We have just managed to get a great deal on a TEPSA coach to travel from Lima to Arequipa here in Peru. TEPSA is a newish coach company.
Booking Coach Tickets
They have a deal that two seats on each coach to ‘selected designations’ are massively reduced. So we arrive in the hope that we may purchase one of these ‘selected destinations’.
The Lima to Arequipa service on this coach is that of an aircraft:
- seat belts
- reclining chairs with lots of space
- magazines and books
- attendant or host/hostess
- and more
Entering The Desert
As we drive through the parched desert on our Lima to Arequipa trip, we are faced with the same bleak housing that we viewed on the way into Lima, and I pray we are going the right way.
Local Transport And Wine Stores
We then start to see lovely little towns with the three-wheeled local ‘moto-taxi’ buzzing around. Many towns have wine shops with barrels, and bottles and cases of wine outside for sale.
Peruvian wine is quite famous and is also quite palatable too. Another bonus is the lesser use of sulfites which can alleviate headaches.
It would have been lovely to have been able to stop the coach right there and then on our Lima to Arequipa trip I would have!
Unfortunately, my son gets bus sick, so he hogs the window, and I get limited chances to take photos by leaning over him. It’s personally very frustrating for me as photos tend to all be crooked and blurry!
Cacti prickles may not be your friend, but here in Peru, they are farmed. We often pass cactus plants growing beside the road on farms. I am not sure what they do with these. Some say they eat the fruit while others tell me it is for medicinal purposes.
Extreme Desert Conditions
We head past some extreme desert areas. Lone houses and messages laid out in stone are frequent. Cactus grow here just 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 volcanoes appear in the distance.
There are 3 volcanoes:
Arriving by Coach to Arequipa
One thing that is difficult with travel to any part of the world, is that you stand out as tourists. If you have luggage of any kind you are targeted. They figure you do not know the prices and therefore the taxi scams start.
Once we arrived, we grabbed our luggage and headed for the taxi area. Little did we know there was a board that shows taxi fees.
So once inside the taxi, I realized he was going to try and charge me too much. So we just keep driving and then when we arrive at the hostel we ask the staff.
Trouble is, as they are not earning a lot of money, often the doorman gets a cut of the scam too, so you just don’t win. It gets tiring haggling and it is never a good start to a new location. However, sometimes when it is clearly an exorbitant scam it is important not to let them win.
Therefore, I asked someone at the hostel what the price should be. He gave us a price that was high, but lower than the taxi man’s price. So we haggled and came up with an overpriced fare, but better than what the driver started with.
Our Personal Hostel Horror Story
When we arrived at the El Albergue Espanol hostel, the lady at the reception is instantly bad mannered towards us. She uses Google translate to tell us to come back in 4 hours which we understand and I figure maybe she just is busy.
Booking this hostel had already been a problem for us.
This lady “says” she will give us our discounted rate as members with Hosteling International (HI), but she never writes it down, so later it is denied.
We had already had trouble with this hostel not replying to emails.
We also had to ring 3 times and the phone had been ‘chopped off’ on each occasion until we gave up and just arrived in hope.
Trustfully leaving our bags at the reception (she was not impressed about this either as she had to move some of her junk) we hope they are safe. So far I have a really bad feeling about this place, and in hindsight, we should have left.
Throwing caution to the wind we walk off, armed with a map to find a hearty breakfast, a good coffee, and some local sights.
Discovering The City of Arequipa
This hostel has a great location – right by a walking mall that leads to the city square, but being early Sunday morning, it was deserted.
Senoras selling pigeon food, and a lovely fountain were before us. We ambled along alleyways from the last century and before and it is just lovely!
We found more lovely old churches – but every town has a Catholic church but we have just visited too many.
Time flies by and soon it is time to return to the hostel, and we hope the lady is in a better mood than when we arrived. Maybe Sunday just isn’t her day?
Checking In (Don’t do this)
We finally get to check into this hostel. It is eclectic in decor with things like potted claw bathtubs filled with red geraniums. It seems modern enough and looks clean apart from the junky office.
