Monday, April 15, 2013

From Lima to Arequipa Peru by bus with an 8 year old child. Avoid El Albergue Espanol Hostel.

This site is obsolete

We have just managed to get a great deal on TEPSA.
This is a newish coach company.
2 Seats on each coach to selected designations are massively reduced.
So this is great for our long term budget.

The service is that of an aircraft.
Meals, seat belts, reclining chairs with lots of space.
Drinks, magazines and books, and a hostess - and more.

As we drive through the desert, we are faced with the same bleak housing.

We start to see lovely little towns with mototaxi's.
Many towns have wine shops with barrels, and bottles and cases of wine outside for sale.
It would have been lovely to have been able to stop the bus right there and then.
Unfortunately, my son gets bus sick, so he hogs the window, and I get limited chances to take photos by leaning over him. very frustrating for me!

We then pass cactus growing.
I am not sure what they do with these.
Some say they eat the fruit.
Others tell me it is for medicinal purposes.

We head past some extreme desert areas.
Lone houses, and messages in stone are frequent.
Cactus grow like I imagine Mexico to be like.

Soon it is so barren, it is merely sand.
But still it has its own awe to it - especially against the awesome azure sky.

Soon new crops appear.
The volcano's appear in the distance.
There are 3 - El Misti, Chachani & Pikchu Pikchu.

Once we arrived, we grabbed our luggage and headed for a taxi.
Little did we know there was a board to tell taxi fees.
So once in the taxi I realised he was going to try and charge me too much.
So we asked someone at the hostel what the price should be.
Even he said too high, but lower than the taxi, so we haggled and came up with an overpriced fare, but better than what he started with.
When we arrived at the El Albergue Espanol hostel, the crabby lady used google translate to tell us to come back in 4 hours.
She gave us our discounted rate with Hosteling International, but never wrote it down.
We had already had trouble with this hostel.
Not replying to emails.
Also had to ring 3 times and got chopped off..
Then we took off, armed with a map to find some breakfast, a good coffee, and some sights.
Our hostel had a great location - right by a walking mall.
Being early Sunday morning, it was deserted.

It lead straight to a glorious main square.
Senoras selling pigeon food, and a lovely fountain were before us.

We ambled along alley ways from last century and before.
Just lovely!

We found more lovely old churches - but every town has a catholic church.

We finally get to book into our hostel.
It was cheap, and pleasant enough and clean.
The old man carried my bag up the stairs which was nice.
We managed to get one towel - with a promise of another that never eventuated.
Solar hot water mean we had to have afternoon showers.
So I then set out to wash all our clothes, as they had a great sun drying area.
For $10 - this was by far the cheapest hostel I have been in since Colombia.
I reported it on TripAdvisor, and then I could not believe that this hostel then said I had Photoshopped us into the pictures!!
How low do they go?
That we had never stayed there, nor had they heard of us.
Guess that shows they really were covering up for their bad service.

Meanwhile, here we are - and we are going to enjoy Arequipa anyway.
My son enjoyed exploring the hostel.

Alas, as I entered the kitchen, a glass fell off the counter.
No-one in sight and having not touched it, I cleaned it up.
When I went downstairs to pay the account, they argued my son had jammed the toilet with paper (nonsense).  I had to pay for the glass.
Then they refused to give me the HI discount.
All in all, I ended up on the phone to the manager.
I thought we were going to be out on the street by the end of his accusations.
But I resolved them all, got my discount, and told my son to keep a low profile.
It ruined what would have been a great stay here at El Albergue Espanol Hostel.
Lesson learned - get them to write it on a piece of paper.

We decided after a rest, shower, shave, shampoo and washing completed to head into town and shop.
We also needed to try and find a bank that works for our ATM card.
So far this has been a problem with finding any that work internationally.
So on our hunt to find A.T.M.'s we find these cute stuffed animals on a bench.

And we find an ATM - in a pretty courtyard.
It works but gives out only a small amount of US$.
So I have to do 5 transactions - each with an $8 fee.
but at least we have cash to book our tours etc. for coming days.

We head back to town to celebrate.
Not having had access to money for over 1 week has been horrible.
But it has curbed our spending.
We climb one of the buildings to find a restaurant.
This one is higher than the others.

The waiter helps us take a couple of nice photos.
You can see the snow capped mountains behind.

When he brings the menu, we discover the view has a massive cost.
One glass of wine is worth more than a bottle elsewhere.
So we head across to a second story view.
Two floors less, and half the price.

The sun starts to set, and we have had a long day.
We wander back across the square.
There is a supermarket, and a pizza store.
So we purchase dinner and head back to our balcony room.

We have candles, so a pizza box acts as a windshield.
We look across at others having their dinner on the other balcony.
I look to the side and see the snow on the volcano tops.
What a lovely place to relax for the evening.

Tomorrow we are booked on a tour for 1/2 a day, so it is an early night for us.

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