The Inca Capital

Trip Start Jan 03, 2012
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Trip End May 02, 2013


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Where I stayed
Hotel Pantastico

Flag of Peru  ,
Saturday, August 11, 2012

Our bus pulled in to the ancient Inca capital just before sunrise. The frigid air seeped through every seam and chilled us to the bone.  We grabbed our bags and prepared for another haggling episode.  The first few taxi drivers asked way too much, but we eventually found one who was willing to take us into town for 7 soles.

We felt a little guilty arriving at the hostel before 7:00 am, but given that all the buses make the trip overnight, they seemed used to it.  Peruvian music played in the bakery adjacent to the cozy breakfast area and a fresh batch of chocolate croissants went into the oven.  As soon as they were done to perfection, our hosts served us a couple.  They were delicious!

Several other guests either woke up or arrived and joined us around the table, including one couple we had seen on a cruise in New Zealand in April.  Travel conversation occupied a good portion of the morning as we all exchanged stories and tips.

Unfortunately, Montezuma sought revenge on Jason and we were both exhausted so we rested until early afternoon.  We finally ventured out and found the narrow streets of Cuzco quite charming.  The main square was buzzing with tourists but the surrounding cathedrals still made a bold statement.  We welcomed the warmth of the afternoon sun.  A late and slow vegetarian lunch soothed the stomach.

We meandered over to the tour agency that we were booked in with for the Inca Trail, but unbeknownst to us they had moved.  We found the new location more appealing, if further away.

Since starting the acetazolamide we had both experienced intermittent but intense tingling in our fingers and feet.  We debated our discontinuation date from the comfort of our twin room with private bathroom at Hotel Pantastico.  Too tired to go out for dinner, we ate cookies, crackers and chocolate in our room while planning the final leg of our journey.

Feeling rejuvenated after a good night's rest, we woke up hungry and thankful for the fresh baked bread and chocolate croissants we were served.  We also scooped up fresh fruit and yogurt.

As we had much to do and everything took much longer than expected, our morning walk continued well into the afternoon.  We checked out the Inca stone foundations upon which buildings still stand strong, then it was off to the bus station.

Since Oltursa didn't go to our next destination, we had to find another reliable company.  With so many to choose from and very few with online reservation systems, we had to approach each agent and work through the language barrier to find the best option for us.  It worked out in the end and buses seemed to be getting cheaper the deeper we went into the Andean interior.

Our roaming lunch consisted of fresh yogurt with fruit of the Incas and empanadas.  We visited a textile museum and shop where traditional weavers were plying their craft.

Afterward we had some technical difficulties at the bank.  Withdrawal limits, fees at both ends, different currency options and uncomfortably long waits staring at blank ATM screens all amounted to nothing but unsettling feelings for both of us.  We checked with our banks back home but they had no record of any problems.  One representative mentioned that he had had a similar problem while travelling because sometimes the banks don't communicate well with foreign machines.  The fact that these huge institutions couldn't get their act together in this tourist mecca was a major disappointment and it almost left us empty handed until, once again, hours later our patience paid off and we found a reasonable solution.

We had a pleasant meal at a restaurant close to our hostel.  On the narrow roads with even skinnier sidewalks we had to hug the walls of buildings to avoid being hit by cars speeding by.
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