Trip Start Oct 16, 2010
58Trip End Aug 01, 2011
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Henning, Kathrin and Bee picked Raymie up at the small Cusco airport at 6:20am. It was a whirlwind-of-a-day for him.
Edwin from lucky tours drove us the 1.5 hour ride to Ollantaytambo telling us about the countryside. In the main square we had breakfast at La Ñusta. It was a tight squeeze at the table with our bags and all the food we ordered for first breakfast. It was nice to sit in the sun.
Bee bought a much needed warm hat for $4 but the coolest hat was too expensive at $50 with all the beads and balls.
We walked to the Ollantaytambo ruins but it was so expensive (charging $42 per person) to see and even $5 for dogs (not that we had any but strange)
Note: Be careful buying water. Always check the cap. We bought a water that once opened tasted like horrible unsanitary tap water. We approached another vendor about it and they said that this happens all the time and to not drink it because even the locals boil their water before drinking it.
On the way to the train station we did the smartest thing and bought ponchos (originally so it wouldn't rain).
People sure do love to cue and the train is no different - even though we have assigned seats. Since we're smart we sat at Cafe Perla next to the boarding area for the train and had coffee and Pisco sours for 30 minutes. We also bought grocery supplies since we were told everything would be expensive in Aguascalientes.
On the train they gave us snacks and coca tea. The ride wasn't super entertaining but it was interesting going through the different terrains, beautiful mountains and a crazy, wild river
The train arrived and someone from the hostal was there to guide us through the artisan markets.
Agauscalientes is a strange setup of a town. There's really no rhyme or reason for the setup of the town. I think the city planners dip a little too deep into the ojas de coca. At least the hostal was right cross the bridge so that was a good start.
Hostal Sauyamarca was arranged thru the travel agency and it was very, very basic but it worked and it was clean. Don't try to stay there but it' not to be avoided either. Then came a big mission of trying to find the Packer game for the NFC Championship. It took a while and 3 people helping us before we finally found it at Hanaqpacha Inn playing in the lobby (we didn't stay here but the staff was so nice and the building seemed nice enough we would recommend giving it a try - also it was the only place in the whole city with access to the game on Direct TV). The staff was so helpful and friendly, even letting us eat in the lobby to watch the game. The four of us ordered 2 Trucha Tiraditos (spicy, trout ceviche) and both came out totally different
The guide was not at the hostel on time, what a surprise! So we got the info for Machu Picchu from a different lady who gave us bad advice on our times for departure as we found out.
Early to bed for a big day.
Machu Picchu day 2
Henning & Kathrin woke up at 4am to walk/run 2 hours in the rain up the hills to Machu Picchu. Raymie and Bee, being smart, took the bus to Machu Picchu and didn't make the first few buses even though we were in line at 5:15 am. The first bus leaves at 5:30am and the guide told us "no problem" being there at 5:20am to get on the first bus (stupid to get there so early and not get the extra ticket
Everyone was freezing wet and the Cafe did not open until 7am and the Sanctuary Lodge was not open till 11am.
So wet and cold but it was only 6:30am and we had a long day ahead of us. We just stood outside the entrance drinking bad coffee trying to keep warm until we met Grupo Pedro at 7:45am.
Off we went to discover an unknown lost city just like Hiram Bingham but we paid a lot more to see it than he did (1sol = $.33 now) Our2 hour guided tour was very informational learning how 3 is the magic number for the Incas gods, animals and worship. It was an amazing experience even in the rain with llamas frolicking during our picnic of chocolate and pringels on the terraces. The entire lost civilization was quite awe inspiring and marvelous but we didn't gather the great sense of spirituality that many suggest (this is not a negative, just an observation)
We decided we should make our own video with guy jumping off a cliff, riding a condor while playing a 3 foot pan flute. It's going to be awesome! They did have a19% service charge and that really sucked after we spent 2 hours there.
We were very happily and thankfully surprised when our hostel had our bags and return train tickets. Whew! Always taking chances.
With still 1.5 hours till the train left we found wi-fi at Coffee 24 - extremely expensive drinks at the main square.
Off to the train station thru the crazy markets with crazy drunk French men jumping and screaming around
We had a bottle of champaign but we had challenges trying to put it into thin coffee to-go cups.
Well, we made it! Somewhat dry and somewhat warm and really, really tired. 2 hours till we change to the bus? Not so much luck. After 30 minutes on the train it stopped. Was there a couch on the track? A cow perhaps? No! It was a boulder that fell from the mountain top. Our good luck prevented that the boulder on the tracks didn't land on us! So what to do but play Blackjack and Pai Gow when you're stuck for over 3 hours.
Bee had a great idea and we didn't know why they didn't use a long stick and wet it so it would expand and break the rock. That's what the Incas used to do (we learned that on out tour). Finally after the crew telling us "only 30 more minutes" about 10 times, we switched tracks even though there was another train stuck coming the opposite way. It was time to go because Raymie won at cards and took all our money.
We managed to sleep for about an hour when it was time to find our bus, Bus Pedro. By this time we were almost 4 hours late and there were people and buses everywhere. It was a cluster f¥#*. Our bus group was waiting for 40 people and had 2 buses (1 bus and 1minivan). The bus left and we were stuck waiting for some people for 45 minutes! The 1.5 hour ride home was scary and bumpy at 2:30 in the morning. We finally arrived at the plaza San Francisco at 4am and had to walk 3 blocks to our hostel since the driver wouldn't drive the 9 of us to the Plaza de Armas.
A very long day for all of us and deserving of a very long rest.