We made it!

Machu Picchu is literally breathtaking, stunning, amazing, wonderful, mysterious and completely incredible.  Surrounded by mountains, it is a feat of engineering, a marvel of construction, and something we’ll never forget.

Built by the Incas between 1450 and 1540, it was abandoned when the Spanish arrived in an effort to preserve it from destruction. Luckily, it was never discovered and remained as it was built until the 20th century.  Local peoples knew of the site, and one family was even farming its terraces when American historian Hiram Bingham discovered the site in 1911.

It was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983, and was named one of the seven New Wonders of the World in 2007.  2500 visitors descend on the site daily.  Despite this, it never felt busy or overcrowded, and there were many corners and buildings to look at where you found yourself completely alone.  There are many sections to Machu Picchu: temples, residential buildings, farm buildings, storage facilities, farming terraces, and many other buildings whose original uses have long been forgotten.

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So where could possibly even be MORE romantic than Bali??? How about Vietnam?! We purchased our plane tickets there with our Aeroplan points, and got to fly business class for the first time. And it was SO worth it. It actually makes flying FUN (which might also have to do with unlimited free booze). In the airport lounge they even had a free breakfast buffet! How awesome is that? While they did have some toast and similar items, they also served Pad Thai, and Congee (rice pudding – and not the good kind). By the time we landed in Vietnam I was stuffed, and slightly hungover. Good times!

Hanoi is an absolutely beautiful city. Colonized by the French, the architecture and cuisine has a decidedly French twist. Women selling pastries and baguettes on the streets are a constant feature all over town, and ornate wrought iron and mouldings are over many of the older buildings. It was a cosmopolitan city, lots of trees, great shopping, and pretty awesome museums.

My favourite was definitely the Military History Museum. The museum featured items from their ancient past, up until the present day, obviously with an emphasis on the Vietnam War. It was quite exciting and eye-opening to hear about the war from the point of view of theNorth Vietnamese. The photos of American protests to the war featured strongly…and boosted the morale of the Vietnamese to see there was so much dischord within the American public. The outdoor display of captured and shot down American planes, choppers, and artillery was really stunning. They included stats on how many aircraft were shot down by Vietnamese soldiers, which was really shocking. The most upsetting items on display

were the clothing of killed US Airmen, as well as their ID cards and personal effects. I couldn’t help but wonder if their families had any idea their son’s final effects were in a triumphant display in a Hanoi Museum. Other items included the clothing of children who had been shot and bombed by the Americans, as well as colonial French helmets, samurai swords and a variety of bicycles used in various wars. Quite fabulous overall!