We caught the 0730 train from Ollantaytambo and had a lovely journey to Aguas Calintes. This small town sits in the Urubamba River Valley. It’s known for its thermal baths and as a gateway to the Inca ruins of Machu Picchu.
Today is Sian’s birthday so the first celebratory cake was served in the hotel breakfast room at 6:30am with the waiters gathering round to sing Happy Birthday; the cake was excellent.
AT THE STATION
Every member of Peru Rail appeared very well turned out in dark uniforms with gold piping, white shirts and gold ties and shinny black shoes. As we waited for our train elderly male tourists with incredibly large cameras chased up and down the platform photographing the trains as they came and went.
During the journey there were nice safety announcements and information about where we were on the route and jolly Peruvian music helped us along. Sixty minutes into our journey the surrounding country changed. Jungle reared up on side of the train, with mists, huge creepers, ferns, giant tree roots and all manner of green leaves. Occasionally a sheer rock face peered into our carriage.
ASSULT ON MACHU PICCHU
Four to six thousand people visit this site each day. Curiously the Spanish Conquistadors gave it a wide birth. Today’s tourists don’t. Every nation is represented, ladened with bags, poles. They jabber in loud voices, swarming over this remarkable site, which was only discovered in 1910. It is over discovered now.
|LAND OF THE SELFIE MAKERS|
We had packed into buses to take us up from Aguas Calientes. The bus ride was a precarious experience. At the top, once through the turnstiles of Machu Picchu with Tour Guide Alex there was a lot to discover. He explained the history and culture of this Inca city and settlement. Although I made two drawings (to my surprise) my acrophobia kicks in almost immediately and Tour Guide Alex often has to help me round most paths and bends.
The El Mapi Hotel was eco-chic affair with piped music in the lobby, Andean Pipes of course. In our room was a second birthday cake for Sian with a bottle of Malbec from the Valle Del Sol. The wine was consumed with a good dinner and yes, at the end of the meal, another birthday cake for Sian. Again this was served with disconsolate waiters in attendance.