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Car, bus, train, foot

We were met at our hotel by our tour operator who walked us down the stairs to a car, which took us to the Cusco bus station. She gave us all of our tickets, explained who we needed to meet and when, and we were on our way. The bus drove us out through the Cusco suburbs and then on through some farmers' fields. We got our first glimpse of a snow-capped mountain from the bus. The bus ends at the train station at Ollantaytambo. We then got on a train to finish the route to Aguas Calientes. The train passed some desert/scrubby terrain full of cacti and other brush-type plants with very few trees. After a while, the scenery switched to forest without cacti, but with trees instead. Overall, the ride was very comfortable and relaxing- probably a better first-day-up-in-the-mountains activity than all he walking we did. The train ends at the Aguas Calientes train station. We were met by a guide who walked us to our hostel. There aren't any cabs (or any kind of car as best as I could tell) in AC as the whole town is made up of 3 short parallel streets. One of them is walkable and where the trains rest. One of them is where the buses to Machu Picchu drive. The other is only open to pedestrians, I think. The whole town is just a big tourist stop- the streets are lined with hotels, restaurants, souvenir shops, and money changing shops. I'm not sure I saw a single building not aimed at tourists. The Spanish influence is clear here, even though they weren't in charge when the town was developed. The town still has a main plaza where they're building a new government building and where the church is. There are several small parks. One thing I noticed consistently throughout both Panama and Peru is that their parks are designed with a different purpose in mind than ours back home. In the US, parks are designed with baseball fields, soccer fields, swing sets, skate ramps, maybe even hiking trails or fishing lakes. The parks are designed for activities. In Panama and Peru, the parks were small segments of the cities with benches and seemed to be designed for just sitting and enjoying the moment of calm among all the hustle and bustle. I think it's quite a social commentary that even our spaces designed for relaxing are designed for organized activity. We sat in one of the small AC parks and just admired the river that ran along the edge of town. It was very calming. We need more parks like that one. After a while, we did get up and move on to lunch. After my previous negative experiences, I was even more determined to enjoy Peruvian food than ever. I got my wish at "Restaurant Pizzeria Chaski." All the restaurants aimed at tourists seemed to claim to be pizzerias, but not all of them actually had pizza. Chaski did, but they also had "typical" food. I got a soupy risotto of quinoa and vegetables. The sauce was flavorful and very good, the veggies were delicious, and the cheese, while from the same family as the cheese I had the day before, was much better. Additionally, I got hot chocolate. I think that they used a process closer to the one we use for making coffee as the chocolate had a very different flavor from the processed taste of every hot chocolate I've ever had before in my life. (I didn't even realize how un-chocolatey and processed everything I had before was until I had this cup. It changed my whole perspective on chocolate.) Since we weren't going to the hot springs in town (the only real thing to do), we went on the internet (S/3 or $1 per hour), took a nap, and went souvenir shopping. For dinner was relatively uneventful other than being rushed as we had to meet with our guide. He was 45 minutes late, which, while a very cultural thing from what I understand, was a little disappointing as people in the tourism industry should understand that 45 minutes is a lot for people from other cultures. He did walk us to the mini-grocery store when we were done though, so we were able to stock up on snacks for the following day. We went to bed without a headache and ready to get up early to see Machu Picchu.

Snow-capped mountain from the bus

Snow-capped mountain from the bus


Ollantaytambo station

Ollantaytambo station


Park in Aguas Calientes

Park in Aguas Calientes

Posted by spsadventures 16:00 Archived in Peru

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