Finally- Machu Picchu!

Trip Start Aug 05, 2005
Trip End Aug 21, 2005

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Flag of Peru  , Sacred Valley,
Thursday, August 18, 2005

Very late start today since we're catching a 10:30 train to Machu Picchu from nearby Ollantaytambo. I'm already up and ready when the wake up call arrives at 8.

The hotel is even nicer seen in daylight. They've let a few vendors into the courtyard- in full regalia. I pick up table runner & 4 placements- handmade. I have to stuff them into the duffel bag- only very small purchases now until we get back to Cuzco and the big bag.

The train ride is about 1.5 hours. Some of the scenery is greet- views of Andean mountains- but we're frequently below a mountain cut out. The train attendants actually hauls out a food/drink cart just like a plane and hand out food and drink. I just have a coke. Then they come by again with the souvenir cart. I buy a popup map of MP.

Finally we arrive in Aguas Calientes, and after sorting out the luggage, which will go to the hotel, we head off after Jose to get in line for a bus up to MP. It's about 1/2 hour ride with many cutbacks on a narrow, dusty road. We climb higher & higher. We can see a tiny train down in the valley.

Finally we arrive at the top. Jose disappears mysteriously for 5 minutes while we all stand around. The area outside the MP gate is packed. We eventually follow Jose into the hotel's buffet restaurant which is even more packed- if possible. We quickly fill and empty plates and they're quickly swept away by the many busboys. All nationalities it appears drawn to this small restaurant- lunch time on MP.

Finally we gather for the big moment- Jose hands out our tickets to MP and for the bus ride back down the hill. We walk through the gate and can see the beginning of the terraces. We round the corner...and there it is! The main courtyard and the remains of building raised on either side. The overcast sky clears to a high bright sunshine as we begin our walk. We follow Jose- which can be a slow process- many interruptions for informative speeches. Up one side, then across at the end by the Sacred Stone where we get a group picture by Prof Dan and then by Jose.

We start back on the other side. The sun has begun to descend- we're getting some great pick lighting. Some folks- a little over half- stay with Jose to make the trip up to the vigilance site. I join the weary and week to bus back to Agua and check into the hotel. I'm feeling very tired and dusty- but also a bit drained after the big event today- MP! We'll have a half day tomorrow morning to see more- maybe I'll make the dawn visit.

The hotel is a dream- rooms in separate bungalows in a garden setting- pathways round about between them- hidden by the plants and trees. The rooms have a great deal of dark wood, with tiled floor, stucco walls, exposed high dark wood ceiling beams. They're big rooms- two double beds, a veranda, large shower at a step down from the rest of the bathroom; kimonos & rubber shower shoes. A shower is just what I need. Dinner is at 7:30- time to rest.

Dinner is magnificent although a bit late. Too much wine! I think we're all feeling the end of our journey is near.
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