Friday, June 12, 2015

Day Four - Machu Picchu and Travel to Cusco

Yay! When Jamie and I woke up, we learned that Matt had arrived to the hotel at 11p the following evening. Apparently, he had missed his original flight to Miami and that, combined with some miscommunication about arrival time in Cusco, meant that he didn't arrive in Cusco until 4p. He was glad that we had continued on and was able to get some help from a local at the Cusco airport to catch a later train on Peru Rail and make it to the hotel. Let the trip begin with the whole group together!

While Matt caught up on some sleep, the three of us girls grabbed some breakfast in the hotel restaurant, buffet style.  Before departing, Alex and I filled up our Camelback's with bottled water so we could stay hydrated at the site. We dropped off our luggage with the front desk and the four of us set off for the Machu Picchu bus, which runs every 10 minutes from the center of town. Tickets purchased, we were loaded on and "bumped" the 40 minute ride up to the Incan site. Interestingly, this ride is a one lane wide road, but takes buses and vehicles in both directions, so there were a few times that a bit of maneuvering had to occur for both vehicles to be on their way.

When we arrived, we unloaded for the bus and stood in line with our tickets. I had been able to successfully buy tickets on the not-so-well-coded website for Machu Picchu, and the attendant printed our tickets for us from the confirmation information I handed her. After getting through the checkpoint, Alex, Jamie, and Matt were off to hike Montana, and I was prepared with camera gear in tow to take photos. Around 1230, we all met up after their hike. I really enjoyed the sights and especially enjoyed seeing the alpacas roaming around with the tourists.

We had seen all we could see of the Incan site at this point, so we boarded the bus back to Aguas . Upon arrival, we headed back to Casa del Sol to pickup our luggage.  Matt decided that he was going to do the tourist "thing" and visit the hot springs, which is where Aguas Calientes gets its name. I hadn't read great reviews on it in the guidebook, so I decided to stay behind at the hotel and read and take a shower (even though we had checked out, they graciously offered us the ability to shower in their spa area for free).  While I'm sure Matt doesn't regret his choice, I was told that the water was tepid and dark brown. Eww.

Once everyone came back and showered, we went over to the Main Street in Aguas to find a late lunch. We ended up at a little restaurant where we could people watch. I ordered some chicken enchiladas, which were surprisingly better than I was expecting. Of course, Matt had to be adventurous and he ordered alpaca steak. I did try it and it was surprisingly tasty!  We headed straight to the train station to catch our train back to Ollantaytambo via Inca Rail, which boarded at 630p with a departure time at 7p.  This part of our trip is basically a reversal of our arrival; train, pickup by a "mini-bus", and then arrival in Cusco.

When we entered the city, though, this time we were dropped off at our hotel, the Ninos Hotel on Calle Fierro, where we would stay the next two nights. I have to be honest, at this point, the idea of spending two nights in one place was extremely alluring.  We arrived at the hotel shortly before 11p and were checked into our two (very simple) rooms, with Jamie and I being in the room called Janeth (the rooms are named after children who have gone through the program at the hotel). We all showered and headed off to bed, we were so exhausted from our long day of activity.

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