December 9th, 2011
The big problem with going to Macho Picchu from Cusco is getting up before 5am. If there was a bit of good news it was that I didn’t have to drive or ride anywhere. A taxi picked me up at the hotel just as the sky was starting to lighten. The same taxi driver would be waiting for me when my return train got back in the evening. He confirmed how to spell my name, so he could do a sign.
The train stations was comfy, and filled up as the departure time approached. Most of the announcements were in Spanish, but easy to figure out. Oddly, once I was on the train the announcements were in Spanish and English, and I wondered why the ones inside the station weren’t.
I spent a little time looking out of the window
Then I ate the provided snack
There is a higher class of train, about 3 times the cost, with actual meals. And nicer seats too. After the snack I took a nap. I am not a morning person.
I didn’t nap long. The train ride from Cusco to Machu Picchu (Technically from Poroy to Aquas Calientes) is supposed to be one of the prettiest train rides in the world. On the way back it would be dark and I could sleep more then.
The train ride didn’t disappoint.
At the destination station we all got off, and I just followed the crowd.
There wasn’t actually a way around the market, which I guess shouldn’t have surprised me. Since I still needed to get a ticket to Machu Picchu itself, I went and took care of that instead of standing in line for a bus ticket. I had thought about just walking up to Machu Picchu to save the money, but that was before I saw the mountain.
From the top, looking down. Sorry, no private vehicles allowed.
Obviously I made it up to Machu Picchu.
This is what the Inca Trail looks like as it descends into the city.
I had some time to wander around, and went for a hike to see the “Incan Bridge,” which was on a rough trail along the end of a mountain.
Yup, that was the trail. I had to sign sign a ledger before I started, with the time, so if I took too long to come back they would know to go looking for me, probably somewhere in the valley below.
There is the bridge, though a guide was quick to point out the wood was “not original.” I guess the bridge was intended to be similar to a drawbridge. When enemies attempted to use the path (this wasn’t the Inca Trail, but a different way into Machu Picchu), the bridge was pulled up or dropped and the gap could be defended. There were no guide rails. and the drop was impressive.
I headed back, and into Machu Picchu proper.
I wonder if this is the first picture of me on this trip without biker pants on. And I should have worn my new shirt.
There was a lot to see in the ruins, and in truth I could have easily spent more time there. The sense of age was palpable, but it also felt like everyone had just left. I guess good stonework lasts.
You have to admire the views, too.
Unlike the Maya, who just liked to have green spaces, all the available land inside Incan cites was used for agriculture. So there were no “parks” per se, just very small farms.
In the end I did spend more time wandering around than I should have, and didn’t have time to eat before the train ride back to Cusco. I ran into one of the 400 convenience stores to get a couple extra snacks (there would also be a snack on the train), and got to the station in time.
The station was a lot more crowded. Apparently many people hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, and then take the train back. Also, while I was on the Vistadome train (which has the snack and larger windows), there was an Expedition trail (the cheapest one) leaving a few minutes later. Since the announcements were, once again, all in Spanish, there was a fair amount of confusion amongst the mostly-non-Spanish-speaking crowd. It all worked out okay in the end.
By some fluke I ended up in the same train car as the one I had ridden out to Machu Picchu in that morning. This time, though, the rest of the car was filled with a group of travel agents, on a tour of the sites and hotels in the area.
They were an upbeat lot, despite going to a different hotel every night, and they all disembarked at the halfway point, leaving the train car almost completely empty. Night had fallen and I couldn’t see out of the windows, but I also had a hard time sleeping.
My taxi was waiting, as promised, and the ride back to the hotel uneventful. It was pretty late, but I still hadn’t had dinner and went to a place I had heard the other riders had been going to, Norton’s.
It was awesome. Sadly, I hadn’t brought my camera with, so all you get is this picture of the the menu, take the next day when I dropped off a Tim Sticker
But they are on the Plaza in Cusco, and if you make it there you need to check the place out. Just Saying.