Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Machu Picchu Anniversary Magic


Machu Picchu

The day began customarily with the alarm at around 4:30am as we had to be out by 6. Whew being a global traveller is hard work, I got more sleep working for a living. Transport did not turn up but after a hastily arranged taxi at the equivalent price of about $1 we got to the bus station on time. The drive and train ride to machu picchu could only be described as magical. With the traditional Andean pan pipe music playing in the background we drove firstly through the hilly town of Cusco with its rich charm of cobbled architecture, dogs and people going about their lives, markets where the purchases of whole animals occurred on the streets and opening into a countryside with donkeys eating by the side of the road and oxen being pulled by father and daughter and the amazing views of mountains in the distance. I remember remarking to Elizabeth how magical it was looking at snow topped mountains with clouds speckled above, at eye level and below our view, we knew this was going to be a special day.

Elizabeth making her way from the Incan Bridge
We travelled though towns where the main form of transport seemed to be a three wheeled scooter with a body. Then transferred to a train for the rest of the trip to Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu Town). This has to be one of the great train trips with its magnificent scenery and windows in the roof for seeing the mountains. Arrived, stowed our gear in the hotel, and took the bus to the incan ruins. I had seen pictures of this place and expected a fairly small motley collection of crumbling walls. Well pictures cannot do this place justice it was way bigger than I expected and was a fully organised city, with lookouts, houses, spots for worship and sacrifice, terraced areas all built on top of a mountain. How they built this place is beyond my comprehension, especially considering it was like 6 - 700 years ago. We wandered about trying to discover every nook and cranny and after 4 hours still probably missed spots. We did accidentally find the incan bridge, where you have to leave your name with the guard so he can tick off that you made it back, as the path meanders around the mountain with a sheer drop to a quick descent.
Sorry Adrian but at 15 years, I had to







Back at the town we grabbed a meal at a recommended restaurant (Hot Springs II) that was brilliant with superb service and Elizabeth ate wood-fired guinea pig (poor little guys). The street outside was actually a train line and 2 trains went past while we ate, a weird experience. Afterwards we wandered the streets absorbing the peace and ambience of this remarkable little town. No traffic at all and the main square was full of adults and children having a good time. Our hotel room had a balcony that overlooked an angry (passionate?) raging river and forested mountains. I slept longer than I can remember sleeping for a long time (normally only 5 hours) at over 9 hours with the only sound ALL night being the raging river. The date for this most amazing of all days was the 2nd March 2012, completely coincidentally (organised by our travel agent) our 15 year anniversary. The anniversary continued the next day with a visit to the hot springs for a soak in the warm waters, followed by an amazing 1 hour Inca Massage that Elizabeth had bargained down to 35 soles (about $12 aust) but told me to give them full price of 50 soles afterwards it was so good. A long lunch followed at the same excellent restaurant of yesterday, then a walk through the town before our train & bus trip back to Cusco.

Nightlife in Aguas Calientes
 We considered not blogging about this place so as to keep it our secret but relented in the end. Who needs Paris when we will always have Machu Picchu.



The Main Street, our hotel was halfway down on the left.
video video