703. Peru Trip | Adventures in Paracas and Huacachina

Huacachina leftbanked despacito
We are currently in Paracas, leaving for Cusco tomorrow! We came over on a bus from Lima a couple days ago. The drive over was pretty interesting. We drove by a lot of small villages and slum-like areas. I like visiting/seeing places like these since they give a bit of a culture shock and I like seeing how different people live.

Our days here were spent doing different activities in the desert. It's my first time visiting a desert like this. I really loved it! & the activities were so much fun.

Peruvian slums
Scene from the drive over

drone over Paracas
We arrived in Paracas bus station. Our hotel/resort was just beside the station so we decided to walk over. It's in the middle of the desert though so there was a lot of sand and wind. During the few minutes we walked, my hair got all full of sand (actually it got full of sand each day we were here so far). In the photo above is a drone shot of Paracas.

mancha pecho
A regional dish called "Mancha Pecho" which roughly translates to "chest stain". I guess that means it's a messy dish.

Huacachina taxis
There were a lot of these on the road. I think most are taxis..maybe some are for personal use.

sand buggy Huacachina
The next morning we went on our Huacachina adventure. I was really looking forward to dune buggy-ing in the desert as I've never done it before. It was sooo much fun and an adrenaline rush to ride up and down the dunes. We stopped at a few points for photos/drone-flying and sand boarding. I really loved this day overall.

sand buggies Huacachina
drone over Huacachina
Ballestas Islands sea lions
This morning we had a tour around the Ballestas Islands, a series of islands full of wildlife (mostly sea birds, sea lions, and some penguins). We sailed around the area for awhile. It was interesting to see wildlife in their natural habitats. We only managed to see one penguin though.

mini buggies Paracas National Reserve
Then we got a mini dune buggy tour around the Paracas National Reserve. I really loved this!! I enjoyed it more than the sand buggy at Huacachina since this was a more different experience and more of an adrenaline rush. We drove around the reserve, surrounded by beautiful landscapes. There were some hilly areas where we went up and down on the buggy..so much fun!! I definitely recommend this if you come to Paracas. This wasn't a tour we originally considered but I'm glad we did.



702. Peru Trip | Day 1: Impressions of Lima

Plaza de Armas Lima
Hello from Peru! We are currently in our hotel at Paracas as I type this. I have been quite busy since arriving that I haven't had much time for a proper update..but there is a lot I wanted to write about regarding my first impressions of Peru/my first time ever in South America. I'm having a really good time so far.

I'm going to try and limit the photos to a maximum of 5 for these travel diary posts. When I am back in Toronto I will do full in-depth posts.

So we arrived in Lima a couple nights ago..very late at night (1:30am to be exact). It turns out the Pan Am games are being held in Lima this year so our flight was full of team Canada's athletes (mostly rugby players).

We waited quite a long time for our luggage then proceeded out to get a taxi to our hotel. I turned around and recognized a familiar face. By a huge coincidence, it turned out to be a famous travel vlogging/influencer couple that I follow. My boyfriend and I had just watched some of their vlogs from the Amazon before coming on our trip so it was so crazy to see them just as we arrive, walking right beside us (their videos from here were from over a year ago..we had no idea they would be here at this time). I was shocked. We got in our taxi then my boyfriend yelled out that I was a big fan but was too shy to say hi lol.

After that we left the airport and drove to our hotel in Miraflores. By the time we arrived and got settled in it was like 4am so we went to sleep right away.

Plaza de Armas Lima
The next morning, after breakfast we walked around our area a bit. As I mentioned, it is my first time visiting South America but I didn't feel much of a culture shock at all. Lima isn't that different from anywhere I've visited before (I think it has some similarities to Asia, Europe and North America). One thing I noticed is that the driving is pretty crazy. We actually witnessed a full on car crash while walking around Miraflores. We also almost got hit by cars while crossing the street. Then, as we were Uber-ing on the highway..I noticed the car beside us was pretty close. It got closer and closer until it was within an inch of us and I thought for sure we would crash. Luckily our driver swerved out of the way at the last second. So it was a very close call. I'm pretty sure crashes happen there quite often as the roads are a mess and drivers seem to have disregard for driving in lanes.

