Best Ruins That I Have Visited So Far


 Best Ruins That I Have Visited So Far.

“The shattered wall,
the broken tower
have a story to tell –
from the touchstones of ruins
and ancient texts
we make a pilgrimage.” Michael Alexander,

Architectural ruins connect us to the past and bring history alive. There is something about visiting the sites of these ancient civilizations that fascinates me. You can see the potential that people all over the world and thousands of years ago had for greatness. Some of these amazing structures were built long before all the machinery, transport and communication tools that we have now. 

 Peru, Machu Picchu

The purpose of Machu Picchu will always remain a mystery. It is probably a religious and spiritual site.  The Inca trail leading up to Machu Picchu (it takes four days  of camping out in the Andes if you want to do it) was built to always face the snow-capped mountains because that is what they worshipped .How they transported all that granite up there  remains a mystery. It is believed that they quarried  it on site. No other civilization has managed to assemble so many colossal stone blocks so seamlessly cut with stones or bronze.  There is no mortar holding them together and they are earthquake-proof constructions.

 Chile, Easter Island, Rapa Nui Park

Who carved such enormous statues? How did they move them and raise them up onto platforms? The missionary’s stories, the explorer’s diaries, the archaeologist’s shovel, the anthropologist’s bones and the Rapa Nui oral tradition have all revealed something of the story. No one agrees on any of the answers to these questions. Archaeologists have proposed methods for moving the statues, using various combinations of log rollers, sledges and ropes .In the Rapa Nui oral tradition, the Moai were infused with mana, a spiritual force from the ancestors and the Moai walked.The Rapa Nui stories make just as much sense of the unknown as the scientific theories. There is no proof that it did not happen that way.

Turkey, Cappodocia

The dramatic landscape is the result of volcanic eruptions that happened millions  years ago. Wind and water eroded the land leaving these odd surreal land formations, fairy chimneys, caves and underground cities. Goreme Open Air Museum is a group of cave churches and monasteries from the eleventh and thirteenth centuries. The most famous and most restored one is Karanlik Killse (Dark Church) which is filled with elaborate Byzantine frescoes. Early Christians escaping from Roman persecution found shelter in Cappadocia.

Turkey, Ephesus

The ancient city of Ephesus was built in the tenth century. It was a large city (over 250,000 inhabitants in the first century BC) and a major port for trade routes into Asia Minor. Ephesus was known in antiquity for its sacred shrines, the most famous being the temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World (only foundations and sculptural fragments remain). Ephesus came under Roman control in 129 BC, and continued to prosper under Emperor Augustus as capital of the Roman province of Asia. It was also an important centre of early Christianity and its greatest Christian monument was the 4th century church of St. John the Evangelist.

 Turkey, Pergamon

Pergamon was one of the key Roman cities of Anatolia and the well-preserved remains hint at the grand spectacle that the city was during its glory days. Excavations reach back to the second century B.C. It  has one of the largest libraries in the world and one of the steepest theatres.

Cambodia, Ta Prohm 

Yes,Ta Prohm is the temple where Angelina Jolie played Lara Croft in Tomb Raider. Ta Promh has been left the way it was originally found.  It was built in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. The jungle had completely engulfed the entire complex when it was discovered in the last century. It was amazing to see how the massive trees have grown around and atop the structures, their roots seemingly strangling and holding up the temple’s towers and other buildings.

Cambodia, Angor Wat

Angor Wat is the largest temple in the world and the world’s largest religious building constructed of stone. It is often described as one of the most extraordinary architectural creations ever built, with its intricate bas-reliefs, strange acoustics and magnificent soaring towers. It was built by King Suryavarman II in the 12th century. Angkor Wat was shifted from Hindu to Buddhist use sometime around the late 13th century. The temple is still used by Buddhists today. It is architecturally and artistically breathtaking. No photograph can capture the immensity of this monument.

Jordan, Petra

 Petra is a city of rose-colored stone, carved out of rock by the Nabateans in the third century BC. Like Macchu Picchu, there isn’t a lot of information known about it. It is one of the dryest places on earth and how they got water for the thirty thousand people who lived here is a mystery. Stephen Spielberg brought it to us in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. 

Thailand, Ayutthaya

Ayutthaya was the old capital of the Thai kingdom from the thirteenth to the seventeenth century.  The site resembles a  graveyard of temples,  headless Buddhas (beheaded by the Burmese in the thirteenth century) and ruins showing what it might have looked like.

Myanmar, Bagan

Bagan is an ancient city located in the Mandalay region of Myanmar. From the ninth to the thirteenth centuries, the city was the capital of the Pagan kingdom. During the kingdom’s height between the eleventh and thirteenth centuries, over 10,000 Buddhist temples, pagodas and monasteries were constructed in the Bagan plains alone, of which the remains of over 2,200 temples and pagodas still survive to the present day.

