We had some time before our 3 pm train ride to Aguas Calientes (the city at the foot of Machu Picchu), so we went back to our room and hung out till noon. We had to pack 2 days worth of clothes into our day pack since the train has limited room for luggage. We would leave our larger packs at Kuychi Rumi to be picked up when we got back from Aguas Calientes
. This was our first day to truly relax since we arrived in Peru. Our ride came at noon and we headed back to Ollantaytambo to have some lunch, walk around, and catch the train. Went to a restaurant right on the main square for lunch today. Since the steak saltado was such a hit yesterday, I decided to go with chicken saltado today. Pretty good, but not as good as the previous restaurant. Stayed there for an hour or so, enjoying the scenery and a couple of beers.
Once we were done, we headed to the train station. Claudia told us to arrive an hour early to make sure there were no problems. So we got to the train station and realized that we were the only ones there (except for a group of men working on the train). 3:00 rolled around and we boarded the train. My friends from trip advisor constantly reminded us to get our train tickets early as they book up far in advance. The train had three cars to it, but once we boarded only the first car filled up. I guess it is good that we went in the shoulder season. Almost everyone was able to have their own row. The train took off and the views of the mountains and the mighty Urubamba river were fantastic. Trains are perhaps my favorite mode of transportation. About 10 minutes into the ride though, there was a very pootent scent of gas. I guess this is the reason there were a group of men working on the train when we got to the station, but apparently they didn't fix the problem. Not a big deal as the ride was only 90 minutes.
Arrived at Aguas Calientes around 4:30. There was a man holding up a sign for our hotel, so we walked over to him. His name was Frank and he showed us to the Sumaq hotel (cnn recently reported on 3 "up and coming" hotels in Peru, Sumaq being one of them
. here is the link for more info http://www.cnn.com/2008/TRAVEL/getaways/09/16/peru.hotels/index.html?eref=rss_travel) while carrying Amy's bag. Frank asked where we were coming from, and as we told him Urubamba (his home town), we figured out that Frank is David's (our tour guide the past 2 days) brother. Small world (or country) I guess. Frank took us to the hotel and sat us down in the waiting area. He brought us some coca tea while we were being checked in. Not sure if the great service was due to the fact that we were at a 5* hotel, or because the Peruvians are very hard working and great people. I must say that at all of our hotels, from 5* places to small bed and breakfasts, the service was incredible. They couldn't do enough for us. Certainly better than any hotel I have stayed at in North America and Europe. We were checked in to room 203 (in the east tower, apparently there are two rooms with the number 203, which we later learned), and Frank took us to our room. The room was fantastic, great view of the Urubamba River, and the decor was modern Peruvian. The bathroom came with a rainfall shower and large tub, very helpful for those long hikes in the mountains. And for the first time, we had satellite television (although everything was in spanish except E! and CNN international).
We didnt stay in the room long as at 5:30 the bar was serving complimentary pisco sours
. Pisco sours are made from pisco (of course, this is peruvian and chilean liquor distilled from grapes), simple syrup, lemon, ice, and raw egg whites. I actually thought they were good. Nice and tart, right up my alley. After happy hour, we went to dinner. Dinner was a 3 course meal that also came complimentary with the room. I had read about the food at the Sumaq, which is supposedly the best in Aguas Calientes. I can't confirm this as we only ate at one other place. Since my stomach was feeling a bit upset, today I only had the salad to start (interesting combination of spring mix, candied tomatoes, avocado, and mozzarella sticks), oriental chicken for dinner, and the molten chocolate cake for dessert. All very good. Amy got the ceviche, alpaca (which was actually fantastic, tasted very similar to lamb) and mixed fruit for dessert. After dinner we went back to the room to take it easy. We wanted to be well rested for the next day and Machu Picchu.
The morning once again started off with breakfast at Claudia's house. Same spread as yesterday, but this time I decided to enjoy the eggs. Claudia said her specialty was sunny side up eggs, which happens to be my favorite as well, so I couldn't resist. Her special ingredient was to sprinkle rosemary (not to be confused with pine needles) on top. They certainly were delictable (sic). There was another couple eating with us that were from King of Prussia. Here we were 3500 miles from home, and we are eating breakfast with people that live 35 miles away. They were pretty much on the same itinerary that we were except spent an extra night in Urubamba.