So, got back from Peru a week ago. You know, I didn't enjoy this trip nearly as much as the one to Turkey. It could have been the week-long stomach bug I was battling, but I think that should be offset by all the glorious meat and ceviche (which probably gave me the stomach bug) that we ate.
No, I think the issue is large group travel. That's right, GF and I went on a tour group. Well, that is if you count 80 Wharton students a tour group. What I missed from Turkey was simply the chance to explore on our own, to meet native peoples and get lost in foreign cities. Because all that provides a much deeper experience and understanding of a country/place.
For example, we spent days exploring various Incan ruins and, of course, the Machu Picchu/Inka trail. But it was only when the two of us went to a museum on our own that all the various architecture, artwork, etc. finally started crystallizing into a coherent history. Similarly, we spent five days in Cuzco and only two in Lima. But I feel a much stronger understanding of life in Lima because it was primarily just the two of us walking around. No 80 person group of Americans to ward off interactions with local Peruvians.
Anyway, obviously none of this is groundbreaking, but I think it's firmly put me off of this kind of travel. GF, on the other hand, acknowledges the problems, but counters with the fact that we stayed at luxurious, high-end hotels at a fraction of the original cost. She also seems a bit less bothered with "understanding the local culture" thing, although that's probably because she reads the guide book diligently. Needless to say, if one of us is already going to do the reading, why should I? (Guys, don't take that advice.)