Another pretty interesting thing I noticed is that there's a lot of sellers on the roads. Like people selling random things on the highway (everything from drinks to selfie sticks to Peruvian flags). I am not sure why someone driving in their car would suddenly feel a desire to buy a flag lol. There's always a lot of traffic though so the cars go pretty slow most of the time..making it possible for these sellers to come around.

coast of Lima
Kjolle Lima Peru
For dinner we went to a restaurant called Kjolle, one of the best in Lima. It was an amazing experience! Everything was so uniquely prepared and there were a lot of flavours I've never tasted before. I will devote an entire post to this dinner in a later post. So far, all the food here in Peru have been so good. I was told this before I came and it's definitely true.

Now I will go to sleep..tomorrow we will be going to Huacachina!

leftbanked despacito passports



701. Off to Peru!

Peruvian Soles
We are leaving for Peru today!! I am so excited. I think this will be the most extreme trip I've ever taken so far..I will try my best to post daily updates here. & of course I will be updating extensively on Instagram (@leftbanked)!

Big Love Ball Gold
Big Love Ball displayed at my building

Fila Disruptor
I wanted new sneakers for vacation and got these but it probably isn't a good idea to bring them there..

Hennessy Pomeranian
leftbanked despacito
First attempt at flying the new drone

Drone Toronto skyline
Leftbanked Despacito drone
Second attempt with drone #2! (The first had an unfortunate death)

DJI Spark Photo

Now I am off to finish packing...



700. Vacation Plans, Chotto Matte & the new Royal York Hotel

Chotto Matte Toronto
Last week we went to the brand new Chotto Matte here in Toronto. They specialize in Nikkei cuisine; a fusion of Japanese dishes with Peruvian influences. Everything from the service to the drinks and food (taste and presentation) were all really good. I loved the yucca and sweet potato chips (even though they are super spicy), ceviche, corn and the sushi above the most. The owner of the chain happened to be there when we were, sitting at a table across from us. He very generously gave us a discount off our bill at the end. Probably because he saw us taking photos of everything lol.

Vacation Plans!
Since this is a Japanese-Peruvian restaurant I guess now is a good time to announce our next trip..we will be going to Peru!! I don't remember when exactly it was decided upon but it seems like a long time of planning already. We will be leaving next weekend and I'm super excited. I've never been to South America before and I'll be able to cross one thing off my bucket list - to visit the Amazon! We will be staying in a lodge in the rainforest for 6 days. Before that we will visit Lima, Paracas, Huacachina, Cusco, & Iquitos.

I've never planned a trip as extensively as this one so far. There is a lot of preparation and research involved like getting certain vaccinations, pills, how to dress in the Amazon, etc. After the trip I will make a series of (informative) blog posts of everything you need to know before visiting Peru. In the past my travel posts consisted mostly of photos but I'll try to do some guides this time. & eventually if I have time I will go back and do them all for the previous cities I've visited as well. I will try to do regular posts while there. Hopefully the internet connection is fast and reliable.

Anyways, here are some more photos from Chotto Matte and other random ones from the past weeks:

Chotto Matte ceviche
Chotto Matte salmon corn
Chotto Matte Toronto
Chotto Matte Toronto
Chotto Matte bathroom art
Chotto Matte Toronto
Ice cream mochi
Chotto Matte Toronto
Hennessy Pomeranian
love life art
Miku drinks
Miku Toronto
Dinner at Miku. I feel I've posted this place so many times already lol.

The Royal York Hotel recently had a major transformation. They completely renovated the lobby, bar and dining area. If you've been following my blog for a long time you may know I used to come here a LOT before they closed for renos. Now they finally re-opened so I went to check it out. I think the lobby in the past was nicer (it was more historic and traditional style). Now it is more modern but it's still very beautiful.

The lobby bar is called CLOCKWORK and the main restaurant is called Reign. That night we had dinner at the restaurant then drinks and dessert at the lobby bar.

Reign Royal York
Royal York Hotel Reign
Royal York Hotel Reign
I love the colours of Reign - dark green, gold with lots of velvets. It's hard to see in my photos though.

Royal York Reign
leftbanked outfit
Hennessy Pomeranian
We the North
This is supposed to say "We the North".

Buca nodini
Dinner at Buca - the Yorkville location. Their Yorkville location has mostly seafood while the King West one has mostly meat. It was really good. I loved the nodini and my lobster pasta was pretty heavy but delicious.

Buca lobster pasta
Buca dessert
Cru TorontoDinner at Cru.

Cru Toronto
Smythe wrap blazers
Smythe royal blue blazer
Kiin TorontoLastly, to end an already food-filled post with a final one..here was dinner at Kiin.

Kiin Toronto
Kiin Toronto

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