¡Feliz Navidad! Inca Style vs Family Shankers

Trip Start Oct 05, 2012
Trip End Apr 01, 2013

Flag of Peru  , Sacred Valley,
Tuesday, December 25, 2012

I wonder what it would be like to spend my Christmas Day at Machu Picchu? And how different it would be to my normal Christmas at home with the family? Well, here it is... ;-)

Family Shankers (FS)
Inca Style (IS)

(FS) Not an hour I would normally see on Christmas Day...
(IS) Woken up by my alarm after a very restless night where it sounded like someone was setting off fireworks in the hallway of the hotel, and when every time I woke up I tried to hear if the rain had stopped or not. It was still pelting it down though, making it even harder to peel myself from the bed and struggle into the still wet clothes from the previous day. Especially the shoes - it was like walking on sponges...squelch, squelch, squelch...

(FS) As above...
(IS) Wearing all my clothes and draped in a super sized poncho, I joined the queue (yes, there was already one...) for the bus from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu. It felt like a very long wait (although in reality only 15mins) until the first bus moved into place and they started loading. I found myself on the 2nd bus and was soon on the very steep and winding road to the entrance gate!!

(FS) Probably when my sister first wakes up, excited about Christmas Day, getting presents, and most importantly her beloved stocking. Even now, at the age of 32...
(IS) Arrival at the ticket gates to Machu Picchu!! A very small queue and I was through!! 5mins later I made my way up the main pathway and got my first glimpse of the lost inca city. Mist hung over the mountain tops, covering parts of the ruins as it slowly drifted around the base of Huayna Picchu. But this just added to the atmosphere and It was truly amazing. And even more special because there was only a handful of others at this very early time in the morning. Time for a photo of me - in yet another 'special' looking outfit - with the ruins in the background!!

(FS) Alison would probably still be lying awake, staring at the ceiling and clock watching. Dad maybe also awake by this time, again unable to sleep due to his excitement about getting presents...
(IS) The start of a 2 hour tour around the site, starting off at the location where all the famous postcard shots are taken from. About 30mins into the tour, the rain stopped (yippee!) and the sun started to break through the clouds. We made our way through the sun temple, storage houses, the main temple zone, public plaza, inca botanical garden, saw the agricultural terracing in the agricultural zone, and oohhed/aahhed at the llamas grazing in the centre of the site. It also turns out the Incas were quite the drainage experts. No cascading waterfalls down the many steps due to the rain, instead large numbers of fountains and drainage channels dealt seamlessly with what must have been a huge amount of rainwater. Now, there's obviously a thing or 2 to be learnt from their architectural and engineering genius!! Overall, the tour was a great introduction to the site, and made even better by the disappearance of the rain :-)

(FS) The loud footsteps outside my room and the Christmas music from downstairs have done there trick and I would probably be awake, crawling out of bed and making my way downstairs...
(IS) It was time for Christmas breakfast!! There is only one (very expensive) snack bar just outside the entrance gates. By this time it was heaving as most of the tour groups had finished their tours, and those coming in from the Inca Trail had taken their photos and were celebrating at the snack bar with the beer. An enormous sandwich filled with cheese and all sorts of vegetables was a very welcome breakfast. But the best part was eating it overlooking the mist draped mountains...

(FS) Present opening!! Exercising my arms and mouth only...
(IS) My 'present' to myself (one of the many during this trip!!) was one of the limited 400 tickets to climb Huayna Picchu, the mountain to the rear of the ruins which is seen in most pictures. It is incredibly steep, and I wasn't really looking forward to climbing it because of the earlier rainfall. It took quite a while for the queue to go down but we eventually got through the gates around 1045 and were on our way...

(FS) Champagne (the first bottle of who knows how many!!) would have been opened by mum, accompanied by nibbles and mince pies as a pre-dinner appetiser.
(IS) After a far more moderate climb than expected, I reached the top of the mountain. Because the rain had stopped, the stairs were nowhere near as slippy as expected and the only real hazard was the narrowness of the walkway and the passing of other people. The final ascent took me through a tiny little cave, which provided a very welcome respite from the heat of the sun as there were cool drops of water dripping from the roof. Coming through this, I reached the very top of the mountain, found myself a great spot on an unoccupied rock plateau and allowed myself to be awed by the view. It was totally worth the climb as you can see the whole of the site, not to mention the surrounding mountains and valleys. I also got sunburnt on my shoulders...silly me forgot to replace the sun lotion which had been rubbed off by my rucksack during the climb...

