Monday, June 29, 2015

a friends wedding // kristen + niko

as my friends and family start to celebrate some big milestones i find my weekends are filled with bridal showers, bachelorette parties, weddings, and other festivities. even though this can be exhausting (and expensive) at times, the memories that are shared during these celebrations are beautiful.

here are some shots from my good friends, kristen + niko's, october wedding. this was my first time being a bridesmaid and i absolutely loved every minute of it, especially the night before the wedding and the wedding morning. there was so much energy and excitement surrounding the big day and it was extra fun to be reunited and celebrate with some of the best bridesmaids  (see our bachelorette adventures here)! also, how beautiful does kristen look? that dress.... my gosh i was in love!
cheers to kristen + niko! 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

peru // part iv

the last stop on our journey through peru was the small city of puno which is located on the shore of lake titicaca. traveling here was a bit out of the way but i had heard really amazing things about the area and i figured if we were in peru we might as well add this in. this ended up being a great way to kick off the new year and we were all really glad for the peacefulness that this lake provided. at an altitude of 12,400 feet lake titicaca is the worlds highest navigable lake. we learned that it is 131 miles long and is shared by peru and bolivia. the intensely turquoise lake is believed to be the birth place of the inca empire, as well as the cradle of the aymara indian civilization. our day out on the lake was another one of my favorite moments from the trip. we took a small boat to visit various parts of the lake including the uros islands. these islands were extremely fascinating because the uru people who live on these islands built them with bundles of dried reeds. there are roughly 42 floating islands with the larger islands housing about 10 families and the smaller ones housing 2-3 families.

after meeting the uru people and learning about their way of life we continued on our boat to another part of the island called taquille island. once we arrived at this island we embarked on what turned out to be an intense hike (mainly because of the altitude). as we approached  our destination we were greeted by a local family who had prepared an authentic lunch for us. the food was amazing, as were the views and the people. while we ate the men of the home preformed for us and the women displayed their handmade goods.  i felt really fortunate to end our time in south america with a local family who was so welcoming.
after a peaceful boat ride home we relaxed a bit before witnessing the most amazing thunder storm from our hotel room. we spent what felt like hours watching the storm off in the distance. we captured a few neat shots from the storm but i know the memory will be etched in our minds because of how intense the storm was.
 we were up and out the next morning to head back to quito for our final night in south america. peru has so much to see and explore that i wouldn't mind going back. we enjoyed learning about the land, the people and of course the local cuisine. i could have never imagined being in three south american countries in just a few years. and just when i thought i would be done exploring south america for a little while i learned that another trip to brazil was in store for me. i can't see to get enough of that continent (thanks for getting me hooked steph)!

Monday, June 22, 2015

peru // part iii

after our time in machu picchu we headed to cusco. i love exploring new cities so i was really excited to get a change of scenery and visit this historic city. we spent our first day exploring cusco, as well as some nearby ruins which were really fascinating because so much of the city is influenced by both inca and spanish cultures. the city was smaller than i thought it would be but with all the narrow cobble stone streets we felt like we were in a maze most of the time which was pretty fun. after a full morning with a tour guide it was exciting to wander around later that day with no map or cell phone to guide us! i was thankful that between the three of us we have a good sense of direction or we would have never found our way back to the hotel.
i will always have especially fond memories of cusco because this is where the best meal of the trip took place. we were wandering around the city square when the clouds opened up to a huge downpour. since it was around lunchtime we ran to one of the first restaurants we saw and hoped we could wait out the storm while eating lunch. as soon as we were greeted by the hostess and looked around the restaurant we knew we were in for a treat. here are some photos of the food which don't do it justice. let's just say we were all dreaming about that meal for many months after!
after our amazing lunch we went home to regroup and gear up for the new years eve festivities.  we felt fortunate that we were in a city for new years eve because it lent itself to some great celebrations. we spent the night in plaza de armas and were entertained by all the locals and tourists that came out to celebrate. with beer being sold on the streets and fireworks shooting off in every direction there were some interesting moments but it was such a neat way to ring in the new year.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

peru // part ii

next up was machu picchu. in order to get to machu picchu from the sacred valley we took a high speed train called the vistadome. with huge windows on the sides and top of this train, our journey was quite enjoyable. when we arrived in the town of aguas calientes we were met by our tour guide who would help us navigate the journey up to machu picchu. i don't think any of us knew what to expect when we reached the top of the mountain but the views were pretty remarkable. i thought this would be the highlight of our trip since it was one of the main reasons we chose peru as a destination but i have to say the country has so many things to offer that this ended up being a great part of the trip, but not the main attraction we all thought it would be. we spent a couple of hours exploring the ruins and learning about the people that once inhabited this city before breaking for lunch. i suppose we were lucky to see the ruins with clear weather because after lunch it down poured and everything became covered with fog so we decided to take the afternoon off and head back into town for a relaxing night.
aguas calientes is a quaint town situated in the valley below machu picchu. even though we were pretty exhausted from our hike, stephanie and i didn't want to miss out on exploring the town so we ventured out for dinner. several people had told us to try indio feliz, but we didn't have a reservation and initially we were told we had no chance of dining there. we decided to stick around for a few minutes and all of a sudden the hostess came over and told us they had a table for us! this meal ended up being one of the best from the trip so we both felt pretty fortunate they were able to squeeze us in!
 the next morning steph and i decided to go back up to machu picchu for a more intense hike. my mom was feeling a bit sick so she stayed back in the town to rest up. here are some shots from our adventure!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

peru // part i

we thought it was only fitting that we take some time and explore another country that had been on the top of our travel list while we were in south america.  my sister and i had always wanted to go to machu pichu so peru seemed like a great destination to continue our travels. our time in peru was jam packed but we wanted to make the most of the 10 days we had there. our first stop was the city of lima which quickly grew to be a highlight of the trip for me. after being in quito for some time it was fun to explore a more modern city in south america. we only had about a day and a half in lima so we decided to maximize our time by taking a double decker bus tour. even though these bus tours are about as touristy as it gets, in my experience they give a great overview of a large area and help to determine which spots are worth going back to in your free time. here are some photos from our time in lima!

after our short visit in lima, we headed to the sacred valley. when traveling throughout south america, or really anywhere for that matter, i never have expectations of what the land and people will be like and the sacred valley was no exception to this. after landing in cuszco we had about an hour drive through the sacred valley and as we passed each small village it was fascinating to learn about the people that inhabit the land. 
 once we arrived to our hotel we were excited to find out that we were staying in an old monastery. the views were unreal and it was refreshing to have some quiet time in such a remote part of the world. 
after a relaxing day at the monastery we were excited to do something more physically challenging while still in the sacred valley. we started the morning off by exploring the pisac market. this market sold beautiful hand crafted items by locals and it was definitely worth the trip. what started out looking like one row of vendors turned into a huge market with hundreds of vendors! the items being sold were some of the best we had seen the entire trip and we each ended up buying multiple items from throw blankets, to socks, sweaters, and jewelry. 
 following the market we ventured to ullayambtamo. here we were able to explore an imposing inca fortress that is situated in an old inca city. they even had some of the original streets and descendants of the inca living here.