Whereas 2014 was all about knee defenders, awkward profiles of Brits in the German press, and Outlander-themed tours of Scotland, this year has been very different.
We’ve seen terror on the streets, refugees in crisis, and a king reburied half a millennium after his death, and that’s only a snippet of what 2015 involved.
A World in Chaos
With ISIS/ISIL-led terror attacks tragically striking Egypt, France and Tunisia, and with parts of Belgium on lockdown following the recent Paris attacks, it’s been a sobering year. Western tourists have naturally been cautious, but holidaymakers are not the only targets. Locals socialising or going to work also lost their lives. Whilst the travel industry is under pressure to deliver better safety measures and tighter security, anyone driven to cancel their holiday and stay at home won’t be risk-free, because domestic threats are just as common. The sad fact is that we can’t always prevent these attacks from happening, however we can’t live our lives in constant fear.
If the average adult spends 6 hours a day online, it’s hardly surprising we struggle to switch off when we’re away. All those habits of checking emails, sports scores and our Twitter feed can soon add up to take a chunk out of our holiday without us even noticing. That’s why I was intrigued by Cathay Pacific’s new #onedayoffline project. Let them explain:
At Cathay Pacific we believe in living Life Well Travelled. And we think that by going offline for just one day, travellers will experience the world from a whole new perspective.
We’d already stayed in Puno, seen the male knitters of Taquile Island, and had our introduction to the crafty building skills of the Incas; now it was time for the final push to Machu Picchu on our Majestic Peru tour (if you need a quick recap, click back to Part 1 and Part 2).
Day 11 – Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes
Whilst we didn’t have time to trek up to the higher narrow terraces in the mountains, we got to visit the lower ones, just a short walk away from the town centre in the Archaeological Park. I then popped into the Museo de Chocolate (Chocolate Museum) to refuel, before watching some colourful street processions. Lunch was at the Hearts Cafe, a local business and charity supporting women in highland communities facing issues like nutritional problems or domestic violence.
Peru is undoubtedly one of the most engaging countries I’ve visited. I may have only spent just over a fortnight there, but I managed to pack so much into every day that I don’t feel short-changed. What’s more, I got to meet fellow travellers from around the world and discover the country with them.
If, like me, you can’t afford to spend months here but you’d like to really get to know what Peruvian culture and history involves, guided by experts, you might be tempted by the trip I booked – Majestic Peru, with Intrepid Travel. Knowing how important peer reviews are when picking a specialist tour operator, I’ve broken down my review into three stages so you can get a clear idea of what to expect.
There’s no better way to spend New Year’s Day than in the company of thousand-year-old mummies, their well-preserved bodies having survived the greed of looters and centuries of exposure to the elements at the Chauchilla Cemetery. Well, it’s at least a more poignant start to January 1st than I’ve ever enjoyed before, albeit with the familiar thump of a hangover, this time from Peruvian wine, lurking in the background.
Throughout my sixteen days in Peru, I was struck by the resurgence of death as a theme, even away from the obvious attractions such as the cemeteries and pilgrimage sites. I found it time and again on the roadside, on the painfully dated telenovelas screened on daytime TV, and in the religious iconography covering everything from portraits to jewellery. Here I’ve examined some of the best examples of the theme emerging.
Calavera (Span. feminine noun) = skull. A travel blog with a love of culture, dark tourism and the unconventional.