Staying in Kyoto for our trip to Japan, we only took a quick day trip into Osaka to check it out. Osaka castle, as expected, was beautiful but intensely overrun with tourists (like us). As was pretty much everywhere else. But I caught three frames that I think showed three sides of Japan’s third-largest city: Feudal, traditionally old, and modern.
We decided to go to Gyeongju as part of our wedding anniversary/Return to Korea/Japan trip because we knew our friends Justin and Emma would appreciate the history of the place. An ancient seat of kings and home to many hill-like tombs, Gyeongju is full of culture, history, and these days, even craft beer!
My friend Eric and his new wife Felicity decided to host a "friendeymoon" - instead of a honeymoon - at a villa in Tuscany. Just our best friends, dozens of liters of wine, insanely good food, and Tuscan mountain towns for a week.
Lima is a sprawling city showcasing Peru's poverty and wealth. Our friend, Juan Carlos, told us of Peru's historically massive economic divide and currently growing middle class - both were evident as we drove through the streets of Callao, explored near the city's old center, and toured wealthier areas such as Miraflores and Barranco.
Our time in Lima was really defined by the food we ate. Having sampled famed Peruvian chef Gastón Acurio's work at Chicha in Cusco, we went to his La Mar cevicheria in Miraflores and had one of the best dining experiences any of us could remember. No fewer than three and as many as five waiters attended to us - everything from empanada and ceviche starters to whole grilled fish to dessert was out-of-this-world good. We spent at least three hours there.
Barranco, I think, was the visual gem for us. Vibrant buildings, parading groups from far-flung reaches of Peru; Barranco felt like the welcoming, energetic, Latin locale grey-skied northerners like us would crave.
Although we spent one night in Lima, it was a very short sleep before heading back to the airport to fly to Cusco. The city sits near 11,000ft high in the Andes; airport billboards warn travelers (with images of puking gringos) to beware of altitude sickness. Coca tea, which is supposed to help, is abundant. None of us fell ill with altitude sickness, but we were all exhausted from travel, the lack of oxygen, and general excitement.
We left Cusco after one night to explore Machu Picchu and returned; we left again for a day to climb Vinicunca and returned to stay again. While in Cusco, though, we ate amazing food (Gaston's Chicha is fantastic; Bodega 138 has the best pizza; you can get street food - risky, I know - for 3 soles) and found the good beer spots (Cholo's is tucked away up a hill and has quiet, courtyard seating). We even found delicious breakfast (The Meeting Place - a Christian mission-based, not-for-profit, volunteer-run organization) with kittehs.
I traveled with my wife and two best friends to meet two more best friends - Aussies - with whom we trekked up and down the east coast of Australia. Hundreds of frames later, here are some of my favorites: