It’s strange how sometimes you find the best of a particular type of food not in its native country. For example, the BEST pizza calzone’s in Thailand, and the BEST curry chicken in Portugal. Well, last night in Cusco we chose a cute little Italian place called Trattoria Adriana. It wasn’t the BEST of anything per se, but it was quite tasty. The pizza was delicious, and Josh had spaghetti with meat sauce, which is risky when eating abroad, because often they add sugar to their sauce. Gross. But Josh lucked out.
This morning we woke before the sun and took a taxi up to Poroy station for the 3 hour journey to Aquas Calientes. I enjoyed a spanglish conversation with the driver, who was trying to see if we needed a ride back the next day. We got his cell number. We decided to splurge for the vistadome train, with plush seats, friendly service, and a fancy snack in a box. The views were just as I expected along the way, dense vegetation, corn fields, peaky green mountains, and a rushing river along side, although, as we’ve learned from Japan, it’s difficult to stay awake with the gentle rocking back and forth. This train went an average of 33km/hr for the 3 hour journey, as opposed to the shinkansen which went sometimes up to 200km/hr. Yawn.
The train passed through the valley, along the river, winding its way up to Aguas Calientes, where we unloaded and were quite pleased to find personnel from our hotel there to meet us (Withell sign in hand, which I nearly missed as I pushed my way through the confusing crowds) to take us to the boothto buy Machu Picchu entrance tickets (by the way, there is an ATM here in this little town, contrary to the guide book). We ended up buying a ticket both for today, and tomorrow as we’d arrived so early in the day. We wandered a bit, and had some more pizza, along with guacamole and chips. Then conveniently and coincidently, we were serenaded by an authentic mariachi band that played my favourite Spanish hit, Guantanamera!
The bus that winded up the hillside wasn’t as bad as we had heard. You do pass several other buses going the opposite direction on the narrow gravel roadway, but we were only travelling about 20 km/hr up the switchback and only narrowly hit two other buses (not too bad). At the top, we find our hotel, and decide to do a 2 hour tour with a private guide. Gilberto spoke pretty good English, although he mixed up the numbers two and three and some words came out quite strange, but in the context we figured it out. There was a lot of interesting information, probably worth the 120 soles ($40) we paid for his services. I must have taken about 100 photos in just 2 hours.
Unfortunately, the ruins were very busy which took away some of the pizzazz, for me anyway. We started out at 1pm, the busiest time, and people didn’t really start to clear out like the guide book had indicated. Our hotel room looks out onto the entrance gate which still had a line up at 4:30. We thought about going back in to see the sun set (although unsure we could do so with the same ticket), however, the clouds had rolled in, and it probably wouldn’t have been that spectacular. We’ll head back in there for sunrise in the morning. It really is more amazing than in the photos. Check this one off the bucket list as a success. I am sunburned with sore feet, and at dinner I busted my flip-flop jogging up the stairs, but overall a great day in the most unique setting.
With our hotel splurge this evening, we have all meals included, which we’ve yet to try out. We have a reservation for 6:30, so I told Josh we should go in our plush robes and slippers that provided. It’s not like we could possibly stick out anymore than we do, as a young, casually dressed couple. When we came to check in the front door with our backpacks, the door man gave us strange looks (Can I help you? You aren’t staying HERE). It’s a once in a lifetime experience, so yes, we will be.
Time elapsed: 3 hours
Dinner was amazing; delicious food, consisting of a three course meal with wine, the local pisco sour drink (tastes like a margarita), dessert, and tea with fancy mini-treats. There was a fire crackling in the corner and a band to serenade, the service was excellent. We needed an adapter to charge the laptop, as well as our train tickets printed, which they gladly helped us with both, and delivered to the room almost before we asked for them.