Before we have completed the paperwork or paid (silly us) the old man carries our bags up the stairs, which at the time I thought was nice. But as we haven’t paid we are again caught out later.
We managed after repeatedly asking to get just one towel – with a promise of another (that surprisingly never eventuated).
Solar hot water means we need to have afternoon showers as I hear other guest complaining about the trickle of water.
Therefore, as I set out to wash all our clothes (they had a great drying area in the sun upstairs) alas, I must wash in cold water. We understand the water limits in Peru, so we work with this.
Meanwhile, here we are, and we are determined this situation so far is not going to dampen our spirits, and we will go and enjoy Arequipa anyway.
My son enjoys exploring the hostel as it is two buildings joined by various stairs.
When he needs the restroom, we discover there is no toilet paper, and guests inform us that the lady hides it. So when Explorason needs to go, there is no paper there.
Alas, as I entered the tiny kitchen, and a glass fell off the counter as dishes had been left piled high to dry. No one is in sight and as I have not touched it to make it fall, I simply cleaned it up.
- She instantly accuses us that Explorason had jammed the toilet with paper – which is nonsense as there wasn’t any!
- Then, she insists I had to pay for the broken glass
- And the final straw is when she denies the Hostelling International membership discount and states she never agreed to it.
All in all, I ended up on the phone with the manager as by now I’ve had enough and I don’t like being treated unfairly. I thought we were going to be out on the street by the end of his accusations, but I managed to calm everyone down and get back to facts etc.
I felt pleased we had resolved all of the issues, we received our discount and advised my son to keep a low profile. But alas we had paid for several days and we felt trapped on the rooftop area with no way to make a dash and leave if we forgo our payment and found another place to stay.
This altercation and incidents that occurred ruined what would have otherwise possibly been a great stay here at El Albergue Espanol Hostel.
Lesson learned – get everything in print.
With most guests out of the hostel, and it now being mid-afternoon, it is a perfect time for us to shower, shave, shampoo, and for Explorason to enjoy a rest. Whilst he does this, it is a perfect time for this parent to complete the washing, bring all the dry clothes in and fold them etc.
More Money Challenges
With the last of our cash nearly depleted, it is time to find an A.T.M. cash machine that works with my Australian A.T.M. card. So far this has been a real problem. After our Travel Money Card was skimmed, we have had to rely on cash advances with our credit card – it has been such a trial.
So on our hunt to find A.T.M.’s we find these cute stuffed alpacas or llamas on a wooden bench.
And we find an ATM in a pretty courtyard. It works, BUT it gives out only a small amount of US$, then it ceases. So I have to do FIVE transactions – each with an $8.00 fee. But at least we have the cash to book our tours etc. We are excited to have money, but now the new concern is that I am wandering around town loaded with cash, and not staying in a hotel with any security boxes.
Still, we look on the positive and feel fabulous that the pressure of money is off, so we head back to the town square to celebrate.
Not having had access to money for nearly two weeks has been horrible for this single Mum. But it has curbed our spending and we have survived albeit now we are in a hostel we don’t wish to be in.
Finding A Restaurant
We climb the stairs on one of the buildings on the square 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 us, and to be in a nice restaurant feels good.
When he brings the menu and explains we might be better going two floors down to the more casual restaurant rather than fine dining, so we do this, but we decided we’d just like a drink and to go and have some dinner back at our hotel to relax.
A Beautiful Old Town
The sun starts to set, and we have had a long day. We wander back across the town square. There are a supermarket and a pizza store, so we purchase dinner and head back to our balcony room.
Dinner Overlooking The City Lights
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.
We reported the booking issues with this hostel on TripAdvisor.
The hostel stated:
- I had Photoshopped us into the pictures which is ridiculous!!
- How low do they go?!
- They then went on to state that we had never stayed there, nor had they heard of us.
Guess that shows they are really were covering up for their bad service.
Comments and Questions
- Have you ever been scammed at a hostel or hotel?
- What happened?
- How did you resolve the issue?