Day 32 - Thr 3 May 07 - Aguas Calientes, Peru
Up at 04:45 and checked out, walked down to the railway station in about 15 minutes, so I arrived well early. But there are still street vendors outside trying to sell tourist rubbish. It's not long before the station opens, and we're allowed to board the train. Hmm, my train trip is somewhat lacking compared to the amount I've spent on it. The carriages are not dissimilar to the rolling stock you get on the Southern Region in the UK, and the seat pitch isn't generous either. Oh and it's freezing cold! This isn't a working train, it's just for tourists.
We've just had our breakfast - a ham and cheese sandwich and a cup of tea. We're in some deep valleys at the moment and having to do switch backs to climb out of them. Further back it was very misty, but it seems to have all burnt off now and we're in bright sunshine. They even have a squeegee man on board to clear the condensation from the inside of the windows!
The train stopped at Ollentambo and the Swiss couple who were on the sacred valley tour with me yesterday got on - they had planned their trip far better than I had!
Got to Aguas Calientes with no problems, and found a hotel for the two nights, I'm sure I could have barted the price down a bit, but I'm happy. Dumped my stuff and walked down to the tourist info place. Not a great deal of help. Aguas Calientes is a tourist town it exists to service the needs of the visitors to Machu Picchu and it does so in quite an expensive manner. Tickets to get into Machu Picchu are 120Sols, that's about £20. I get one for today and one for tomorrow, after getting some cash out of the ATM. Next comes the bus up to the ruins, that $6 one way (I'll walk down).
The bus drops me at the gates to Machu Picchu and I walk in and head for the 'viewpoint' which looks down on most of the ruins. They are spectacular. Lots of Photos. Spend the rest of the morning wandering around. the back of the ticket says that plastic water bottles are not allowed, but that's only stopped me bringing mine. Everyone else has theirs. The place has lots of visitors, but it's not packed - there are still places you can find to yourself.
Machu Picchu is impressive, but I fear that my overnight trip to the Colca Canyon may trump Machu Picchu in the 'best thing in Peru' stakes (and it was a lot less cash!).
Head down the hill at 13:30 and it takes well over an hour to make it down the hill, so I think I'll take the bus back up again tomorrow!
My hotel room is spacious, has it's own bathroom and overlooks the river. At about 17:00 the heavens open and rain came down in sheets - so glad I wasn't out in it. When the rain eased off I headed down town to eat. Alpaca and Rice for 28Sol. Then I headed over the river into the 'local' side. Found a place with a lot of noise and people peering in from the street. I joined in the peering. It was a local band playing in someone's house, all dressed up and playing and dancing like demons. Including one bloke dressed up in a monkey outfit. This was not tourist offering, this was the real deal. One guy was at a table and was so far gone with drink that he could not focus on his hand in front of him. On the way back got to see loads of bats flying in and out of the street lights. Cool!