Happy Anniversary

Trip Start Aug 28, 2008
Trip End Sep 06, 2008

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Flag of Peru  ,
Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The plan this morning was to wake up and take the first bus up to MP at 5:30 in the morning to see the sunrise, then make sure we were one of the first 400 people to fall off the mountain of Wayna Picchu.  Unfortunately, Amy wasnt feeling well this day, so we slept in at the hotel until check out at 10.  I can't say I was too disappointed with this as the hike up the sun gate was difficult, I cant imagine what Wayna Picchu would have felt like.  Not to mention it was our 2 year anniversary, so I felt like I should be nice to Amy.  After check out we waited in the lobby until Amy was feeling ready to go.  By 10:30 she gave me the ok and headed out for day 2 of MP.  By the time we got up to the top, most people had already left for the day and it was quite empty.  Today was our day to take more pictures, and do some exploring on our own.  On the grounds there are a lot of llamas and chinchillas.  We were told that these llamas are called Peru's version of Michael Jackson since their picture is taken as often as Michael Jackson's picture is taken.  Not sure if that is supposed to be a lot these days or not.  

Our train was scheduled to leave at 4:20, so we took the 2:30 bus back down to Aguas Calientes so that we could have some lunch.  We went to a restaurant where I was able to get pizza, and Amy could get grilled cheese.  Pretty much every restaurant in Aguas Calientes serves pizza.  I guess that's what Peruvians think of American backpackers (they only eat pizza).  I also thought it was unusual that the grilled cheese came with 1.5 sandwiches.  What does the restaurant do with the other half a sandwich.  Is it served to someone else, thrown out, or do they only use 1 piece of bread instead of 2 and cut it in half before grilling?  Had a couple of beers, and finally got onto the train.

We boarded the train and had seats 33 and 34.  When we sat down, it turns out we had the worst seats on the train.  We had seats going backwards, with our knees touching the couple seated across from us.  Not very comfortable, and we were right next to the bags, so we didn't get a window seat either.  This was unfortunate since we paid extra to ride on the Vistadome train instead of the Backpacker train.  This is the typical configuration of the Backpacker train.  Well luckily once again the train was empty, so we moved back to the last row and had our own row.  The train took off on time and we waived goodbye to Aguas Calientes.  5 minutes into the train, the stewardess (is that what they are called on trains?) moved the seat back in front of us so that the seat was now facing us.  This allowed us to put our feet up for the ride.  It now felt like we were in business class.  The snack was served, but I was still full from the pizza.  After snack was served, music started playing and it was announced that the stewardess' were going to put on a fashion show for us.  Now this is in-flight entertainment.  I took a few videos of the walks, quite humorous.  You can see for yourself below.  

Arrived at Ollantaytambo around 6 and our driver (which Rodrigo from Kuychi Rumi set up for us) was waiting to take us to Cusco (1.5 hours).  We stopped by Kuychi Rumi to pick up our luggage.  I noticed a few rocks in the road, but didn't think much of it.  I mean there is a huge mountain next to the road, and we were in a third world country.  Well once we got to Kuychi Rumi, Claudia told us there was a strike by the taxi drivers.  They were fighting for higher wages because of the rising cost of gas (which in Peru is about 13 soles/liter, if you don't want to do the math, that is $16 per gallon).  So during a strike, taxi drivers block the streets by placing rocks across the road.  So it is now pitch black outside (the sun sets early in the valley and there are no street lights) and our driver has to weave in and out of the road to get around the rocks.  Add to this that we are driving on a cliff and no other driver can see in the dark, so everyone has their high beams on.  I think I still have a mark on my arm from where Amy was holding on.  

Since the location of our hotel (Rorre Dorrado) in Cusco was not near a big landmark (far from Plaza de Armas), our driver from Kuychi Rumi had difficulty finding it.  I had the phone number and we told him numerous times to call Torre Dorrado on his cell phone.  Instead he thought it would be a better idea to stop the car on the main street (Ave El Sol) and go ask someone while the gringos sit in the car waiting for him to get back.  I never ran so quickly to lock all of the doors.  The driver finally came back exclaiming he knew where to go.  15 minutes later he finally decides to call to find out where the hotel is.  15 minutes (and 2 more calls) later we finally arrived at the hotel.  Turns out we drove right by it 3 times.  

We went in, and Danny and Rafael were there waiting for us.  They knew my name already and were ready to help with anything we needed.  Rafael showed us around the property and to our room.  Although location wasn't
the greatest, the hotel received great reviews in trip advisor for
their service.  I see what everyone meant.  The hotel was quite cheap
with free breakfast, free internet, and free rides to Plaza de Armas at
any time of the night (you just call the hotel and they send a driver
to pick you up).  The hotel had 4 floors.  Each floor had a common area
with a tv and tea station.  The bedrooms were each attached to this
common room.  The only downside with the hotel was that the walls were
very thin and not only could you hear the tv, but you can hear people
talking (amongst other things) in the room next door.  Rafael told us that we can go down to Plaza de Armas for dinner, or get delivery.  We decided once again to get delivery.  Our choice was chinese food or pizza.  We went with chinese (called Chifa in Peru).  We called up Danny, he came to our room and took our order, then called the Chifa restaurant.  20 minutes later we get a knock on the door, it was Danny and the delivery boy.  We paid the 18 soles for dinner (that's $6 for both of us including tip), and Danny took us to the dining room to enjoy our food.  We got plates and had our dinner.  Unfortunately it wasnt that great, but what can you do (only bad meal of the trip).  We went back to the room and called it a night (to the sound of the Williams sisters' grunting during their US Open match from the tv in the common room).
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