We left Aguas Calientes in the 'Vistadome' train, rather than the 'Backpacker' train that we turned up. The major differences being the clientele (mainly tour groups over 50) and the fact that the windows stretch up around onto the ceiling of the train, giving you a view upwards (hence the name). There wasn't a moment of peace on the train, inbetween a traditional act and the host and hostess teaming up with a Japanese tourist to do a fashion show along the aisle of the Alpaca clothing they had up for sale. Quite bizarre... We arrive in the Ollantaytambo in the evening and have dinner in the square.
It's not till the next day that we can appreciate the fine view of the Inca citadel, which is just above the town. The town itself is small with most of the activity going on around the plaza.
Apparently the quaint cobbled streets have now been lived in for more than 700 years,
so there's a lot of history here and the ruins dot the valley side above. Apparently, the courtyards and buildings of the town still have the original Incan form. There's no shortage of water here, with deeply filled channels running along the side of the narrow streets and the rushing sound of water never far away. We're staying in a lovely spot near the square:www.homesweethome-peru.com
We'd recommend this hostel if you're visiting Ollantaytambo. The guy that runs the place, Luis, is a cool guy. He speaks English and French and can give you any local information that you need. If you're lucky he'll play you some Peruvian songs on his guitar over breakfast!
We enjoy some time in the ruins of the temple-fortress of Ollantaytambo,
which though not as famous as Machu Picchu, are very impressive. The main section is constructed on steep terraces that are built into the side of the valley. From here you can look across to other ruins on the opposite side of the valley that stretch along the length of the town in various states of repair. The citadel was obviously built in a strategic location, as it is located where three valleys meet. However, they're still not sure of the primary function of the structure, though they have identified residential, agricultural, spiritual and defensive purposes.
Perhaps one of the most impressive sights here is a wall of the Sun Temple built of the series of monolithic rocks that were quarried from the high up in the valley (it was quite a feat just getting them to the location, let alone carving the monsters to fit so snugly with one another). It seems that this was also the location of a famous battle: The Incas, having retreated from Cuzo, managed to utilise the fortress to force the Spanish to retreat (purportedly by redirecting the river and flooding the plain below).
Plenty of time to relax here and watch life go by in the pretty plaza before returning to the more bustling Cuzco...