Travelscope Podcast

Inkaterra La Casona

Posted on April 05, 2014

Cuzco, the gateway to Machu Picchu, was considered by the ancient Incas as the “navel of the world.” On the top of the Incan temples that they had destroyed the Spanish built their haciendas, churches and public buildings. The Mueso Inka tells the story of the Incas and the different peoples who settled their lands before them. At the Museo Casa Concha you can prepare for your visit to Machu Picchu, the most stunning of Incan ruins, by learning about the world’s most famous archeological site and the many theories that surrounding it. In addition, you’ll see artifacts from Machu Picchu, including some recently returned to Peru from the Peabody Museum in Cambridge, Massachusetts where the “discoverer” of Machu Picchu, Hiram Bingham, deposited them in the 1920s. History is everywhere is Cuzco. What is now the main Plaza de Armas was the center of the Incan capital from the 12th century until time of the Spanish conquest in 1532. After you’ve visited the numerous museums, churches and Incan ruins there is no better way to past the time than to find a seat at one of the cafés that surround the plaza, sip a Pisco sour and watch the passing parade of people from all over the world. The city’s structures are literally built on the back of Incan empire and at our excellent accommodation, Inkaterra La Casona, a former “big house” where notables such as Simon Bolivar, the liberator of South America, once stayed, the Incan foundation still supports the former Spanish mansion. La Casona is one of four Inkaterra hotels in Peru—all of them several cuts above the rest—and from its location on peaceful Plaza Nazerenas, all of the city’s main attractions are within walking distance. In my latest pod cast I speak with Luisella Garmendia, the hotel’s resident manager, about the experience of living and working in a city where the past is forever present. For information on all the Inkaterra properties in Peru go to http://www.Inkaterra.com.


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Inkaterra La Casona

Peru’s Sacred Valley

Posted on March 11, 2014

Peru’s Incan sites extend beyond Cusco and Macchu Picchu. Ten miles from Cusco, the Sacred Valley is home to colonial villages, indigenous markets and Incan ruins, such as Chinchero, Pisac and Ollantaytambo. They can all be visited by a two-day boleto touristico at half the price of Cuzco’s one-day Boleto Turistico. While you can visit the area attractions on tours from Cuzco, Julie and I decided to base ourselves at the luxury Aranwa Sacred Valley Hotel and Wellness located in a 17th-century colonial hacienda in the village of Huayllabamba. The hotel can arrange tours and transportation to the villages and Incan sites or you can do what we did and create your own Peruvian adventure by catching the local transportation and visiting Pisac and Ollantaytambo. If you are heading on to Machu Picchu and traveling with baggage, it’s best to have the gracious Aranwa Hotel staff arrange easy transport to the town of Ollantaytambo where you can hop aboard the two-hour train to Machu Picchu. During this pod cast, I speak with Aranwa Sacred Valley Hotel guest relations manager, Charles Tito Human, about the property and the valley’s attractions. For information on the Aranwa Sacred Valley Hotel and the Aranwa group’s other Peruvian properties: The Aranwa Paracas Resort & Spa, The Aranwa Pueblito Encantado del Colca and the beachside Vichayito Bungalows & Carpas go to AranwaHotels.com or call 855-384-6635.


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Peru’s Sacred Valley

Lima - A Taste of Peru

Posted on February 21, 2014

image Founded by the Spanish in 1535 Lima has long been the capital of Peru. Some of its colonial elegance may have faded over the centuries, but there’s still a lot to keep you satisfied. Most of those who are embarking on a Peruvian adventure must pass this way, yet the wise traveler will spend at least a couple of days getting to know the city. During our brief stay we grabbed the local colectivos (small mini-buses which costs about 50 cents for the half-hour ride from Miraflores to El Centro) and took in the historic downtown. There are enough fascinating churches, museums, shops, restaurants and cafes there to keep you plenty busy. Lima has garnered a recent reputation for being a unsafe town and, while there have been reports of pick-pockets and sneak-thieves, if you keep your eyes and ears open and your jewelry and stash of cash back in your hotel safe, your stay should be incident-free. Of its many barrios, Barranco, the artist quarter and upscale Miraflores are the two recommended for visitors to explore. There’s a reason that most tourists stay in Miraflores—there are plenty of good, clean and worry-free accommodations and the neighborhood’s shops, stores, bakeries, money changing agencies, restaurants and cafes can take care of all a traveler’s needs. We stopped for two nights at the Hotel Antigua Miraflores, a quaint and comfortable inn which makes a perfect city base. It’s an historic turn-of-the-century Spanish mansion which has been converted into a lovely, reasonably priced accommodation with nice rooms, a gracious staff and an excellent restaurant which features expertly prepared Peruvian fusion cuisine. In its cozy bar, Alembic, I met up with chef Carla Davila and chef mixologist Juan Jose who spoke with me about the attractions of Lima and pleasures of Peru’s national drink, Pisco. For information on the Hotel Antigua Miraflores go to AntiguaMiraflores.com.


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Lima - A Taste of Peru

Stay, Wine and Dine in Portland

Posted on January 31, 2014

Portland, long famous as the Rose City, is becoming world renowned as the gateway to Oregon Wine Country.  On a recent visit to Portland we joined family members on a informal tour through the Willamette Valley stopping off at Stoller Family Estate, Anne Amie Vineyard, Lemelson Vineyards, Cana’s Feast Winery and, the crème de la crème, Archery Summit.  Although the weather was typically overcast, the day was sparkling with good cheer and filled with many fine samplings.  We were in a vinicultural mood because our home-away-from-home was Bill Kimpton’s Hotel Vintage Plaza.  Considering the fact that along with creating his first hotel in San Francisco in 1981, Kimpton also inaugurated the first complimentary nightly wine hour, it’s not surprising that he took the wine theme hotel-wide when he opened his first non-California accommodation, the Hotel Vintage Plaza, in 1991.  The name of each room at the Vintage Plaza celebrates a different Oregon wine and the Kimpton’s signature Wine Hour flourishes in this location.  Speaking of wine, Pazzo, the rustic Italian restaurant attached at the lobby to the property, has an excellent wine list including three special tasting flights which introduce the diner to three samples of Sparkling, Pinot Noirs and Italian vintages.  During this latest pod cast, recorded in the restaurant on New Year’s Eve afternoon, I spoke with Pazzo Chef John Eisenhart and General Manager Jason Gordon about Oregon food and wine and the Vintage Plaza Hotel.  For information on the Vintage Plaza go to VintagePlaza.com.  Take a look at Chef John’s Tenth Anniversary menu at Pazzo.com. 


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Stay, Wine and Dine in Portland

Wedding Bells in California Wine Country

Posted on January 09, 2014

There’s more to California Wine Country than Napa and Sonoma. In my latest pod cast I travel to Carmel Valley and the Holman Ranch, a wedding and event venue surrounded by vineyards. I speak with guest services manager Nick Elliot. For more information on Holman Ranch go to HolmanRanch.com or call (831) 659-2640.


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Wedding Bells in California Wine Country

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