Mexico, Tulum

The ancient walled city perched on the edge of a cliff in Quintana Roo overlooking the Caribbean ocean was a major trading and religious centre between the eleventh and sixteenth centuries. Tulum was built to be a seaport fortress, with steep ocean cliffs providing protection from the East, and a large limestone wall enclosing the rest of the city on three sides. 

Acropolis, Greece

The Acropolis looms over Athens, and is impossible not to recognize.This citadel includes the famous white-columned Parthenon, as well as the fifth century, Propylaia, Erechtheion and Temple of Athena Nike. The Parthenon temple was dedicated to Athena, goddess of wisdom and war who planted the first olive tree on this very spot to found the city of Athens.

Italy, Colosseum

The Colosseum has been regarded as an iconic symbol of Rome since the Middle Ages.  Built in eighty A.D, it is a massive structure and is the largest amphitheatre of the Roman Empire. Being able to seat close to 50,000 spectators, it was the premier venue for wild beast shows and bloody gladiator combat.

Italy, Forum

Once the centre of public and political life in Ancient Rome, the Forum is a sprawling labyrinth of ancient ruins, including the Temple of Saturn, the Arch of Titus and the House of the Vestals. You’re standing in the very center of the ancient city, surrounded by the remains of famous temples and political buildings. The people of Rome saw the funeral of Julius Caesar here, along with the execution of Cicero and countless triumphal processions.

 Italy, Pantheon

The Pantheon was built as a temple dedicated to the worship of  Roman gods. In 609 A.D., Pope Boniface IV and Emperor Phocas converted it into the Christian church we see today. The Pantheon is considered a rotunda, a circular drum structure. Perfect mathematically, the Pantheon’s dome has an opening in the center.  In fact, the Pantheon in Rome still holds the world record for having the largest unsupported concrete dome.

Croatia, Diocletians Palace 

Diocletian’s Palace was built in the fourth century as a retirement seaside residence for the Roman Emperor, his family and seven hundred or so servants and guards in Split. The rectangular structure (520 x 620 feet) was two stories, fronted the sea and was built more like a fort than a palace. It is the most complete Roman ruins of a palace in existence today. It is not a museum .Three thousand people live and work on the grounds and there are many shops and restaurants. It is best seen when not besieged  by cruise ships.

Fly safe,



Ten Things To Do In Chile

Ten Things To Do In Chile

“Latin America is very fond of the word “hope.” We like to be called the “continent of hope.” Candidates for deputy, senator, president, call themselves “candidates of hope.” This hope is really something like a promise of heaven, an IOU whose payment is always being put off. It is put off until the next legislative campaign, until next year, until the next century.”  Pablo Neruda

Eat at Borago. which is one of the top Michelin starred restaurants in the world.

See the street art that defines Valparaiso.

Visit the homes of Pablo Neruda.

See the Museum of Memory and Human Rights commemorating those who suffered under the Pinochet regime.

Visit Chiloe Island and hope it isn’t raining,

Visit the art museums and galleries of Santiago.

Eat Chilean empanadas (different from Argentinian ones). Drink Pisco Sours.(like Peruvian Pisco Sours). Have Chilean hot dogs (different from American ones.)

Have a ski day in the Andes Mountains.

See Castro which is famous for its colored wooden houses built on stilts. I love colored houses.

Spend a day visiting Chilean wineries and Vino Del Mar. 

Fly Safe,


Things I Have Learned In Peru

“A man of knowledge chooses a path with a heart and follows it. He looks and rejoices and laughs and then he sees and knows. “  Carlos Casteneda  (born in Peru)

Things  I Have Learned In Peru

Don’t drop your camera.

According to a Stanford University study, seventy-five per cent of taxi drivers in Lima are psychotic.(view of Lima)


Beaches in Lima are not just for swimming but a good place to play soccer and park your car.


Millions of guinea pigs are eaten  in Peru every year. No special occasion is complete without them. They are served whole with the head and feet intact. The word in Spanish is Cuya if you do or don’t want to eat it by mistake.

If you are with a Peruvian, you will get a better exchange rate for your money from the man standing on the corner outside the bank.  Don’t try this alone.

Plaza de Armas or Plaza Mayor (“Main Square” in Spanish) is the place where Lima city was born in 1535, founded by Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro. It is also the spot from where Jose San Martin announced Peru’s independence from Spain in 1821.


As in other countries if you want real silver or real alpaca, buy from a store with a door. Otherwise you will not be sure if you bought baby alpaca or maybe alpaca.

Taxis in Peru do not have meters and you must negotiate a rate before you get in. Anyone can put up a taxi sign in their car and often do to supplement their income. There are no regulations. Many people do it on their way to their regular jobs – if they are late for work, watch out.

If you happen to be in Lima on Palm Sunday, you can see the Archbishop.



Need stamps? Or anything else?  Palm Sunday at the Post Office.


There are two seasons in Peru. There is summer when it rains and winter when it is foggy.  The temperature is about the same but sometimes your pictures come out clearer.

We are a bit late with quinoa (the new it food in LA) . It predates the Incas and has been a staple in the Peruvian diet for years. They have many other grains that are high in protein  since quinoa is getting so expensive for them. Check Whole Foods for kikucha.