(FS) Mum would be opening another bottle of champagne. Dad would be looking disapprovingly and only allowing his glass to be topped up a very small amount - all the more for us girls!! Alison would have appeared with her trademark 'GR' red lipstick, and I would probably still be fighting with my hair...
(IS) My descent from the mountain complete, I rested for a while at the base and decided where to go next. Still a good 4 hours left before I needed to make my way down to Aguas Calientes and so I decided to walk to the Inca Bridge and the Sun Gate. It took me a while to find the route to the Inca Bridge as it involved navigating my way through the main site which was now completely mobbed. 12-2pm seems to be the peak time as this is when most of the day trippers from Cusco are in the site. Made me very thankful I had been there at 6am to enjoy the view without sharing it with hundreds of others... I eventually made it to the trail leading to the Inca Bridge, it wasn't a long distance only taking me 15mins or so. The bridge just hangs from a sheer cliff face and is inaccessible from the pathway. Again, spectacular scenery looking towards the Rio Urubamba and the valleys. I then made my way back to the checkpoint and looped back up towards the trail to the Sungate.

(FS) The Queen's Speech - although attention would be limited as the finishing touches are put to the meal. Turkey this year, as I wasn't there to supervise Dad and the Beef Wellington ;-)
(IS) Again, a much shorter walk than expected and it wasn't too long before I arrived at the Sungate. This is the traditional entrance for those coming off the Inca Trail, allowing them their first glimpse of Machu Picchu before they make the descent into the site. By this time, I was boiling and convinced myself that the rain was gone for the day and that I could take off my leggings...sadly, the inca gods were not smiling on me and only 10mins later the rain returned with a vengeance. This would have been fine had I still had my trusty poncho, but this was unfortunately in the storage room at the bottom - a good hours walk away. I was a very sorry looking site when I finally arrived back at the main site...hair plastered to my face, clothes soaked through, water squeezing from my shoes at every step...

(FS) Probably 2/3 of the way through the Christmas meal, with dessert about to start. Christmas pudding, and this year there would have been even more to eat without me to force down the obligatory lump. Not that I don't like it - it's just always slightly too much at the end of the meal...
(IS) I arrived back at the storage room to collect my bag of soggy clothes and the much needed rain poncho. I debated a while whether or not to get the bus back or to walk, but being stubborn and feeling like I should walk simply because I had got the bus up in the morning, I set off down the many stairs towards Aguas Calientes.

(FS) Christmas dinner over for another year. Dishes would be cleared, and Alison would be ferreting around in the back of the pantry for another bottle of wine. Dad again would be looking disapprovingly, but eventually would give her one of his worst to ensure she doesn't pick the most expensive...
(IS) A very miserable me arrived back in Aguas Calientes. Walking was a HUGE mistake. It took me way longer than it should have, the rain never stopped and my whole body ached from the previous days and the 11 hours walking around Machu Picchu. As I passed the first hotel in Aguas Calientes, all I wanted to do was beg a room, have a hot shower and collapse. But no, I was still hours from being able to do this as had the journey back to Cusco to endure. Thankfully, I had booked an earlier train than the rest of my group so headed straight to the station. My only dry clothes were my inca trousers which I'd been using as pyjamas, and I decided these were a much better option than the dripping clothes I had been wearing all day so got changed, also putting my flip flops on instead of my disgusting trainers. I was freezing cold, but atleast not freezing and wet...!!

(FS) One of the Christmas specials would be on - Strictly Come Dancing or similar. Although Alison would probably be the only one still awake...
(IS) The train left Aguas Calientes!! Finally, on the way back to a hot shower and a nice bed...

(FS) Turkey sandwiches, more mince pies, chocolates and possibly a liqueur. Rejuvenated after a short nap, there's probably a movie or something to be watched. Or maybe even a game of scrabble.
(IS) Arrived at Ollantayamba station, where the train terminates and the journey had to be continued by bus. There were hundreds of people with names on boards, one of which was mine. Yippee!!

(FS) Maybe another movie or game. Maybe more TV. Who knows...the day is almost over...
(IS) I arrived back into Cusco, was dropped a 2 min walk from the hostel and literally ran back there.

(FS) As above.
(IS) In bed - wearing all the clothes I left in my big rucksack in Cusco to help warm me up....a well deserved zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...
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Dishy!! on

Don't recognise sum of the FS comments, is the sun and sangria getting to you!! Another sparkling blog and cute 2 mix up the 2 Crimbles. Must dasho as the remains of the Xmas Pud r up 4 grabs, b safe and enjoy

irene Henry on

Superb photos and excellent description of your journey on Christmas Day.
Just wish you had not been so wet and cold! As Hogmanay is coming to an end and a new year beginning, All the Best for a Happy and Healthy 2013!
Thinking of you lots. Love from us All xxxxxx

MA on

Loved your comparisons, your Christmas so much more majical than ours probably not as "Boozy"

Dishy took refuge in the kitchen and did the whole meal (yummy!!) Me thinks it was a ploy to protect the wine cellar but guess what it didn't work !! Alison still managed to get in there.

Carly McGhee on

Another fabulous blog Fi! Thanks for taking the time to do this - it's so lovely to hear about and see all your experiences! Hope you're still having a fabulous time.
Big hugs xxxx

Pigwig on

I didn't get up til 9am this year, I fear I may be growing up ; (
Lots of wine consumed as ever and rolled into bed by midnight
The view looks spectacular!!

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