really special and very important for me, I've came to love him now and I guess he loves me too!

He is young and very tender, he likes to play a lot. I guess his favorite things to do are playing, sleeping and eating.

He is a Samoyed, he is now 2.5 months old. My boyfriend and I bought him because my boyfriend always wanted to have a dog and I wanted to please him. We talked about it and then we decided that in the future we would get one, but then we saw some pictures of Samoyed dogs and we both felt in love. We look at the Internet and we found this family who were selling some puppies so we went to see them. They stole our hearts then we decided to get Sam.

He has been with us for almost a month now, it's been hard because a doggy is a lot of work, it's like a baby, but I think it worth it. He is so grateful, he always wants to be with us, play with us or just be there and makes us company, he is a true friend.

He is a really smart dog and I can wait to see him all grown up, so beautiful, but at the same time I don't want him to grow so fast, I like to see him always wanting to play and so tender and wonderful and learning new things everyday.

Here are some pictures of him so you can meet him and see how cute he is.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Malpaís in Palmares

Last Saturday February 16th, Carlos and I went to a Malpaís Concert in Palmares with my sister and my niece. It was organized by a foundation called Madre Verde that works to protect our natural resources and preserve our nature.

It was really fun, the foundation organized something they called "Conciertoturno", which was the concert combined with several activities that are done when there is a feast in a town, they had performers and typical food.

There was also a guy called Juan who tells stories, his artistic name is Juan Cuentacuentos, his site is www.juancuentacuentos.com

Something really funny was that people from Malpais were part of the "Mascarada", they were dressed in customs, they even played dressed like that, it was really funny.

After the break, Juan Cuentacuentos appeared and he started telling stories for which he used the help of Malpais music to give the story more suspense. It was really interesting to see how Juan and Malpais improvised and how they made the public laugh, it was really good.

The concert was great, Malpaís played songs from their new CD that is to come out on June. Something that I really enjoyed was a new song that Daniella Rodríguez sang, it was about time that they let her sing a complete song, she has a great voice and in my opinion she should have more participation in the group.

I think Malpais is a great group, they have really good music and most of the members have a lot of experience in the area. However, they have young members in the group who could do so much more, like Daniella, I think she should sing more and try to be more enthusiastic when she is on the stage. When she sang that new song on the concert everyone was crazy, it was so good that everybody applauded and cheered her up, but she looked a bit shy, she needs to accept that people love how she sings and enjoy it. Also, the other guys should give her more space and encourage her to be less shy.

You can find pictures of the concert in Radio Malpais Site, unfortunately I didn't bring my camera.