Puno to Cusco - the Inca Express

Trip Start Nov 03, 2012
Trip End Dec 31, 2012

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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Up at the crack of dawn to finish our last minute packing before we headed down stairs to check out and await the taxi to take us to the bus terminal.  All went relatively smoothly and we were at the Terminal by 6:40 to confirm our seats on the bus (the Inca Express service).  The service is a little unique (or it was, a competitor has recently started called Wonder Bus - I think) as it provides fully inclusive (although not all tickets seemed to have this) lunch, drinks and access to various tourist sites along the route.  The service was accompanied by a guide who provides both Spanish and English commentary. 

There didn't seem to be many people waiting for the bus for it's scheduled 7am departure, but then at 5 to 7 a bus load of German (I think) tourists jumped off of one bus and on to the Inca Express.  It turned out that one couple (possibly German too) from our Island tour were also on the same trip. 

From that point onward, all day it was drive a bit, stop a bit, get out, look at something, listen to the bilingual guide, back on the bus, drive a bit.
It is a perfect system for anyone who has arrived and will not have much of a chance to see the country apart from Cusco and Puno, for us, there was a slight feel of rehashing old information and being constantly given the opportunity to buy more 'stuff'.  Although we did have our first buffet lunch at a cute spot with, yes, more opportunities to buy stuff.  

Throughout the day we encountered the Cusco/Puno regional border, a museum with pre-Incan artefact's, ruins with what was left of massive buildings and 100 plus storage houses (6 re-built or still standing) and evidence of a "great wall" surrounding the site to keep out enemies, a church which was said to be South America's answer to the Sistine Chapel - and it was quite spectacular but we could not take photos and possibly some other stops but that's all we can remember.  Although it was a long journey (but not our longest) the scenery was spectacular.  We had been advised that were seeing the start of the mighty Amazon (what, that piddley little creek??) and watched it grow through out the day.  Green hills with evidence of crazy farming techniques (terraces going all the way to the top of some very steep mountains), small towns with tiny cobbled streets and the ever growing Amazon river (although it wasn't called that).

On arrival in Cusco we were picked up by the hotel transfer and taken through winding busy streets, the meat markets (why do we always find them?!) and it the historic part of Cusco.  After checking in and trying to sort out final payment of our bill for THE up-coming tour we went for a wonder to find a restaurant - one recommended by our slightly out of date Lonely Planet. On our walk we encountered a charming city with beautiful streetscapes, classic old buildings and (a first since we've been in South America) hardly any graffiti or dog poo.  

We finally found "The Real McCoy" - a British influenced pub that was packed - it was Thanksgiving and quite a few USAians had found this haven to feel a bit like home.. ummm.. After some faffing, we got a table and selected some comfort food.  Chicken broth for Alexis and roast chicken for Tina.  Neither of us were greatly impressed with the meal although the mashed potatoes and gravy were fabulous as well as the atmosphere and the staff who were keen to help.  Again they were left disappointed with our attempts - we couldn't finish either meal.  Fortunately the pub had a drink special - 2 Pisco Sours for 14S - well, if you insist!     

A short stroll back to the Hotel where we watched some TV before being all tuckered out. 
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