Soccer is the first second and third sport in Peru. They are very enthusiastic and very bad at it.

Due to the bad state of the economy and the massive inflation in the 1980s , the government got rid of the inti and brought the new Peru currency “nuevo sol” as the country’s new money. The Peruvian nuevo sol is a stable and reliable currency, it is also the least affected by the weak dollar global tendency.

 Peru’s geography yields diverse ingredients: abundant seafood from the coast, tropical fruits from the jungle, and unusual varieties of grains and potatoes from the Andes. Peruvian cuisine is recognized around the world as one of the best in South America. It was surprisingly delicious. The immigrant population throughout the years has strongly influenced the cuisine.  African, Italian, Japanese , Chinese , Spanish, Inca,  Quechua as well as surrounding South American has created the original fusion cuisine.

Peru was the last colony in South America.

Coca tea is helpful in preventing altitude sickness among other things.


The Andes is the world’s longest mountain chain. (the Himalayas are the highest  -you know I had to look that up)


Llamas are pronounced yamas, unlike yams, sweet potatoes, yellow potatoes, white potatoes purple potatoes, large corn, small corn and plaintains which are often found at the same meal.  No meal is complete without potato. There are 3000 varieties grown in the Andes. They will eat a different kind of potato for breakfast lunch and dinner. (potatoes at the food market, Cusco)


I only eat cooked vegetables and fruits and bottled water when I travel to third world countries but had no problem eating raw fish (ceviche) at every meal.

It was just another day in the Sacred Valley with quick stop for lunch.



For centuries Peruvians have turned to natural remedies to cure their ailments. Medicinal and hallucinogenic plants have been used since pre-Inca times for healing. A variety of healers (referred to as shamans in North America) exist throughout the country with a wide range of techniques. While healers from Northern Peru use San Pedro cactus in their ceremonies, healers from the Amazon work with ayahuasca, which in Quechua translates to ‘vine of the dead’. Ayahuasca is a hallucinogen that induces visions and helps to diagnose illness. Healing ceremonies take place late at night, when the energies are at their highest, especially during a full moon. Westerners have come to Peru specifically to visit with these healers about a variety of issues including cancer and depression. There are mystical Andes tours that include ayahuasca sessions. It is best to do these things in Peru with a real shaman and not in your living room with friends.

The one on the end is not me.


The first day of hiking at 9000 feet is hard. The first day of shopping at 12,000 feet is no problem.

Pisaq Market  sells handicrafts, jewelry, minerals, herbs, spices and local foods and is the biggest market in Cusco. it’s a good way to learn about the local way of life, get a taste of how herbal medicine works, see how paints and dyes are made using natural minerals and sample the various local foods.

The Quechuas are the descendents of the Incas. You see them all over Cusco and the Sacred Valley in their native dress.  I find the women’s outfits most unflattering. But what is beauty and  who defines it?



In Cusco, never say maybe later to someone selling you something in the street, somehow they will always find you later. ( Cusco view)


Pisco ( pure grape brandy) is the national drink of Peru. There are Pisco Sours , Piscopolitans and Piscotinis.

Walking a short distance, from where the bus drops you in Ollytambo, to the train to Cuzco ( due to construction and flooding) is still shorter than changing gates at any major airport.

The potato, tomato, lima bean and avocado come from Peru. (Get it – lima-Lima?)

The Peruvian national Anthem ”El Condor Pasa” sounds a lot like Paul Simon’s “Id Rather Be A Hammer Than a Nail. “  At first I thought, these Peruvians must  love Paul Simon. Hopefully, he gave them some money. Guess what song he is playing?


Peru is the world’s second-largest producer of cocaine. (yes, Columbia has retained its number one status)

Peruvian corn has the biggest kernels in the world.


Llamas have the right of way at Machu Picchu, should you be on a narrow road and meet one.  From far away, it is hard to tell the difference between an alpaca, a vicuna and a llama.  It is easier to tell by the feel of the sweaters.



The Peruvian root Magra is what they make Viagra from.

Like their grandmothers, the Quechua women of Chinchero weave textiles. They have formed the Chinchero Textile Center. Dressed in their native clothes, they spin, thread, weave and dye with natural dyes.  They are prepared using wild plants, to color the wool. The red is from cochineal and the green  is chilca or ragwort, with drops of lemon for a more intense color.


The Cuzco School Of Art is a series of religious paintings.  The Spaniards taught the Inca artists how to paint their icons in the style of Flemish and Gothic masters.   There are no names on the paintings and though the subject  is Christianity, the Indians have managed to put in many hidden symbols from their own culture. They moved from the traditional style and added their own interpretation.  The best pieces are in the Cuzco  Cathedral.


The magic of the Andes is that every time you turn around, the colors are different. (yes its the picture at the top of my page)

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If you want to learn about the  Incas, it is another blog.

Things i have Learned from the Incas In Peru

Viajen con cuidado,